I am always amazed when materialists/atheists/philosophical naturalists spend hours, books, essays, and talks regaling us with their reductions of everything in life to the material, to atoms, and matter in motion, only to then turn around at some point and tell us out of the other sides of their mouths that they still are able to find a place in life for “spirituality,” “imagination,” the “inner life,” and so on.
What they forget to tell us however is that their world-view has no place for such notions. Clearly these areas of life exist and are a part of our reality, so the naturalist must deal with them and talk about them, and yet he has to borrow the vocabulary and concepts to do so. If this universe is nothing more than an accident, if we are accidents, if there is no purpose or meaning to life, if we are simply matter in motion, if free-will and our minds are illusions- nothing more than something like the secretion of an ethereal bile, then talk of meaning, spirituality, imagination, the inner life, and the enchantment of art and beauty is nonsensical and completely without any logical basis whatsoever.
And yet they must live in this world, in their bodies/minds, among a majority of people world-wide who now and throughout the centuries believe there is more to this world than the physical. Their minority opinion, plus the fact of their own lives and minds (existence)—these twin empirical proofs arrayed against their own ideology—compels them to make room somewhere in their world-view for spirituality or enchantment. In other words, regardless what they say they believe, they must live as if their world-view is not true in the areas any serious and sensitive person would contend are the most important: The good, the beautiful, and the true—or what would encompass the spiritual or enchanted. It is another reason they turn science into scientism, which really operates as a religion.
What makes us human and differentiates us from slugs is that we know life is more than eating, drinking, reproducing, and then death. What makes life the wonder it is are all the things we know the least about and understand even less in any materialistic way: Spirituality, enchantment, sacrificial love, forgiveness, gift-giving, music, art, poetry, literature, beauty, peace, God, transcendence, memory, consciousness, our silent deep emotional reactions to sunsets, sunrises, Yosemite, babies, a hug, and so much more. The moment we begin to speak of these areas in terms of utility, evolution, or as simply the result of neurons sending signals to nerves, then muscle, how can but the most obtuse and dull-spirited not see that the whole point, the whole sense, the true significance of these things, has now been lost and missed?
All the terminology and concepts related to spirituality and enchantment arise from people articulating over the centuries their sense of these things from an awareness of transcendence encapsulated in the stories they tell. From events, experiences, relationships, and what is described as providence, narratives arise compelling enough to become larger than an individual or group, large enough to create as it were cultures, indeed, civilizations. In the West, this is exactly what Christianity did.
The materialist however must borrow the imagery, the language, and the concepts invested by those events, experiences, and relationships because his world-view could never produce such concepts or language to begin with; and, of course how could they since part of his narrative is a reaction against that very language and those concepts. Imagine the poverty of a world-view that has no place for, or way to speak about out of its own narrative, what for even the holders of that view would qualify as the most important areas of life: The good, the true, and the beautiful.
So the materialist/atheist/philosophical naturalist like the spoiled child of several generations of millionaires must live off the borrowed capital he never produced but simply inherited from those who actually toiled and had the narrative resources to produce it in the first place.
When thinking of their plight I believe David B. Hart put it best:
“Though we may not all have concepts available to us to understand it, all of us experience from time to time that kind of wonder that for Plato and Aristotle is the beginning of all philosophy, that sudden immediate knowledge that existence is something in excess of everything that is, something not intrinsic to it, something strange in its familiarity and transcendent in its immanence. This is an awareness so obvious that there may never be a theoretical language sufficiently limpid and innocent to express it properly, but in it is a wisdom basic to all reflective thought. To fail to see it requires either an irredeemably brutish mind or a willful obtuseness of the sort that only years of education can induce. And this, I venture to say, is why atheism cannot win out in the end: it requires a moral and intellectual coarseness—a blindness to the obvious—too immense for the majority of mankind.”