We’ve already looked at how evolutionary Naturalism gives us reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties to discover truth, And Naturalism’s close ontological cousin, Materialism, has also failed us.
Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are identical with material interactions. (Wikipedia)
For more background on this subject. consider reading these posts:
When the materialist-driven Enlightenment Age birthed the Industrial Age, culture began a major paradigm shift toward consumerism. This is from an article at vision.org:
“As recently as 150 years ago, people in the mostly rural communities of the world lived lives governed by the seasons, produced most of what they needed, and stayed in their communities for a lifetime. They valued stability, thriftiness and family.” (Cloer, “Manufacturing a Consumer Culture“)
Now we have “stuff” to fill up our lives. We don’t shop for survival but for psychological and sociological fulfillment—we need the latest styles, the latest smart phone, the nicest house, or the sexiest car—in order to feel like we’re alive…to feed our ghosts.
This societal fishbowl we’ve been swimming in has engulfed both atheist and theist alike. It effects every area of our lives: our careers, our politics, our relationships, and our mental well-being.
We used to see ourselves as human beings created by God with infinite intrinsic value…now we’re consumers.
It’s interesting how this term has been cleverly shifted in people’s minds in just the last 100 years.
“The word consumption increasingly lost its earlier connotations of destroying, wasting, or using up, and came instead to refer in a positive way to the satisfying of human needs and desires.” (Stephanie Coontz, “The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap”)
So, how did we get this way? According to Bernardo Kastrup (Brief Peeks Beyond), we can lay the blame on our materialist paradigm. Even though largely debunked by advances in quantum mechanics, materialism’s persistence is sustained by its symbiotic relationship with our economic system. The following excerpts are from pages 147-149 (emphasis added).
“By linking consciousness and personal identity to limited and temporary arrangements of matter, materialism inculcates the following subjective values in our culture: life is short and you’ve only got one to live; the only source of meaning lies in matter –after all, nothing else exists –so the game is to accumulate as many material things as possible; we should consume as fast as possible, even at the expense of others or the planet, for we have nothing to lose since we’re going to die soon anyway. It’s easy to see how these values encourage runaway consumerism –err, ‘economic growth’ –and reinforce current power structures. Indeed, in a significant way, our economy depends on this value system.”
“Never before have we been so wealthy and dominant as a species, but have our lives ever been as meaningless as today? Materialism crushed most of the myths that lent significance to the lives of our ancestors. We’ve become orphans of meaning. We go on chasing one material goal after the other, as if there were a little bag of magic goodies at the end that would retroactively bestow meaning on the entire enterprise. This is akin to chasing ghosts. What do we live for? Life has turned into a mad scramble for the accumulation of things and the status they confer, for the sole sake of leaving it all behind at death.”
“Shockingly, it is illusions that maintain our mental balance. We need ghosts to chase, because once we see through the game and realize what is really going on, we question the sense of it all and may succumb to apathy and depression.”
“The more we accumulate, the more we have to lose, so the net result of achieving ‘success’ is the opposite of what we would have hoped: we become even more paranoid and stressed out. Life quickly turns into an appalling nightmare; a self-created horror show where we play both victim and perpetrator. And since we don’t know of any other option, all we can do is engender some new ghosts to chase. This goes on and on until the cycle repeats itself enough times that the illusion can no longer be sustained. We are then left mentally broken and defeated.”
“You see, the illusion only works for as long as it lies in the future, just out of reach. Like the proverbial carrot hanging in front of the horse, the entire allure of wealth and status lies largely in not having them.”
“When purchasing a television set was a magical, nearly untenable consumer dream rich in projected meaning, its appeal was huge. Now, other things have to be invented that can serve as receptacles for our projections, from smart phones to cars, to porn-style commercial sex, to major promotions at work. As with any addiction, it gets increasingly harder to achieve the same high. Eventually, we will no longer be able to keep up as far as engendering sufficiently numinous material aspirations.” (p. 147 -149).
“And today’s magicians truly possess the powers they claim: the occult energies of matter have really been unlocked, the secrets of the cosmos truly fathomed, and the realms of physics, biology, chemistry, and so on—the chief glories of the modern age—are also now places where real monsters can be bred, and real terrors summoned out of the depths of nature.” (Hart, “Atheist Delusions“, p. 233)
We’ve lost the plot because we failed to listen to what we’ve always known. As Jesus put it:
15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15)