Atheism Reward after Death


September 11, 2001, ought to be enough to convince anyone that the reward after death myth is a dangerous one. The hijackers of the planes were all reported to have believed in the nonsense that they would be rewarded after they died, and it was for this reward that they carried out their heinous acts.

Everybody hates death, fears death

A letter found in Mohammed Atta‘s belongings said in part: “Everybody hates death, fears death. But only those, the believers who know the life after death and the reward after death, would be the ones who will be seeking death.” Which would have been okay if it had only been his own death he was seeking, but the attacks killed thousands of innocent people besides the terrorists.

The reward after death

The promise of a reward after death, if believed in strongly enough, reduces the responsibilities to this life, and all kinds of horrendous acts have been perpetrated by people motivated by the myth of a reward after death. This applies to every religion that offers the myth of reward after death. People who can believe in this myth strongly enough to die for it can believe many other myths as well, and all without any rational evidence.

Most of the world’s religions offer the hope of some sort of a reward or paradise after death for the good guys and some sort of punishment or hell for the bad guys, although the details are sketchy and change over time. It was not long ago that people believed there was an actual place called heaven that was literally above the clouds. As people began to explore space it became obvious this was nonsense, and so the ideas of what ‘heaven’ has been changed accordingly. It’s kind of a posthumous reward system where you don’t even know for sure what the reward is going to be.

As Einstein said (in ‘The World as I see it’): “I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts.”

What Motivates People to Do Good?

It is true that the promise of a reward after death can motivate people to do good before they die so that they can be sure they will earn a reward rather than punishment. The problem is that people who convince themselves the rewards after death is far beyond the benefits of being alive can also do the most appalling things in the name of their religions. Such people can also convince themselves that their religion is the one true religion, that their god’s people are the best people and others are less than human. They can also convince themselves that their god wants them to kill or hurt other people.

As the actress and author Ilka Chase once said: “It is usually when men are at their most religious that they behave with the least sense and the greatest cruelty.”

Someone scrawled a message on a wall in Washington DC shortly after September 11, 2001, which eloquently summed it all up: “Dear God, please save us from the people who believe in you.”

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