IMO, humans came up with the idea of a soul and a life after death when we started becoming aware of our short existabce, our coming deaths and even worse the loss and grief of our missing loved ones. A desperate grasping for something not possible. I think this quote almost covers the need and hopelessness of it.
"The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear, beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow – Hope shining upon the tears of grief.”
~Robert G. Ingersoll
we form our ego at such a young age that i guess we more or less forget the process? Who remembers the day they first looked in a mirror and recognized their "self?" I guess that doesnt happen until somewhere around 18 months of age? Point being that it's likely our ego that seeks immortality; even though the Bible is quite plain on that subject, There is only One Immortal, etc
I think that humans conceived of an afterlife from dreams. Dreams were not understood by the ancients and when a dead person "came back" in a dream, it was "evidence" that the person was still alive . . . somewhere. This could have been before or after the concept of deity emerged.
The idea that humans created religion in response to death is not necessarily supported by the earliest recorded myths, though. The Sumerian afterlife was horrible--the souls drank dust and ate clay. In early Egypt, only the pharaoh, as a god in his own right, had an afterlife. Then, his immediate family could go; later, anyone who could afford to be embalmed could go. However, whether or not the soul continued to live in Tuat was not assured. The Egyptians feared oblivion more than a a hell, though later myths did have a concept of punishment.
Yes, but as a free agent, I can choose to believe anything I want, if it makes me feel better, irrespective of the facts.
Add to that great evidence exists there is a continuation of the 'soul' beyond this one lifetime, then as an agnostic I have to keep an open mind.
Since there is no 'concrete' evidence to the contrary, I think that's a reasonable position.