Maybe the goal is to convince all people that they are things.
(Once that's done, the work of damnation has been achieved - and the rest is just Satan having fun.)
To do this by making the world on that treats all-of-reality as things - only things are really-real.
I believe that effectively and succinctly captures the essence of what could be referred to as the satanic agenda. Furthermore, I believe “convince” is the key word in Dr. Charlton’s observation. People are not really things, but if they can be convinced that they are in reality nothing more than things, then they will act like things and allow themselves to be treated as things.
On the surface, the satanic goal of convincing people that they are things appears to be an abysmal failure. If asked, I sense nearly all contemporary people would vehemently reject the idea that they are merely things and would instead insist on the reality that they are human beings. In other words, very few moderns appear open to the idea that they are just things.
Yet these same moderns also insist upon the un-reality of God, transcendence and the supernatural – which is all discarded as delusional supernaturalism – and choose instead to believe in life as nothing but the random, unguided, accidental, and self-existing evolutionary material “reality” of the natural world, of which they are an integral – but essentially inexplicable and fundamentally meaningless – component.
The problem with this humanistic life stance of being immersed solely in the unguided “flow” of the material, natural world is simple – it does diminish human beings to the level of things. Which immediately raises a question – How do modern people reconcile their rejection of being classified as “merely things” with their humanist, reductionist, positivist, leftist assumptions about their place in a reality that is nothing more than the flow and interaction of unguided things?
Well, primarily by clasping onto a progressive nontheistic worldview that keeps humanity firmly confined within the limits of the natural world yet somehow magically elevates humanity above the laws and forces of the natural world via “humanity”; more specifically, human reason, which strives “to be good without God” through the implementation and pursuit of ethical values informed by scientific knowledge. These scientifically informed values then give birth to the desire to defend civil liberties, establish secular governance based on justice, compassion, and equality as well as the motivation to affirm the dignity of every human being by ensuring their real needs, here and now.
It is the inherent belief in the dignity of every human being that appears to block people from thinking of themselves or other people as things, but this immediately reveals a contradiction. On the one hand, modern people have willingly accepted the belief that they are simply a part of a reality that fundamentally amounts to nothing more than the random unfolding of the natural world. On the other hand, modern people continue to assert that they possess some sort of dignified status within this unguided natural process.
I posit that the inherent dignity of every human being that modern people continue to insist upon is rooted in the divine world – the very world their opposing metaphysical assumptions conspire to deny. With this in mind, it is worth noting that the devil’s greatest tricks are the ones he manages to slip past people undetected. By convincing people that the dignity of human beings originates solely in the natural world rather than the “non-existent” divine world, Satan has shrewdly convinced to humanity to sidestep the spiritual issue of overcoming duality.
In reality, a human being is a bridge between two worlds – the natural world and the divine world, which together form the cosmos. These two worlds are not actually divided because everything in the material, natural world belongs to the world of the divine, but human nature falls into the trap of perceiving the two worlds as distinct from each other as a dualism of existence. A big part of human spiritual development entails uniting the two worlds within man, which can only be achieved through spiritual freedom and creativity. Uniting the two worlds allows for the possibility of a cosmic perspective – a true religious consciousness that experiences the two apparent worlds in their full extent as unified cosmos. But for this cosmic perspective to be born, the natural world must first be overcome.
Overcoming the natural world is not a rejection of it. On the contrary, overcoming the natural world entails redeeming it as part of the cosmos, which requires the recognition of human beings as both essential parts of the cosmos as well as little cosmos in and of themselves.
Overcoming the natural world, overcoming the apparent dualism of existence, and attaining a cosmic perspective are acts of spiritual integration through which the fear, suffering, violence, oppression, objectification, alienation, entropy, and evil of the natural world are transcended.
It is from this spiritual potential and responsibility that human beings derive their dignity. It is here that a human being knows himself to be more than a mere thing. However, a true understanding of this dignity requires a firm belief in God and Creation.
Satan’s scheme offers a faux solution to the dualism of existence. Instead of striving to unite two worlds within themselves as cosmos, people become convinced that cosmos cannot exist and that there is only one world – the monism of the natural, material world in which everything is just a thing. After this conviction settles into place, Satan diverts the call of the divine – which continues to appear in “natural” man as the need for “dignity” – by convincing people of the nobility of natural human-all-too-human-only-human humanity, which is somehow above the natural “thingness” of everything else.
This shift in consciousness locks human beings in the external, material, object world. Stripped of its spiritual aspects, the natural world quickly becomes the “given” world of pure externalities, which is a non-cosmic condition of atomization, alienation, and enmity. Stripped of their spiritual aspects, human beings begin to disintegrate rather than integrate. Instead of overcoming the natural world, man is consumed by it and, in short time, enslaved by it.
Having no foundation in cosmic transcendental values, humanity’s human-only-human values of dignity quickly deteriorate. They are subverted, perverted, and inverted and steadily degrade until they become anti-human values. When the spiritual reality of humanity is openly rejected, it is only a matter of time before the “natural” dignity of humanity is ceremoniously debased, devalued, and dehumanized until it becomes “just a thing” and, eventually, “no-thing”.
When people convince themselves that they are things, the spiritual beings they fundamentally are cannot have a genuine "human" experience in this mortal life. They lose the freedom needed to do what they have been incarnated to do. Instead of unifying the natural world and the divine world into the reality of the cosmos that is God and Creation, our divine selves are dragged down into a dehumanized experience of "thingness", which is at once a major obstacle to spiritual learning as well as a certain path to damnation.
Note added: I have drawn some of the ideas I have expressed here from Dr. Charlton's thoughts on cosmic perspective and Nikolai Berdyaev's ideas of creativity.