We humans, through our long history on Earth, would have responded with awe at the beauty of nature on land and in the heavens. Together with our fellow-members of the kingdom of fauna, we would also have been terrified (as many of us are now) by the ferocity of the heavens at ground level. Some form of prayer and an attempted propitiation would have followed in time – aided by those subsequently accepted as shamans, and their inheritors, the priests.
Structured and institutionalised, aided by placatory rituals, religions would have evolved, reflecting local conditions. Imagery my reflect geography. Naturally, explanatory and embellishing beliefs would proliferate, through priestly (ie. human) ambition. Thus, apart from a shared core intent, there would have developed systems of dogma – each likely to be incompatible with any other. Competition between religions would be manifest when the tributaries of faith leading to the sea of God threaten to merge on shared terrain.
Since the supporters of all religious sects behave, day to day, in almost identical ways, except in the manner they express their approach to the one and only God, should not the leaders of religions encourage inter-faith confabulations? Diversity is not a virtue. Dogma-derived difference, leading to societal separation, is not a virtue either. Yet, the availability of a range of paths to the sole destination should not pose any hindrance to Seekers, provided the paths are truly free of ideational control.
In the light of increasing proportions of educated populations in well-fed nations identifying themselves as non-religious, will institutional religion go the way of that extinct bird, the dodo? Who would then guide Seekers along their spiritual journey?