I’ve been giving thought to the idea of certainty and how it affects one’s life. In my opinion, certainty is like faith – if you have it, it’s because you believe something so strongly that no doubt remains in your mind. My scientific mind rebels at this, the skeptic in me screaming that you can never KNOW enough to prove beyond doubt using only the evidence of your eyes and your experience. So I remain uncertain, unwilling to commit to only one of many possible outcomes whenever there is even a shadow of a doubt.

There is a hidden cost to uncertainty, though, and that’s insecurity. When you are certain you are doing the right thing, or when you are certain in some aspect of your own future, you are confident and untroubled. Even new information fits into the framework of your certainty, and your faith can remain unshaken. When you are uncertain about your choices and your future, you doubt yourself and wonder how many things lie outside your control or ability to influence. Every new piece of information can trigger a staggering amount of reevaluation and that’s no recipe for confidence.

Is there a middle ground? I wonder about people who “want to believe” – is the desire to have certainty enough to inspire confidence? I feel this way about free will – as many folk I have talked to say, you either have faith in it, or you must live your life like you do, in a “fake it ’til you make it” kind of way. How dishonest is it to fool yourself into certainty? Even if it’s effective, is it worth the cost to open-mindedness?