How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Religion and war
Strangely, religion and war are not strange bedfellows and if you counted up the people who have died in religious conflicts you would have a very big number and the counter would still be spinning. The current big duel is Christianity vs. Islam, a conflict started in the Middle Ages and recently revived by Islamist fundamentalists. There have also been plenty of other fighting inspired by the gods, going back into Pagan times. And when there are insufficient other religious battles, infighting breaks out between Catholic and Protestant, Sunni and Shiite, and so on. And if you broaden the principle to ideological conflict, then you can include communism vs. capitalism, such as in the proxy fighting of the cold war.
So what is going on? Both religion and war seek to change minds, and when preaching fails war may be seen as a legitimate alternative. This seems a rather bizarre approach in the false belief that coercion will lead to ideological conversion (you will believe this or I will hit you!). In practice, the conflict is far more human.
Sometimes the real cause is territorial, with two (or more) religious groups feeling ownership of the same land, from Northern Ireland to Palestine, where basic arguments include 'We were here first', 'We are here now' and God gave this land to us'. Where territory is involved then political power follows. It also invokes basic needs for a place to live, and religious purpose fades as individuals fight hard to defend their homes.
Another reason we fight over ideas is that belief makes us feel safe. If I believe the world works in a certain way I can predict and control it and so feel secure. Beliefs about how we should act towards others are the glue of society, allowing us to live together in relative harmony. Beliefs also create our sense of identity as we use 'I...' statements.
Many of our daily conflicts are based in subtle differences in underlying beliefs and when these collide we get argue. Anger is a natural response when we feel cornered and challenging beliefs, which are at the foundation of our perception and thinking, often gives us nowhere to go but unthinking animal responses. This effect is amplified when religions seek blind belief and where challenge and exploration is forbidden. From this position, the jihad of righteous war is a short step away..
Apologies if I am a bit off topic but I am interested in the way
we tend to excuse bad/violent/unreasonable behaviours IF that behaviour is
exhibited by person we judge to be on the side of 'right' (ie where we agree
with their argument). Conversely we tend to be offended by or critical of
similar behaviours when those same acts are carried out by people who we
perceive to be already on the side of wrong (ie where we disagree with the
validity of their argument).
I agree that wars have been and will be fought in the name of
religion but many are not fighting for religious beliefs as much as they are
fighting for other selfish reasons. For example is Iraq a war about religion? I
have been there four times and I can tell you it is not about religion. If it is
those fighting are not very committed to their religion. No it is about ideology
or resources or some other reason. Many fight for many reasons. I believe that
we initiated a war for one reason but did not find that reason to be true.
Weapons of mass destruction or did we find weapons of mass destruction. We did,
the weapons was not gas, posie but Saddam Hussein. He, his family and his
followers are weapons of mass destruction. But I will admit that there is a
religious element to the fighting it is called free choice. The belief that
every person is free to choice the god they will put their faith in and worship.
I fight because I believe that each person should have the freedom to hear the
beliefs of others and choice where they will put their faith. Democracy is not a
perfect system but no other system is or ever will be. Why? Because people are
involved. People are the cause of war not religion. People's greed, selfishness
and hatred. All of us have something we believe is worth dying for my is freedom
to chose my religion and if that aligns me with a religious war I guess you are
right. Thanks stirring my heart with your writing and thank you for reading mind
point of view.
What is wrong with this world? Religion is truly one of the roots of evil, historically and undoubtedly Christianity being the world leader. More than likely, if the Crusades had never occurred the twin towers are still standing in New York and Americans are safe in the land of the free. If the people and government had listened to President Grant on December 7, 1875 and taxed the church, the U.S. would be financially sound. He stated, ?In 1850, I believe, the church property of the United States which paid no tax, municipal or State, amounted to about $83,000,000. In 1860 the amount had doubled; in 1875 it is about $1,000,000,000. By 1900 without check, it is safe to say this property will reach a sum exceeding $3,000,000,000.. So vast a sum receiving all the protection and benefits of Government without bearing its proportion of the burdens and expenses of the same, or not be looked upon acquiescently by those who have to pay the taxes. In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time, as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by corporations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to retain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without constitutional authority and through blood.? Wake up people.
-- Blind Faith
Hey there Blind Faith,
Here is a short comment...
What happen to love one another as I love you?
I could not agree with you more