We’re looking at happiness and using David Naugle, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness,and what he says here dovetails nicely with our examination of Jean Twenge’s book about the iGens. There is a significant increase in anxiety and depression records today, and there is also a constant pursuit of happiness.
But why can’t people find happiness? Everyone in history has agreed that happiness is the general pursuit of all of us — but humans don’t find it. Why?
Naugle examines both theological and cultural reasons for why we don’t find happiness. We are ignorant of the chief good for humans and we are ignorant for a variety of reasons:
Humans are curved in on themselves for some reason. Naugle points to texts in the Bible, like Jeremiah 10:14 or 13:25 or 17:9 or to Jesus in Matt 15:14 and John 8:12 and Paul in Romans 1:18-25. His point: there is a problem in the cognitive condition of humans.
Why can’t opponents get together and reason together to a peaceful resolution? Why can’t a man and woman, who have at least loved one another in the past or who actually do love one another, make peace with one another? Why do parents turn against kids and kids against parents? Why do good thinkers observe the same phenomena and come to different conclusions? Do you believe in original sin and does it impact the mind? If you don’t buy the original sin explanation, how do you explain this yawning abyss of ignorance and seeming willful ignorance by humans? Why are we afraid of truth?
Naugle then sketches the history of great thinkers who point to a problem in the cognitive condition of humans: Plato’s dark cave, Aristotle’s perplexity about means and ends, Augustine’s abyss of rebellion, Aquinas’ appeal to the intellect’s weakness, Calvin’s perception that the human mind is an “idol factory,” Francis Bacon’s belief that minds are subservient to false intellectual gods, Kant’s appeal to knowing only what appears to us but not what is as they are in themselves, Nietzsche’s belief that all we have is perspective, and Rorty’s conviction that we only have practical tools but not genuine truths.
How odd, then, that so many today want to think only of the positives.
What about the plethora of beliefs in culture of what brings happiness?
Theism: love God as creator and redeemer
Deism: Be good, serve a transcendent God
Pantheism: Live in harmony with the divine cosmos
Polytheism: Placate the gods
Naturalism: Exalt the self and enjoy the world
Materialism: Find pleasures and consume them
Existentialism: Authenticity comes by choosing
Spiritualism: Consciousness expansion, meditation
Paganism: devotion to gods of self, sex, occult, enviroinment, technology, etc