This got me thinking

LOL. That is a wonderful fantasy in and of itself.

Yes, some subjective lessons have been gleaned from religion. And yes, some of those were from "hardcore meditation." But that is absolutely not what religion is about or why it was originally invented.

It was unquestionably an invention of mankind in order to explain the world around them. That's why all the "old gods" were not only multiple but were related to physical phenomena: Zeus was lightning and thunder, Poseidon was the seas, and so on. There was also always a component of control of populations: you need to do this to get into "heaven" and not do that do avoid going to "hell."

Over time religions changed and evolved, just like any other memes. Eventually getting to the point where monotheism dominates over polytheism (but the Hindus are still polytheists).

But it has always been primarily about trying to make truth claims about the real world around us and to control people. Just pick any holy text and read it! The moon is a light, you cure syphilis with the blood of a dead pigeon, women are unclean for 1 month after birth and around their menses, if a woman is raped her rapist has to pay a certain sum of money and then she is his wife, and so on.

Simpletons took those lessons and began trying to claim that they were literal truths, this isn't the fault of the religion

Religion is not it's own "thing." It does not exist outside the minds of humans. So this sentence is completely non-sensical. It cannot be that "simpletons" claimed they were literal truths... that is what the originators of each religion claimed and, since religion is 100% a construct of the human mind, that is what it is. Religion cannot have "fault" here for it is not a thing separate from us that we somehow managed to "pervert" or "screw up" or "do wrong." Religion is what religious people do.

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