What was your first cog dis?

what was your first experience with cognitive dissonance, or one of the first times that you realized something didn’t add up in your religious world-view?  for me i have a couple of really early ones (see post here, paragraphs 3 and 4- starting with the words “i think we all of us”- i know great grammar, right).  today i was thinking about the song i mentioned in my previous post by George Hrab called “Heaven Must Be Really Boring” (copy and save link to listen).  this was actually my first cog dis as a little kid.  i thought how boring it was when i absolutely obeyed all of the rules and was super perfect to my friends and family.  i thought how fun it was to be a trouble maker every now and then, doing pranks on people or just joking around and messing with people.  as a kid i didn’t think i could take it being in heaven where jokes must be strictly prohibited (unless you’re telling the latest jokes you heard from your second grader or something off of a laffy taffy wrapper).  “how boring”, i would think to myself.  so that was my first cog dis.  didn’t think the world would be interesting without good and bad, extacy and suffering.  even in the book of mormon it says that those things are necessary to exist together so how could there be a place where everything was sweet, never sour- you never broke a leg or got sick.  how could you savor food after going without for a day?  how could you appreciate the blessing goodness of health and normalcy without going through a few days of having the flu or food poisoning?  after i threw out my back last year for a day i couldn’t wait to just run around- i couldn’t believe the simple things i was taking for granted like being able to sit up and walk!  imagine if that was nothing to me anymore because i could fly anywhere i wanted or even travel by merely thinking of a location (LDS semi-doctrine).  and today i had a brother-in-law call my wife saying he would be so sad if he were a god enjoying his exaltation one day without his sister!   what?  how could you be enjoying your exaltation knowing you had family that was suffering in another place?  that wouldn’t be heaven!  …and all because your sister was a good person, good mother, good wife, good life- but she’s damned b/c she got it wrong when it came to earth’s theology exam?  i don’t believe in that god.  couldn’t imagine him separating people from their loved ones just b/c they couldn’t figure out “the most important message in the world”- that happened to be written in impossible-to-understand parables, and context of the times.  from the reason driven podcast, ep.1 Robert M. Price says:

and so this theoretically inspired book just doesn’t matter as long as it remains ambiguous.  take the part in Corinthians- if the trumpet call is not clear who’s going to come to battle, or who’s going to know what to do?

we’re right to be showing some skepticism towards this gospel that shows a cruel god in the old testament and immoral behavior in the NT.  and what if god, being a scientist himself (he created the elements and the universe, right? that makes him a scientist in my book), would he possibly applaud skeptical thought from an individual over blind faith from the same person?  would he not respect you more if you were honest to yourself and “doubted” than if you just said “shut up, brain” and insisted on believing?

my other cog dis as a kid was when i was 7 (under the age of accountability), not yet baptized and i saw a picture of a woman in a swimsuit.  i realized to myself that i could have sex with a girl if i wanted to (now that i think of it though i probably wouldn’t have been very successful picking up a girl) and it wouldn’t be a sin yet since i wasn’t baptized and didn’t have “the age of accountability” yet.  i realized i could do anything in the world and it would be okay.  i ended up deciding to just be a kid, play some pranks on people, joke around with my friends, maybe even tell some dirty jokes- in the end, i just wanted to have fun.

what was your first cog dis? comment below.

for more stories of first cog dis’s, see here.


6 thoughts on “What was your first cog dis?

  1. Wow, that’s a good question.

    My first cog dis probably had to do with Santa Claus. How could this flying fat guy get around to every kid (or at least every Christian kid) in a single night? I don’t know if I actually tried to do the math, but I realized that a single night just wasn’t long enough, even if the guy did have flying reindeer. Eventually my doubts got the best of me and I asked my mom for an honest answer about Santa Claus’s existence.

    But as for religion…

    I can’t pinpoint my first cog dis. There were always little things that didn’t make much sense to me. Like, wouldn’t there have been lots of blood on Nephi’s clothing after he killed Laban? And was it really likely that Lehi’s grandson, Enos, was still alive nearly 200 years after Lehi left Jerusalem? Even when we read about early humans in the latter years of elementary school, I experienced some cog dis every time my history book mentioned a date earlier than 6,000 years ago.

    In adult life, one of my bigger instances of cog dis occurred when I decided to investigate the claim that the LDS temple rituals were derived from freemasonry. I didn’t want to hear what others said on the topic; I wanted to investigate freemasonry on its own terms and come to my own conclusions. So after a web search turned up some descriptions and diagrams of masonic rituals, needless to say, I was pretty shocked.

  2. Oh this is easy.

    Remember the promise of “families can/will be together forever”? In my Nintendo infested brain back then I used to wonder how’d that be? Will my grandma be who she is at that time forever or will she be another copy of her 2 or 4/5/18 or 37 year old self with her parents before us? I remember asking that question so many times that it got to the point where any rationalization of it was down to; it doesnt matter/ we’ll find out in heaven/ have faith/ somethings are just unknowable.

  3. stevem83: did you ever listen to the mormon stories episode where john interviewed a master mason? just today i gave a co-worker here a burned cd of that conversation. it’s a great “middle way” take on it. other than that, if you not able to take that approach- yes, it is very shocking indeed!

    gusdafa: yeah, just put it on the shelf. i remember Robert Millet saying that to me and it was one of the first times that i realized that even “the church scholars” didn’t have any reasonable answers to many issues in the church.

  4. Yeah, I’ve listened to the Mormon Stories episode on Mormonism and Masonry. It’s a really interesting listen.

    For what it’s worth, my discovery of the LDS temple’s connection to Masonry didn’t have a huge impact on my faith in the long run, although I definitely dealt with some cognitive dissonance immediately afterward. I had believed that the endowment ritual was revealed directly from heaven (one of my BYU professors even told me that it was revealed by Elias in D&C 110!), and that belief didn’t leave much room for more naturalistic explanations. But after my I had my moment of cog dis, I pretty much adopted a “middle way” approach, concluding that Joseph Smith could have been inspired to use Masonic symbolism and ritual to teach certain transcendent truths and covenants.

  5. Is it daft to feel like I am missing something?

    Not to have had the wool pulled over my eyes so that I don’t have a memory of the experience of the sudden burst of light when it is removed.

    Does this limit my ability to empathise? Reduce my patience and respect?

    I think it probably does. But at least, thanks to this post, I can try to remember that and bear it in mind from now on.

    Great post Markii.

  6. psiloiordinary: you’re not missing anything, as long as you can still empathize. hopefully we will all be able to empathize with believers for as long as we live on this planet. as pz meyers said (in his talk about the ghost in the machine), believers are being logical to believe what they do for this is how we’ve evolved to be: social animals with hyperactive tendencies of pattern seeking [hugely paraphrased].

    so don’t feel left out, but try and hang on to that empathy for others. i realize that i suffer cog dis daily as i try to make sense and meaning out of a random and meaningless world. the less cog dis you have, however, the freer you may be intellectually.

    i have a small theory (subject turning back to mormonism now) that a mormon testimony- that burning in your bosom and peace in your mind, is simply when you are suffering from the least amount of cog dis possible. you do this by surrounding/immersing yourself in nothing but pro-faith materials, communities, friendships, music, literature, etc. and thus, you have a one-ness of thought. you then minimize any cognitive dissonance (remember to steer away from any critical thought or scientific literature) and the result is euphoria and a peaceful noise-free mind. feelings of elation are sure to follow.

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