Very very simply? I would say that the higher reason for the continued existence of religion is for people to have hope to experience and share warmth acceptance benevolence and belongingness. Religion can offer us the hope and potential truism to experience the better side of human nature. Religion can forster the highest form of love and that is showing mercy. Compassion is only one of the many forms of love we can have and share with our fellow humans. That to me is the higher simple expression of religion.
I would say the beliefs.
After all, not all religions praise the existence of God nor the actuality of heaven, purgatory, and hell. There are also different characters and changing plots in religious stories and some don't even have religious ornaments like a holy book or a church.
But all believe in something, and that's why religion existed.
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