I just heard a believer in God say: “Let’s be honest, we’re human being right, we’re selfish creatures. I give charity because I want to go to heaven.’ But if he is doing it because he wants to ascend to the delights of the celestial world, but an atheist gives charity out of the goodness of their heart, doesn’t that make the atheist morally superior?
As I elucidated in my post ‘Do we need Religion in the 21st century‘, one of the main purposes of religion is not only to wake people up out of their somnolent slumber, but it trains a person’s ego and helps them redress their innate personality defects. One such innate personality flaw is the predisposition of selfishness. For religious believers, selfishness is sometimes accentuated because of the promise of heaven. But religion is not a one-dimensional, simplistic ideology created to appease people’s fears and desires. It’s a transformative training programme designed to elevate a human being so that they can reach their highest being. True, God does tell people to do good to attain heaven, but God knows our psychology.
If we weren’t given an incentive, human beings, generally, wouldn’t do good. Of course, this is a generalisation, but it applies to many, many people world-wide. Many atheists do good out of the goodness of their heart, and although they may not know it, they may be greatly in-tune with their spiritual side. Others, however, aren’t in tune with their spiritual side and therefore need an incentive to do good. The point is this: by constantly doing good, one eventually learns to do it without much thought, and eventually, they will do good – not because of a reward – but because goodness will emanate from them naturally. This is the highest state of awareness a religious believer can achieve: when goodness emanates from them naturally.
This is the ultimate purpose of religion: it is suppose to wake a human being up and get them to stop performing religious rituals in a perfunctory manner, but in a way that exudes spirituality.