Ever heard of cargo cults? It is a name given to certain new religious movements that originated, several of them independently, among natives on pacific islands after WWII. During the war, Americans had countless navy and air force bases across the Pacific, where the perplexed natives could see airplanes take off and land. The American servicemen shared food and other items with the natives, who came to appreciate stuff like Coca-Cola and chewing gum for the first time.
After the war, the number of American bases was reduced considerably, and the Americans disappeared from these islands, leaving the natives confused behind. Shortly, a new group of religions took hold. The natives made replicas of American war- and transport planes with primitive materials, and started to use these in their worship, praying that the "gods" would return with their precious cargo. The cargo cults were born.
This is perhaps the first time anthropologers and other scholars have been able to witness the origin of a religion. We know exactly what external forces influenced the religious idea. We know that the religious theories and myths were based on a lack of understanding of technology and the world around them.
The natives on the pacific islands are neither dumber nor smarter than those who originated religions like Judaism, Islam or Christianity. These, and all other old religions, originated among deeply superstitious and (by our standards) ignorant people. They were not stupid, but their postulating a god or cosmic spirit to explain the universe and human beings was based on lack of knowledge.
That people living today, knowing (or at least being able to know) that the universe and humans do not need supernatural beings to explain their workings and origins, and still choose to believe that such things exist, is comparable to a former cargo-cultist becoming a pilot, yet retaining his faith that his tribal friends' worship of the plane replicas really will bring them the precious "cargo" Real Soon Now.
"Doctor how can you diagnose someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and then act like I had some choice about barging in here right now?" -- As Good As It Gets