When one climbs a mountaintop to watch the sunset, what is the object? And if another doesn’t bother, and stays at the bottom of the hill, what has he lost? Some things are simply beautiful, wonderful, and deserve attention for no other reason. Truth, beauty, virtue, God, deserve to be loved because they are the essence of what is lovable. To ask “why” is to miss the point: they are the why!!
Consider the love relationship: a man pursues the woman, dates the woman, but why? Is it for the child, the family, what comes after? Or isn’t the whole process its own reason for being? It happens because it wants to happen; because we desire for it to happen. There may be an “outcome”, but that follows later: the experience itself is the reward. As Richard Feynmann said of his love of physics, “Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”
To pursue religion for the sake of a glorious afterlife is to put in all that effort for the soul without knowing why. That is, it’s better to walk the mountain in ignorance and enjoy its beauty than to spend the whole journey thinking of the top. God is His own reason for being sought, His own proof. Spirituality would otherwise just be another kind of commercial enterprise – albeit based on a stranger economy.
Maybe the confusion is that people are like grammarians, sore athirst, debating the ways and means of drinking and what comes after; until an ignorant man passes them and says, “Your thirst should be all the proof you need that drinking is worthwhile! Cease your ramblings and find the river!”
I asked a friend once: “In marriage, you grow closer together every day, right?” He said: “Yes.” I replied: “So, do you stay married for the sake of some perfect day in the future, or for each one of those lesser days?” The marriage, if well-founded, is its own reason for being; even though it may improve all the time, it’s in this very process of improvement that the purpose lies.