Religion Causes Wars
I have lost count of how many times I have heard this sweeping statement, thrown out to encompass all of history. So easy for people to to use it as a diversion – ‘Hah, you talk about a God of peace? But how can He be that when religion causes wars ?’.
But is it true?
It seems that the accusation and its implied proven truth have become ingrained in people purely by means of repetition.
But where are the facts?
If we disagree, and wish to rebut the claim, what have we got to sustain an argument against such a categoric statement?
Well, help is at hand!
Religion Causes Wars – Is it True Historically and in Today’s World?
An interesting article in the Huffington Post, (dating back to 2012 but still timeously relevant), presents statistics that would challenge the claim that religion is responsible for most or all conflict and war.
Herewith a few quotes, and a link to the complete article at the end:
History simply does not support the hypothesis that religion is the major cause of conflict.
[…]while clearly there were wars that had religion as the prime cause, an objective look at history reveals that those killed in the name of religion have, in fact, been a tiny fraction in the bloody history of human conflict.
In their recently published book, “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare, and from their list of 1763 wars only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare.
[…]the vast numbers of genocides (those killed in ethic cleanses, purges, etc. that are not connected to a declared war) are not based on religion. It’s estimated that over 160 million civilians were killed in genocides in the 20th century alone, with nearly 100 million killed by the Communist states of USSR and China.
While some claim that Communism itself is a “state religion” — because it has an absolute dictator whose word is law and a “holy book” of unchallenged rules — such a claim simply equates “religion” with the human desire for power, conformance, and control, making any distinctions with other human institutions meaningless.
The author then comments:
To be clear, this is not to say that religion is not a cause of conflict. Obviously it is, has been, and no doubt will continue to be. Clearly there are those who have committed horrendous acts based on religious zeal, and we must be alert to these threats and respond forcefully.
But in a world with billions of people who are self-defined as religious, those who believe that violence is the will of God and that the murder of innocents is a holy act are a small, insane minority.