Friday, January 30, 2015

Is religion the cause of all the world's violence?

Oh, I'm sure you've heard it, because I know I have more times than I care to count.

"Religion is the cause of all the world's violence!" 

This Pavlovian claim is parroted daily on social media and elsewhere. Though, there's usually nothing else to back it up. And interestingly enough, I find that the people screaming this assertion from the hilltops are really trying to say "Christianity is the cause of all the world's violence!" Or "those evil, mean, Christians have oppressed everyone, for, like, forever!" Or something like that.

I say this because, like clockwork, most of these people will blatantly refuse to accept the role religious ideology plays in the epidemic of Islamic terror around the world today, but will jump at the chance to use Westboro Baptist Church as a fine, example of the quintessential modern day Christian.

Which brings up a good point. Yes, religion does play a role in some of the world's violence throughout the ages. To argue that would be absurd. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and the 30 Years War, tend to be the most popular instances of exclusively religious violence scourging mankind. I would like to add the Islamic conquests of the Saudi peninsula, all of North Africa, Spain, southern France, and the entire Middle east to the list. But the fact that the religion of Islam was born and cultivated out of violence is unpopular in our politically correct, sensitive, and "tolerant" Western society.

So I'll just get to it. According to the Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, less than 7% of all documented wars in the history of the human race were religious in nature. That's 123 religious conflicts out of a total of 1,763 total conflicts throughout history. When Islamic wars are cut out of the equation, the total percentage of religious wars dips to a paltry 3.23%. This doesn't bode well for the "religion is the cause of all the violence in the world!" crowd.

On the flip side, let's consider the astronomical body count from the last century. The casualties from the godless, Communist regimes of the 1900s aren't even in the same ballpark as other human tragedies throughout history. An estimated 70 million lives were lost under the regimes of just Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. And this doesn't even include those lost under Lenin and Pol Pot. These atrocities stemmed from a strictly atheistic system of government. In fact, the idea of state sponsored atheism was one of the core pillars of Communist societies. Karl Marx himself had much to say about that. Joseph Stalin made it a priority. And an estimated 12-20 million Christians alone were killed in the Soviet Union because of it. Why does no one blame secularism for "being the cause of all the world's violence"? Because if we are thinking in terms of simple body count, the non religious Communists take the cake, by far. (by comparison an estimated 3000-5000 people were killed during the Inquisition, over a span of 350 years.)

The demolition of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in 1931. Between 1927 and 1940 the number of churches in Russia fell from over 29,000 to less than 500. Millions of religious citizens were killed, while the government actively promoted atheism to the masses through a variety of propaganda techniques.

If we are really going to get to the source of all the violence in the world, why does no one mention the violence perpetrated by the state? Were the 37 million people killed as a result of WW1 killed by members of some unknown religious organization? What about the 60 million killed during WW2? Or the 620,000 dead during the American Civil War? What of the 40-70 million slaughtered during the brutal conquests of the Mongol Empire? Or the 6 million dead from the Napoleonic Wars? I'm curious as to the religious banners these armies fought under.

These are all instances of states/empires warring against other states/empires for reasons not involving religion. Territorial expansion, fights over resources, intricate and delicate alliances, and a general lust for the expanding power of the state have all played parts in the vast majority of the world's wars and violence. Yet no one makes the claim that "governments are the cause of all the world's violence!" Interestingly enough, those same enlightened, intellectuals who tend to be the ones blaming religion for all the world's violence (You know, the ones who call Islam a religion of peace) also tend to be the biggest advocates for big government.

When you take a step back out of la la land, and back into reality, it isn't hard to put things into perspective. But I realize that's a difficult task for some, when their worldview is so convoluted that Rush Limbaugh is the biggest villain they can think of at any given time.


Gorges Smythe said...

"Christian" wars are the case of "followers" not following and turning Christianity into a political, rather than a spiritual force. Islam, on the other hand, is more of a "social order" disguised as a religion, which is why the world is more accepting of it, I suppose.

Fredd said...

Gotta disagree with your premise,here, Hack. I've seldom if ever heard anyone say 'religion is the cause of all the violence in the world.'

Now, I've heard morons say lots of things, to include that all the violence in the world is caused by:

*love of money
*thirst for power
*love in and of itself
*what the other guy's got

But I don't think that I've ever heard this about religion. I must be hanging around some of the dumber morons who forgot about that one.