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Is religion really the cause of wars?

  1. Jul 15, 2009 #1
    One of the main criticisms I hear of religion is that is responsible for so many wars throughout history. If religion is held to blame for the crusades for example, then by the same logic shouldn't we be holding democracy and freedom to blame for current wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan?
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  3. Jul 15, 2009 #2


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    No - people are the cause of wars, religion is just an excuse used by people.
  4. Jul 15, 2009 #3
    money is the cause of wars (or better, wanting wealth is the cause of wars)
  5. Jul 15, 2009 #4


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    It's more about ideology (an individual's or group's set of beliefs) or conflicts of ideology than religion. Religious beliefs may be one of many causal factors. Other factors may be vanity/conceit, avarice/greed or egotism/egosim.

    Think about what sparks agression or aggressive behavior.

    One of my professors once told me that the three major (the 3 P's) drivers of human behavior are Power, Property and Prestige - or rather the craving to acquire these attributes.
  6. Jul 15, 2009 #5


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    I think it's less about sparking aggressive behaviour and more about the perceived threat to one's faith. That faith may be religious in nature, but it is broader than that, encompassing any of the things one believes deeply and irrationally in, such as freedom or power or money.
  7. Jul 15, 2009 #6
    I'm sure if people didn't have religion to argue over, there will be plenty of other reasons to kill each other. Land, resources, choice of color.

    I think South Park shows it best in S10E12 and S10E13 when they featured a futuristic world without religion. The supposed utopia featured a deadly struggle between three factions, intent on killing each other for a relatively trivial disagreement.
  8. Jul 15, 2009 #7
    I agree with all of your posts. This is basically the point I was trying to make - I don't think that religion is the cause of wars. I really expected more people on these forums to take the point of view that religion is the cause of wars actually. I think if you look back through history you will find that no matter what the ideological reason for a war, it always conveniently suits the invading country's interests. Thers's a good debate between Noam Chomsky and William Buckley on youtube about this.
  9. Jul 15, 2009 #8


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    And religion is NOT some sort of ideology, Astronuc??

    This idea, that everything BUT religion may be the cause of (some) wars, needs to be defended.


    Whatever, EXACTLY, is meant by saying that religion is " merely used"?
  10. Jul 15, 2009 #9
    The problem with religion is that it creates some of the strongest ideology there is. People within religion are brought up to believe what they are told and not allowed to question it (you can but you won't be very popular with them anymore). I watched a programme with Richard Dawkins the other day and he spoke to a jew turned muslim who said: "I want islam to take over the world and one day it will". Now that is the sort of attitude that causes problems. I'm not saying all problems come from religion, but the way people are taught within it is a problem. Religious people can stand calling soldiers (and others) all the names under the sun, but we do anything back and suddenly 'freedom of religion' comes into it. It isn't fair on us.

    It is wanting to defend your beliefs that causes problems. And so far it seems the people willing to go furthest to do so are religious types. Any non-religious people hijacked aircraft and crashed them recently? Bombed innocent people in the middle of London? There are murderers on death row who believe the devil/god 'told them to do it'. Even when you look at race arguments (black and white nationalists), they all say the same thing: "God created us 'better' / 'different' to them and we should be living seperately". It comes back to religion. Yes, other factors play a part in wars, look at iraq and the oil issues, but everything I see points to religions causing some of the biggest problems when it comes to peoples ideological clashes over various issues.
  11. Jul 15, 2009 #10
    I would say that democracy was "merely used" in the invasion of Iraq. I don't see a big conceptual difference between this and religion being "merely used". Ideologies are "merely used" in the sense that they are a front which poses a self-interested endeavour as an altruistic one. They are very helpful in manufacturing consent.
  12. Jul 15, 2009 #11


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    "Ideologies are "merely used" in the sense that they are a front which poses a self-interested endeavour as an altruistic one."

    And when the religion ITSELF imposes upon the believers the collective obligation to achieve world domination by the sword, is then the religion "being merely used" when the believers DO follow that..religious precept?

    (I'm not going to name any religion here, but you might think of Jainism instead, if you like. :smile:)
  13. Jul 15, 2009 #12


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    I was generalizing to any ideology (set of beliefs or belief system) of which religion is one type. Ideological conflict between individuals or groups (families, clans, tribes or ethnic group, nations, villages, . . . .) may escalate to violence. I also elaborated on other causes.

    Competition of resources, or the desire of one group to exclude others, or the desire of one individual (e.g. Saddam Hussein) to control a people or a nation and it's resources are often motivations to go to war. The Visigoth's were hungry and facing the Huns, so they invaded the Roman territory for refuge and security.

    Listen to the lyrics to One Tin Soldier
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  14. Jul 15, 2009 #13
    Religion preaches peace in one breath and war in the next.
    And nearly all of them seem to do that.
  15. Jul 15, 2009 #14
    Not every religion believes in one and only one God. There are religions that believe in multiGods (eg; hinduism). And, every religion's primary motto is not peace. (I think the primary principle of Hinduism is doing your duty - correct me if I'm wrong)

    He or she? There are female Gods too. Also, sun is a God too, for some religions. Again, which Holy book? There are plenty of them.
    If religion integrates well with science, you can try publishing a paper on it in a reputed science journal, get it peer reviewed. Has anybody done that?

    Just wanted to point out some fallacies in your definition of religion. I appreciate the fact that you are able to get and/or spread peace through your religion.
  16. Jul 15, 2009 #15
    I would like to suggest you to listen to renown Islamic scholar Dr. ZAKIR NAIK who is doing the job of trying to integrate every religion to one and only GOD.

    The Concept of multiple GODs sounds Illogical to me though it is practiced in many religions.
    Need Explanation.

    As far as the definition of RELIGION is considered, I would certainly like better than that and FYI, every religion preaches PEACE and brotherhood first and other things second.

    Thank YOU.
  17. Jul 15, 2009 #16


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    Whereas a single long bearded guy that loves everyone and notes the fall of every sparrow while telling his followers to slaughter the other guys is logical.

    Except for some Norse gods and a few guys in south america with a thing for pyramids.
  18. Jul 15, 2009 #17
    Really? Read the old testament and then the new one. In the old one you are told "if someone tries to get you to change your religion you should kill them." and in the new one it is "love thy neighbour".
  19. Jul 15, 2009 #18
    Again, read the old testament, the god there Yaweh is a right douchebag from the start.
  20. Jul 15, 2009 #19
    My dear, have you read history; the golden age of MUSLIMS.?

    In that age, Muslims were trying to integrate ISLAM and SCIENCE and they succeeded a lot. To consider their prosperity and knowledge of civilization, I would like to quote a real story. Muslims; center was Cordova in those times and when they had all the basic systems of living when England's streets had not even a single street light.

    Then Muslims lost their spirit and now Europe and other countries are leading them TECHNOLOGICALLY.

    GOD willing, I'll publish my findings about Religion with Science as soon as I start research in Physics but it will take too long. I am quite young now.
  21. Jul 15, 2009 #20


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    To be fair he could have chosen a less difficult bunch of people to lead.
    If Yaweh had wanted an easier life he should have picked the swedes as his chosen people.
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