I know this is a couple of weeks old but I really wanted to throw my two cents in. :
Agreed with most of your views (if I’m understanding one in particular correctly) and the evolutionary psychology of religion theory which it seems like you’re describing is the theory that seems to be most practical and logical to me compared to theories like the VMAT2 gene (“God gene”) in how religion evolved in hominids. And to expand on what you said, it was also used to explain things that they had no other way of explaining such as lightning, thunder, complexities of life such as death, and those types of things.
I only digress as an atheist and still having a belief system. Technically I identify as a secular humanist, but that’s atheism with some icing on top, lol. I look at science not as a belief system in exchange for religion/faith in a god, but to understand how things are the way they are, not why, what advances in science can be made to understand them further, sometimes in a way to disprove a hypothesis, with specific areas of science I’m interested and involved in, I look at what can be done for improvement of people’s lives with it and go from there. I don’t attempt to replace a god or religion with science. 🙂
As for the question. I don’t believe it’s always a choice for everyone. Despite my thoughts on past evolutionary history, evolution still continues and I often wonder if some people such as myself have missed that evolutionary need. I was raised in a very religious LDS (Mormon) home and I could never make myself have any belief not just in the religion, but in God. It tormented me for years during my childhood and I cried, prayed, read my scriptures, pray for 3-4 hours at a time, crying and then go to bed and cry myself to sleep thinking I was broken because I COULDN’T find any part of me that had faith or believed. I was 8, 9, 10 years old during the time I did this. As I got a little older, I was afraid of my thoughts and I started disconnecting from them so I wouldn’t have any chance of sinful thoughts. By 7th grade, I had panic attacks over my fear of what was going to happen when I died that would hit in the middle of my classes and were so severe I’d end up going home for the rest of the day. I finally realized when I was just starting 8th grade that I didn’t believe in God and I had all of these reasons why that made more sense than belief and faith and I thought about not having belief or faith in God anymore in my bedroom for a while, let it sink in, and once it did I felt relief and no longer in constant fear. It took a while to fully adjust to the idea, but my panic attacks stopped, my need to block my thoughts and repent at every chance went away, I didn’t feel shame, guilt, fear, or paranoia any longer. I finally told my parents when I was 16 and they were really calm about it.
I have tried attending other churches aside from just an LDS church. I’ve tried many times to “find God” and in every church I went to, it never felt good. I felt the same kinds of feelings from my past. I also felt lied to, like it was a production, and finding genuine people would be near impossible. (I mean no offense.) I stuck it out for a long time at a few churches (around a year) and I couldn’t do it anymore.
I’m unable to have any religious belief or faith. I’ve tried and tried my whole life and I just lack the ability.