Saintly Thoughts

The Terror of the Abyss

Our mind flinches when faced with the infinite regression.  In our experience, every effect must have a cause, but unless we wish to engage with the possibility of such a regression, we must posit some stop gap.  The theists would have us accept the idea of the stop gap being God; in fact, as a means of avoiding going down the mad rabbit hole of the infinite regression, some have suggested that this in itself provides a proof of God (more or less the cosmological argument).  Positing existence, the non-theistic option would appear to be a sort of pantheism, with the universe itself being eternal and the source of its own propulsion.  Perhaps not a bad metaphysical choice, it doesn't exactly solve the issue of the infinite regression, simply accepts it as an integral part of the system and moves on, giving it not another thought.  I wish to suggest that this is a mistake.  We must hold onto the truth of the infinite regression as the truth lying at the heart of existence.  That all our attempts to come to some final understanding of our physical state will meet with failure because they will all give way to some new and ever more complex cause-effect relationship.  The mind reels when it contemplates such a system.  This is not the universe that we would have wished to find ourselves in, not the one that we would create ourselves if given the choice (or so the closed nature of the stories we tell ourselves seems to indicate), but it would appear to be the truth of our existence.  But it is a "truth" that forces me to speak of the term with irony, for it is a truth which has destroyed the very possibility of truth itself.  We will never know truth in this system, only probability.  And the more we sit astride the middle life of the abyss, the more the interior forces of biology and chemistry and physics and quanta etc. determine our very being: forever foreign and unknowable to us.  Our very fabric is infinite, just as the cosmos appear infinite (if not this universe itself, at least the idea of universe in general).  But our experience of the cosmos is something else entirely; not only finite, but known to be so (for we know that we must die).  Thus, what is left?  The abyss, that spiral of unknowing, that unending chain of cause and effect spanning back into eternity.  That abyss is real, and we know it, and thus we cringe away in terror from the spiral of unknowing.  But, might not there exist some "isness" (I cannot bring myself to speak of it as a "thing") lying beyond the abyss?  Our religious texts (whatever else they may be, repositories of physiological contemplation) speak of an unbridgeable divide lying between God and man.  We often speak of the divide in moral terms, but might it actually be more subtle than that?  Might not this unbridgeable divide between God and man be the unending chain of causation?  Do not misunderstand me, there needn't be a God there at all, there need only be the abyss of logical infinite regression.  But if there is a hope for Truth, surely it is there beyond the chasms of madness that it must lie.