One model of religion, proposed by Loyal Rue, is shown below.
In this, a central mythic story is shared by a group. This includes cosmological ideas of how things are in the world and moral ideas about what is good and right.
Several strategies support the central myth. Some of these are intellectual, as in books or discussions that present the story and interpret or debate its meaning. Some involve artistic depictions or ritual responses, or ways of encouraging and understanding religious experiences. Institutions form, with teachers and leaders, as groups consider and respond to the story.
The core myth identifies a problem, which the religion then addresses. As William James described it, this exists in two parts: an uneasiness and its solution.
“The uneasiness, reduced to its simplest terms, is a sense that there is something wrong about us as we naturally stand.”
“The solution is a sense that we are saved from the wrongness by making proper connection with the higher powers.”
Framed by beliefs about what is and what is good and right, religion focuses on a problem, an aspect of the human condition, and identifies a path to relieve it.
In Judeo-Christian tradition the problem, displayed in Eden, is an innate sinfulness or inability to live up to godly standards. In Jewish tradition, the solution focuses on adherence to the Torah. Christians focus on acceptance of Christ.
In Buddhism, the problem is suffering and the solution is the 8-fold path.
From a naturalist perspective, several aspects of a central problem have been described (see “A Problem and a Path“, at this site). As these consider age-old personal and social challenges in context with modern lifestyles and environmental pressures, views on causes and paths to improvement are grounded in an understanding of nature.