Jesus’ Deification & Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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DCHindley
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Jesus’ Deification & Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Post by DCHindley »

Hey,

Fernando Bermejo-Rubio has been referenced here on BC&H many times WRT his book on the likelihood that Jesus associated with rebel types. I get the impression that some of our board members do not like his conclusion. Comments tend to be nit picky and generally dismissive, a well documented defensive tactic for those suffering dissonance according to Cognitive Dissonance theory.

How many were aware that F B-R has also written an article on the subject of CD and the deification of Jesus? Of course ("Aarrggh, DCH used that phrase again!!!" sez bild89) he assumes a human Jesus started the whole snowball rolling.

Bermejo-Rubio, Fernando (2017). The Process of Jesus’ Deification and Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Numen, 64(2-3), 119–152. doi:10.1163/15685276-12341457

This link takes you to a downloadable link to the PDF:
https://sci-hub.hkvisa.net/10.1163/15685276-12341457

F B-R concluded that despite early setbacks with methodology (the initial case study was marred by observers being in the middle of the action as volunteer organizers to facilitate observations, but not as direct participants in discussions) had been largely overcome by later researchers who standardized the methods for observing and testing hypotheses about CD induced thought processes. He felt it could be relied upon to help explaine the facts e have about Jesus.

In other words, the heavenly Jesus Christ figure prominent in NT & early Christian literature evolved from a revolutionary Christ, by the process of rationalization over a period of time. Every dissonant experience results in a defensive position to sustain existing beliefs when presented to challenges. If these prove over time to not reduce dissonance (maybe the rationalizer had followed up and found cracks in their assumptions and changed their minds). Again, that changing of mind to at least partly accommodate the dissonant observations is all part of CD theory. It is an endless process, and to be expected, the original positions are left far behind as new ideas and explanations take their place.

The reaction to F B-R's article, on reddit at least, was full of virulent attacks with posters unable to fathom how he could not have been convinced by the masterful exegesis if Larry Hurtado and N T Wright. I think that reactions like those make social scientists chuckle as it is exactly as predicted by CD theory.

I think it is good to look at the psychological mechanisms that cause religions and movements to evolve over time. (Aarrggh!!! DCH used the term "evolve" again!" says the true believer).

The evolution of interpretations of sacred "end time prophecies" in religious movements is clearly evident among Adventists & JWs and clearly shows that ideas evolved over time as they repeatedly coped with discomfiture after discomfiture.

Unfortunately, few folks want to admit that the theological explanations developed by early Christianity, or Judaism, or even Islam, were evolved in beliefs over time.

If you doubt the premise, then read the article. Other books on the subject are When Prophecy Fails (1956, a narration of the Case study, admitting deficiencies, warts and all), a formal book expressing the CD psychological mechanisms he thought were at work, and there was a follow up volume (I think the title was "CD after 50 years" or similar) with several articles by various researchers who described advances in the theory in the interim. Festinger, for his part, had moved on professionally decades ago and no longer feels the personal need to defend or develop the theory.

DCH
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DCHindley
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Re: Jesus’ Deification & Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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DCHindley wrote: Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:46 am ... [According to Festinger et al.'s theory] there are different ways in which people might react to new information that doesn't fit their preconceived notions of what holds the universe together.

They are enumerated in the works of Leon Festinger, particularly A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957):

F The major ways by which dissonance can be reduced:
1 By changing one or more of the elements involved in dissonant relations.
2 By adding new cognitive elements that are consonant with already existing cognition.
3 By decreasing the importance of the elements involved in the dissonant relations.

G Practical applications:
1 Postdecision dissonance may be reduced by increasing the attractiveness of the chosen alternative, decreasing the attractiveness of the unchosen alternatives, or both.
2 Postdecision dissonance may be reduced by perceiving some characteristics of the chosen and unchosen alternatives as identical.
3 Postdecision dissonance may be reduced by decreasing the importance of various aspects of the decision.
4 If forced compliance has been elicited, the dissonance may be reduced by changing private opinion to bring it into line with the overt behavior or by magnifying the amount of reward or punishment involved.
5 If forced compliance has been elicited, dissonance may be reduced by intensifying the original private opinion or by minimizing the (private opinion about the) reward of punishment involved.
6 The presence of dissonance leads to seeking new information which will provide cognition consonant with existing cognitive elements and to avoiding those sources of new information which would be likely to increase the existing dissonance.
7 When some of the cognitive elements involved in a dissonance are cognitions about one's own behavior, the dissonance can be reduced by changing the behavior, thus directly changing the cognitive elements.
8 Forced or accidental exposure to new information which tends to increase dissonance will frequently result in misinterpretation and misperception of the new information by the person thus exposed in an effort to avoid (the resulting) dissonance increase.
9 Dissonance introduced by disagreement expressed by other persons (with whom one associates) may be reduced by changing one's own opinion, by influencing the others (with whom one associates) to change their opinion, and rejecting (association with) those who disagree.
10 The existence of dissonance will lead to seeking out others who already agree with a cognition that one wants to establish or maintain, and will also lead to the initiation of communication and influence processes in an effort to obtain more social support.
11 Influence exerted on a person will be more effective in producing opinion change to the extent that the indicated change of opinion reduces dissonance for that person.
12 In situations where many persons in situations where many persons who associate with one another all suffer from identical dissonance, dissonance reduction by obtaining social support is very easy to accomplish.

The outline format was my way of analyzing his theory, and some points could be wwwrrrooonnnggg!

:tomato:
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Re: Jesus’ Deification & Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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The actual theory is set out as follows:
A Assumptions:
1 Pairs of elements can exist in irrelevant, consonant, or dissonant relations.
2 Two cognitive elements are in an irrelevant relation if they have nothing to do with each one other. (e.g., your opinion about the relative value of precious metals for investment has nothing to do with your preference for tea or coffee)
3 Two cognitive elements are in a dissonant relation if, considering these two alone, the obverse of one element follows from the other. (e.g., you hear from an authoritative source that an automobile's gasoline engine can be made to run on water, and your knowledge that water does not burn)
4 Two cognitive elements are in a consonant relation if, considering these two alone, one element follows from the other. (e.g., knowing that eggshells must be broken to make use of eggs as food, and seeing eggshells in the kitchen before being presented with an omelet)

B Situations implying existence of cognitive dissonance:
1 Dissonance almost always exists after a decision has been made between two or more alternatives.
2 Dissonance almost always exists after an attempt has been made, by offering rewards or threatening punishment, to elicit overt behavior that is at variance with private opinion.
3 Forced or accidental exposure to new information may create cognitive elements that are dissonant with existing cognition.
4 The open expression of disagreement in a group leads to the existence of cognitive dissonance in the members.
5 Identical dissonance in a large number of people may be created when an event occurs which is so compelling that as to produce a uniform reaction from everyone.

C Two basic hypotheses about the magnitude of dissonance:
1 The magnitude of the dissonance or consonance which exists between two cognitive elements (i.e., "facts") will be a direct function of the importance of these two elements.
2 The total magnitude of dissonance which exists between two clusters of cognitive elements (i.e., opinions) is a function of the weighted proportion of all the relevant relations between the two clusters which are dissonant, each dissonant or consonant relation being weighted according to the importance of the elements involved in that relation.

D Operational implications of these hypotheses:
1 The magnitude of postdecision dissonance is an increasing function of the general importance of the decision and of the relative attractiveness of the unchosen alternatives.
2 The magnitude of postdecision dissonance *decreases* as the number of cognitive elements corresponding identically to characteristics of chosen and unchosen alternatives *increases*.
3 The magnitude of postdecision dissonance resulting from an attempt to elicit compliance is greatest if the promised reward or threatened punishment is either *just sufficient* to elicit the overt behavior or is *just barely not sufficient* to elicit it.
4 If forced compliance is elicited, the magnitude of the dissonance *decreases* as the magnitude of the reward or punishment *increases*.
5 If forced compliance fails to be elicited, the magnitude of the dissonance *increases* as the magnitude of the reward or punishment *increases*.
6 The magnitude of dissonance introduced by the expression of dissonance introduced by others *decreases* as the number of existing cognitive elements consonant with the opinion *increases*.
7 The magnitude of dissonance introduced by disagreements introduced from others *increases* with *increase* in the importance of the opinion to the person, in the relevance of the opinion to those voicing disagreement, and in the attractiveness of those voicing disagreement.
8 The greater the difference between the opinion of the person and the opinion of the one voicing disagreement, and, hence, the greater number of elements which are dissonant between the cognitive clusters corresponding to the two opinions, the greater will be the magnitude of dissonance.

E The central hypotheses of the theory:
1 The presence of dissonance gives rise to pressures to reduce that dissonance.
2 The strength of the pressure to reduce dissonance is a function of the magnitude of the existing dissonance.
"Aarrgghh!! DCH is using outlines again!! Why doesn't he just GET what is PLAIN AS DAY?" Answering my own rhetorical question, "Nothing is really as plain as day, it only just seems so to you, but alas, not to me."

DCH :banghead:
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Re: Jesus’ Deification & Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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Here's an interesting factoid about the "Saucer cult:"
I also found interesting the fact that the real-life people that comprised the UFO cult that was investigated by Leon Festinger (When Prophecy Fails) and served as the kernel of his theory of Cognitive Dissonance, were influenced by George Adamski, and the Book of Oahaspe (discussed in a different thread, which was supposedly transmitted from the beyond via the phenomenon of "automatic writing," also used by the cult leader), Theosophy and even Dianetics.

The details are given by Diana G. Tumminia, in Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact (2007). She teaches sociology at California State University, Sacramento, and is also author of When Prophecy Never Fails: Myth and Reality in a Flying-Saucer Group (2005). [quoting 2013 post by me]
"AArrgghh!! DCH is citing flying saucer people again!!"

If you want a "real" independent scholar with a PhD in physics, who thought that ancient aliens had visited earth and left behind theosophical writings, in Aramaic of all languages, which Jesus had propounded. Supposedly, someone had found and translated the Aramaic documents into German, and later this German translation was further translated into English. A couple leaves to the original Aramaic document supposedly still existed at some point, but they have, as do all sensational finds, disappeared - if they existed at al.

See this link to a thread about the independent scholar Jim Deardorf.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3347&p=73005&hilit=Deardorff#p73005

DCH
Last edited by DCHindley on Tue Feb 27, 2024 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jesus’ Deification & Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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Interestingly, I was surprised to learn that a significant article on Cognitive Dissonance and the development of early Christian belief was written by David Aune, "Christian Beginnings and Cognitive Dissonance Theory," in Gospel-Tradition-and-Paul-in-the-context-of-Jewish-and-Greco-Roman-Antiquity available for free download here:

https://dokumen.pub/jesus-gospel-tradit ... 23533.html

"Aarrgghh!! DCH is citing mainstream scholars! Traitor!!"

DCH
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