There’s approximately 1.8 billion people that identify as Christian. I use the word identify because I think that most that define themselves as Christian are really not. By that I mean it’s a family tradition, in the same way I was raised, where we called ourselves Christians, without strictly following the precepts of the belief.
There was a time in my life when I believed. I prayed, read the bible regularly, and went to church. I did the best I could to hold to the tenets of Christianity. But as I matured, I became unable to make sense of what I was reading or hearing in church, and that prayer seems to be more of a meditative experience than a communion with God.
I still believed there was a God though, just not the God I had previously been taught. I think that where most people that identify as Christian are today. Consider that if there were actually 1.8 billion people that actually practiced their religious preference how our lives might be very different.
I’m not accusing any one of disbelief in God; In fact, I think that most of these people actually do believe in God. Why do people that don’t actually practice their stated religious belief still believe in God? I’m sure there are multiple reasons but I want to focus on just two that I think are reasons for belief in God.
First, I think it’s the human ego. As humans it’s difficult for us to believe that this is it. Most people I’ve spoken with just don’t want to accept the possibility that there is no afterlife. There’s a need to know that once they’ve passed, that there is something waiting for them.
It’s curious because it’s only humans that have this possibility in their mind. They’ll reunite with relatives that preceded them, but not a favorite pet. It’s only the homo sapiens life form that will experience an afterlife. Ancient burials discovered show that our early ancestors probably believed in some sort of afterlife.
Even our distant cousins, the Neanderthals, buried their dead and archeologists have found in some burials, evidence of flowers being interred with the dead. It has lead these scientists to speculate that they had a belief in some afterlife.
The idea of a life after death does not appear to be recent, or based on any of the modern religions.
Second, and I think in modern times this may be the most likely is that people believe in God because there’s no penalty for not believing. They may not realize it, but what they’ve bought into is Pascal’s Wager. It’s an easy choice to make for most of us, that having a belief in God, whether or not there is one, at least assures us of the possibility of some life after death. It binds our ego with a religious artifact.
It’s a comfort for many. I personally find no comfort in any kind of afterlife. Of all the gods, former and current, should I believe? Its good enough for me to know that I’ve lead the best life I could have and the after I’m gone, there may be few people that recognize that.