Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Komarnitsky's Cognitive Dissonance Theory of Christian Origins

An attempt to explain how Christianity could have been founded without a Resurrection.


Mr Veale said...

Odd that he doesn't refer to NT Wirght's objections to Cognitive Dissonance theories - for example, that the original study was flawed.

Wright deals with this in "The Resurrection of the Son of God".


Doctor Logic said...

Are you suggesting that cognitive dissonance as a psychological phenomenon is on shaky ground?

It's been verified in about 900 studies so far.

Walter said...


It's been awhile since I read Kris's book, but I do believe that he does deal with Wright's objections in his book.

Anonymous said...

How come the followers of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson haven't claimed to have seen him risen from the dead?

They said he would rise but when he didn't show up they pushed forward the date of his resurrection.

In the literature I've read cognitive dissonance comes into play to explain why reality hasn't conformed to the expectations of the person.

In the case of Jesus if the Apostles expected him to rise from the dead & he didn't it seems to me they would have simply come up with excuses as to why he didn't rise and yet was still sent by God.

It would have been easier (as it is with the followers of Schneerson) then make up this fantastical tale of a resurrection & more practical too.

Anonymous said...

Indeed with the exception of Bar Cochba and other military "Messiahs" this is how other Jewish so called Messiah's dealt with their failure.

Sabbatai Zevi converting to Islam for example to save His life.

Anonymous said...

In the classical UFO cult story the followers of the woman prophetess accept her explanation the UFO's didn't show up to destroy the world because the "god of earth" was so impressed by their faith He spared mankind.

But none of then claim a UFO really showed up that night and told them face to face.

Komarnisky is more reasonable then let say Richard Carrier but I don't buy this Cognitive Dissonance explanation. It's doesn't seem to conform to the experimental data.

Anonymous said...

"it seems doubtful that Jesus' followers would have rationalized something less for the messiah.[5]"

If the Apostles where suffering from Cognitive Dissonance because Jesus did not rise from the dead according to expectations then would the CD have motivated them to that end?

He can't have it both ways.

This is a bad naturalistic explanation. Willful fraud or historical myth are more plausible.

Anonymous said...

If I may re-phrase. Apostles suffering from CD because Jesus did not in fact rise from the dead most likely would have settled for less for their version of the Messiah much like the fanatical followers of Zevi and Schneerson did.

So I don't buy Komarnitsky's response here.

Anonymous said...

"However, many Jews believed that a person's body was required for any kind of consciousness or living presence anywhere."

Some Jews like the Sadducees denied the resurrection all together. Why wouldn't the followers of Jesus simply appealed to the niche market of Jew who agreed with them theologically?

Plus Gnostics denied the reality of the Body and believed in a purely spiritual Christ.

So this doesn't work either. Like I said there this is not a good naturalistic explanation.

Anthony Fleming said...

Anon, Well said.

Anthony Fleming said...

I would also say that the testimony of the apostles does not seem to be one of CD but one of assurance as first-hand witnesses to the event. Has anyone read The Search for the Twelve Apostles? Many of the apostles died horrible torturous deaths for the claim of actually seeing what they claimed to believe. To me, being the actual witness to an event does not seem to be the result of something like CD. Perhaps the CD argument would have something if it was limited to the meaning of the event but not the event itself. That is the part that I think needs explanation and this argument does not explain that.

Doctor Logic said...


Apostles suffering from CD because Jesus did not in fact rise from the dead most likely would have settled for less for their version of the Messiah much like the fanatical followers of Zevi and Schneerson did.

And if they did not initially believe he would rise from the dead, but instead believed he would not have been killed in the first place?

Then CD would explain their behavior extremely well.

Anonymous said...

>Then CD would explain their behavior extremely well.

I don't see how. If they didn't expect him to rise from the dead or be killed in the first place why would their CD conjure such an implausible easily falsified scenario? Where do they get the idea?

People suffering from CD tend to take the path of least resistance.

It would have been easier for them to take the route of claiming Jesus would rise again sometime in the future and make his tomb a shrine.

No, fraud or historical myth are better naturalistic explanations than this one. Indeed on the practical level this is just a variation on the hallucination theory. But with a different psychological malady.