(The Abyss and the Labyrinth)
We continue to be confused, as we always have been, regarding the origination of our universe. This confusion had various names throughout the ages. We have now elevated it to the “Cosmogonies.” This confusion is sometimes identified as a fact and at other times as a theory. “Creation of the Universe” may be taken as a theological identifier. “Theory of Origination of the Universe” has a factual connotation.
Let us not twist these two as the beginnings of a theological versus scientific argument. If that is allowed to occur, then the point I wish to make will surely be lost. What I am addressing is the emotion behind the cosmogonies. Not a one of us, whether bright or dim, young or old, eastern or western, classical or postmodern, has been able to look at the sky (day or night, dawn or twilight) and not wonder where it began or where it ends.
This is the chaos of our minds when considering the cosmogonies. It overwhelms; it creates that empty feeling in our chests that we strive to fill. Some of us fill it with theology and some with science. At times we strive too hard because of the greatness of our wonder. At other times we strive too hard because of our fear.
There is an empty feeling that occurs when we see something much greater than ourselves. It approaches an abyss; an unknown bottomless pit. When this emotion reaches that proportion I would conclude that we are bordering on fear as opposed to wonder.
If fear occurs we not only strive too hard but also too fast. We grasp at straws and accept whatever explanation fills the void. Junk theology and junk science are the usual fillers. Let us tame our fears and look to the cosmos as a large gulf instead of an abyss. Does this result in better, clearer, more truthful answers? It may not; however, it may answer the immediate question and move us a little closer with each generation.
When considering the above question I find that it depends on the trajectory of what we call knowledge. If our trajectory is correct then our response must be “Yes, our answers are truthful.” What if our trajectory is off course or, worse yet, backwards? If simply off course some brilliant (and brave) soul will correct that trajectory with a clear observation. This observation will contain obvious truth and the honesty of it will be above question. (One of these fellows shows up about every two hundred years or so.)
However, what if our trajectory is completely backwards? What if we are losing truth instead of gaining it? What if science or theology is leading us to a dead end? Logical minds ask “How is that possible?” Parochial minds simply give a “Hurrumph” and that should suffice to silence the question.
Let us consider a possibility. This possibility was raised by Frederich Nietzsche when he questioned “morality” versus “instinct.” If he was correct in his assumption then instinct is the compass heading that leads mankind to its ultimate destination; survival. Likewise, he appears to profess that morality will lead us to a weakening of the species. If so, we are just marking time and this possible cancer has already claimed its victim.
Nietzsche’s argument smacks of anti-theology and his work, likewise, named “The Anti-Christ” supports that view. The inflammatory nature tends to offend Christians (with good cause). Therefore his thoughts may never reach those it is directed at. Can we offer a similar argument called “The Anti-Science?” Where are the instincts that our ancestors lived by hundreds of thousands of years ago? Were these survival instincts the only reason that we exist today? Should we abandon instinct when we owe our existence to it? I must agree that instinct ensured our survival.
Taking the argument a step farther let us consider if there is (or ever was) a difference between instinct and truth. Could they have been one and the same for our ancestors? Should they be for us? Have we gone so far as to convince ourselves that mathematical and symbolic abstractions are the only truths. Have we extrapolated one abstraction over another to hide the truth? Do these abstractions remain as truths only in our minds? Are they really truth or do they only symbolize truth?
If truth only exists in our minds, and not in fact, then our trajectory is leading us backwards.
We have then left (far behind) the fear of the abyss pertaining to the cosmogonies. We have replaced it with the abyss of self-deception. The chaos and profundity of our intellectual and spiritual gifts is simply an abyss multiplied by itself.
On the other hand; if we are on an acceptable trajectory (one not perfect, however, correctable) mankind will survive. It may take us a few hundred thousand years more but we will reach an understanding of ourselves. Oh yes, as individuals, each of us will remain with psychological faults. These faults will hide each individual’s actions from himself; but not from others. So, collectively, we will be able to see into the matrices of the mind. That may help us to understand the chaos of those old cosmogonies. It will never answer the basic question of “Where did this all start?”
Beyond the earth we found the solar system, beyond the solar system we found the galaxy, beyond the galaxy, the universe. We will discover more and more. However, mankind’s questions will never fully be answered. His conceit always invents yet another question. This is the labyrinth that we have created for ourselves.
These hedged-in mazes and circular pathways that we labor over (but rarely see over) are the things that mankind busies itself with. We search our way through the tortuous mazes that we invent for ourselves. We lay awake at night fearing, yet hoping, that the complexities of our own questions do not lead to a blind alley. As we walk, our hands brush against life’s hedges; and we are guided to some degree. This keeps us on the path; sometimes not of our own making. These labyrinths that we fear to enter are always negotiated. Yet we never seem to identify and name the exit before exiting.
These labyrinths create, at various times, great anticipation; almost game like. At other times we generate concern over our own personal trajectory. Have we made a poor choice and gone down the wrong path? Sometimes life’s maze creates such fear that we freeze in place; we give up at yet another dead end. We are afraid to move. We sit down and weep. We forget that we are in life’s game.
The great philosopher and poet, Omar Khayyam (11th Century A.D.) told us that Life itself is Life. He said that each part of Life is a learning experience. Don’t give up. Treat each dead end of the labyrinth as a learning experience. Khayyam knew that sometimes we cannot see over the hedges of life’s maze. In those instances he advises us to look up at the stars that guided us before. Use those familiar viewpoints to chart your new pathway.
Life is a complex and intricate labyrinth. It can be perplexing to us; sometimes tortuous. However, we cannot allow it to become an abyss. We as humans can remember each path travelled before. We can understand that dead ends exist only for us to overcome them. We, as individuals, must make those corrections and travel forward.
In that manner, mankind, collectively, can rise above the labyrinth; which is man himself. He can divorce himself of fear and confusion. He can look down upon the maze and clearly see where he is and where he has been. In that way he will be able to project a trajectory of truth.