But the question is wrong. We shouldn't be discussing 'Most' religious people. We have no chance to know most of them. We can talk about religion as a whole or about people we know. Don't make assumptions.
So having said that, most religious people I know do show this tendency (i.E. Be good to someone or be punished; in my view those people are not really 'good'). But what applies to some does not apply to all.
I would say (and this is a guess) most religious people are good for the same reason non religious people are good.
Morality and religion are mutually exclusive.
You can still be genuinly 'good' while still believing in punishment in hell.
People who think missionary work is good... Just look at the entire east coast of Africa. Christians only do good because of reward or punishment. Sure, there's some overarching desire and want to do good, I'm sure... But when an atheist, agnostic, or etc does good... It is because they simply want to do so.
Religion uses the threat of 'eternal damnation' to control their herd, to make them comply with religious law, instead of thinking fir themselves. Obviously someone who can think for themselves can see straight through a con like religion, therefore free thinking must be suppressed for religious corporations to live another day....
It takes a specual kind of conman to sell you an invisible product, that you cant have until you are dead, and charge you 10% of your income for it!
Religion, complicated right, well perspectives may differ but its pretty clear cut. I don't believe in any religion, I think the closest any religion has got to being even slightly true and honest and not being about gaining material is Buddhism. Anyway, Religion was established because it assists in controlling and manipulating people, how many time's have you heard "Don't do that you will go to heaven." The point of religion is to scare people into obedience. However I am not all against religion. Some religions have very good life lessons which in my 13 years of life I have found both true and beneficiary. Christianity dictates to love thy neighbour as thyself which is true trust me it helps. Buddhism encourages not to crave materialistic possesions and reach oneself. People who are atheists also give for fear of punishment or social pressure. Very few people give out of the goodness of their hearts as it is a human instinct to be selfish as that is what is required to survive.
The best reason is to simply care about people and yourself, thus you be good because you care, not because you are pressured into being good, due to Fear Of Punishment By God. People who are just trying to be good because of Fear, are often Not Really Good People, as if they truly were Good People, they would Be Good, Regardless Of Fear, thus they do not require God to be good at all.
Those Who Require, Fear Of God, To Be Good, Are Not Good People.
Under the trying and pretense, they are actually bad, as they are trying to suppress their badness, due to fear.
They are latent, bad people, as remove the fear and they will produce badness, as they will no longer have to suppress their inner desire to be bad.
I actually debated about this with a religious friend of mine earlier this year.
There is something people need to understand, you do not need god to be a good person, you don't need god to show love or compassion or empathy, they are the morals that every person has.
When debating this I was told by a bystander friend to just let it go, if he wants to believe in god to be a good person it is okay, but it really isn't.
You yourself have the power to be a good person without fear, being a good person through fear means you don't genuinely believe that you are a good person and you need this looming fear that something bad will happen to you if you don't behave then you don't have a moral compass and those people are dangerous.
Fear is the reason why a lot of religious people strive to be good. I will be using Christians as my example. Christians strive to live a righteous way of life because, obviously, unrighteous Christians will burn forever regardless if they're in the 'body of Christ'.
Christians are taught about the afterlife. They are taught about being sent to the new Heaven or to Hell. Christians will most likely do whatever it takes to avoid Hell, for that place is the punishment from the biblical God in the afterlife. This develops fear among Christians. And when Christians have this kind of fear, they will, as I have said before, do whatever it takes to avoid Hell (i.E., causing pain upon themselves or unto others, sacrificing, worshiping, singing, etc.).
I always ask Christians this question:
If you strive to be good because you love God, would you still love God if He sends you to Hell?
Sometimes, I do good deeds out of fear of Hell, and afterwards I feel guilty that I did that SELFLESS act because of SELFISHNESS. That is the time when I feel that being an good atheist is better that being a good Christian. Atheists do good things for the sake of doing good, while Christians sometimes do good because of pity or morality, but at other times they do it to save themselves from going to Hell.
Most people are selfish hell don't lie if you weren't taught murder was bad or it wasn't against the law murder would occur VERY often. Most if i was religious i would try to be as good as i possibly can, an eternal pit of fire and pain? No thanks. Thankfully i'm old enough to know that is utter stupidity
Pascal's Wager, when not expanded, is a logical fallacy that is used to support religion, saying that you have a better chance of eternal bliss when being religious. When expanded, on the other hand, it shows that, when taking in to account many different religions and their creation myths, the chances of eternal bliss from being any religion are the same as the chance of infinite torture from being any religion, or even being atheistic.
There's no need to believe most religious people try to be good, nor that those who do try do so out of fear of punishment in the afterlife.
Both of those are possibilities, but not necessities. Even given fair 50/50 divides, you're only talking about 25% of religious people trying to do good because of fear.
I understand "religious people" to be referring to Christians. The reality is that Christians work and do good things for Jesus because they love Him so much, they can't help doing things in his name. If you, too had a deep love for Christ, you would understand the whole idea.
I can only speak for Christians. Christians want to obey Yahweh's (Christian God's) commandments because of their love for him. Works alone can not bring salvation. But works of the law of God are how we show our love for him. We are all guilty in the eyes of our perfect God.
1 John 5:3
There's no study that can show that religious people tend to do more good then non-religious people.
If that's true, then even if some religions state that their god is to be "feared and loved", that has no effect on peoples morals.
On the other side, there's studies that show that people who follow a religion tends to be more discrimination towards other people.
There's studies that show religious people are more likely to do more crimes then people that are not religious. (Also to include only 0.07% of prisoners are Atheist)
So no, a persons morals have hardly any difference if they follow a religion or not.
Whereas atheists believe morality is merely defined by society, and therefore commit all manner of evil in accordance with the prevailing societal zeitgeist of the time. This is not to say that all atheists will do bad things, but all bad actions are usually the fault of an atheist. Look at every dictator ever for examples of this.
I don't think that religion has a bearing at all on whether or not a person is going to make good choices or not.
If the SOLE reason a person resists committing a wrong act is simply the repercussions than there is already something fundamentally wrong with that person.
However, if a good or kind act is committed out of altruism, compassion, empathy, or love, it's been demonstrated handily that religion doesn't need to be in the equation for this to happen. Proving that religion is required when it can be shown that it's not would be difficult.
People will generally want to do the right thing, and not act in a way that harms others. I don't think religious punishment is a healthy motivational tool for this to occur. I do believe that religion can sometimes influence people to do WRONG things under the guise of being right, however.
This is the worst kind of evil there is - someone who KNOWS they are right and just in their actions, no matter how terrible, because they think they've been given the stamp of approval from a higher power.
Theists don't necessarily do it out of fear for punishment. If your an atheist reading this, you should know that humans are social creatures and evolved to cooperate to benefit the species. Although there are exceptions, humans are generally and instinctly empathetic. A theist won't not murder a person because they fear punishment, but because we're wired to view murder as unbeneficial to the human race.
How many times is Hell mentioned in the Bible? The NT? 15 times.
And somehow, at the end of the reading a Bible we are focused on the 15 mentions of hell, all of which basically say, "Yep, its there."
The idea that people could be moved by a spirit of charity and compassion?
I look at the comments to the left and see basic ignorance of religion and derision for their fellow human beings without even the pretense of allowing them any other motivation save fear ... As if to contrast themselves as fearless by comparison?
The need to ignore vast tracts of teaching to claim the motivation of others is ... Wrong. Pointedly so. But I am glad that atheists skim the Bible and see only hell ... And then presume everyone else must similarly ignore everything else in the Bible.