I have recently attempted to try to understand how people beleive in things so unrational by attending a church service but to no avail. I was the ONLY one in the entire church building to not rise as a beleiver of Christ, even with many other newcomers other than myself.
I sometimes beleive that most people who beleive in religions are hypocrits, people who are simply too headstrong to understand change, people who understand their beleifs are unrational and do not want to admit otherwise, and several others with the same gist.
It's great to ask how people come to their beliefs, and very interesting to think about. In the case of religious beliefs, it often has to do with a thing called cognitive dissonance. What this means is, we don't like holding two beliefs at once that we know contradict each other. So let's say for some reason you decide you believe in heaven (let's say you saw someone die and became scared of your own mortality). Then you will be driven to also adopt other Christian beliefs. This also explains why once people have adopted a lot of Christian beliefs, it can be extremely hard to get them to change, even if their beliefs aren't rational.
Another similar psychological phenomenon is that when you start acting like you believe in something, you get a similar motivation to change your beliefs to match your actions. Basically people don't like to be hypocrites. You will notice if you observe religion for a while, that they often suggest that if you are uncertain in your "faith" then you should pray, and act as if you believe in God, and see if your faith gets stronger. It actually will, and people who don't understand psychology will think this is God acting in their lives, but really it's just how our brains work. So rituals like getting people to all stand up if they believe in something (and many people who do not believe will stand up anyway so as not to stand out - it must have been hard for you to stay seated, and it's great that you did) those type of rituals will actually get people to believe when they didn't before. This also means it is important to act like the kind of person you would like to be. If you lie or steal, you will start to believe that that is OK, even though you didn't before.
We would love to have you come on the forum - honest ideas from thoughtful people are so much nicer than some of the angry Christians we get! And we could always use a hand convincing people to think about what they believe and why