How religion motivates us to help and love others.

Doubtless, many of the lovely people who devote their time and energy towards helping others would be just as caring and dedicated if they did not believe in the existence of an external God.

It is equally certain that there exist believers who, if not for their belief in God and the commandment to help others, would not be contributing as much. (Read more about how religion can promote generosity.)
Good for good's sake
At the heart of the matter, the degree to which one contributes to the community depends on the strength of one’s commitment, regardless of the underlying motives. If, for example, you are determined to help other people, you can do so, and accomplish as much, in the absence, as in the presence, of a personal belief in the existence of God.

Certainly, if you’re used to thinking that God’s will and purpose should be placed at the forefront of all of one’s altruistic actions, and that without God, such activities have no purpose, then it might be somewhat de-motivating, initially, for you to suddenly discard previous beliefs.

An abrupt conversion to the idea that there is no God (at least, not the kind prescribed by religious institutions) may lead to a drop in altruistic endeavours.

However, after realising that such activities should be carried because they are good in their own right, then your altruistic efforts can continue with as much vigour and determination as before, even after the belief in God has been abandoned.

Often, people adamantly believe that if they were to stop believing in God, their enthusiasm for carrying out good deeds would be dampened, because God helps them to carry out their work. This is a natural perception to have, but it can be overcome. (For more on the power of thought, refer to the Mind and Body section.)

The key paradigm shift needed here is that it’s not God, per se, who provides the motivation, but one’s belief in God. If this belief in God were to be replaced with an equally strong driving force (such as the belief that the outcomes justify the acts), then people would still have the capacity to carry out their work, unabated.

The problem arises when people forget about the intrinsic merits of the deeds performed, fixate on the belief that no good can be accomplished without God, and are unable to regain their previous levels of motivation once they stop believing in God.

Furthermore, people are aware, even if only subconsciously, of how difficult it can be to alter one’s perceptions. It sometimes takes much effort to discard long-cherished beliefs and undergo paradigm shifts.
Difficulties transitioning
Sometimes, people know that they may not be able to undergo such a mental transition, and would struggle excessively to regain their enthusiasm for their work if their belief in God evaporated. Thus, they quite wisely choose to continue in their faith and maintain high levels of motivation and productivity, than risk diminishing their output or going through a period of decreased productivity.

(For more on the ways in which believers support one another and maintain their beliefs systems, refer to the section on Community.)
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