One thing which agnostics cannot have is the concept of an afterlife, at least as that concept is propounded by Christianity (or Islam, for that matter). Neither Heaven nor Hell await the agnostic. The agnostic believes that death ends all life as we know it, and that if anything at all awaits the individual after the life and death of the individual, it is yet to be understood.15 Some might criticize the Agnostic Church for doing away with both Heaven and Hell, because the lack of reward for the faithful and punishment for the unfaithful might naturally lead to dissolute conduct by the population. The agnostic responds by noting that, at least early in life, few are motivated by promises or threats about the afterlife. The motivations which convince young people to either behave or misbehave are much more immediate in nature than some consequence in the afterlife. Accordingly, this principle holds that young people must be motivated in the same ways in which we have always motivated them, while older people will be expected to continue their proper behavior out of recognition of the social compact which binds our society together. Good behavior will continue out of force of habit, if nothing else. As a final motivation, there is always the possibility of some relatively immediate consequence in the here-and-now, as opposed to some consequence in the afterlife. A punishment and/or a reward in the immediate future is far more motivating than Heaven or Hell ever were. It has long been the principle that punishment and reward should be promptly rendered so that the punished or rewarded individual has the associated conduct in the upper-most part of their mind when the punishment or reward is actually rendered. This principle of rapidly rendered consequences provides the strongest reinforcement of the lesson to be taught, and thus the strongest motivation towards proper conduct in the future. Neither Heaven nor Hell are necessary components of this procedure.
15 There are any number of fascinating clues that either reincarnation or some other form of afterlife is a distinct possibility. However, the knowledge in these areas is sparse indeed, and what little thought has been given to these concepts depends more upon a willing suspension of disbelief than upon scientific fact.
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