I don't see how the question of an afterlife can be considered unimportant. If there is no afterlife, this life is all there is. You live. You die. There may be many or few years between.. filled with nothing, dramatic exploits, or insignificant deeds. This is basic existentialist reasoning. IF there is an afterlife.. if life or some form of it continues for eternity (or thereabouts) what could be more important than that? It is a major fallacy to think a few years here & then eternal darkness has more significance than a few short years here then eternity in a different form, whether with consciousness or not.
A true atheist has to grasp that. He (using the word generically, not sexually) has to come to grips with eternal darkness & non-existence. This life is all there is. To face eternal non-existence is a very sobering endeavor. It is not done lightly or with any back door escapes. A lot of professing atheists are only theists who are mad at god. They don't really believe in eternal non-existence. They are too flippant about eternity, & have not really faced the insignificance & pointlessness of life. They are throwing philosophical tantrums in hope that god will give them special treatment. Or they are trying to be shocking to get attention. But they lack the seriousness their philosophy suggests.
Some argue that atheists, since they have no hope of an afterlife, are more fully committed to this life. I don't see it as being 'fully committed to this life' as much as being fully committed to one's philosophy. IF you truly believe an eternal paradise awaits you if you die killing infidels, you can justify your actions. It is the belief system, not this life, that the person is motivated by. If i am talking to an atheist, i do not think, 'oh, this person is fully committed to this life, therefore i can trust him'. Atheists can lie as well as any theist, & can kill & steal, too. I'm not subscribing superior morality to any philosophical position. If there is a superior morality, it depends more on the individual, not the philosophical leanings of his position. Hypocrisy is rampant in humans.
Then you will hear people say that this or that person is 'good'. I don't know what 'good' is. That is a moral judgment, & has to have some sort of basis. Whose definition do we use? Budda's? Jesus? Marx? Mine? Yours? 'Good' is like beauty or art.. it is in the eye of the beholder. This is from a purely philosophical standpoint. In the real world we appeal to what is good, & have some point of reference to agree. But without a common basis, 'good' can mean different things.
We should learn from all times, & be open to all ideas. Prejudice & closed mindedness may be easier and more comfortable, but it does not enlighten.
But if there is one TRUTH, which obviously there is, then what that truth is has more direct effect on us than what we might imagine or believe, whether based in long standing tradition or recent ideas. If there is a god, & he wants something from you, i would propose that to be of prime importance. One would have to be a fool to believe there to be eternal consequences for something, but not care. I submit that the person who says one thing, but lives another does not reinforce their position, but weakens it. They don't really believe it. That is the basis for human hypocrisy.
IF there is a god of wrath who throws the wicked into hell, yes, that would be very uncomfortable. IF that is true, disbelieving it won't make it go away.
Fortunately, as humans, we have evolved to the philosophical smorgasbord we have now. If we don't like a particular idea, we dismiss it & pick something we do like. But the true truth seeker does not care about the consequences of the Truth, but only in finding it. The opinions, writings, & judgments of others do not matter. Only the real truth is important. The personal discomfort or affect on the truth seeker's lifestyle do not matter. What is truth? That is the question.
We seldom ponder life's deeper meanings with our friends & associates. The anonymity of the internet & the written word allows some reflection, & can be a means of pursuing truth. But of course it is also a place for fools to babble. We should not allow the hypocrisy or folly of others to distract us from the pursuit of truth & understanding.
“I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.”
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
The person lives most beautifully who does not reflect upon existence.
I considered atheism, but there weren't enough holidays.
I believe in God; I just don't trust anyone who works for him.