Why can't Muslims Take Criticism? (Page 149)
Blackshoes: Wrong again Ghost
"Rabbi Alan Lurie
Author, ‘Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected, Purpose, Peace and Fulfillment at Work’
Is Religion the Cause of Most Wars?
04/10/2012 04:09 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2012
There are many common misconceptions about religion that are often taken as unquestioned facts, such as the idea that religious people are inherently anti-science, that a literal reading of holy texts is the “true” religious stance, that faith is incompatible with reason, and that all religions claim to posses sole and absolute truth.
While all these ideas are true for a minority of the population, they do not describe normative religious beliefs and practices for the majority of believers. It is understandable that these misconceptions persist, though, because they come from the loudest voices on the extremes, and like other polarizing positions in politics and culture are simplistic ideas that promote easy “us vs. them” thinking. But there is one common misconception about religion that is voiced often and consistently as an obvious truth — often by educated, thoughtful people —that is just not factually true: The idea that religion has been the cause of most wars.
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In his hilarious analysis of The 10 Commandments, George Carlin said to loud applause, “More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason,” and many take this idea as an historical fact. When I hear someone state that religion has caused most wars, though, I will often and ask the person to name these wars. The response is typically, “Come on! The Crusades, The Inquisition, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, 9/11. Need I name more?”
Well, yes, we do need to name more, because 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. While, for example, it is estimated that approximately one to three million people were tragically killed in the Crusades, and perhaps 3,000 in the Inquisition, nearly 35 million soldiers and civilians died in the senseless, and secular, slaughter of World War 1 alone.
History simply does not support the hypothesis that religion is the major cause of conflict. The wars of the ancient world were rarely, if ever, based on religion. These wars were for territorial conquest, to control borders, secure trade routes, or respond to an internal challenge to political authority. In fact, the ancient conquerors, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman, openly welcomed the religious beliefs of those they conquered, and often added the new gods to their own pantheon.
Medieval and Renaissance wars were also typically about control and wealth as city-states vied for power, often with the support, but rarely instigation, of the Church. And the Mongol Asian rampage, which is thought to have killed nearly 30 million people, had no religious component whatsoever.
Most modern wars, including the Napoleonic Campaign, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, the Russia Revolution, World War II, and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, were not religious in nature or cause. While religious groups have been specifically targeted (most notably in World War II), to claim that religion was the cause is to blame the victim and to misunderstand the perpetrators’ motives, which were nationalistic and ethnic, not religious.
Similarly, 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.
Of course the Hebrew Bible chronicles many wars — most notably Moses’ conflicts in the desert and Joshua’s conquest of the nations of Canaan — and we may see these as examples of religiously sanctioned violence. Here, though, we must recognize that archeological evidence points to the conclusion that these conquests never occurred, or at least not as dramatically as described in the Bible. As one who reads the Bible for spiritual truths, not historical facts, I am, of course, quite happy that no such slaughters occurred. The ancient Rabbis also understood these stories not as celebrated victories, but as warnings about the dangers of warfare.
Judaism has always taught that war may only be considered when there is a clear threat, and only after every other option has been exhausted. Avoiding war must be the goal. Deuteronomy states, “When you approach a city to do battle with it you should call to it in peace.” In other words, even when threatened, seeking peace must be the first course of action. The ancient Rabbis took this teaching so far as to flatly state, “In God’s eyes the man stands high who makes peace between men. But he stands highest who establishes peace among the nations.”
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.
Peace is the highest religious aspiration for which we must work. As he envisioned a future where the world is perfected by the conscious acts of human beings, the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” While religions have often fallen well short of this utopian vision, we must recognize that greed, unbalanced power, and causeless hatred - not religion - are the causes of most wars, and eliminating these should be our focus."
Zanjan: Indeed. I know why the Syrian refugees fled.
Not so much out of fear as "Look, *I'M* not going to clean that up!"
Why fight over so much rubble? Where are they going to put all that junk? Imagine the cost to and time to re-build!
Well, al Bagdadi finally bit the big one. In a US Military raid last night, he blew himself up with some kids. He didn't want Trump take the credit but Trump still did, naturally.
Two of al Bagdadi's cronies survived and were captured. When the news reporter said they would be "mined for information", I saw a vision of a big power drill......unfortunate choice of words.
chronology: Zan, you are doing your psychic thing again. As I was posting my Trivia item on Baghdadi you were posting the above.
Zanjan: Shoes, it's true that religion isn't the cause of war - it's the people IN religion. In the Old World Order, everybody had a religion, there was no getting around it, but none advised to launch any wars.
There are always provisions for legitimate self-defense. However, packing off to fight in a war that's not in one's own country isn't self defense. Neither is it defense of religion.
"Thou shalt not kill" is not contradictory to any teaching - the law addresses the individual, not the authorities. There are infinite ways to do battle, to kill and slay - most of them don't reqire mortal fatalities.
chronology: Zan, nation's are trapped in situations they cannot find a way out of. Japan at the turn of the century tried to unify China Korea other countries to form an alliance against the expansion of Western Empire's into East Asia. As it turned out Tokyo was worrying about nothing. To their amazement Europe suddenly turned on itself and began slaughtering each other on a scale never seen in world history. It was the beginning of the end of Western Civilizations domination of the world. But Japan had no way of seeing the battle field's of Europe covered in millions of dead bodies. So they had to try and creat mutual defense by Asian nations.
The U.S.A. had no choice but to enter WW1 it was either that or risking the lives of thousands of American families on the Atlantic to being killed by U Boats.
Zan what do you think America should have done in WW1.?
Zanjan: Well, America wasn't attacked in that war......Germany had sunk several American merchant ships; that's no reason to go to war, it's a reason to talk turkey with Germany to prevent escalation. These ships weren't in American waters. The Germans were interfering with American commercial business.
An agreement could have been made if someone was smart enough to know the art of the deal. That's what they should have done but didn't. There was no honour, only unrestrained emotions.
You see, the face of war changed when technology changed. The British and Germans had submarines; America didn't - they were at a disadvantage. Still, like a bunch of yahoos, they charged into foreign territory without the means. How do you get a country full of innocent men to die for your personal business?
Lessons were learned but not well enough. It took another World War to convince men there was a better way, that they had the resources to prevent war - they only needed to activate them.
We no longer live in times where a nation thinks it has no way out. We made a way.
chronology: Zan, really, you have no idea what Lawmakers in Washington DC go through. If American shipping were running a'Torpedo Ally' every day for years hundreds of Merchant Marine would have been lost. Lawmakers would have relatives surrounding them outside Congress demanding explanations why their loved ones had been killed. 'Do something now'. People demand. The U.S.Navy could only protect American lives by being pro active.
But like you I don't understand why so many American boys had to give their lives on battle field's that were none of their concern.
At least in Iraq the sacrifice was a benefit for the Iraqi people. But in WW,1 everyone was accusing everyone else.
Zanjan: The ships would not have been lost had they got different trading partners for the time being.
One needs time to prepare for war, not a knee-jerk reaction. That's why WW1 is called the bloodiest war. The success of an invasion is founded on the element of surprise. Only the enemy was prepared.
My dad was in the merchant marines in WW2 - they'd known for a long time war was coming. They had surrounding convoys of warships for protection. Only a few ships were lost and almost no sailors because they could transfer to the nearest ship, only meters away; most made it to their destinations and back. Canada, being part of the British Commonwealth, was called in at the start of the war to assist her King.
The USA didn't get into that war until very late in the game, until it was directly attacked by Japan. That was an unprovoked attack. They had every right to defend themselves, using whatever means necessary..except they didn't need allied co-operation to put Japan back in its place. Germany responded by declaring war against the USA and Americans took the bait.
The longer mankind waits to learn an old lesson, the worse disaster it brings upon itself.
chronology: If only life were that simple Zan. Unfortunately, the U.S. bound to Europe for ever. America is no clone of Europe, American's have found themselves and their identity in the world. But still there are bonds which keep America to Europe. French culture is still a deep part of Dixie culture, New York Italians still love their old country, Irish folks are the most patriotic Americans, but they will always have Ireland in their hearts. Scottish decent folks still dress in their Clan costumes. Classically educated folks like Jodie Foster love their Roman and Greek culture. America and Europe are bonded for as long as anyone can see. Visit Chicago or New York on St Patrick's Day and you will see what I mean.
ghostgeek: America didn't have submarines?
Among the few allied combatants regularly able to penetrate Japanese-controlled areas early in the war, American submarines had extraordinary success against both Japanese merchantmen and warships. The exploits of LCDR Henry C. Bruton in the early fall of 1942 offer a compelling illustration. In command of USS Greenling (SS-213) off the coast of Honshu on her third war patrol, Bruton destroyed 32,050 tons of enemy merchant shipping and damaged a 22,000-ton auxiliary aircraft carrier. He ended the war ranked thirteenth among Submarine Force aces.
[ https://www.public.navy.mil/subfor/underseawarfaremagazine/Issues/Archives/issue_06/silent_victory.html ]
Zanjan: Ghost, Americans didn't have submarines in the FIRST world war - they had to build them but by the time they did and sent them out, it was 1918, near the end of the war. At least they were well - ready for the next war.
Traditionally, wars were won by the side that had the cutting edge technology - that's the main reason technology advanced. Thing is, the other side now learns that same technology while the war is still in progress. That creates a Mexican standoff so one's strategy has to improve - the tide turns to mental wars. May the best brain win - America had to import them.
As you know, the world entertained the terrifying prospect of WW3. Thus began the race to space, which humans cheered and celebrated. Scientists thought they'd travel to the stars but the real idea was to shoot the enemy from above. However, this time, the wealthiest enemy got the same idea at exactly the same time.
Now all these technologically advanced countries saw opportunity in lesser arms sales to backwards countries who had grudges against each other. Yes, we'll sweeten the deal by sending you teachers to train you how to use the weaponry so you can tear each other apart.
After awhile, the tribals caught on; they were being manipulated and hated that so they turned to geurilla warfare and infiltration - that always used to work. However, it's old school, a game anyone can play.
What you need now is a trusted source with a trained eye that can quickly detect a faker and a liar. Now where would we find one of those?? Do you see where this is going?
Zanjan: It's time to stop playing deadly games. Things have gotten way out of hand with WMDs, not just eliminating humans but wrecking the planet's ecosystems for whoever might survive. It's no-win. The only solution is a pre-emptive strike on the cause of war.
Mankind is forced to turn to those with special gifts for assistance with that - the very best minds and hearts. We don't have to look far to find such champions. Unfortunately, it's always an act of desperation, being the very last thing anyone tries.
ghostgeek: Still, I find your talk of a pre-emptive strike on the cause of war a little bellicose. After all, we humans are the cause of war, so only by eliminating ourselves do eliminate the possibility of war.
Zanjan: People are not the cause, just like guns are not the cause. It's the feelings inside the sentient that are the problem.