I seem to remember there was a time when people were saying that Jesus and the OT were teaching revolution and communism. Just goes to show that when you come to the text with an agenda then you can impose just about anything on it.
How about me? Do I do that?
I came to the text with a scientific worldview and I wouldn’t consider the book to be intelligible or meaningful in any way that was contrary to the findings of science. If I couldn’t find anything compatible with science then I would simply have discarded it in the nearest trash bin – and that is all there is to it.
But from my perspective, the idea that the OT and Jesus doesn’t teach an afterlife is absurd. Simply claiming that Jesus never even existed as many of the new atheists do makes more sense. Without an afterlife the whole book is hardly worth the paper its printed on – a bunch of warmed over self-righteous ranting where you can probably do much better in other writings frankly. Make no mistake.
This is at the very heart of the conflict between the theist/spiritual and atheist/naturalist worldviews – because it isn’t morality. Atheism stands for morality just as much as do the theists. No it is question of whether the context of an afterlife enhances morality or detracts from it.
I think an afterlife enhances morality because it gives substance to virtue ethics, where what is important is who we are, even if there are no results and nobody ever knows. In the afterlife/theist worldview the self is a lasting result of our actions. It seems, however, that the atheist/naturalist worldview gives more support to the utilitarian ethics since the effect in the world is the only lasting effect of moral behavior at all, and if nobody ever knows then what can it matter what you do, especially if you are going to die soon after?