I’m a recovering rationalist.

I stopped seeking for truth. Now I only seek for usefulness.

Till my early 20’s, I used to run my life around the belief of “everything happens for a reason”. An extended version is: everything is perfect as it is, everything I need to know will be shown to me, everything I need will be provided to me, I am right where I need to be, doing what I need to do. This is not related to any religion, just some made up belief I decided to hold. I wasn’t and still am not a religious person.

Then in my late 20’s I learned about cognitive biases. I was embarassed by the thought that I had been “that” irrational. I realised that “everything happens for a reason” was basically me falling prey to confirmation bias. I grew smarter. Rationality was my refuge. With it I carve myself a safe distance from emotional vulnerability.

In my 30’s now, I realised that it isn’t necessarily stupid or useless to hold a belief that’s inherently a confirmation bias.

Both faith and rational mind are just tools I can use. I have the power and choice to believe whatever I want to belief as long as it’s useful for me at that point in time.

Faith is where you learn how to surrender. Faith is how you learn how to trust. Faith lets you get comfortable with uncertainty, to befriend unknowing. Faith lets you inoculate yourself from sunk costs fallacy: you are able to let go, accept, and move on faster. Faith is a surprisingly effective protection against some of the cognitive fallacies.

Actually, “cognitive tendencies” is perhaps a more accurate term. These pathways are hardwired for a reason. They help us survive.

“Three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.” – Anne Lamott, “Help”

These days whenever I read/hear people say “it’s God’s will”, I still think to myself: “not really, you’re just telling yourself stories to make sense of and make peace with the events in your life. No matter what happens, you’ll be fine, you’ll manage. You’ll do your best with what you have”. I won’t say anything to them though.

The 20 y/o me would also not say anything to them, but will judge them silently for being an irrational being. The me now would just think, “yay, good for you”.

I’ll think what I want to think and they can (and must) think what they want to think. Thinking and acting for yourself is the thing I respect the most from a person.

These days I try to be less a rational fundamentalist. I’ve overdosed on logic, critical thinking, and skepticism. It left me numb. I’m addicted to the illusion of control, the pursuit of objective truth, and the morphine to deal with uncertainty. I ran myself to the ground.

I could easily stay blissfully ignorant in faith or suffer in the false enlightenment of rationality. I now want to get to a place of being at peace with rationality and make peace with faith.

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