All religions similarily to mythologies are ultimately like fairy tales: completely fake, but containing a message, or theme. Fairy tailes for adults. Created by the brightest minds of their times, not to deceive, but rather to educate and to reinforce certain behaviours and certain rituals, that help humans to achieve the higher state of mind. The balance in life and a deep sense of well-being. Buddhism writings state that most of the stories told are in fact not true – they are told only to demonstrate a certain message hidden in a parable or to inflict a particular perspective or approach to certain situations. Perhaps those bright minds that created the worlds most celebrated religions used the same metaphors and parables for their own understanding too. There is many factors that must have contributed to this.
People on both side, those atheists who actively fight religious believes and those religious fundamentalists that argue existance of gods are all completely missing the point. The whole point is not about gods, or heaven/hell, or fairy tales, or even individual believes. The whole thing is ultimately about human behaviour. No matter what one believes in, no matter what drives people, ultimately, what counts is one’s behaviour. Day to day activities. The routines, decisions, choices. The rituals.
Did other cults and rituals existed throughout the centuries that competed with those currently known, in a giant evolutionary-like struggle, and only the most successful and most valuable rituals survived? Or were all the main religions rather a product of a single bright mind, that could overlook into the future and propose a set of rules that ultimately leads people to the state of happiness? It would require a thorough study, which I hope someone has already done.
Coming back to rituals – One of such rituals is fasting. It exists in various forms but consistently re-appears in all religions. The process of going back to the very basic and simple diatery schedule, for certain amount of time, to re-adjust the body back to the initial state. The process of cleansing and resetting the habits.
Same as the periods of growth in economy are separated by sharp depressions and market re-adjustments, the same rule apply to our bodies and our needs and desires. After a period of “up”, we need the re-adjustment, so that we can continue the “up” curve. Without the re-adjustment, the curve will eventually flatten out, leading to major problems.