Something is terribly wrong with the world. Most people want to make it a better place, but are aware of how hopeless that goal is. People are starving by the millions. Children grow up abused and neglected. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It becomes quickly apparent that no noticeable difference will be made the in the grand scheme of things. You could dedicate your entire life to being a human rights worker and yet there would still be millions in need of help.
A delusion has come along to ease the shock of this unbearable realization though, and it’s called religion. In response to a news story about a mother selling her four month old daughter into prostitution, a friend of mine posted “This world is getting sicker and I’m so happy it isn’t my permanent home.” Do you see the failure in this? Religion has lowered the incentive to improve this world because it is not our “permanent home”. As Nietzsche wrote, Christianity is a dissatisfaction with this life and it spreads that dissatisfaction to all. I think that could also be said about many more religions.
If there is no god and no afterlife, don’t the problems of this world seem all the more urgent? Maybe it’s easy to think about all the terrors our fellow humans suffer if we think everything works out in the end and that justice will be served. To a skeptic, no such justice is guaranteed. Here and now in this life is the only time we have to make things right. There is an entire world out there that needs our help. We’ve been praying for thousands of years and our goal has yet to be achieved. It is time to take the next step.
I do not believe there is anything waiting for us after we die. That being said, I see no reason to think anything we do holds any significance when compared with the big picture. Here we are, spread out over a rock suspended by the Sun’s gravity in space with no sign of help to come. The experience you have right now is all that you have, and you have less of it ahead of you with each passing day. With no obvious sign of purpose we could even imagine for ourselves, why not do the best thing? There’s nothing better to do.