Thinking Fast and Slow
Daniel Kanheman expounded this theory of the existence of two systems, named system 1 and system 2, in our thought process. System 1 comes into play when answering a question like “what is 2+2”. On the other hand system 2 kicks in for the questions “what is 721/13”. One is merely some kinda lookup table while the other is more procedural, algorithmic in nature. System 1 is microsecond level fast, while system 2 is orders of magnitude slower. Well this concept has been explored way before Kahneman, but he found out certain set of biases in system 1, which manifests our understanding of the reality. This discovery has wide application in social marketing, finance, decisions, etc. Daniel Kahneman won the coveted Nobel price for this astonishing discovery. The book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, for a rather mundane title, is breathtaking in its scope. is a must read. The book dwelves deep into the reasons why we took certain decisions and why we reacted the way reacted.
It is apparent that religious belief is a system 1 activity. Our gullibility is just system 1 in action. Our nature to immediately believe in a religious entity and derive satisfaction out of it is evolutionary in nature. Our brain want to conserve energy and cannot afford the luxury of overthinking which is an energy intensive process. We are satisfied and happy by the explanation of the presence of a supernatural entity which is comforting and just attributing every unexplainable act to the God. On the other hand once we are asked to disprove the presence of
a God we don’t believe in, say for eg, Zeus, it is the system 2 in action. It carefully tries to evaluate the existing data, information and tries to draw a conclusion which may or may not be valid. System 2 systematically tries to reach to a solution however unfavorable the solution is. In a nutshell believing in God is a system 1 result, while not believing in God is a system 2 result. Looking from a different perspective how much thought process has gone into a person to believe in God vs not believing in the same God. It is rather the non believer of God who has put tremendous amount of thought process to overcome his supposed gullibility arising out of the dominant system 1, to eventually reject the God hypothesis.
Risk aversion is another fundamental bias of the system 1, compared to profit seeking behavior of system 2. A believer is almost sure of his beliefs that he wishes death to a change in his belief. “Man is born with a cruel thirst to worship”, opined by Bertrand Russel holds true. A profit seeking nature requires taking risk, which is brain energy intensive. Merely to avoid risk is the safest proposition which will guarantee being in the comfort zone, which aligns with most of em’s objectives. Risk takers who can afford to have a little more of their system 2 in action will at some point will derive satisfaction from his behavior.
Given these discovery that brain operates in two modes, a recent development, and the most of the belief system we possess is the result of biases in the system 1, which we never got to activate system 2, to reach a more objective conclusion,