Good Question! From the dawn of time to the present, somehow humans have always sensed that they were part of something much greater than the world that they lived in. From the very earliest of societies, carved figures have never failed to turn up. Everything from small wood figures to great stone chiseled Idols has littered the timeline of the human path. Even the primitive societies found in New Guiney today can be found worshiping some type of carved Holy God.
Whether it be the Inca’s, Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, or American Indians, it makes no difference. Each different slice of civilization comes with its own unique language, writing, style and assorted higher Deities. Each set of Deities comes with its own history, appearance and purpose.
Additionally, each set of Gods comes with its own type of afterlife dwelling. Whether it is Valhalla for the Northman, Nirvana for the Buddhist or the Happy Hunting Ground for the American Indian, there is always a destination for each individual personality after the body stops living. All compliments of which ever Celestial entity is being worshiped at the time.
Each of these societies existed at vastly different times in history. Also, each of these civilizations was geographically far removed from the other ones. Still, there remain the same exact common components to each of them. We are the little people here on the earth, there are higher greater benevolent entities that live beyond our existence, these entities have great power for dispersal here on earth, and that after the body dies, there is some type of better places for the person(s) who’ve died. (Usually, this is a reward from the higher benevolent entity.) One additional component – these unseen deities can be pleased or displeased by our actions, sacrifices and\or worship.
This reoccurring theme permeates the expanse of human history. Our entire planet is littered with the faces of many a revered and powerful image. Eighty percent of the time if there are organized people, with a language and a social structure – there are Gods to be worshiped.
I suppose here is a good place to throw in the fact that many eastern philosophies do not have Gods per se. They sought inward enlightenment and internal peace. For them, getting to an afterlife was a matter of internal\mental discipline. A discipline that was to be worked at most of one’s life. (As averse to spending your life trying to get an afterlife invite, by pleasing some type of heavenly host.)
I would also like to toss in here that in most of the eastern societies, the ruling kings or families were already considered Gods here on earth. Nevertheless they were still referred to as Gods, sans the netherworld part.
Somehow, humans have been able to tell that there was more to living than meets the proverbial eye. There is always the recurrent feeling that we can reach out and touch something “beyond” our immediate world. There has always been this persistent, nagging notion that we are more than just flesh, bone, blood, and brains. Somehow, we the people must be connected to something “out there” and “in there” all at the same time. To try and satisfy this unexplained feeling about our natural being, early humans created earthly “Gods”.