Up to about fifty years ago nobody minded admitting that life was a disappointing thing which opened with high hopes and sounding trumpets, moved on to frustration after frustration, and terminated in a disillusioned crawling to the grave.
Nobody minded, because everybody supposed that all this was merely the prelude to another life in which they would be promoted to some kind of unimaginable bliss.
But, fifty years ago, exponents of popular science began to hammer it into these optimists that the notion of a hereafter in which everything would be put right was utter nonsense.
There was, they pointed out, no future life for any of us; and our world, in sober truth, amounted to nothing more than an execution chamber – dealing as expeditiously as possible with a continuous procession of new victims.
It would be foolish to revile God for this, because there was no God to revile.
That picture, it seems, was too grim for the human mind to face fairly and squarely. People in general believed it, but they turned their backs on it.
Then someone arose to point-out that gilding the walls of the cell - making the room bright for the next batch of condemned prisoners - would be, in these circumstances, a truly unselfish occupation; and the intelligentsia jumped at this distraction...
They concentrated upon decoration; and soon they were all shouting to one another: 'See what a beautiful place we shall make of it someday'.
A handsome antechanber to eternal extinction! That had become the highest hope in which humanity might indulge...
The old-stagers among our materialists have been disturbed very greatly by the discovery that, beneath to-day's flood tide of almost universal intolerance; there is running, as a more evil undercurrent, a definitely malicious contempt for all human life.
They had assumed that the first step towards rendering any man good tempered and companionable would be to convince him of his own complete insignificance in an entirely senseless world, and to promise him a rapidly approaching end.
That the victims of this delightful teaching should, thereafter, start snapping at their fellows like any other lot of trapped animals has puzzled beyond measure these naively optimistic sociologists.
Many of the latter had taken it for granted that a creature with only one fleeting life to lose would regard this as too precious to be risked in any conflict, so that the triumph of materialism would herald universal peace.
But Man has taken a different line. He is sensible enough to realise that a life which is to be poisoned at every instant by the knowledge that it is a mere scurrying to extinction is a life which cannot be worth any one's preserving.
He is consistent enough to perceive that the termination of all human existence in a general holocaust would be a happening of no great moment.
...The foregoing is written as a warning addressed to those overworked scribes to whom truth per se means nothing at all, but who take it for granted that materialism, right or wrong, is to be supported at all costs because it will assist progress and assure peace.
Edited from JW Dunne. The New Immortality. 1938.
The above passage (from 1938) is a lucid and striking account of the psychological and social effects of what has now become mainstream, official, mandatory public discourse and the basis of all public policy throughout the entire Western world.
Dunne interprets this as an unintended consequence of intellectuals who lack adequate understanding of human nature. He assumes that the advocates of materialism and atheism are well-meaning fools, who will back-off from their activities once hey can be convinced of their malign consequences.
However, eighty years downstream, and with the entirety of the global ruling establishment not only doubling down on their incoherent ideology of materialist progress and utilitarian social engineering - but actively enforcing lies, nonsense, and sin while persecuting virtue, beauty and truth; I regard things quite otherwise.
Materialism was deliberately made the public norm is clear understanding of its destructive, demotivating, despair-inducing and insanity creating consequences. And for those demonic powers behind materialism; things are working our just fine - pretty much exactly as they had hoped-for.
The mass of people apparently now actually want materialism to be true, and for their lives to be an antechamber to extinction; they will refuse to consider otherwise, and indeed will actively attack anyone putting forward an analysis of the incoherence of the arbitrary assumptions leading to such bleak conclusions.
Hostility is now directed at those who try to practice goodness; and official admiration (awards, medals, status, fame, money, jobs and promotions) are showered-upon those who advocate and cooperate-with the agenda of materialism, atheism and value-inversion.
Dunne's world was one in which ordinary people felt sadly compelled (by 'science') to believe that Christianity was un-true; but three generations on, we live in a world in which ordinary people regard Christianity as wicked; and they would not want it, even if it was true...
For many modern people; the idea of this world as a handsome antechamber to eternal extinction is preferable to a created world of purpose, meaning, permanent relationships and creativity - but in which they would be required to acknowledge and repudiate their pet sin (often sexual in nature).
So the intelligentsia were correct, after all...