The obvious apparent purpose of many religious myths is to give people some form of peace about a future after they or a loved one dies. The need for some kind of comfort seems so extreme that people will accept just about any wacky idea. For example, Christians believe that a God that created, knows, and loves them, wouldn’t think twice about sentencing them to an eternity of torture. But, as long as they accept him as a savior, all will be well. Others, of course, can [literally] go to Hell. Potentially thorny issues, such as children who die early and haven’t (and actually cannot rationally) accept Jesus going to Hell are conveniently swept under the rug. The same applies to questions about how a loving and just God (who would know where everyone’s going to end up) justify the mass-torturing of approximately half the population of Earth.
Of course, Christian beliefs are the only game in town when it comes to crazy theories about the unknown and what’s beyond. Cracked.com has a post about The 5 Most Ridiculously Unjust Religious Afterlives. These are all actually based on real beliefs and most are hilarious at face value (Cracked’s often childish translations are entertaining but also superfluous). Here are some examples:
Judgement is decreed by the individual’s ability to cross the Bridge of Chinvat, the account keeper (a St. Peter type person). Cross the bridge and you’re in paradise, sitting on your golden stool in Mazda’s house of songs. Fall off and you’re dropping to hell.
The Aztecs did not believe your fate was based on whether or not you lived a moral life. Instead, they believed that whichever of the three afterlives you got depended largely on your role in society and the manner of your death. So you could be a total shit who spent their adult life breaking into blind people’s houses to move their furniture around, and depending on how you died, you could still find yourself sitting by the side of some god in the late afternoon sun, eating cheese and drinking wine with your feet in the pool.
Tribal Ancestor Worship:
For some tribes, the souls of the deceased just mill around in a happy state, so long as the skulls or bodies they previously belonged to were looked after. Basically if you had a family who was good at looking after your skull, times were good. If your offspring were lazy assholes who turned your skull into a bong, then you were in for a pretty tough time
The Egyptians believed that mummification was an essential part of a journey towards a good afterlife, and mummification was expensive. It took seventy days, and after that, you had to be buried in a tomb which was acceptable in the eyes of the Gods. Which was, again, expensive. Basically, if you were a horrible little poor person, the Gods extended a middle finger in your direction and packed you on your way to eternal oblivion.
Of course, the typical religious mind can quickly and summarily reject the absurdness of these beliefs, unless they are from their own religion.