If I told you that true reality is that I could make you rich, young, immortal, famous, a genius, and capable of superhuman powers, what would you say? Awsome! Do it! or Bull Sh!t. Right? You'd probably (hopefully) say I was crazy, delusional, irrational or a liar. Would you even consider I could actually do this? If so, I've also got some beachfront property in Arizona for ya!
Studies show that religious people can be happier people. But, wouldn't you be happier if you thought some delusionally wonderful spiel? Tell me, if you really thought that you won the lottery, or were given a free awesome vacation, redeemable in a short while, wouldn't you be happier in the meantime? What if you came to the conclusion that it was all a big lie? You'd be pissed or at least a bit disappointed. Now, what if you gave time, energy, savings, relationships for the lie? You'd be even angrier. Welcome to the ex-christian perspective.
Yes, believers can appear to be happier than non-believers. But if that believer comes to realize that "all things DON'T work together for the good," or that "there ISN'T a reason for everything," or that when you die there won't be a heaven, it can be upsetting that you bought a bill of goods for so long.
The whole thing really is a Ponzi Scheme. It was started long ago and continues on. What is the benefit? The belief that all will be ok, that if we just believe - that God's got our back. But the dividends we receive are a portion of the very energy we put in. Yes, good things can come. But typically it's because we are putting good efforts. Religious people are encouraged to choose to be hopeful, give to others, build relationships, forgive, believe in themselves. Why? Because Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, Whoeva, says we should. Well, newsflash, these things can be done on their own merit, aside from someone saying so. These things are goods in themselves, regardless of doctrine and supernatural posterings.
How do Madoff's victims feel? What if they chose to believe in the face of all the evidence? What if they were told that they must have faith in the face of all odds to receive their return? What if they were told that one day people will come and tell them that it is all a lie, but they must still believe. They must still give their money, or else they will loose it all. They must hold out till the end to receive their crown of victory. Sound familiar?
Oh sweet ignorant bliss in the face of all obvious b.s.