Cognitive dissonance is “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”
Atheists will go to great lengths to deny evidence that does not agree with their presuppositions. In one article I outline five reasons why I am absolutely certain that miracles occur today, and some of that evidence is based on eyewitness testimony (testimony through academic studies and my own personal work via interviews).
Now, the atheist, I have noticed, is usually quick to play his Humean card. He will simply rehash Hume’s old argument by claiming that it is always more likely that an eyewitness is wrong than that a miracle actually took place (of course that simply defines a miracle out of existence & is based on circular reasoning). However, the irony is that such a dismissal of evidence by the atheist based on Hume is merely accepting Hume’s own testimony. But the atheist likes this testimony, so it must be okay (ignore all other testimony that disagrees with Hume though).
But here is the point: the atheist, to sustain his worldview, must try to explain away eyewitness testimony by any means possible. They will usually do this by generally claiming that eyewitness testimony en masse is unreliable and cannot be trusted. Hopefully by doing so he does not need to answer the evidence that opposes his worldview – so why not dismiss it all? That’s far easier than providing answers. But atheists are also hugely inconsistent here. Firstly, does the atheist doubt his own eyewitness reliability? Would he give me an answer if I asked him what TV series he watched last night (an answer he expects me to believe)? If eyewitness testimony is so unreliable, by his own criteria, why should we trust him when he says that he watched American Horror Story? However, the atheist is yet even more inconsistent; let’s consider a few more examples.
Say, Dan and his friend Mark, both atheists, are lost and they want to find The Steak Grill restaurant. They stop on the side of the road to ask a couple, who both look well acquainted with the local area, for some directions. They both give Dan the directions (and they’re both consistent in their explanations) and Dan tells Mark: “It’s no use! That’s about the worst possible place to start when modern research has shown eyewitness testimony to be horribly, horribly unreliable. I guess we should just go home.” Would any of us do that? We’d be silly to. But consider another example.
John, in a discussion with Dan, claims to have seen a rare leopard subspecies in the Russian mountains since he recently visited there on holiday. This leopard is one of the most rare subspecies to ever live. However, Dan won’t have it because he thinks that this leopard is only found in India. So John decides to give him a nature journal. Dan looks at the journal article & it reads: “In this study we documented extensive reports from indigenous hunters of the Primorye mountain region who have reported witnessing an animal fitting the exact description of the leopard.” Dan has a sigh of relief, he says: “Is that all you got, John? Don’t you know that that’s about the worst possible place to start when modern research has shown eyewitness testimony to be horribly, horribly unreliable?” With that Dan thinks he’s won the argument by refuting the evidence; John looks at him thinking ‘are you being serious?’
So, do atheists consistently live by this principle, or is only when it comes to documented evidence for miracles? Obviously not. He only applies this criteria when good evidence contradicts his assumptions – and miracles happen to do just that (and we happen to have strong evidence for miracles). This point can even further be driven home. What about our law courts? Courts put much emphasis on eyewitness testimony to a crime, in fact, criminals end up sitting 30 years behind bars on the basis of just two or three eyewitnesses who saw him murder his girlfriend. Imagine Dan being a judge. It would be ludicrous as, if he were to apply consistency in his approach, the law system would be a joke. What about sense perception? Hasn’t sense perception on occasion been shown to be “horribly, horribly unreliable?” Because of that should we rule sense perception as a totality for understanding the world? Of course not, that would just be silly. But again, where is the atheist’s consistency?