14 June 2023
Cognitive dissonance is a term for the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other. The clashing cognitions may include ideas, beliefs, or the knowledge that one has behaved in a certain way. According to the social scientist Leon Festinger, “When a person experiences cognitive dissonance the person tends to change the belief, attitude or behavior in order to restore consonance.” This has often resulted in behaviors that appear irrational, such as when cult members respond to failed prophesies, as Festinger and his colleagues described in their ground-breaking study, When Prophecy Fails. Yet, cognitive dissonance is a normal human behavior and has good explanatory power in helping us understand the ways in which individuals and groups respond to a variety of challenged expectations, including those regarding religious belief.
In this talk, I will examine scenarios from the Old and New Testament, as well as more recent religious history, to show how cognitive dissonance has worked to help God’s people adapt to changing circumstances, leading them to adjust their beliefs and practices as situations change. In each case, new religious beliefs and practices, even scriptural interpretations, were forced by the discomfort generated by changing facts. We are left with the question of what changes beckon in our time? What do the new realities of the 21st century, new scientific understandings and social trends, demand of us?
Austin C. Archer taught for four decades at Adventist and public educational institutions in Trinidad and Tobago, Indiana, Illinois, and Washington state. He is an emeritus professor of psychology and education at Walla Walla University. He currently serves as the head elder of the Walla Walla University Church.
Loren Seibold is the Executive Editor of Adventist Today.
How to join:
One-click link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82645396997
ATSS starting time depends on where you are. If you’re on the west coast of the United States, it’ll be 10:30 AM. On the east coast, 1:30 PM. Because of time changes in various parts of the world, please double-check the correct time where you live.
The class is intended to last about 2 hours, though the conversation often continues to 4 PM (Eastern time).
About our class:
- The AT Sabbath Seminar is intended to be a courteous forum. We discuss and ask questions politely. We don’t accuse, get angry, put people down, or judge the state of their salvation.
- Stick to the topic in both comments and chat discussion.
- Make your comments and questions short—don’t dominate.
- Keep your microphones muted unless you are called upon to make your comment or ask your question.
- Indicate your interest in speaking by raising your electronic hand—under the “reactions” button.
- Please use your name when you sign in! Not your phone number, not your initials. This will help us differentiate you from unwelcome guests who want to disrupt us. You can set your name after signing on by clicking on the 3 dots next to your picture, which drops down a menu.
We look forward to getting acquainted with you!
- Bryan Ness
- Austin Archer
- Jim Wibberding
- Lindsey Abston Painter
- Rolf Pohler