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The Selfishness of Heaven

When we hear about Islamic suicide bombers, the first thing we generally think of is the promise of 72 virgins. While most Americans laugh at this and think to themselves about how ridiculous it is that some people believe that God will give them 72 virgins if they die correctly, I look at this and see the selfishness of the religion. But Islam isn’t the only selfish religion which dangles the carrot and the stick in front of believers.

I always saw religion as a very selfish system of belief. Believers are always taking or avoiding action in hope or fear of their personal afterlife. While some believers claim to do good deeds to please God, we really have to ask, why please God? No matter what way you slice it the answer is almost always Heaven or Hell.

Even when believers are out there trying to convert people, because they love them so much that they don’t want them to spend all eternity being tortured in Hell, there is still the underlining selfish attitude that they are going to Heaven while you are going to Hell. There is a smugness of righteousness which believers try to hide with false modesty.

So why religious people often claim to be take actions to glorify God, it seems to me that they are really only interested in glorifying themselves. Here is a little test; let’s say that God decided that no one goes to Heaven and no one goes to Hell, would a believer still try to “glorify God?” If we take away the carrot and the stick, will theists still pretend to be righteous and holier-than-thou? I bet they would be pretty pissed off at their God if the promise of Heaven and the fear of Hell disappeared. Most would probably become atheists shortly there after.

There would be little need to glorify God if people knew that God had no intention of glorifying them in return. Atheists on the other hand don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, so most of us act selfishly in our lives without the need for false modesty. But we also act compassionately towards other in a more altruistic way too. We do this partially for the selfish reason that it makes us feel good to help others and partially because we identify with that person in some way and feel empathy for them.

While religious people almost certainly act for the same reasons subconsciously, it is their belief in a Heaven and Hell which often times gets in the way of that empathy. Helping others sometimes just becomes a means to helping themselves get their eternal reward and avoiding eternal punishment.

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  • Kat

    I have no problem with people who say they believe in God and heaven and hell and they live their lves according to those beliefs. If that’s what gets them through the day, so be it. If they use their beliefs, selfish or not to help others, then that’s okay too. It’s the people who say They are servants of God, Who quote the bible for every hatred they have that I don’t understand. It’s the ones that hold the bible in one hand and a “I hate fags” sign in the other. The ones that will stand in Right to Life protest lines with pictures of mutilated babies, bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors, and then say It’s in the name of their God.Then these same people will protest about helping others pay for healthcare if they can’t afford it.”Why should I work and pay for someone else?”Most of them, not all, are prejudice and bigotted. I don’t know if any of it has to do with God or heaven and hell.They claim a belief in God but I think their hatreds are their strongest beliefs. I think with a lot of these people, the bible, reinforces their hates and prejudices, so they use it.

  • http://www.myspace.com/atheistteam The A-Team

    I also find it quite selfish for Christians to think they’ll go to Heaven and be in perfect bliss without even thinking about earthly loved ones or everyone for that matter who are burning in Hell. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I could have perfect bliss knowing that people I loved were burning in Hell for all eternity.

  • http://www.myspace.com/iammyownsalvation2 Aberrant Iconoclast

    I wouldn’t want to spend eternity with a God who would punish people infinitely for a finite existence…nor would I want to spend eternity with a God who would even create such a place.

    If there is a heaven, I’d be infinitely bored with the praising God for all eternity crap. The only way that heaven would be remotely attractive is if there is endless Guinness, calorie free bacon cheeseburgers and fries, and a hunky cabana boy to serve it.

    If there is a hell…like my ancestors before me, when faced with a new and unfamiliar environment…I sincerely believe that I would adapt. Hell will be hot, then you’ll develop a tolerance to it…so much so, it’ll start to get colder…then hell will freeze over.

  • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

    It’s all the design of the religion. I believe religion was a tool used to build empires. Initially every tribe had their own god which later translated into every town having their own god. This unified the local communities but not the empire.

    Later on in Egypt, more universal Gods were created that everyone worshiped and the pharaoh managed to convince people he was a god living a mortal life. Egypt was success for many reasons but a centralized religion was one of them among other things like a sandy desert serving as a barrier to invaders and whatnot.

    Some rulers wanted to move to monotheism so they could eliminate the local governments (which in this case is the local priests with their own gods) and have more power to themselves. An attempt with Atun-Ra as the one true god was made but he was forgotten after that ruler passed away. There was also merging of Gods from time to time as a way to centralize the Gods.

    While Egyptians were too stubborn to have only one God, a group of people in Israel built their empire with a single God. This religion was designed to make their believers feel so superior that it would survive the fall of their empire to the Babylonians. People were willing to take bad things due to the belief that a messiah would come and smash the ones oppressing God’s people. While the nation of Israel wasn’t too powerful. The Babylonians that enslaved the Hebrews probably enjoyed the fact that these people willing stayed slaves due to their belief in the messiah and whatnot. Making a slave arrogant about his position had to be wonderful to them.

    Let’s ditch the Hebrews for now and look at the Greeks. I haven’t recently read Greek history but they had a system too were there were local Gods and whatnot. I think originally, the state system of different gods built empires because it helped serve the people’s local needs. People are more willing to follow their local priest than an emperor that lived miles away. They probably only appeased the emperor for the protection of his army. After Greece came Roman which pretty much used all of the Greeks ideas. The system of many Gods worked but once Roman had started to expand to empire sizes previously unknown, the emperors knew they had to do something to unify the people.

    Somewhere in the world around 0 AD there had to have been a guy that studied religions. He probably knew of population figures like Osiris, Horus, Isis, as well as Zeus and the other Greek gods. He also knew of the raw power that Judaism had over people so he decided to make a new religion, perhaps for his own personal gain. The Characters of Osiris and Horus were merged into a person known as Jesus who would be the messiah. Some characteristics of Isis were made into Mary. God was made out to be like Zeus, though perhaps the Greek elements were added by the Romans later on. We are all aware that paganism made it’s way into Christianity. Revelations was to serve a similar role as waiting for the messiah.

    Eventually, this new religion of Christianity was brought into the Roman empire. However, instead of building the empire, it collapsed it due to it dumbing down the people far too much and failing to address local needs. People lived too much for the after life and not the current life so they didn’t try to get ahead and keep the economy strong. So monotheism had a ways to go.

    After the dark ages, a new empire arose in France known as the Frankish empire. They decided to use Christianity as their main religion for the same reasons the Romans did but with some changes. Everyone had to go to church and had to believe in God or else they would be put to death. This movement spread across Europe. Artificial selection happened and the genes that create the idiots that bring semi-automatic rifles to a protest rally near where Obama is making a speech became the dominate trait among the people. We had survival of the gullible. People like us atheists were slain or had to give in. Hence why the middle ages saw little technological advancement.

    Eventually, we got feudalism. I don’t know how it started but it seemed to be the system that worked well with Christianity. The nobles and the royalty served the local needs. Peasants may not have been slaves but were close enough but religion kept them in that position. Then the nobility probably contained less gullible people but because of their birthright, they choose not to question the system. Then we had the catholic church that seemed to be the head of the Medieval Europe. So we eventually had a system that could benefit the higher ups more than the past systems could have.

    But over time the artificial selection became deluded and we got to where we are today. While Europe had nasty revolutions against the church and feudal governments, the American revolution was for different reasons so religion managed to survive here. I think originally we needed smarter people to be able to live thru winters in the north US while the south never had any real threatening winters. Natural selection happened there which is why the bible belt is located where it is.

    Anyhow, I have told this story before but I keep adding new pieces to the puzzle. I have been wanted to brainstorm this idea again for awhile. I truly believe that artificial selection of the gullible happened in medieval Europe. It seems that the average person in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and whatnot wasn’t as stupid as a bible thumper in the deep south today is.

    And to tie this story with the topic of the blog, it is clear now why the bible is in fact a selfish religion. It makes the peasants, selfish with their concept of being Gods chosen ones and in effect allows selfish people to exploit the gullible.

  • MosesZD

    You wrote: I don’t expect people to believe seemingly ridiculous scientific claims without evidence and yet we are expected to believe even more ridiculous claims made by religions based on the absence of evidence.
    It’s not just the religious. One of the biggest splits in the atheist community has come because some people can’t be bothered to test the claims of feminism and relentless attack those of us who are data/science driven in these matters.
    All, of course, pretending to be skeptical and ‘informed.’ It’s like dealing with Fox News True Believers.

  • Robin

    Hey there, Staks! I totally agree its crazy and absurd and actually rebuked some of my Christian brothers and sisters in small group last week for stating how ‘rediculous’ atheists beliefs are. So, yeah, this is music to my ears as a Christian. Not ‘hard’ at all. I still need to get back with you on email!!! Actually went to conference and did tons of research. On vacation now :)

  • Richard Barnes

    To learn the truth about religion, see my one page webpage that you can read in just a few minutes. I explain the truth quickly and to the point. http://www.sunshinepool.com/truth.html