" I think those kind of issues of "how does society function?" or "what is the true relationship between my faith and God?", they take a backseat to survival at times, but when the people I come across think about it, they have almost always accepted that these questions may be beyond them, or beyond all of us, and the best thing to do is just muddle by the best you can."
Attitudes like the ones talked about here are attitudes that were possesed by the vast majority of people who argued and called people who thought the world was round idiots. When people claimed that the earth was not the center of the Universe, and the moon, stars, and planets are not gods they were called heretics. An attitude that i get alot from people is " Most people believe this, therefore its true", or "Everybody does it". With these kinds of attitudes we will never progress intelectually, and discover new things.
Believing that we hold the truth in our hands, and that we are special (and, once we become parents, that our children are the most wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, ever) has survival value. At least it has for most of our history. And this truth is so obviously true that the fact that others don't see this truth proves our superiority.
Maybe that explains something about the second question as well. Most people think the truth is obvious, and should be taught. No need for the messy stuff about questioning our own beliefs.
A lot of people I talk to despise the idea that history is relative. I was taught in school that the civil war was fought to free the slaves. A lot of germans dont even believe that the holocaust happened.
Our children are gonna be taught that the Campaigns in afghanistan and Iraq were fought against terrorists, and to free the muslim women, and to liberate kuwait from the wrath of a dictator.
Indeed. Capitalism cannot thrive without deceit, The guy in store A isnt gonna tell you that store B next door has a better product for the same price. Or for that matter that you dont need to buy his product to be happy. He wont thrive if he tells you the truth.
Imagine, for instance, if we all suddenly stopped believing in the propriety of 'casual consumption'? Thing would deteriorate pretty damn quick! The last thing a society needs is millions of truly critical, individual thinkers, second guessing all the assumptions that entrench its existing hierarchies. The best thing for it to do, rather, is to cultivate the illusion of independent, critical thought. That way, it's members can convince themselves they have already done all the work required (which seems to land me back in the lap of your second point, Prunesquallor!).
I'm convinced that in our society we call this illusion 'INDIVIDUALISM.'
Willful denial the single most dominating factor in how people think about the metaphysics of the world. We should never stop questioning everything thats shouved down are throats, and we should teach are children to question everything.