By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam
17 May 2022
Cognitive Dissonance Happens Best In The Context Of Faith When You've A Moral Dilemma Of An Agnostic Or A Sceptic As To Which Way Is Correct Or Incorrect
1. Incompatibility (dissonance) could happen when you do something that goes against a value that’s important to you.
2. When you go with a clear conscience and perspicuous consciousness, you're no longer in the prison of religious conundrums.
3. There are the Ayats or the astonishing signs of Allah for the people of today.
A few days ago, I mentioned a term 'cognitive dissonance' in my article, The Profundity of Arabic Language and Its Encapsulated Wisdom, on the profundity of Arabic tongue. One 'omniscient' bloke understood it partially and wrote a piece, " The Quran and the Psychology of Human Behaviour." This very piece is a classic manifestation of the Arabic maxim, " You teach best, what you need to learn most."
Well, before I descant upon this subject, I need to enumerate upon the term ' Cognitive Dissonance." Cognitive dissonance describes the discomfort experienced when two cognitions are incompatible with each other. This incompatibility (dissonance) could happen when you do something that goes against a value that’s important to you. Or maybe you learn a new piece of information that disagrees with a long-standing belief or opinion. Loosely speaking, it's like 'Cognitive Dilemma' or ' Cognitive Dichotomy.' One must read American philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel C Dennett's seminal book, ' Consciousness Explained ' (1991). The author, who has no religion and whose faith in god is cipher, writes that, " Cognitive Dissonance happens best in the context of faith when you've a moral dilemma of an agnostic or a sceptic as to which way is correct or incorrect. But when you go beyond that with a clear conscience and perspicuous consciousness, you're no longer in the prison of religious conundrums. Your perceptions are lucid and you're a free individual and you've a Cognitive Resonance in your personality. "
Coming back to the 'polymath' writer's piece on the website of New Age Islam, he has tried to create a picture as if those who deny god's infallible signs are outright sinners, who suffer from Split Personality and Cognitive Dissonance. Got to say, an absolutely imbecile perception! In fact, a (devout) believer's worldview is blocked by his/her religious view/s. He or she tends to look at the world from the perspective of his or her religious beliefs. Won't that be a recipe for ' Cognitive Dissonance'? If the cataract of religiosity or religious view is not removed, it may worsen into glaucoma and the person will be completely blind.
Now it's time to reread what he claimed: " It was beyond anyone’s imagination that the Universe at one time was squeezed tightly together (to a size less than that of an atomic sub-particle) before the expansion, or the idea that our universe is forever expanding, or of the property of Time that it is relative to the frame of reference of the observer, and, therefore, a cosmic day that the Quran talks about, is not our 24 hour day, but could be one thousand, fifty thousand or even hundreds of thousands of years, that the predominant component of all living beings is water? These are the Ayats or the astonishing signs of Allah for the people of today. Such Ayats are not to be found in any previous scriptures. These Ayats not only provide evidence that the Quran is the word of Allah but that Muhammad (pbuh) was a true prophet and not an impostor plagiarising the previous Books as alleged by the enemies of Islam."
Alright. The notion of the Ever-Expanding Universe is in the Quran along with the relativity of time. But he's suffering from the Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza's ' Error of Scriptural Monomania ' and the classic ' Misplaced Uniqueness Syndrome.' Moreover, the Quranic Arabic word ' Musi'un ' ( 51:47) may also mean ' expand, ' though it actually means ' vastness.' Isn't there a difference between ' expand' and 'vastness'?
While the former is forever in motion or flux, the latter is static. Remember, a truckload of Quranic verses are too Mubham ( Arabic for obscure and unclear). Anyway, let me ask Mr Na-sar, whether he has gone beyond his Islam and its scriptures? Has he heard of the Upanishads and the Vedant? For his knowledge, written down between c. 800 - c. 500 BCE for the first six (Brhadaranyaka to Kena) with later dates for the last seven (Katha to Mandukya), the predominant 13 Upanishads are considered the “end of the Vedas'' (Vedanta) in that they expand upon, explain, and develop the Vedic concepts through narrative dialogues and, in so doing, encourage one to engage with said concepts on a personal, spiritual level.
All primary Upanishads dwell upon Consciousness (Chetna), Nature of Universe (Brahmandasya Prakriti), The Relativity of Time (Samay-Saapekshvaad; Danish Nobel laureate Neils Bohr went on to hint that his coeval Albert Einstein got a vague idea of Time's Relativity from Upanishads).
All Upanishads clearly state: Chetnam Brahamand iti vadante ASPHAALAN (The Universe like Consciousness or vice versa is ever-evolving and expanding). Even Ashwaghosh (despite being a Buddhist and not believing in esoteric mumbo-jumbo) wrote in his Buddhacharita (early 2nd Century): AVIRAT Anant Seemaheenasya Brahmaand Iti Paridhi Nimasya (It's a mixture of Pali and Sanskrit).
Sir Edwin Arnold translated it into English in his brilliant book, ' The Light of Asia' : Continuously expanding Universe whose centre is everywhere but circumference nowhere! Where was Islam in the second century when the spiralling scope of evolution, human consciousness and the universe were being discussed in the Eastern or Oriental Consciousness? Chandogya and Taittiriya Upanishads, imbibing the idea from earlier Upanishads, called Time: Samayheen Samay Sapeksha (Time is not bound by worldly time).
Not only that, this 'Daanishmand' writer should also delve into Zoroastrians (poor people who were driven out of marauding Muslims from Iran a millennium ago) and their holy books like Avesta and Zend Avesta, written in old Iranian which's phonetically and semantically very similar to Vedic Sanskrit. In one of Gathas, you come across: Soyen (Pahlavi or Old Iranian for 'Samay'-Time) sad Virtan (Time is always relative) and Conain (later Konain in Arabic for Kayenaat) Phir Aadan (Universe expands).
Moreover, three earliest Upanishads also discussed the concept of Bahu-Brahmanandam (Brahmand Ekam Kimva Anekam? ) which is now a possibility as cosmologists are of the view that there's not ONE (Universe) but MULTIVERSES! Show me the concept of MULTIVERSE in your book. And can you forget the recurrent refrain in Vedas (particularly in Rig Veda, predating Islam): Jal Pratyek Jeevanasya Apariharya Ghatakam (Water is an indispensable component to all lives)? Here, my point is not casting aspersions on any one book. All are the same. I've gone beyond that. Readers might be thinking that I'm quoting oriental books.
So, I'm a Hindu. Utter garbage! I'm a HUMAN who has studied all faiths but chose to stay aloof and mind you, that's not my Cognitive Dissonance! Much before the Quran, same things, even loftier ideas, were discussed, done and discarded as humans advanced and evolved. But no punishment was decreed as the Megalomaniac Semitic God, esp. the Allah like the god of Old Testament, frightens his slavish followers with dire consequences and mindlessly orders the visiting Muhammad (reference to Shab-e-Meraj, Night of Ascension) to tell the Ummah to offer Namaz for 50 times a day! Muslims across the world should be eternally thankful to Moses who persuaded Muhammad to bring it down to five times, sending him to and fro to Allah. Imagine, had the benevolent Moses not intervened, Muslims would have been offering Namaz 50 times a day! Only a Megalomaniac Allah can be so narcissistic.
In short, your Quran is not the exclusive one in proclaiming the timelessness of time and the expansion of the Universe. Its Bhooto Na Bhaviyshate is seriously under scrutiny.
Lastly, 'Can prayers help'? Indeed, they do help those who're lily-livered, god-fearing and terribly helpless, not those who're EVOLVED, EMANCIPATED and ENLIGHTENED. Neurologists have come to the conclusion that mentally strong and evolved humans don't resort to prayers. Yours truly never prayed to any damn god. What didn't he get in life? To quote my own couplet in Urdu, " Kashmakash-e-Imaano-Kufra Se Aazaad Hoon Main/Ho Ke Munkir-e-Zaat Bahut Shaad Hoon Main." I needn't translate it into English.
An occasional columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian.
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