No one alive lives without cognitive dissonance, contradictions, and obvious (at least to others) inconsistencies in their beliefs and lifestyles. To deny this is to be human, longing for wholeness, non-contradiction , and perfect consistency to the point of pretending wholeness. It’s also human to get comfortable with some inconsistencies and contradictions while being repulsed by others. It is human to cultivate the mind to be troubled by some inconsistencies, but not others, and hang with those who share the same assessment of allowable and impermissible dissonances and contradictions. This is why birds of a feather flock together. We judge other people on the basis of our differences over tolerable inconsistencies. Living among people that do not share the same recipe of approved inconsistencies is too disruptive for the average person. It’s humbling and difficult to live peaceably with constant reminders of inner contradictions. We need a tribe.
But the free-spirit, the rogue, the maverick and the secret doubter doesn’t like tribal groupthink, he thinks and thinks and thinks. But the problem with thinking and turning over more stones is that one keeps finding contradictions and faults.
The question is what to do with the vexing problem of cognitive dissonances, contradictions, and inconsistencies that make so much noise in our heads. To linger on them is troubling. The fact is that the troubled soul is often little more than an overactive mind that dwells on the contradictions and inconsistencies and cognitive dissonances it perceives in systems of thought, others, and himself. The jarring and clanging noise of square pegs being hammered into round holes disturbs some “over-thinkers” so much that they might go to extreme measures to numb the pain or succumb to the low-grade fever of crankiness and contrarianism. Introverts may be more vulnerable to this noise than many extroverts simply because extroverts move on to the next conversation before they’ve thought too deeply. But extroverts are avoiding the noise too.
The cure is not the right system of thought. Religion and convictions about life, morals and God can anesthetize the mind and ward off petty probing into inherent inconsistencies even in the most coherent of doctrines. But so can drugs and sex. Or shopping. Or,a sweet friendship.
But what about the mind that can’t get free of the noise? There is no belief system that is not vulnerable to scrutiny, no model life that isn’t guilty of inconsistency. Any truth-claim (as distinct from Truth) will be found wanting by minds better, more cynical, or more inquisitive than the contented minds who rest in it when put under the test for inconsistencies. And no lifestyle is without its contradictions. Theologies and philosophies are not solid enough.
But the experience of God is. This kind of knowing is the faith that starts to clear the clutter. God is, and He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Can you experience God? As a doubter that’s grown in faith over the years, I can say with settled and quiet mind, yes.