I'm currently reading Ancient History of India and I have the following question - It has been widely documented that religion is divided into sects on account of differences in the interpretations of scriptures/teachings of their founder. so, Why is it that the language of the texts or their ideas weren't represented in a clear and ambiguous manner so that there arise no future conflicts? why keep texts or teachings that opens up to multiple interpretations (not that multiple interpretations are bad since we have an enormous diversity of thought and intellect) in a way which invariably lends itself to differences in opinion on what "ought" to be the case and to head in a direction which is in direct opposition to what its founder intended. For eg- Shia-Sunni under Islam, Jains too were divided into two sects on account of differences in opinions. How to resolve this? I think it is like the constitution of the country where it is widely interpreted differently to evolve with society and hence, stay relevant. Is it the same with religion too? But my primary concern remains how to ward off the animosity that grows between the two sects? Please, share your thoughts and knowledge. This question is literally bugging me up.

Grateful and Thank you

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    This is rather broad. Your best bet may be to narrow it down to one particular religion but, even then, it may be better served on a site such as Islam SE (where there may well already be such a question - have you searched there?). – Lars Bosteen Jan 11 at 0:26
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    I'm not sure this can be answered by historical methods. Do you have any evidence to support your hypothesis? I think the way you've phrased this question it might be more appropriate on a philosophy site than on a history site. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 11 at 0:32
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    Re-read this again - this seems to be based on the premise that truth can be unambiguously expressed. I disagree with this premise and think even more strongly that the fundamental question is philosophical or religious and not historical. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 11 at 1:46
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    Is it possible to exist a large text over important, binding, moral issues that doesn't require interpretation and/or an authority? Is there a customary or written body of law that never requires lawyers, kings, parliaments or judges to solve disputes, never can be misinterpreted? Maybe it is beyond the capabilities of the human mind/languages. The Catholic answer is that Revelation can not exist without the the Bible, the Tradition and the Magisterium, i.e., the text, the context, and the final authority to interpret it. With only the bible, protestants are doomed to divide and divide... – Luiz Jan 11 at 2:37
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    It's not always about doctrinal differences. The Sunni-Shiite divide had little if anything to do with the text of the religion (which, unlike most older religions, was written by a single person). It was about who was going to be in charge after Mohammed died. Similarly with the split between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. – jamesqf Jan 11 at 4:32

Religious schism is a long and proud tradition. Just this week the United Methodists had to split into two. But schism is not limited to religion, it occurs in any kind of community of practice. No matter if they have been stated by a God or not, the rules are never quite clear, leaving room for edge cases that if pressed, can become wedges. Religious texts, like most others, are composed in natural language, and interpreted by the populations of the future: these are perfect conditions for textual disagreement. Consider the degree of controversy over the meaning of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a very short text that is only two centuries old.

If a religious text can be written in a language of formal assertions that is meaningful now and into the future, I have yet to hear about it.

  • Thanks @Aaron for sharing your views. can I please ask you a followup question - Does this mean, it is impossible to create literature which isn't prone to multiple interpretations? As it is pointed above that truth can't be unambiguously expressed. – Varun Singh Jan 11 at 23:42

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