Do people believe in religion mainly because of the incentive of immortality? Because as I look around me, many theists today say they believe in God and are "religious", but are anything but the sort. So, the only conclusion I can come up with is that these people are simply scared to die. They(or anyone else for that matter) don't want to become annihilated when they reach death, they mearly want to continue on living. So desiring other peoples' input, is this the only reason why people choose to believe in a higher power these days?
They believe in belief, as Dan Dennett said.
A lot of people say they are Christian without really thinking a lot about it and without really believing much of anything. It's a social thing. Their family and friends also claim to be Christian (and may also not be very deep into the theology). In the back of their mind, it may give them some comfort as to death, but I really think fear of death is secondary to the social aspects for most of them. They just take the afterlife thing for granted.
Unseen, I believe it's a combination of the two. And yeah, the social thing keeps people religious but the source of it all is the fear of death. I would have to say that seems most likely to be where the idea came from initially.
dragotron, most people who call themselves Christian aren't really religious enough nor reflective enough to obsess about the afterlife. They just take it for granted if they think about it at all. Of course, most of us think about the fanatical Christians, the gung-ho fundamentalists, but they are the fringe, not the mainstream.
Sure, there are people who persist in being religious partly or mostly because they are afraid to die. I honestly think though, that the biggest reason that people persist in being religious is that religion provides a sense of community that is often (and unfortunately) not seen elsewhere. For many people when they leave a religion or even entertain doubt it's not god they fear, it's potentially losing and/or being shunned by family, friends, support networks and so on. There are many people who pretend to be religious to the extent they have to so that they don't lose these things.
Someone else who realizes that there's no point in opposing a parody of religion. People belong to a religion because they were raised in it, not because they are petrified about death.
The death fear is put in them as children. Yes they were raised in the environment and thus have no reason to stray away from the fairy tale unless they actually start to think for themselves.
The reason people believe in gods is the human propensity to believe in the impossible. As our intellect evolved greater powers of deduction and foresight to make us better hunters, it also left us with a lot of problems. We became able to predict danger at every turn, able to realize just how large the forest was and how many predators must be out there. We developed the capacity to realize just how screwed we would be if the sun stopped coming up, or the river ran out of water. We became the most paranoid animal on the planet, fearing not only dangers at arm's length, but every possible imagined scenario at mind's length. Our expanded intellect began to include a realization of just how futile our existence truly is. Those who could not also imagine hope against such hopelessness surely just curled up and died. Those who could find a way to believe in a perfect, safe place somewhere out there kept on fighting the fight. We evolved into thoroughly paranoid apes that believe in complete impossibilities. That's what makes us human.
The reason people believe in gods is the human propensity to believe in the impossible.
We humans groove on the idea of magic. Actual physics is boring.
I really like your post on human intelligence, though we seem to have gone backwards after learning how to hunt as soon as we adopted religion!
Personally I think religion was just the most efficient way to hijack the magical thinking of a bunch of hyper-paranoid apes to keep them from killing each other - at least within the clan/cult.
Yes.. it was the most efficient way because it offered the apes an avenue to not have to fear death so much. Essentially, to not have to think about the reality of the world around them in that regard.
Everyone wanted to hop on board.