I went to Wikipedia and read more about cognitive dissonance where I encountered several more interesting terms: true-believer syndrome and buyer's remorse. The one I would like to focus on in this post is buyer’s remorse. It may be a misuse of terms, but I think I am justified as it seems to resemble what I believe I am experiencing psychologically after leaving Christianity.
Buyer's remorse is defined as:
An emotional condition whereby a person feels remorse or regret after the purchase of an item. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buyer%27s_remorse)
I have only posted the general idea, it goes a little deeper than this, but you can visit the article yourself if you would like. This ties into the original 'cognitive dissonance' article as their is an example give about Luke and his blender (see the article about half way down). The basics of the example is that Luke buys a blender without really looking into various choices, he gets the one he likes. After a while he realizes after a few issues with the blender and ample reviews of various blenders, including his own, he begins to second guess his decision. He can either settle for what he has and wait to get a better one if he wishes, or just chunk the poor one for a better one.
In the same way I feel this has happened to me, and part of my story in why I left Christianity. At the age of 14 in a small Oklahoma town I was basically given one choice of 'blender' if you will (although they were certainly available in many 'colors'...denominations of Christianity). With only one real choice of religion in my area I 'bought the same blender' everyone else did. What does a 14-year-old kid really know about religion anyways? But through the years I realized there were other choices, LOTS of choices. This is where cognitive dissonance came in. I began to 'justify' my decision, looking for any evidence to prove that my religion was the best one. And as far as the 'defects' I explained them as not really defects, that everything could be easily answered through time and faith. But it's kind of like driving a Porsche after driving a VW Bug for so long, you can only make so many excuses before you realize that the Porsche REALLY is a better vehicle. Once I became exposed to logic and reason I began to second guess my worldview. I realized that there was a better 'blender' out there and that I could easily have it.
But I have to admit I am going through a period of buyers remorse because I feel that I have wasted 12 good years of my life using a faulty product when I could have had so much better. I realize that it seems I am throwing the metaphors around, and I won’t be so naive to say that I don’t deal with cognitive dissonance still, but I am happy at least that I got this whole thing sorted out before my wife and I have children. Oddly enough we were told we couldn't have kids, and in the same month that I give up religion (and deny the Holy Spirit for all you takers of the 'Blasphemy Challange') my wife gets pregnant!
Anyways, just more thoughts from a freethinking okie.