I still can't get the secular mundane reason why the apostles made up a new religion.[/quote]
Well I wasn't going to reply because I didn't want to be seen as trying to "wreck" anyone's faith here, but everyone seems to be playing under the assumption that the Apostles were either lying, lunatics, or madmen. (a version of the liar, lunatic, or Lord argument about Jesus). However there are other possibilities than just those 3. The simplest one involving the Apostles is that they were simply just wrong!
It's probably true that no sane person would make up a story then be willing to die for it. That doesn't mean that the only other alternative to the faith being true is that the apostles were insane. The third possibility is that they were perfectly rational sane people who truly believed what they said, but in fact were just flat out wrong. (ie: what they believed was simply false)
Maybe they had "visions" of Jesus, like many people have "visions" of their recently deceased relatives, but considering their circumstances, and cultural worldview (Late 2nd Temple Judaism, which was pretty Apocalyptic) they interpreted these visions as actual bodily appearances, and in fact were willing to die for their belief. Or in fact, it's possible they never did interpret these appearances as bodily Resurrection, but the people who became Christians later on were the one's who interpreted it that way. before someone asks "what about the body? where's the body?" in response to that, well there are about a dozen other pretty sound and historical possibilities to that question. Bart Ehrman gives a good example that maybe some (say 2) family members of Jesus (who were not followers of his before the Cross) were in fact upset that members of the Sanhedrin had buried Jesus. (a rational concept that makes sense given that they might not have spent that much time with Jesus during His ministry but still loved Jesus and didn't want his body in the hands of the "enemies" who handed him over to Pilate to be put to death) And maybe these family members went to the tomb in the middle of the night, "stole" (rightfully claimed?) the body...but while sneaking the body through the night, some Roman soldiers happened upon them, (possibly some who knew of Pilate's orders about guarding the body?) killed the family members....and not knowing what to do (and not get themselves in trouble with Pilate) took the now 3 bodies, and threw them into Gehenah's trash heap. Within 3 or 4 days the bodies would have been unrecognizable. But the Apostles go to the tomb, see it "empty" and assume "he rose from the dead"...they then have "visions" to support such a belief. (or vice versa, or whatever)
There are plenty of other examples as well, all make sense. (though they probably aren't true, and in fact Ehrman does NOT believe that above scenario is what actually happened, he just says it's possible from a historical POV)
The main point being the Apostles could just have been wrong, and not in any sense evil madmen out to trick the world into believing a new religion. In this scenario they would have very readily went to their deaths for a falsehood, but of course assuming it was all true.
The fact that people are willing to die for a religion doesn't make the religion true. hundreds of thousands of Jews died in the 2 revolts against Rome...during the second revolt they fought and died because they thought the Messiah had finally come, yet that belief didn't make it true.
Like Muhammed and Joseh Smith I can give a secular reason why they made a new religion.
Muhammed wanted to be king of Arabia, and Joseph Smith started a new religion so he could practice polygamy.
That's a vast caricature of Muhammed, and really isn't accurate at all. Particularly in his early life. I know little of Joseph Smith, but the scenario seems dubious considering he created an entirely new and complex religion. Seems like a bad way to go if all he wanted was to practice polygamy. Neither of those are really secular views of those religious founders, but in fact they are specifically Christian views of those founders and those faiths. A secular view would out all faiths on equal ground, and in fact I don't think any secular historians suggest Muhammed wanted to be "King of Arabia" at all. Rather I think the accepted view is that he was likely an epileptic who had "religious visions". (which is their same view of St. Paul btw)
I'm not trying to argue against Christianity, only point out that there are indeed other options available than just the "liar, lunatic, or lord" argument. I'm not saying I agree with them, but some of them are pretty sound.