Rationality, and understanding the virtue of thinking

My parents were Buddhists, and have always implored me to accept and embrace their religion. While they have never explicitly forced it upon me, this mysticism made me accept that there might be a supernatural realm or being that I was not capable of comprehending. As such, for the most of my youth I was largely agnostic; indifferent to religions, subscribing to the view which would later I would identify as pantheism.

As with any religion, it came with an arbitrary moral code that made little to no sense. Why must one accept suffering as moral? Why is it improper and evil to eat meat? I could not answer these questions, and since I lacked proper answers, I was not able to muster the courage to call myself an atheist. Surely an act of denying the presence of the supernatural for the sake of denying it was just as arbitrary as their doctrines. I could not stoop to their level. I thus came to accept their claims that pride was evil; that humilty was a virtue, or to count on your own ability; since your fate was already predetermined.

It was philosophy that saved me, that imbued me with rationality and let me understand the virtue of thinking. It was knowledge that gave me courage: to refute the irrational, to condemn the mindless and most of all, to understand the fundamental nature and absolute importance of morality. Indeed, the notion of the supernatural is absurd – absurd because it offers no help for a person in his life. Be it mindless stoicism, or mindless acceptance, mysticism only allows for mindlessness, the anti-thesis of life.

Davin Chee

This story was first published on ‘Ask An Atheist – SG’ Facebook page in 2016.