Lets say there was a guy named Jack who, instead of jumping to conclusions and blindly accepting everything his parents and society told him, actually made an effort to understand the world around him and the way people think, and why they believe in so many radically different worldviews. He read up on science, he read all the main holy books of the different religions, he studied philosophy and he discussed issues of ethics and metaphysics and science with all manner of people and educated himself about the changing patterns of beliefs through the ages. He then came to the conclusion that religion was a social construct derived from a society's need to describe the world and unify a people under a common system of moral beliefs and common history, as well as satisfying an individuals need to there to be a higher purpose to life. He declares himself an atheist who is determined to live a life of according to his own moral principles, dedicating his life to the enrichment of his own life and the lives of others is the way that he believed would provide the most benefit to humanity. He actively promoted open discussion on all issues so that mankind may get closer to determining the actual nature of the world around them and developing a universally accepted ethically system, in as far as it were possible. Let's also say there was a guy, Jim, who, out of respect for his parents and society and his own wishes to get ahead by not challenging the status quo, unquestioningly believed in the religion (which indeed required true faith, trust, and respect of authority) he had been brought up in, and unquestioningly followed all its precepts, without thought to their value to the greater society. And lets say there was a guy James, who, as curious and independent as Jack, pursuing the same line of inquiry, comes to the conclusion that Jim's religion is in fact true. Who is of greater value to society? Imagine that Jim and James happened to be correct in their belief - what should this God do with the three once they're dead (assuming that James' and Jim's religion includes reward for believers in the afterlife)? The God could, for example: Reward Jim the most for unquestioning obienence. Thereby declaring that you should blindly accept whatever you are told and hope your religion is the right one. Reward James the most for understanding the religion. Thereby declaring that only smart people who are capable of understanding the religion are worthy of reward, and contradicting the religion's value of faith and trust. Reward Jack the most for the good he attempts to accomplish in the world, dedicating his life to his fellow man instead of God. Thereby declaring that the precepts of his own religion were false and misleading, given that there would be no need of the religion if Jack's example was what God actually admired most. In any case, if God were fair, he would be declaring that it was equally possible for either Jack, James or Jim to arrive at the 'right' solution, and that those that were punished did something 'wrong'. What would be the most moral response by God (not just among these responses)? Is there anything required by a religion for James' example to be realistic? Can God reward or punish as He wishes, or are there certain courses He must take in order to be a 'just' or 'good' God? What, if any, is the distinction between 'evil' and 'sin'? Are good deeds most important, or is it belief in the right religion, or is belief in the right religion required to do good deeds? If the last one, how do we know they are good deeds?