obvious to me that a materialist worldview quickly deteriorates into a nonsensical infinite regress.
If ALL there is is materialist cause-and-effect, if A caused B and B caused C, etc. then we follow the chain back to the FIRST case (let’s say, A) and say, OK, I understand the train of causation, but what caused A? You can’t just stomp you foot and say, “It’s turtles all the way down!”
It’s like (Neo) Darwinian evolution: It might explain the survival of the fittest, but not the arrival of the fittest! It is intellectually shabby in the extreme to just shrug and say, “It must be turtles all the way down!”
As philosophers have long noted, there MUST be something that started all of this. There must be an “unmoved mover.” THAT must of logical necessity be something (or someone) with Free Agency–their actions were NOT caused by anything–the actions arose ex nihilo from the being itself!
It other words, it was creative. Like a symphony or a painting or a poem. It sprang from from a rational agent. Sure, I can create an AI program to look at great music and from that extrapolate to other stuff through brute force, but then that is not creative in any sense of the word. It is just complexly derivative. In fact, it can’t be otherwise!