Cognitive Dissonance: A Civil War of the Psyche

One of the great challenges of apologetics in our times is destroying the arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God (II Corinthians 10:5). This is not due to the soundness of secular arguments but rather their plurality. There has always been a plurality of arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God; however, modern times are set apart because of the plurality of conflicting arguments that one individual can hold. To compound this situation these conflicting arguments can be coherently held within the framework of the cognitive divide. (See my previous post “The Answer to the Monoculture: II Corinthians 10:4-5 and Acts 17” for more on this divide) If a worldview were defined as “the glasses through which one sees and interprets the world;” then most Americans are wearing bifocals or trifocals, which they use to pragmatically interpret the world.

Apologetics must be an appeal to both the the heart/conscience(1) and the mind. It must appeal to the heart lest they become like the church in Ephesus and loose their passion for God even though they posess a knowledge of Him (Revelation 2:4). It must appeal to the mind lest they become like the Jews who were passionate about God though their passion was not based on a knowledge of God (Romans 10:1-3).

Most of what we call apologetics focuses on the destruction of singular worldviews; rationalism, phlosophical naturalism, Hinduism, consumerism, romanticism, modernism, postmodernism, hypermodernism, etc. Such methods are no longer effective within the cognitive divide framework where one individual can hold multiple worldviews simultaneously. There are not pure postmoderns. One of the oft used examples of this is that no one wants a postmodern banker; since truth is relative your $500 paycheck may only be a $5.00 paycheck to a postmodern banker. No banker ever does that; because they have accepted modernism as their worldview at work. At the same time this same banker may accept a postmodern view of religious truth. This creates quite a challenge for the apologist (which we all are; I Peter 3:15).

To begin to understand how apologetics works in this new environment we must first understand the cognitive divide. I am not sure if there is a specific name for this phenomenon I like the terms: Adaptationalism, Divisionalism, or maybe just Pragmatism. Whatever you call it the basic premise, in its simplest form, is that the mind is divided into two different sectors one sector is dedicated to the worldviews, which govern the objective world, and the other is dedicated to the worldviews, which govern the subjective world. Science and rationality are placed under the umbrella of objective truth while religion and morality are considered subjective. An example of this would be an individual whose predominant worldview concerning the subjective world would be Postmodernism while their predominant worldview concerning the objective world would be modernism. There are other possible combinations: romanticism and rationalism or hypermodernism and naturalism for example.

Once again, the challenge of modern apologists it to destroy whatever worldviews an individual may have and then unify their mind under the total all-encompassing truth of Scripture. Apologetics like this must occur within a relationship with the individual or with the culture, that individual is from (see Acts 17 for how Paul does this). This requires you to listen first and destroy later because we must know what an individual believes before we can effectively combat it.

(1) I have combined the heart and the conscience or several reasons. Namely, because I find the passages concerning the hardening of one’s heart to be similar to the passages concerning the searing of one’s conscience. I think they are separate entities but they share a similar function. Please let me know your thoughts on this.


3 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance: A Civil War of the Psyche

  1. I agree with you, you do need to go get and read some John Frame.
    Start with Apologetics to the Glory of God, it is the best apologetics book available.

  2. I am not a Geisler fan. I may get in trouble for saying this but I think he is a hack theologian and apologist. I say this speaking about his methodology and his exegesis. I am NOT claiming to be a better apologist, I just think these guys are better: Henry, Frame, Schaeffer, and Van Til.

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