A lady from Calgary Alberta came up to me after one of my talks and shared this story I think you'll like:
Dave, I was raised in the Catholic church and became disenchanted early on. My father was a prominent Catholic who thought he was better than believers of other religions and certainly better than atheists. I started to really get tired of the judgmental behavior and name-calling. So when I was 16, despite my parent's protests, I stopped going to church.
Over the years, I noticed though that not all atheists acted with good intentions and not all religious people acted badly. It made me confused.
The problem now is, my husband and I are going to have our first child and we are arguing whether to get him or her baptized. As parents, we want our kids to have good moral grounding. But all the fears of my childhood kept coming back.
So I was sitting at the back of the lecture hall and listening to your talk on 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear [if you don't understand the gears, please watch this little video with the cartoons of cars] and it hit me: what if heaven was the reward, the thank-you wave you get on the highway after you let someone merge in front of you?
You see, I realized, the problem isn't religion. It's the gear you're in when you practice your religion. My dad was a first gear [narrow self-interest] Catholic. That was his problem, but I realized I had blamed all Catholics based on my dad's behaviour.
And 2nd gear [external reward] isn't any better. "do this and you'll get your reward" "be a good person and you'll get to heaven" "strap explosives on your body, get on a bus in Jerusalem and blow up some Jews and you'll go to paradise."
But what if we were in 3rd gear[intrinsic reward]? What if we just tried to be good people and if there is an afterlife, then maybe we'll get in but that's not why we are doing it? If heaven is the reward it may be the result of our actions and not the focus of them.
Dave, you realize you've also created something that connects believers and atheists. Because we can all be RHBs, we can all be good people trying to be in 3rd gear.
So Ive decided that we are going to have our child baptized but we are going to be 3rd gear Christians. That means we are going to respect good people of other religions and we are going to respect good people who are atheists. And if there is a heaven, maybe we'll get there, but that's not why we'll be good.