There is an interesting correlation with Hinduism. First some background. Modern archaeology based on ground penetration radar and dating the width of the Sarisvatti River has established that the Rig Veda, the first Hindu book, is at least 8,000 years old.
But the Aryan invasion from the steppes of Asia came somewhat later, 4,000 years ago if I remember what I have read correctly. According to orthodox Hinduism the Aryans brought the religion with them and it was an oral tradition, and it included the caste system.
The current thinking is that the Aryans pulled a fast one. They invaded and conquered India and found a going, strong religion in the country they had conquered. Realizing that the religion would some day be a basis of insurrection, they decided to co-op the religion. They banned all forms of writing, made the religion an oral one, established the caste system with the native Indians in the lowest caste, and claimed the religion as their own. The invaders composed the top 3 castes, the priests, the army and the tradesmen, effectively making the lowest caste slaves to the other three.
The British encouraged such thinking when they colonized India because it made the advent of civilization in India rather late in the history of the world, whereas actually, it was the very first civilization, pre-dating China, Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Christian colonizers of course could not believe that the Indian civilization was truly so ancient as that would make its civilization older than the age of the earth, as it was understood at that time. So a new religion was used to suppress an older religion that had already suppressed an even older religion.
It seems that the history of religion is replete with its use to control people and strengthen national rule. The conversion of Rome to Christianity was just for that purpose. It was a top down process. Judaism with its concept of transmigration, (i.e., after you die your soul is born again in another body), was becoming a strong religious force in the Roman Empire. Jews were willing to die for their religion, as they would just be born again. Better to co-op that religion with another, state religion that claims that you only have one life, and if you do not obey god, or equivalently, the state, you would burn in hell. Christianity was a much better mechanism for controlling people.
Reincarnation-type beliefs tend to undermine such control. Atheism is of course the most undermining concept of all. Unfortunately most purely atheistic nations have been run by dictatorships. But what really counts is the idea of heaven as a means of control. For example, the original form of Buddhism was an atheistic religion, but it used the concept of Nirvana, a rather bland form of heaven as far as I can tell, as a means to control the behavior of people.
A counter example is Judaism where essentially there was no heaven for man to go. When you are dead, you're dead in most versions of Judaism.
So they did not have heaven as a controlling mechanism. Still they had a strong religion built around a priest class, the Levites, and a priest class within the priest class, the Cohens. From a modern perspective it appears that superstition, a collective form of superstition, was used to control the behavior of the people. God's promise is that if all the Jews behave properly and worship god properly, then life would be easy, otherwise they would be punished. The key word here is "all". The fact that they 'all' had to behave produces tremendous social pressure to act collectively, even when they sinned. We can see evidence of such social pressure among Jews even today. Being a Jewish convert from christianity into a jewish family, I can testify to that.
In addition, the original form of jewish life after death was, for lack of heaven, embodied in the concept of resurrection of the body. At some time in the future, probably when the Messiah comes, your body would come to life again and presumably you would then live forever. That helped a bit with crowd control, it fit in nicely with the Egyptian practice of embalming, and it forbade crimination. But after the Temple was destroyed the second and last time, and the Levite class disappeared, to be replaced by Rabbis in synagogues (that comes down to us today as Reform Judaism) the concept of transmigration began to take hold as it helped against Roman rule. BTW, it is not well known that Conservative and Orthodox Judaism are protestant forms and that Reform Judaism is the direct descendant of the synagogues.
So despite my recognition that religion has been exploited for the control of people, I allow the whole idea of the possibility of a supernatural life to control my life. Except for that I pretty much think like an atheist. My religious practice is quite unique, which is the use of mantras, 96 names of god that seem to include all the religions in existence. For example, Ave, which I take to be christian, is associated with the upper heart chakra. Yave, which is certainly jewish, is associated with the lower heart chakra, and yehova, also jewish, is associated with the middle eye chakra.
My body seems to have 16 chakras, which I associate, with the 16 compactified dimensions when the 26 original dimensions of the unified field collapsed into ten expanded dimensions in order to make matter. The 16 compactified dimensions became spiritual and also are currently accelerating the expansion of the universe.
Each of the 16 chakras are circular in nature. They are like circular disks, 9 from the base of your spine to your neck, and another seven in your head. But each disks is divided into six section, or really point on the disks, due I believe to the compactification of the ten dimensions of matter into the four dimensions of space time. The six compactified dimensions produced six directions of importance in each chakra disk. Two of the most important direction is straight out the front of your body, and straight back through your spine. The other 4 are roughly plus or minus 60 degrees on either side of the first two. Thus all these disks and directions amount to 6 times 16 or 96 chakra points on the surface of your body. They form 16 circular paths around your body, and six linear paths (more or less) up and down your body.
The 16 chakra points up and down the center front of your body include all the Hindu chakras which number six or seven depending on who you talk to. It is not well known that there are ten jewish chakras corresponding to the ten names of god in judiasm, and also ten names of angels like cherubim and seraphim, which can be used as mantras to invoke the ten gods. Any way these ten chakras are also included in the 96. As you might imagine by now, if you are still reading, my path to the 96 was through a combination of the hindu seven with the jewish ten.
So I think this all amounts to a new religion, which my friends have labeled as hinju. It also incorporates modern scientific cosmology and multidimensional reality into its practice. It is essentially a practice. With just a little practice you can feel the chakras pulsating with your fingers. That is all I can promise you. Afterlife, and a god, or the possibility of your becoming a god, is at best a hope, and at worst perhaps just a superstition that could control your behavior as it does mine. After all, a little self-control ain't all that bad, especially with the help of angels, assuming that they exist.....