Naturalism, Materialism, Consumerism

To make sure we’re all on the same page, please read the following definitions.

Naturalism: the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations

Materialism: a desire for wealth and material possessions with little interest in ethical or spiritual matters.

Consumerism: A preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods.

QUESTION: Based on the definition for Naturalism, does Materialism naturally follow? And does Consumerism then naturally follow Materialism?

A blogger seems to think so. He writes … if the physical world is all there is then we must get all of our fulfillment from material things in this life.

He further suggests … consumerism is one of the logical outcomes of materialism. 

Background: This blogger is a pastor of a Christian church, which naturally follows that his outlook is different from many of us. Nevertheless, his perspective on this particular issue intrigued me and I decided to open it for discussion.

What do you think? Does one follow the other? If we reject spiritual or supernatural explanations about our world, will we then be entirely focused on the accumulation of wealth and material possessions? Will our entire focus on life be directed towards the buying of consumer goods?

P.S. Someone left the following comment related to this blogger’s post:  It is indeed silly how much time, energy, and money we invest in things that are destined to disappear. I couldn’t help but think to myself … It is indeed silly how much time, energy, and money some people invest in things that don’t exist.


Like To Read? Don’t Miss This Opportunity! is sponsoring “Read an E-Book Week” starting Sunday, March 4th and running through Saturday, March 10th.

I have decided to participate and will be offering my book (Things I Never Learned in Sunday School) for $1.00. Yes, you read that correctly. One Dollar (regularly $3.99 @ Smashwords and $3.49 @ Amazon).

Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard of my book — or perhaps you’ve been thinking of reading it but weren’t sure you’d like what it might contain.

Either way, here’s your chance to download it for a measly dollar. Even if you end up not liking it, what’s one dollar in today’s economy? And you can always delete it off your computer/tablet/phone and no one will be the wiser. 🙂

Of course if you do decide to take a chance … and end up LIKING it (!) … I would always appreciate a review on Amazon and/or Smashwords.

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about what the book is about, visit

Things I Never Learned in Sunday School

Does “Evil” Exist?

On a couple of blogs I visit, there has been extensive discussion on the word “evil” and whether or not it played a role in the recent school shooting.

On one of these blogs, the owner asked where the idea of good or evil comes from. Although I knew the answer he was looking for, I decided to do a little research. Following are some of the things I learned.

For many, the concepts of “good and evil” are essentially moral standards derived from the bible. As one source put it, “… it is His holiness that defines it” (evil). Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland noted that “Evil is a lack of goodness” (i.e., Godliness). Moreover, the bible says God is love (1 John 4:8); thus, one would assume the absence of love in a person is un-God-like — and therefore “evil.” Simply put, to the Christian, the word “evil” is associated with morality and ethics (i.e., whether something is “right” or “wrong”) and this is determined by bible teachings.

Probably the most defining concept of evil is related to the belief in Satan, who many see as the epitome of evil.  Consequently, if we take the word evil literally, it means the work of Satan (or the dEvil). As one source put it, “Those who practice evil are in Satan’s trap and are slaves to sin.”

Some who use the term ‘evil’ are implying that evildoers are “possessed, inhuman, or incorrigible.” This is unfortunate because when the word is misapplied, used perniciously, or used without sensitivity, it can be harmful … even dangerous.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that the concept of evil should be abandoned because it has a negative effect on human potential and vitality and contributes to an unhealthy view of life. Other philosophers feel the concept involves  unwarranted metaphysical commitments to dark spirits and the supernatural.

Interestingly, the word “evil” is not defined the same in every faith:

  • To the Bahá’í, evil is a concept for lack of good (e.g., cold is the state of no heat, darkness is the state of no light, forgetfulness the lacking of memory, ignorance the lacking of knowledge, etc.).
  • To the ancient Egyptians, it was simply a lack of order.
  • To the Buddhist,  evil means whatever harms or obstructs the causes for happiness in this life.
  • In the Islamic Faith, things that are perceived as evil or bad are either natural events (natural disasters or illnesses) or caused by humanity’s free will.
  • In Judaism, evil is not real since it is not intrinsically part of God’s creation.

Hence, the next time someone asks you if a particular act was “evil,” your best response might be … “It depends.” 🙂

One final thought (from the study I reference below):

The problem of evil is the problem of accounting for evil in a world created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God. It seems that if the creator has these attributes, there would be no evil in the world. But there is evil in the world. Thus, there is reason to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good creator does not exist.

For anyone interested, further information on the topic of evil (from an academic perspective) can be found here.


God Is Back In The White House?

“Thank you President Trump for bringing GOD back to the White House after 8 years of Obama banning Christmas and prayer!!!!” – Trump supporter Comfortably Smug tweet 2-19-18

One of my favorite bloggers just posted the above tweet, along with this photo and the following comments credited to our upstanding “leader.” I simply couldn’t resist copying and sharing them. (BTW, I understand a new allegation against him has just been reported.)

  1. “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
  2. “You have to treat ’em like shit.”
  3. “I have days where, if I come home — and I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist — but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.”
  4. “They said, ‘How are you going to change the pageant?’ I said ‘I’m going to get the bathing suits to be smaller and the heels to be higher’.”
  5. “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” 
  6. “I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and f— her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily… I moved on her like a b—-, but I couldn’t get there.”

Of course if you believe people like Rev. Franklin Graham and other “men of the cloth,” tRump is an upstanding, washed in the blood, pure and undefiled Christian!


“There Is Something Wrong”

This post title was part of a comment made in response to a lengthy conversation taking place on a Christian blog. When one reads the NUMEROUS comments (for and against Christiandom), no matter which side you’re on, you will most likely find yourself saying,  there is something wrong here.

Personally, I saw many things that were “wrong” in the conversations. But of course my perspective was from a non-Christian viewpoint. In any case, I’m sharing a few of the comments for consideration and discussion.

The topic of the post was why “we” killed Jesus … and the blog owner expanded on this as follows:

[T]he WORLD (societal construct) is flawed. We all live in this “world” of blame-shifting, fear, revenge, murder, greed, envy, and “us against them.” Therefore, it’s this MINDSET that killed Jesus. It’s the same mind behind the system we are all a part of, whether we like it or not.

This person believes the aforementioned “mindset” is “our” natural inclination to SIN, which by definition means: “Estrangement from God; An act that is regarded by theologians as a transgression of God’s will; The act of transgression against divine law; Any thought or action that endangers the ideal relationship between an individual and God.”

Or perhaps, as one person defined it …

I would call all horrendous actions “sin”. It doesn’t matter whether the act is committed by “religious people” or “non-religious people”. All horrible acts are “sin”.

NOTE: I agree that “horrible acts” are most definitely an offense against other humans. But are they SIN?

Many in Christianity believe humans are sinful by “association.” That is, because Adam and Eve (our spiritual parents) ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil after God told them not to, we are all guilty of the “sin of disobedience.”  However, the blog owner says this is not what the bible teaches and contends the doctrine was “invented” by Augustine in the 5th century … based on a “mistranslation of Romans 5:12.” Hmmm. A mistranslation …

NOTE: I’ve always found it interesting that much of today’s bible interpretations come from the early church fathers, who were simply men (!) who determined (i.e., interpreted) the meaning of various passages in the Septuagint (the oldest Greek version of the Old Testament translated from the Hebrew) based on their personal perspectives. I often wonder why religionists grant these individuals with such special powers of “determination.”

Rather, in his opinion, we are sinners simply because we sin. But why do we sin? Because we live in a “flawed societal construct and it’s this CONSTRUCT that led to Jesus’ death at the hands of the Romans and Jews.” Got that? O.K. Let’s continue …

He goes on to say this is very different from saying we’re born sinners because if everyone were born sinners then Jesus would’ve been born a sinner and that would create a theological absurdity, which a proper understanding would not do.

NOTE: Someone called this “word salad.” I tend to agree.

The question was then asked by the blog owner: By whose moral standard is right and wrong determined? Why are certain acts conferred immoral? What standard is being used? Public sentiment? If so, then (he contends):

[T]he South was morally right to own slaves since the “public pressure” in their culture was to own them. So, by what right do you have to judge slaveholders? And there are still parts of the world where selling children is normal. Who are you to judge those cultures? And on what grounds is your moral superiority?”

It seems he wants to know what moral standard we are appealing to if not the “morality” of the bible. Of course he believes there is no morality except via the invisible supernatural entity called “God.” Yet there are primitive tribes existing on this planet today who have never heard of the Christian god and seem to manage their “morality” just fine without any outside assistance.

NOTE:  Certain Pygmy tribes found in Africa have no identifiable cults or rites. They have no totems, no gods, no spirits. They bury their dead without special ceremonies or accompanying items and receive no further attention. In fact, some tribespeople, when asked about “God” respond, “Is he on a rock? On a white-ant hill? On a tree? I never saw a god!”

Me neither.

Final point: Doesn’t it feel like there’s something missing when our determination of what’s “wrong” is based on the ideology presented in a centuries old book full of myths and legends? What ever happened to the basic ability to understand and judge based on a simple perception of the situation or facts at hand?