There can be no doubt that sincere unquestioning belief is one of the greatest hindrance to a true spiritual awakening.
Centuries ago, the English philosopher, statesman and scientist, Francis Bacon astutely observed: “The human understanding, once it has adopted an opinion, collects any instances that confirm it, and though the contrary instances may be more numerous and more weighty, it either does not notice them or else rejects them, in order that this opinion will remain unshaken.”
More recently, psychologist, Leon Festinger, developed his Theory of Cognitive Dissonance to explain our ability to deflect information or reasoning that might challenge our dearly held beliefs.
Festinger’s studies now throw light on the response of sincere religionists, for instance, when confronted by the reported findings of the great spiritual seers and quantum physicists alike. His observations are worth quoting …
“A man with a conviction,” he says, “is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or observations basedon direct experience and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.
But man’s resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen?
The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.”
~ From: When Prophecy Fails, by Leon Festinger, 1956.