Monday, August 5, 2013

Materialism: Meaning is an illusion. Science: People need meaning to thrive.

I've written before that materialist pseudoskepticism is harmful. A new article in provides more evidence of this. The article explains new research which shows that having meaning in life is good for your health. In that case, materialism may be harmful to some people because according to materialism, meaning is an illusion. Some people might find it hard to have meaning in life if they believe materialism is true and that meaning in life is an illusion. The research also showed that that happiness comes from selfish taking, meaning comes from selfless giving, and that meaning is healthier than happiness.

I don't believe in materialism, materialism is not a rational philosophy, it is falsified by several independent forms of evidence for the afterlife, but I am not saying materialists should change their beliefs because it is harmful, materialists should believe what they think is true. However, I've argued that materialist activists should not be on a crusade to spread their harmful beliefs.

Here are some excerpts from the article in that show lack of meaning in life is harmful:

Meaning Is Healthier Than Happiness - Emily Esfahani Smith - The Atlantic (via TDG)

Meaning is helthier than happiness.

People who are happy but have little-to-no sense of meaning in their lives have the same gene expression patterns as people who are enduring chronic adversity.


But a new study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) challenges the rosy picture. Happiness may not be as good for the body as researchers thought. It might even be bad.


It seems strange that there would be a difference at all. But the researchers, who looked at a large sample of people over a month-long period, found that happiness is associated with selfish “taking” behavior and that having a sense of meaning in life is associated with selfless “giving” behavior.


"Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided," the authors of the study wrote. "If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need.” While being happy is about feeling good, meaning is derived from contributing to others or to society in a bigger way. As Roy Baumeister, one of the researchers, told me, "Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily make us happy.”


“Empty positive emotions” — like the kind people experience during manic episodes or artificially induced euphoria from alcohol and drugs — ”are about as good for you for as adversity,” says Fredrickson.


This is too bad given the more beneficial gene expression pattern associated with meaningfulness.


From the evidence of this study, it seems that feeling good is not enough. People need meaning to thrive. In the words of Carl Jung, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” Jung’s wisdom certainly seems to apply to our bodies, if not also to our hearts and our minds.

Copyright © 2013 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.