Any established religion can be expected to offer a degree of complexity. I wonder, however, whether the great faith-teachers of mankind included any complexity in their original guidance; or whether they espoused a single belief, with an associated way of life, which was original in relation to the place and time of their initial utterances. I suspect that, as that teaching spread, those who became flag-bearers embellished the original message.
Their intention would have been to enrich the core belief, and to enthuse their followers. Were there to be available a degree of power (or only influence), complexity in belief structures and in the linked rituals could arise progressively. It would also seem to be in the nature of the human being for a priesthood to guard its citadel against any changes.
But there could always arise breakaway sects. These might reflect divergences in the interpretation of teachings; or preferred changes in the practice of some of the rituals; or contests of relative influence. What drives the need for change? Some egoism?
Take, for example, a belief in reincarnation. Reportedly, almost all durable cultures once held some sort of belief in rebirth, and the possibility of a continuity of existence. However, the early Christian Church leaders seemingly decided that they would guide their flock, rather than leave moral progress to an autonomous cosmic process. Priestly control over-rode individual free will!
Now that limbo and hell have been dispensed with, some of my devout church-attending friends seem uncertain about what could happen to them after their Earthly demise. This is terribly sad.
What is worse is the belief among obviously only a tiny fraction of Hindus, as well as the Buddhist religion, that, were they not to accept the opportunities offered for moral progress through the reincarnation process, they could be reborn as an animal; and that it would take a very long process of rebirths to become human again. I wonder if there are any adherents of the two faiths who actually accept that Darwinian evolution could be reversed.
It is bad enough that some Christian religionists talk of fearing a loving God. Now the risk of being reborn an animal – say, a snake – is a threatened fear for humans not making progress morally. Is it not time to give up using fear to encourage human beings to reach out to our Creator while also expressing compassion to co-created fellow-humans?
Leadership and guidance by fear seem more political than religious. The great faith-teachers would surely have offered only respectful guidance.