Pascal was correct.
I have thought about this for a while. At-the-last-minute-conversion-forgiveness-reward, is one of the most repulsive ideas I can imagine. Complete criminality. For what is the purpose of a lifetime of behaving for the benefit of all good for if the sacrifices are for naught compared to sudden desperate repentance?
How could it be possible that an all powerful creature would in any reasonable way compare a lifetime of goodness to a sudden, oh so convenient, "I'm sorry. Please let me in?"
Obviouly that makes no sense. Well, that's religionist "thinking" for ya, don't' ya know.
How could any self-respecting god be so transparent? So unfair? Not my type of imaginary friend.
Here's the point: Behaving as if there is an omnipotent critter, with oversight of happy and sad, is totally in line with a universal morality based upon the scientific research that has produced enough reasonable results to define, and support, the concept of objective human well-being.
we are moral by default. And we all know any REAL god-dude has to be benevolent. Otherwise, nothing we think, or do, is of value, and therefore, of no consequence. (There will be pain. Hopefully not after I'm outta here.)
So, behaving as we are genetically inclined to do is our default position, either way. How can anyone argue with this?
Universal well-being, human rights and derived morals, should be the only basis for all societal learning and hence evolution, pre/proscriptions, as described most succinctly by Sam Harris.
Believe or not. Being good is the only strategy.
Behaving to appease an authority figure is, at best from a moral perspective, doing the right things for the wrong reasons. So it is not "in line" with societal morality except to the extent it happens to cause the individual to behave the same as they otherwise would if directly guided by societal morality.
On the other hand, when religious faith is interpreted to mean that gays should be excluded, unequally treated, or even hated; or that evolution should not be taught to children; or that pedophile priests should be quietly relocated to a new stomping-ground; or that all Muslims, regardless of individual behavior, should be considered terrorists and denied "Christian" compassion; or any number of other pernicious ideas that religion is commonly used to promote -- then what? It's just one more way that the failed epistemology of religious faith is divorced from reality and common sense, except when it's not.
Religion has never been the source or protector of morality.