Im not sure that materialism says that consciousness is an illusion and doesn't really exist. Personally, I find such debates as that (and dualism, or 'inner me') unrewarding blah.Maybe there is something to this "god gene" hypothesis. True, it gets complex because of environmental influences but maybe biology plays some role in religiosity and influences which way we go.
There is still this problem with materialism saying that consciousness is an illusion and doesn't really exist. Likewise a bigger problem with this dualism, the body and the mind, the soul and the flesh which makes even less sense. So what is consciousness, the mind, the soul or what ever you call the inner me?
I think what you really want to know is: why are people religious when it seems to go against all evidence and reason?
I think the God hypothesis isnt the only possible genetically based theory. Perhaps, most people who are religious dont have mystic experiences (nor believe theyve had them)? They may still be pre-disposed genetically to believe in a creator.
The Nature of Intelligence Theory...
People talk as if someone has intelligence or lacks it. I dont think intelligence should be viewed like that.
Take two examples:
Robt Mugabe. The guy is a qualified teacher with two masters degrees. He thinks the British or white race is behind all his difficulties and is a Roman Catholic.(Fortunately, hes grasped that witches dont exist).
There is a mechanic who fixes my car. From conversation, it is unlikely he could achieve the standard of mathematics that I have mastered (or once did :-). I could never learn to fix a car as well or as quickly as he does.
So there are different kinds of intelligence. Some are quite widely defined, e.g. Mechanical-mindedness, intellectual. Others are very narrow, for instance someone can have a facility for languages and be so 'stupid' in every other respect they arent employable.
There is the example of the stupid copper or intelligent idiot. The common example is the guy who joins the police force and is physically fittest and toughest. He passes every written exam with flying colours, but put him at a road junction and try and get him to direct the traffic and hell have queues for miles in one direction and uninterrupted traffic in the other. He has no common sense.(I think USAmericans might call them geeks?)
So maybe people can be brilliant scientists and religious because they are intellectual idiots?
I have another theory to add to those. I call it the Under 7 Brain Development Theory(for short :-). It is this...
I note the Jesuit saying,give me a boy under 7.... I also note the observation about Feral Children that if they havent learned human language by about the age of 7 or 8, they are NEVER able to learn human speech. This is a surprising phenomenon (and perhaps not firmly and scientifically established as a fact).
We are all a product of nature and nurture, so what is the effect on some minds (but not on all) of some methods or intensity of religious instruction to the under 7s? Biologically or developmentally, some brains might be permanently impaired by it?