Reasons for Doing Good
There are many reasons for doing good rather than evil. Some can be ordered according to virtue level, and some can't. Here are 4 virtue levels:
- The best people (if they exist) are those who do good because it is good. Many people claim to be on this level, but I think they are either lying, or they never did enough introspection to recognize their own motivation.
- Next best are those who do good because of the possibility of an afterlife in which good/bad behavior brings reward/punishment. These people do good even when there is little or no chance of them getting caught for failing to do good. *
- Next best are those who do good because of the possibility of reward/punishment in this life. These people are on a lower level than #2 because they have no reason to do good when there is little or no chance of them getting caught for failing to do good.
- Next best are those who do good because of the probability of reward/punishment. These can be divided into afterlife believers and non-afterlife believers. The less probable they think reward/punishment is, the less likely they are to do good. A subset of these are those who do good because of the certainty of reward/punishment.
|* Statistics show more Christians than atheists in American prisons relative to the general population. But note that Christians believe in an unjust afterlife, in which bad behavior is forgiven.|
Some people say they do good because it feels good. That means they do good only when it feels good. I'm not sure what level they belong on.
There is also a class of atheists who do good to prove they don't need fear of a God to do it. These must be divided according to whom they want to prove it to. If they want to prove it to themselves, they will have no further reason to do good after they have proven it. If they want to prove it to theists, they have no reason to do good when no theists are watching. I'm not sure what level they belong on.
Some atheists say they won't believe a God exists until he physically shows up. But showing up before Judgment Day would defeat the whole purpose of a spiritual-development nursery, which this planet may be. If he just appears and says, "I exist. Do what I say, or I'll whack you," then everyone would obey him because of the certainty of punishment (#4 above). Only fools and retards would disobey. No one could actually become good or evil as a result of their own decisions. No one would deserve reward or punishment. Of course God may have created worlds in which that is the case. But they would get boring quickly - boring to him as well as the participants.