Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wars Are Fought over What?

You often hear the claim that religious wars make up the vast majority of wars throughout history. However, this is one of those common folk myths spread by unscrupulous rhetoricians.

In reality, only six percent of wars throughout history have been fought over religion, and if we exclude the wars fought by Islam, it reduces to almost half of that at around 3.3%.

In what world exactly does 3.3% make up the majority? And that 3.3% isn't all Christian either. That means the amount of Christian wars fought over religion are even less than that.

So why does Christianity get so much blame for war? I think it has to do with three factors:

1. The Crusades were a massive event in Western history. That war was primarily between Christians and Muslims (as well as Christians and Christians). Then the wars that took place after the Reformation between Christians became a sad part of our history in the West as well. So it just seems like a lot of war was caused by religion.

2. The culture wars are often divided in America between those who are more conservatively religious versus those who are more liberal or secular. Hence, it is surmised that the reason these conservative Christian troublemakers start so much conflict in our culture is because they've always been starting wars, and the Crusades and Reformation wars confirm that liberal narrative.

3. If one is to make an argument for inclusivist pluralism, he must first knock down any exclusivism that stands in its way. That's conservative religion. Hence, one needs to present it in the worst light possible. Hence, the liberal Western narrative becomes one where religion, not land, honor, oil, weapons, tribute/money, vendettas, tribalism, politics, etc. is the main cause of war. Enlightened people who are less dogmatically religious stay out of wars and even prevent them. Of course, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot are merely interpreted as exceptions rather than the rule.

In any case, it's a false narrative. The conflict is surely wrought in differing beliefs, but some beliefs are more tolerant than others. Christianity does not believe in forcing beliefs upon people, but in Islamic and atheistic beliefs, the primary vehicle for conversion is through control of influential authorities and ultimately force when such an influence is rendered ineffective. The real conflict for Christians, however, is not of flesh and blood.

For an interesting read, see:

As well as:

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