Consciousness of self is a manifestation of the brain, brain weakens – your awareness of self weakens, brain dies – you die. Period. There’s nothing going to hell or heaven, nor gets re-born. Accept that and you don’t need a religion to pamper you.
But, your brain wouldn’t want you believing that would it? It’s, much like any other organism, wants to last for as long as possible so that it could re-produce its kind as much as possible.
It tells you that YOU are independent of YOUR body. It’s about YOU… YOU!
...and then; you get the question, when you die, you lose your body… what will happen to YOU then? (Because you believe that you exists independent of your brain!)
There’s no way of knowing… you are scared of the unknown (This is a survival strategy BTW..., not really meant for this particular problem, but unavoidably it comes to this.). You freak out.
And there comes someone, who has no clue of the fact any more than you do, telling you some bullshit of a creator or stopping of a cycle or that kind of a story, which gives you an answer to the question "what happens to ME after I die?"… and some other baggage along with that. If you take for granted that you exist independent of your physical body and refuse to believe that your consciousness is a result of bio chemical / magnetic reaction (or whatever the shit that goes in the brain, I'm no medical doctor) then, you really need an answer to calm yourself down of the fear of death. So, you'd buy whatever the story is most accessible or sounds most plausible to you.
Either way is fine; but the problem is… most religions don’t stop at explaining what happens after death. Probably because those who’ve been preaching them realized that once they have a good grip of the masses with the explanation of death, they could get them to do anything for them.
Some chose to kill their enemies, some chose to earn more money, and some very few actually chose to do good to the man kind...
If you really have to find answers, the most important question to ask should be, why the fuck does every fucking organism re-produce and want to live as long as possible? I mean, even the smallest organism without brains do that right? So, that for me is the most mysterious question.
Really… why? They die eventually, and leaving behind offspring doesn’t serve them any good after that.
(Don’t get me started on having kids so that they would look after you when you are old – that’s just bullshit - I'll write something on that later)