"Since English isn't my native language and I don't have the lyrics of this song 'Materialist', I'm probably wrong and only basing my opinion on the chorus' lyrics. But I think it's just about people who only care about what they have and what they can buy ('Material Boy/Girl'), so only touchable things that you can show. And when you have a lot of material stuff, that everyone will look up to you, because other people also think the same way and are jealous. But again I say I can be very wrong, so correct me if so."
-Artus From The Netherlands
"I think he might be referring to the theory that states physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena..."
"I think Gregg means the philosophical materialist...because he says 'I'm a materialist, call me a humanist' ..and if I'm not mistaken, there is something called materialist humanism."
"A pretty straight forward song. The preceding two interpretations were pretty much dead on. Materialism is a philosophy adopted by those who wish to avoid a teleological explanation for existence. The song makes a sharp contrast between faith driven perspectives and that of the lyricist. The lyricists admits to being tempted by the other side in the like 'The process of belief is an elixir....', yet ultimately is bolstered by his insistence for a natural explanation for his world around him. Ex: 'Don't talk of hidden mystery with me'. I could add more about specific allusions but I will let others handle that."
"He is OBVIOUSLY referring to the philosophy idea of materialism. In the history of philosophy there are some basic dichotomies, and one of them is between materialism and idealism. The first (materialism) is represented by natural sciences, and was born with the very first philosopher: Tales of Mileto, followed by Democrito of Abdera and everyone who thinks that the world can be explained referring only to the elements found on it. It surely includes today's Big Bang theory. On the other hand, there's the idealist opinion, whose first exponents are Parmenides and Plato, and is more related to Mathematics and deism. It (very) basically postulates the transcendence of the world. The terms empiricism (David Hume) and rationalism (Immanuel Kant) can be loosely attached to each other as their modern equivalents. However, the problem is more complex than it seems. As far as I'm concerned, Greg Graffin postulates a rational-naturalism, a synthesis between science and ! common good. That belief is commonly associated with agnosticism and Marxism, although the labels are always misleading. I encourage everyone to study philosophy and enrich himself further. Bad Religion is only the first step, and there's a deeper world of knowledge in the classics."
"This song is about the philosophical materialism for sure ('It's there for all to see / So don't talk of hit and mystery / With me'), but it talks about the consequences of this materialism, such as skepticism ('I get so full of doubt'), scientificism ('That will deem your common sense useless') and atheism ('The process of belief is an elixir when you're weak')."
"When Greg says 'Recycling the past of / Mid-immediate needs', I think he's referring to religion and other myths. The religious myths originated in Stone Age when humans didn't had long range vision: their only worry was to found food and shelter. And when he says 'And through it all we amble forth / The perseverant climb / Our mountains of regret to sow our seeds', he is referring to the fact that while religion and myths are always present in human history, science is hardly climbing the mountain of knowledge."
"Materalist is about Greg's skeptic side. He won't take into account any unnatural happening of something such as UFO's or ghosts or unexplainable psychological differences in the human as truth unless there is physical proof. We live in a material world, and things go by the rules of physics. You cannot break the rules because there are no consequences..etc."
"Scientist brought up the definition of materialist, which states belief in only the physical. But also notice he says 'I ain't no Deist" Which is just as bold, and takes quite confidence to say and mean. He's denying existence of a god that created the universe and then let it be, with no intervention. It seems like he's just sick of debating with religious people."
"I am pretty sure they are referring to religion in the song. It shows how he wants to believe but when he has no evidence to back up his beliefs then he is just wasting his time."
"Okay, Iíll do this one line by line for the most concise look at it. The things before the explanations are line indicators. The lines are according to the lyrics found at < http://thebrpage.tierranet.com/disco/albums/tpob.html#6 > so if you want to know exactly what line Iím talking about, crack open another Internet Explorer window and follow along on both. (1-3) I think these lines are a way of saying that by the time you realize that you should be living your one and only life, you will be too old and feeble to be listened to. (4) I think this line means that life isnít just a short break from some greater plan and that these 50-100 years are the real deal and all we have. (5-7) He is basically talking to what he sees as a fake God (which I often do myself in songs) and saying that heíd like to believe that there is something beyond life but the evidence is against it so you just have to clench your teeth and live your own life. (8-9) A materialist is someone who is only concerned with the life he/she is currently living. A realist is someone who doesnít beat around the bush and takes things for what they are. The ideas go hand in hand. (10-11) Basically translates to ďItís too hard to swallow so Iíll just resistĒ (12-13) A materialist, only thinking of the present and his/her life, would not be afraid of some final judgment in the end. (14-15) The facts (or lack there of) are in plain view so a materialist would not want to be told there is something that may or may not be unveiled at the end of his/her life. (16-17) There is no point to seeking a higher ground mentally if it allows the physical world of the present to get to you. (18-20) Basically, life sucks then you die. Is that part of a master plan? (21-23) Sometimes it can be helpful to belief in something like God or grand design but itís only for those who have no faith in the world. (24-26) Same as above (27-29) A deist is someone who believes God created the universe then abandoned it. The singer (possibly Greg depending on the sincerity/sarcasm of his words) is saying that heís not trying to move on from some terrible abandonment but the he just doesnít care about anything other than his worldly possessions. (30-33) Nero was the ruler who caused the massive fire in the Rome. Heís saying that after this, nothings waiting for us. The second line (I think) means that we should forget the past and make due with what life we have now. The third and forth lines in this group mean (I thinkÖ) that even after all weíve been through we still try to appease some God by putting ourselves through physical suffering (such as climbing a mountain) and the spiritual strain of trying to make penance for some deep-seeded regret for sins. Iím not claiming to completely right on everything here but I think I have the gist of the song relatively well pinned down."
"Materialist is not, curiously enough, about materialism. Notice how he actually pronounces materialist. He says 'mata-realist', stating that he is basically a realist in that he sees this is a materialistic world. But more than just materialism, he sees basically the little chance that our world has left, and because he recognizes this, he is a realist. Materialist is just a clever way to state that he is a realist, the song isn't totally focused on the quest for material objects."
"To quote Encyclopedia.com, 'Materialism, in philosophy, a widely held system of thought that explains the nature of the world as entirely dependent on matter, the fundamental and final reality beyond which nothing need be sought. There are many types of materialism since it originated as far back as the 4th Century B.C. by Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus.'"
"Sam pointed out that he says 'mata-realist'- perhaps what this is a poor translation of the term 'meta-realist.' I imagine that meta-realist would mean something like someone who is interested in realism, as an idea. BR's songs often deal with ideas of what is real (Marked, Incomplete, Parallel, Cease, No Control), or in philosophical terms, questions of ontology. It seems to me that Greg is in a very real way a 'meta-realist,' whether this is actually what he is saying in the song or not."
"It seems that the phrase 'Our Futures one big Zero' refers to the thought that there is no afterlife (future), that all we have is now."