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Friday, August 26, 2016

Cognitive Distortion: Black and White Thinking

Dennis Diehl's post on "Cognitive Dissonance" (http://armstrongismlibrary.blogspot.com/2016/08/cognitive-dissonance.html) over at Banned by HWA got me thinking about the way that most of us approach most subjects. Let's face it: Many of us have adopted some form of dualism in the way we think about things. Don't we tend to choose one of two extremes (or at least we tell ourselves that)?

In the United States, we have long standing traditions in this regard. Historically, one was either a Federalist or an Anti-Federalist, an abolitionist or a supporter of the institution of slavery, a Democrat or a Republican, a Conservative or a Liberal, a Capitalist or a Socialist/Communist (many on the Right see the two as being essentially the same), etc.

Moreover, when the subject of God or religion is introduced, this phenomenon tends to become even more pronounced. You're either a Theist or an Atheist. If your a Christian, you're most likely to identify as Protestant or Catholic. And, if you're a Christian, you definitely want to be hot (the preferred position) or cold - You DON'T want to be lukewarm! In short, many of us seem to shun the middle ground.

However, we should all be able to recognize and acknowledge that the real world doesn't work this way. There are certainly extremes like hot and cold, but aren't most of us somewhere in between? What about tepid and all of the variations in between that middle and the two extremes? How many of us are true Atheists or Theists? Aren't most of us somewhere on the Agnostic continuum? We tell ourselves that there are only two alternatives, but aren't there many many more?

I've always believed that one of the most ingenious features of the American political system is its institutionalization of the principle of equilibrium between the two extremes. However, it seems that many Americans have lost sight of this important feature of their system. Most folks seem truly oblivious to the fact that if either side's program/platform was adopted wholesale that it would mean disaster for our republic. Traditionally, the best legislation to emerge from the Congress of the United States have been the bills where folks on both sides of the aisle have had to hold their noses and vote for a compromise piece of legislation that didn't fully satisfy either party.

I think that these considerations should be instructive for all of us in formulating our viewpoints - especially in the spiritual or religious realm. Is acceptance or rejection of the Judeo-Christian canon the only two options that are available to us? Does it really have to be Genesis or Evolution? Does it have to be myth or reality? Is it really Magical vs Scientific? Come on folks! Who are we kidding? Let's get real!

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