I honestly think it makes a lot of sense. It would take time to explain why, since there are quite a few different reasons people believe. I guess I used to give it some thought, but not so much anymore. I suspect if I'd been raised differently, I might very well have Christian beliefs, too. Actually, in a sense I think I do have some Christian beliefs as a side-effect of being born into a mostly-Christian society. I've really been influenced by cultures that are not entirely my own in various ways that are difficult to account for.
This is a bit of a tangent, but, I don't think that people--any people, atheists and agnostics included--are all that rational. And I'm not saying that's even a bad thing. I just think one needs to be careful about surmising that the differences in belief boil down to rationality.
Yes, the believer and non-believer tend to be equally baffled by each other's "irrationality" or "ignorance" etc. the temptation is to simplify what we don't understand about the other.
The believer says, "the non-believer is angry at God, or else is blinded to the truth by their own sin. Or they are not trying hard enough."
The non-believer says, "the Christian is a Christian because they are brainwashed, or raised to believe such things. It makes them comfortable, and the church propagates the beliefs to control others - at best it makes them "feel better" about their lives. They need God as a crutch to continue on."
Both of these approaches make us feel "safe" , but they do not resonate with the other party, and the oversimplification is almost certainly wrong.
Only thing I would add is that it's very hard, if not impossible, to fully understand all the inner dimensions of a worldview outside of one's own. This is partially because of the simplifications/generalizations you mentioned, but even beyond that, people are going to always view other worldviews through the lens of their own worldview. Hypothetical peeks into the way other people see things can help us gain perspective, but I'm not sure it's ever enough.
I've come to realize humans are like bees. I find myself being part of the "hive-mind" mentality as well sometimes so I personally have witnessed this "oh he's doing it I might as well too!" phenomenon, especially on the internet and more prominently on reddit than anywhere else.
so my hypothesis is that people just follow what either their parents or their friends follow, and even if they get into said following by themselves they probably did so because they felt a sense of community. So to me it comes as no surprise that Christianity with it's pews and the practice of turning to everyone and saying "peace be with you" is comforting to people, especially living in a community where bells ring every hour on the hour and you can "be sure" everyone will be at church at a specific time at a specific day...basically it's the regimented nature of not only Christianity but Islam, Judaism, and a lot of smaller religions as well.
basically it's just a bandwagon, and everyone is currently on that bandwagon, maybe one day everyone will be on the atheist bandwagon, the problem with that is that you can be atheist and stupid about science so it means nothing for the perpetuation of civilization.
From where I'm sitting, the very nature of religion relies not upon things that are actually true, but things that people want to be true, even though there's no basis for any such assertions. It's a definite leap of faith in any situation, one that inevitably separates you from reality and causes you to live in delusion, which I find wrong.
Define "way too much." I'm sure you've noticed all the problems religion causes for society, so it's only natural you would speculate on its source and, perhaps, how it might be remedied. Whole books have been written on the subject. I recommend God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.
Anyway, I think the reason otherwise rational people cling to religion is through a weakness of character. They are too cowardly to face reality, so they construct a delusional view of the universe where there is an ultimate purpose to their lives, and there is universal justice, and there is something to look forward to after death. Those concepts are all so tempting, to some people, that they just can't cope without them.
I can completely relate. Every time I sign into facebook (instagram too), I get bombarded with a news feed full of Christian passages and life advice that inevitably ends up referring to "God" as the solution.
I think a lot of the widespread belief is based on how the theist was brought up (mostly in an environment where the people around them believed in a god), intellectual lethargy and ultimately...fear.
People don't like to admit the fact that we as human beings DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING about the world we live in. Adversely, theists always boast about how certain they are of their God's existence, oftentimes ignoring the many fundamental arguments that deflate those beliefs in any truly rational person's mind. Many like feeling the false comfort that "God" is "watching over them" or that "God" is the cause of any beautiful or presently unexplainable thing they witness. Their beliefs also seem to free them of accountability in many aspects. The most common instances I've seen pertain to when a theist has a goal in mind, or a difficult situation they need to get through. I often hear the expression "Let go and let God." Basically meaning to leave everything in "God's" hands, rather than examining the situation and being proactive in finding a solution.
From my experience, many people feel that life will be devoid of meaning and purpose if they lose their belief in their God (which any non-religious person I'm sure will disagree with). That and it's very hard to de-program a lifetime of indoctrination, especially if their beliefs were somewhat strong. Finally, I think the underlying feeling is fear. Devoutly religious people seem to regard anything that challenges their beliefs as the "Devil" trying to work against them, or "God" testing them (which makes no sense if they believe their God is omniscient, he'd be fully aware of their intentions if that was the case). Fear and false hope is what has kept religion alive for as long as it's been around. Playing up on people's emotions and creating "answers" to life's questions are what ultimately contribute to the stranglehold religion has. And yet, I wouldn't even mind if people kept their personal beliefs personal. The problems arise when it permeates into absolutely everything and ignorance takes over. Luckily, it seems like more and more people are letting go of the whole "God" thing and giving logic a fair chance. Good to see.