I am happy to see that there is a healthy discussion going on regarding the place of religion in our life and society. Thanks to David Lowther for some intelligent observations.
I think there are only three ways to explain and explore our existence: through science, philosophy and art. Religion is not one of them.
To the headline. Be rational. It’s all simple brain chemistry. Billions of nerve cells/neurons transmitting electrical impulses and with the help of billion synapses creating 1,000 trillion connections, creating self-awareness, emotions and thoughts, including the concept of God or other higher beings. With all this knowledge and cognitive potential it is hard to understand that there are still countless people who are claiming — and teaching their children — to get their information and guidelines for life from burning bushes and talking snakes — at least in the Judeo-Christian world. Not any better are some of the twisted scriptures of other ancient religions. All these stories were created for just one reason — to appease our fear of the unknown, mainly the concept of death.
It seems the only way to put some definition of God into place is to substitute it with the universe itself. Whether it may be a singular ever expanding universe or the string theory notion of countless parallel universes. The big point here is: there is no heaven! There is no hell! No reward and no punishment. The reward is your life, here and now. Make the best of it.
By the way — love to celebrate Christmas every year just because it is great to maintain a strong and loving family and a fun tradition.