Stopping Points

This is a very serious belief of mine that I take rather seriously, so I should not be writing a short post about it at 2:35 AM on a Sunday. As with all such ideas, I’m sure other people have expressed it elsewhere, in some other way, but it has occurred to me and so I would like to write it down.

I believe that our sanity and consistency is based primarily on what I like to call “stopping points.” These are essentially simple concepts, statements, or ideas that mark the end of a line of inquiry. I believe there is one at the end of every single line of inquiry we can imagine. While it may be obvious to the individual that the “stopping point” can be deconstructed and analyzed, most people will not even think to do this, because it satisfies the mind for its own purposes. I imagine a starting point from which all our thoughts branch, like threads. At the end of each thread, I imagine a little walnut-like object that contains a thickly-knotted ball of thread, and all the loose ends, that could stretch on forever if unrolled. Those are the stopping points.

My belief is that the stopping points are fake. We invent them so that we can stop thinking, when in reality it just goes on and on until who knows what, when or why. Maybe it loops around and comes back to where it all started.

A common example might be to ask a common person on the street what everything is made of. If you’re lucky, the person might say that everything is made of “atoms,” or “electrons, protons and neutrons.” If you’re luckier, they might run on a bit about quarks, leptons, or some drivel about strings (and let’s face it – we scientific types proudly mention “string theory” as if we have some understanding of it, but despite having read a few books on the subject, I still haven’t a clue what the hell string theory really is and you probably don’t either). But under few circumstances will the person self-start a discussion about what that is made out of. They will stop there and fold their arms. If you want people to shrug and start saying things like “the stuff” or “I don’t know,” you have to twist their arms. You have to crack the little walnut.

There are people who believe that life on earth was seeded by aliens, and/or that these aliens are responsible for guiding and studying human affairs. That is their answer to the question of how life got on earth, and various other strange circumstances surrounding our existence. But I have never read much about such people discussing where these aliens came from, what possible purpose they could have for us, and what the point of creating humans and studying them is. I imagine that if such beings exist, they ought to be asking themselves that question. They ought to be depressed, really, unless they are so enlightened that their ways are not our ways. But for people who believe in such aliens, the aliens are a stopping point–no more questions need to be asked, because the undiscovered information is presumed to have some bearing on further inquiry. Perhaps if we knew the aliens, we’d know something that would help us answer those bigger questions. All we need to know is that the aliens are there.

I would like to raise the point, now, that God is a stopping point in the mind of all people who believe in God. This is not the same thing as saying “Who Made God?” (since if there is a God, nobody can possibly fathom such a question). It is to say, rather, that assuming a transcendent and omnipotent God does not make things make any more sense, if you are willing to keep on thinking about it. We now have this omniscient God who made humanity. So what? I mean, whence this God and his universe full of little creatures who argue about his existence? Is this some kind of a game? Previously we had an absurd scenario full of impenetrable mystery. Now we have a God who was responsible for creating this absurd scenario full of impenetrable mystery, and I dare say that raises even more questions than we had before. When the questions behind the questions are asked, I am not sure that anyone can find sense.

Every person has a limit to his or her knowledge, and without stopping points the person would bleed out, so to speak. I know this information because I read it. I read by obtaining the information through my eyes, which is processed in my brain. Processed in my brain. It’s just three mysterious words, but it does the trick. We would all go nuts if we tried to think otherwise. I submit that to proclaim the existence of God (as the answer to “why”) is the same thing as to proclaim that everything is “due to natural law.” God and “natural law” serve the same purpose in that particular context: to put an end to the regress, and to put us to sleep at night.

Although I will say that aside from the terrible nightmares (which have stopped lately), the events of late have put me to sleep a lot faster, because you don’t have to think when you’re asleep.

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6 Responses to “Stopping Points”

  1. Thank goodness for not thinking when you’re sleeping. It’s a reprieve. This post is exactly what I feel but couldn’t put into words. And that question “why”; I haven’t been able to think of a single satisfactory answer. Maybe there is no answer.

  2. But why would, and how could, there be no answer? 😉

    No need to answer that.

    (That winky face isn’t how I actually feel about that statement, but I’m programmed to put it there).

  3. I really mean maybe the answer is unknowable which would be pretty much the same thing. If I can’t know the answer is it pointless to ask the question?

  4. I’m just being difficult. I’ll give you my honest opinion, though. I think these things are unanswerable (and if something gets answered, it will be because CERN opens a portal or something), but I don’t think it’s pointless to ask the question because asking the question changes how you live, and there’s a chance that how you live might not be pointless.

    For instance, after asking myself these questions so much, there are various things that I’m not going to bother doing in my life. And there are a few others that I probably will, that I wasn’t going to before.

  5. Well I’m certainly not going to engage in many, or any, competetive things anymore.

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