The following is a brief extract from a longer thesis but take it in context – the fact that a person believes in a God does not make the God exist, But conversely, a lack of belief or a belief in a picture suitable for a child does not prevent God from existing.
One thing we all know for sure, though in the modern world we try not to think about it, is that we will all die one day. This body we are currently riding around in will be damaged beyond repair, or more likely wear out, and it will cease to function. We are going to die. But people feel uncomfortable talking about it don’t they? The real reason death is a taboo subject for discussion in modern Western society is that most “educated” people are now closet agnostics and fear the potential annihilation of death. The technological advancement of society has undermined the relatively primitive but comforting belief systems, the religions which have existed for millennia, and caused educated people to abandon them. Unfortunately, by abandoning a belief in religion, these people are losing two benefits. A minor benefit and a great one. The minor being the emotional comfort of a belief in survival and the major being a gold standard for social behaviour. A standard which is responsible for much of the good which we see in the world. The fact that most religions talk a lot of twaddle and are used to control the masses does not mean that there is no good in them, that there is no God nor that there is no purpose in life. It just means a person has to look a little harder to find them. But I am getting ahead of myself again.
When you come right down to it there are only two things which can happen to you when you die: Either you cease to exist as a conscious entity or your awareness continues in some form. There are no other options are there? The second of these, the continuation of consciousness, might be dressed up as going to Heaven or Hell, joining the consciousness of God, feasting in Valhalla, reincarnating as a grasshopper or whatever but it all amounts to the same thing. The survival of something you think of as “You” following bodily death.
But if you do survive bodily death then most belief systems maintain that the condition you find yourself in depends for its desirability very much on what you do while you are in the physical body. Almost without exception, belief systems require a person to follow a set of behavioural rules, the Ten Commandments for instance, in order to enjoy benefits after death which range from the company of God to a whole band of girlfriends. Very simply, belief systems maintain order and stability in the world as well as making things somewhat better for all concerned in the long term. Thou shalt not murder, steal, mess with the partners of others and so on are not for God’s benefit but for peoples. Exhortation to prayer or loyalty and duty to God are generally designed to ensure the meme of the belief system propagates and continues without competition.
The reality we are discovering here is that our thoughts about survival, no matter what they are, control the whole of our lives on Earth. To put the case very bluntly once more, if you are finished when you die then you might as well live exactly as benefits you most while you are alive. No rules, morals, ethics, consideration of others, no restrictions on behaviour whatsoever so long as you are not caught and sanctioned on the spot. Those simple souls who maintain that unevolved humans are “naturally” good and would be nice if only they were not disadvantaged are merely trying to support a self-comforting belief system in the face of an adverse reality as we saw earlier.