Two Agents of Reality came by my house this morning.
No, I'm NOT talking about Jehovah's Witnesses. Those are agents of unreality in case you're unclear on the subject!
I'm talking about the concepts of Confirmation Bias and Cognitive Dissonance theory.
It seems that we humans have the disturbing tendency to only seek out information that confirms what we already believe. Also, if confronted with any ideas, facts or evidence that challenge our beliefs, we tend to discount that information rather than question the validity of our beliefs.
It's not a very logical way to go about the business of living, but it's what we do. You can be guilty of this too. Don't think so? Well, have you ever found yourself getting angry when someone simply offered an idea that conflicted with what you believe to be true? If you did, then you've experienced these agents of reality knocking at your door. Did you let them in or did you pretend you weren't home? Most people are perennial "Not-at-Homes" when these guys come a-knockin'.
Indeed, it takes great effort to overcome these very human tendencies. It takes courage and self-discipline to face the fact that you might be wrong about something. Most people, and I do mean most, will simply avoid changing. They will dig in their heels and fight harder than ever rather than change. It's just too hard, too painful and frankly too much work for most individuals. An emotional response to a fact that challenges a belief is generally compelling evidence that that belief is firmly rooted in fanstasy-land. It is axiomatic that the stronger the emotion, the weaker the foundation of that belief, the less likely that it is valid or true.
One only needs to dispassionately observe the mental gymnastics that True Believers of any ilk will go through to continue to hold on to their cherished beliefs in the face of otherwise irrefutable evidence to the contrary to be convinced of the truth of this.
The leaders of the WTBTS are masters at these bizarre mind-games of self-deception. It is these same powerful internal forces that give birth to such ill-conceived "doctrines" as an "Overlapping Generation" or its bastard cousin, the recent revision in the "understanding" of the identity of the "Faithful and Discreet Slave." It's the same delusional psychological mechanisms that allow millions of people to unquestioningly accept such illogical changes in their "theology." Seriously! How could it be that the leadership of a major religion has been wrong about their own identity for nearly 100 years? How could it be that they only just now "got it right" with "New Light"? How could it be that the announcement of this change has failed to incite loud protestations from their followers? The ridiculousness of the inherent flaws and internal contradictions in this recent doctrinal change is painfully obvious to anyone not emotionally married to the underlying beliefs.
Loyal Witnesses should be shouting, "Wait! We've only followed you because we believed you really are the 'Faithful and Discreet Slave.' If you've been wrong about your own identity all this time, then we shouldn't be following you!" But in reality, it's all pretty quiet in the Kingdom Halls. The only protestations are pretty much limited to blogs like this or other similar websites.
Belief systems, especially religious belief systems, are tragic comedies playing out on a stage in the Theater of the Absurd. I'm just glad that I am now merely a member of the audience rather than a player in the play as I once was. It's painful to watch, but still somehow I cannot look away.
I wonder how it will end.