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Linkage: Does Religion Cause Wars?

One of the silly arguments that atheists use against religion is that "religion causes wars."  That simply isn't the case.  It can be documented that out of all the wars fought only 6.92 percent of them were fought over religious matters, and if you remove Islam, then that number drops 3.23 percent (The Irrational Atheist, pp. 105-06).  Have wars been fought for religious reasons? Yes, there have been wars where religion played a significant role, but the vast majority of wars had nothing to do with religion.  Keep that in mind as you read this article from Be Thinking:

As the situation in Gaza becomes worse by the day, the apologetic challenge this weekend is most likely to centre on the role of religion in fomenting this conflict. The question we have probably all faced on occasions is whether religion is the main cause of war, with the suggestion being made that the world would be a much more peaceful place if only there was no religion. Richard Dawkins has put it this way: “Religion causes war by generating certainty.” And John Lennon encouraged us to: 
Imagine there's no countries 
It isn't hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
And no religion too 
Imagine all the people 
Living life in peace 
Well, we all want to ‘live life in peace’; the question is whether removing religion is what will achieve it. In a great article on the bethinking website, Tom Price details a range of responses we can make to this challenge including the following: atheist secularism has caused just as much bloodshed; it’s an abuse of Christianity that has led to violence not its genuine practice; ultimately it’s people that kill, not religion.

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Now I just want to make a brief point.  Dr. Thacker points out that the Twentieth Century was the bloodiest century in recorded history.  Some of that has to do with the technological advances we have seen, it is so much easier to kill than it has been in the past. But the fact that guys like Hitler, Mao and Stalin doesn't prove "irreligion is more deadly than religion"as much at is demonstrates that political ideology is dangerous, especially when ideologues get into power.  That is why it is so important for us to restrain the power of government, because in the hands of the wrong people it is deadly.


f said…
I believe that sometimes "religion" is (mis)used to interpret the will of God in ways that suit people and their desire for power, whether personal, political, or ideological.

I tend to agree with Dr. Thacker, or at least with what I think he was saying. I do not believe that true faith in God, neither true Christian nor Muslim faith, leads to war. Just the opposite, in fact.

The desires of men most certainly lead to war, though, including those who would use "religion" as justification for their own purposes.

Unfortunately, those who misuse "religion" find many followers among those with shallow faith, those who have similar desires and little faith and those who have desperate needs not being addressed by any other means.

At least that's my opinion, and I very much appreciated reading yours and the article by Dr. Thacker. Thank you.

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