The Pew Forum posted a portrait of evangelical Christian churches that includes the following pie chart:
Bearing in mind that we are well into the 21st century CE, this finding is astonishing. It’s so astonishing, in fact, that the deacon didn’t believe me when I told him about it. He suggested that the respondents may have misunderstood the question. I, citing the fact that I personally heard a sermon within the past decade in which the preacher referred to the biblical Noah’s Ark story as an actual historical account, told him that I find it entirely believable. Sad, yes, but entirely too believable. Wanting to persuade him to adopt my point of view, I found this pie chart, which includes the polling script. Upon reviewing it, he agreed with me that this is an amazing, and utterly pathetic, finding.
It doesn’t take much thought to realize that one cannot hold both of these beliefs coherently. If one believes the Bible is god’s literal word, then one cannot ignore its repeated admonitions that Christianity is the only religion that reconciles one with god and leads to eternal life. That being the case, many religions cannot lead to eternal life. If evangelical Christians compare these charts thoughtfully, they should experience cognitive dissonance of the kind that leads people to reconsider whether their religious beliefs can withstand serious scrutiny. For those who are ready to undertake such examinations, the very least they should do, if they’re honest, is end up revising some of their beliefs. Once they’ve begun the thought-revision cycle in earnest, and repeated it a few (or a few hundred) times, it should only be a matter of time before they jettison their entire religious cargo. Unfortunately, there will always be others who aren’t ready for such exercises. Some of them will remain happily unaware of findings like these; others will shrug their shoulders and accept cognitive dissonance as a normal state of being. If the alternatives to intellectual honesty re: religious beliefs are a) being ignorant and happy, or b) being informed and miserable, this may be a case in which ignorance really is bliss.
– the chaplain