When I was a theist the question of where did religious beliefs come from never even crossed my mind. I accepted my theistic beliefs unquestionably and although I studied the scriptures diligently, I did so within the confines of my religious beliefs and predispositions. In other words I studied to confirm what I already believed to be "true", much as most believers continue to do today.
I sought answers in scriptures that I could use to refute my detractors, unbelievers, and other adherents of what I termed false religions. I studied other religions looking for gaps in their theology that could be filled with the doctrines of mine. As most creationist believe today that the world began 7,000 years ago through the act of their deity without evidence, I too accepted and believed most of what I had learned from seminary and through independent study as factual without evidence but solely on faith.
I have been an atheist for 17 years and as such I have studied religion and religious beliefs from an entirely different perspective. I am no longer bound by fear, reverence, and dogma. I can look at religion from the perspective of an outsider with the knowledge and experience of an insider. I have found that if you trace the origins of religions as far back as you can through academic research you will realize that religious beliefs are of human origin. In short all religions are based on human invention due to lack of knowledge of the world we live in.
Another thing you will learn is that religion is also a cultural phenomena and every culture as it was true in the past and is evident to this day, had its interpretation of origins and beliefs. Some cultures worshiped many gods and were thus termed polytheists and later cultures disposed of those gods for one supreme deity and were thus labeled monotheists.
Man has pretty much worshiped everything on this earth at one time or another. Earliest religions worshiped the forces of nature, such as lightening, rain, volcanoes. Later we gave them names and made the gods more like us our concepts of god or gods were now more anthropomorphic (made more human like). Our gods were given personalities, genders, and in some cases even domains of which they ruled. Some were characterized as good while others were portrayed as evil, but the one characteristic that they all had in common is that they were feared, and thus worshiped.
From this perspective you can't help but conclude that religions are of a subjective nature. Each culture believed the world was as they themselves interpreted through their own religious myths and tales. Today the three major religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam look at other religions as nothing more than myths and legends handed down from one generation to another. But I think that this view is biased since all three major religions have been spread and perpetuated in the same manner.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in fact have borrowed all of their concepts from those same religions they now condemn as false. The origin of these three more accepted religions are actually ancient myths and legends, and who is to know that if they are phased out sometime in the future they too would later be called what I believe they are; myths.
This brings me to my final conclusion; that all religions are myths that have borrowed from one another for centuries and that the three major religions themselves are not excluded. I would like to end with a quote by Stephen F. Roberts: "When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." I think that this is a logical summation of this article.