I have had a few fixed beliefs all my life in the arena of spirituality. The first is that dead is dead. Period. There is no after-life of any sort. I take great comfort in this notion because once I have died, there'll be nothing left of me to experience anxiety or any other sort of distress. The second is that there is a God. Some evidence of divinity is visible to me in almost every human. In nature. In science. In math. Consequently, I believe the ethical behavior of any human is desirable and pleasing to God, but the only punishment for unethical behavior is that the actor loses his self-regard, his humanity is diminished, and he moves away from God. Prayer may be self-comforting but God does not alter the course of events because we send up entreaties. He might, however, boost our coping power if we ask nicely. I think this is an unusual arrangement of beliefs, and I wondered if I was sharing it with anyone else. And for those of you whose ethical systems are based on a reward in the hereafter, can anyone explain to me why I can find the instant reward in doing the right thing, but you need a dangling carrot of a promise of Heaven to follow your ethical precepts? Do you honestly think that evil acts are satisfying? I see them as failures, lapses in judgment and future regrets.