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It certainly seems that the afterlife drives (I assume that you mean something like "motivates") various groups even today. There are people who act in given ways because they feel that God will reward them in the afterlife for acting in those ways. Sometimes, we think of their actions as good. For example, we have people who go out and help people in places like Haiti because they believe that that is what God wants them to do. At other times, people do things that we think are bad because they think God wants them to do that. The clearest example of this is the terrorism carried out by Al Qaeda and other Muslim extremists who believe that they are dying for their faith and that God will reward them for doing so.
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