It’s insulting to imply that only a system of rewards and punishments can keep you a decent human being. Isn’t it conceivable a person wants to be a decent human being because that way he feels better?
I don’t believe that I’m ever going to heaven or hell. I think that when I die, there will be nothingness. That’s what I firmly believe. That’s not to mean that I have the impulse to go out and rob and steal and rape and everything else because I don’t fear punishment. For one thing, I fear worldly punishment. And for a second thing, I fear the punishment of my own conscience. I have a conscience. It doesn’t depend on religion. And I think that’s so with other people, too.
People have a funny way of remembering where they’ve been, who they were. Facts fall by the wayside. Depending on their temperament they either remember a golden time when all was better than well, better than it can be again, better than it ever really was…Or they focus on the bad, blow little incidents all out of proportion, hold grudges for years, or maybe they really did have some unlucky times, but now they’re reliving them forever in their heads instead of moving on.
But the brain plays tricks on us all, doesn’t it? We go by what it tells us, have to I suppose, because what else do we have to use as touchstones? Trouble is we don’t ask for confirmation on what the brain tells us. Things don’t have to be real, we just have to believe they’re real, which pretty much explains politics and religion as much as it does what goes on inside our heads.