Whether consumer goods ultimately bring happiness or not is a matter of opinion. But producing happiness is not the purpose of the consumer good. The consumer good has to perform the way the seller says it will perform. A candy bar has to have sugar, peanuts and chocolate in it if that is what the seller says it has. A pair of jeans has to have two leg holes and reach from your waist to the ankle. A car has to start and get you from point a to point b. A tv has to turn on and show you entertainment. A computer has to connect you to the internet and send email. And so on.
No matter who you are, the product has to work for you the same way the seller says it will. If not, the seller is a fraud. Most consumer goods in real life don't operate on faith.
The Faith Based Car: a Parable
Suppose you buy a new car, the FaithmobileTM because it was the kind your parents drove. You remember it having a few problems, but it ran most of the time. However after many attempts, your new FaithmobileTM just won't run.
You go to the seller and complain. The seller says that the FaithmobileTM only runs for people who have enough faith in it. They have to show their faith by getting down on their knees in front of the car and reciting the first words of the car manual each morning. You vaguely remember, back when you were little, your dad and mom doing that-- and making you join in sometimes so the car would start.
You roll your eyes and try it, what the hey, right? But the car still does not run.
You read the manual cover to cover and can't find anything that explains why it won't run. How much faith is enough to make the car run? Nobody can tell you. But if the car doesn't run, then clearly you don't have enough.
You then look up the stats on this make of car and find out that less than a third of the people who buy one are able to make it start. The other two-thirds end up returning the useless car but never get their money back. The seller now says that the car only runs for people who truly believe in the car, and sincerely welcome the car into their hearts, as well as have enough faith. What? You wonder how this car company stays in business.
You find some of the people who managed to get their car to start. They all get down and recite in front of the car just like you did. And their car starts--for some almost every day, for others, about half the time. They all admit that they don't have 100% faith in their cars, and that is why they can't get the cars to start every single day. It is all their fault-- they are not perfect owners, or else the car would always run.
You are stunned. You ask them why they feel solely responsible rather then the seller or the maker of the car. They don't answer directly, but all name this one guy who bought the car years before who could always get it to go-- he was the perfect owner. His name and photo are even in the back of the car manual. But nobody knows how to get in touch with him anymore to find out his secret. If he could always get the car going, they could, too. If they have enough faith in the car. They just have to keep on trying. Can't lose faith or then the car really won't start. Ever.
And even though it doesn't run a lot of the time, they are all going to pass the car along to their kids.....
There is a new car out called the SciencemobileTM. It costs a bit more than the FaithmobileTM, but it starts 98% of the time, or your money back. No bowing or reciting or having faith. It just runs for everyone. You are going to get one. "Well," your FaithmobileTMfriends say, "sure the SciencemobileTM can work as a back-up car, but you still have to keep your FaithmobileTM as the main car."
You are even more amazed at how gullible these people are. You tell them they are being scammed and cheated. You ask why they don't just scrap the clearly dysfunctional piece of crap and buy a car that actually starts every time and runs well. That is what you are going to do. "The FaithmobileTM doesn't work," you shout in exasperation. "Why do I want to keep putting energy, time and money into something that does not work?"
They look at you as though you have sprouted horns and a tail.