“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” -Frantz FanonBeliefs, Waste, and Daydreams
It seems to me that the avoidance of cognitive dissonance is a major cause of many of the woes of humanity. The problem that activists and atheists face is finding a way to loosen the hold people have on false core beliefs. I consider myself agnostic as I don't hold a core belief on the existence of soul, afterlife, or deities. I'm open to new evidence in either direction. However, as atheistic beliefs tend to be far less harmful than theistic beliefs, there's much less benefit from shaking them from their certainty of nothing.
Our current state of affairs is a horrendous waste of potential. Think how awesome life on this planet could be if we overcame this bullshit. If you can't imagine it, you haven't watched enough Star Trek. For starters, I still can't speak in plain language to my computer and have it draw up the schematics for a whale tank. As I both loathe and embody wasted potential, I sometimes daydream trying to think of ways to free people from their false beliefs.
What follows is one such daydream, something I'd never do - but might just make a point:
Shut up and Take It
As services ended, some of the churchgoers trickling out noticed his sign and became curious. They slowed their walking and started conversations with each other, not wanting to be the first to engage the smiling man in the business suit. They did their best to position themselves for a good view without prompting the man to engage them with a sales pitch, but finally a pretty young woman in a long blue skirt and conservative blouse bravely approached the man.
She asked the man, "What's all this about?"
He replied, "I'm simply offering a free service, ma'am. It's good for one to know where they are in their walk with Christ, so they can learn to better serve the Lord. I'll be happy to help you, but first I need you to sign this waiver."
He gestured toward the stack of papers, and the young woman picked one up and began to read it. By now, the more timid parishioners had formed a circle around the table. A group of young men, also in suits, had gotten out of a nearby van and were positioning themselves in the crowd. They had agreed to perform as a security detail for the man if the crowd turned violent.
The woman read the waiver, which had been written by a shrewd atheist attorney. By signing, the woman would be agreeing to hold the man neither criminally nor civilly liable for his role in administering the test. Feeling safe surrounded by members of her church, the woman in the long blue skirt set the waiver on the table and reach for a pen.
The moment she finished her signature, the man stepped forward and slapped her across her left cheek.She raised her head and looked at him, stunned, and he reversed his swing and slapped her left cheek with the back of his hand.
She stepped back and began to voice objection, but he had moved forward in pace with her step and slapped her left cheek again, her objection lost to the stinging in her cheek. Anger had risen in the churchgoing men in the circle about the table, but the man's associates were in position and restrained those who attempted to take action.
"Forgive me," said the man in the suit, still wearing his friendly smile. He stepped backwards to his position near the table and the sign. "You did well."