Why is it that so many people in the developed world have a dogmatic faith in the ability of human societies to overcome any and all problems, and to keep growing bigger, better, faster and stronger over time? Perhaps such beliefs are inherent to the human condition - i.e. some evolved mentality that cannot be changed. I doubt it, though. We have seen examples of smaller-scale communities and societies throughout history and even today that are much more content with maintaining a stable balance with each other and with nature.
Rather, I think we find a large part of the explanation for these delusional beliefs in our developed cultures. We are quite literally brainwashed to believe that humanity has unlimited material potential, and this programming has only grown more frequent and more potent in recent years. Behind almost every new popular entertainment fad, there is the repetitive message that humans have the potential to become super-humans, post-humans or perhaps even Gods. Take a look at some of the examples below:
This one speaks for itself. Superheroes in comic books and on television are by no means a recent development, but they have overwhelmed the movie theaters over the last decade. Many these super men and women have derived "supernatural" abilities from the "unstoppable" progression of scientific research. In the case of the X-Men, it has been through genetic mutations and intentional genetic engineering that their powers were created - a field of scientific research that is highly developed right now. Characters such as Batman and Iron Man, instead, have relied on highly advanced technology to accomplish their super missions.
VAMPIRES & WEREWOLVES
Here we have a rapidly growing phenomenon in popular culture that focuses on the ability of humans to become immortal and to gain fantastic strength. Traditionally, vampires were thought of as scary and harmful creatures that should be avoided. Now, in stark contrast, they have been romanticized in books, television and movies to become the role models of almost every child born after 1990. The vampires are sexy, charismatic, cool, intelligent, powerful and even noble and caring.
They are misunderstood humans who have been persecuted throughout the ages by "normal" society, but in reality they have played a large role in defining the nature of humanity and its eventual future. We find a similar dynamic in mythical stories about werewolves, who are commonly associated with super strength, speed and the ability to shape-shift. Many of the vampire-based shows and movies also incorporate werewolves and other mythical creatures into their story lines.
People of all ages have been seduced by these sinister narratives in a spectacularly frightening manner. We even have companies marketing drinks like "Tru Blood" for people who want to gain the super-human traits of vampires, or at least play out the fantasy in their heads. They come complete with blood types and descriptions of what those blood types will do for the person consuming the "blood". Apparently, Type O has an "arrogant independence" and it is "strong to the point of ruthlessness" - a perfect blend of bloody beverage for the "impulsive kingpin". I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a great description of the people who are running our world into the ground right now - quite literally feeding themselves off the blood of millions.
ROBOTS & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Once again, a category that speaks for itself. The iconic representation of robotic evolution in pop culture is from the Terminator series, in which self-aware machines take over the Earth and proceed to battle pockets of human resistance. They eventually decide to travel into the past and terminate the leader of the resistance before he is ever born. Here we have the concepts of highly advanced technology/weapons, artificial intelligence, time travel and robot-human hybrids all wrapped together in one tight narrative.
There are obviously significant amounts of scientific research devoted to making some of these concepts into reality, and in some ways they have already succeeded at limited scales. In fact, the growing field of "transhumanism" is entirely devoted to "transforming the human condition" in very similar ways. While researchers in this field claim to also focus on the "ethical" issues involved, we all know that humanity has a tendency to subsume ethics when it gets in the way of technological advancement.
Wikipedia: Transhumanism, abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".
The aliens infiltrated pop culture soon after Roswell in the 1950s, but they really bombarded television and movies in the 1980s, and have been growing more popular ever since. They are present in everything from animated movies for small children to extremely violent movies for adults, and, what's more, the underlying themes are not very different for either target audience. Here we have the idea that highly advanced biological creatures that evolved in other parts of the Universe are visiting humanity to extract resources or impart knowledge or some combination of those things.
Whatever the motives of these aliens, we are told that they have supernatural powers and technologies that any human would be a fool not to covet. In fact, movies like Prometheus have incorporated the very popular idea of directed panspermia - an idea that is actually taken seriously by a few academics out there - which suggests that advanced aliens are the original creators of humanity and have been guiding our evolution ever since. The undeniable message is that humans have the genetic blueprint to evolve into creatures just like these aliens, i.e. the equivalent of Gods with unfathomable technological prowess and the ultimate power over the creation and destruction of life.
Is it really any wonder, then, that our societal leaders constantly feed us propaganda about how we will grow our way out of economic depression, how we will innovate our way out of energy and environmental disasters and how we will consciously evolve our way out of violent conflicts and wars. There are many serious transhumanists out there who believe we will reach some sort of "technological singularity" and effectively become the immortal rulers of Earth. All of this would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact that so much time, resources and propaganda are actually devoted to making these things a reality, as well as convincing everyone that it can and will be done
The avenues of popular culture are both tools used to influence the collective mentality, and a reflection of the collective mentality that is already ingrained in global society. It sells because we want to believe it, and we want to believe it because it sells. Make no mistake, the entertainment industry is all about politics, programming and outright deception these days. What we see happening in elite policy circles is not much different from what we see happening on our television sets and in our movie theatres. They want us to believe humanity is becoming omnipotent by following their lead, but instead our cultures are quickly becoming impotent.