I’m not sure where to post this, and I’m not even sure I know the best way to ask this question, but here goes.
When my daughter married an atheist (divorced now–long story irrelevant to this question), I began to wonder what motivates non-believers to do “good works ,” “works of charity,” “things beneficial to society,” etc.
As a believer, my primary motivation (I guess) is because Jesus asks us to do them, and due to the “faith without works is dead” (and similar) scriptures.
I’ve tried looking at it from the perspective of a non-believer, and can see two possible reasons:
- Selfish motivations, such as getting along with other people, wanting the good feelings from doing the acts, fitting in with society, approval of others, or “getting ahead” in jobs, etc.
- Evolutionary reasons (not that I believe this, but just considering the possibility), such as helping our species thrive physically/emotionally.
The more I’ve thought about it, though, I have to admit that my motivations are often in line with what I have posited as selfish reasons for the non-believer. (And I also must admit that I don’t do anywhere near as much as I should, so there are many non-believers who do far more good works than I do.)
So, what motivates most non-believers?