This is topic Religion doesn't cause wars, PEOPLE do in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Brian J. Hill (Member # 5346) on :
On the other side, T. J. wrote:
wars have been fought b/c of religion. The Crusades, the first gulf war and the current one all boil down to: "they hate us cause were this religion so we kill them first"
This is an old argument, based on false premises. To say that the above wars (possibly excluding the Crusades,) were fought solely because of differences in religion is as simplistic as saying the American Civil War was fought solely over slavery. It is true that slavery was one of the factors, perhaps even the biggest contributing factor, but to ignore other factors such as cultural and economic differences, ideals of individual liberty, the industrial revolution, etc. is intellectually dishonest.

Likewise, it is erroneous not to acknowledge the multitude of causes for wars, even holy wars. I myself will readily acknowledge that in many conflicts, religious differences exacerbate existing animosity between parties, but religion itself is not the cause. Often leaders will use a common religion among their followers as a reason to hate someone else, therefore providing the impetus for fighting (btw, I am NOT inferring that President Bush is one of these leaders, because he is not.) However, in this case, religion is the tool, not the cause.
Posted by John L (Member # 6005) on :
Actually, Mr. Hill, you are incorrect in assuming the other person's statement is false. Most wars have been fought because of religion, it just wasn't the religions themselves which caused them—it was the institutions who followed the religions.
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
I don't know. If the war was fought because of religion, then it seems to follow that the war would not have happened if it weren't for religion. While there is no way of knowing what would have happened, I propose that most wars would have happened anyway.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
It might well be that religion is one of the major bases of the rhetoric of most historical wars, but then again it was part of the rhetoric of everyday lives. That is, I think that it's only relatively recently that large groups of people have not been defined by themselves and others in terms of their religion.

As Porter says, whether religion was one of the "real" reasons for war may be hard to piece out.
Posted by Brian J. Hill (Member # 5346) on :
Mr. L.

Two points:
1. Institutions do not always arise out of religion. If you study anthropology, it is often other factors that determine what institutions a culture has.

2. There are many religious doctrines that promote peace between disagreeing parties. Should we then say that religion CAUSES peace.
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
I know of few major religions that don't pretty much prohibit killing. So the only way to get around the religious objection to a war is to turn the war into a justification on religious grounds.

So we have the perception that Islamists actually have a doctrine of waging war called Jihad. They think we have a doctrine of war called Crusade. Both are distortions used by the powerful to harness the energy of the young and inexperienced.

Edit: I think this thread title should change to from "people do" to "demagogues do". Or "governments".

[ March 12, 2004, 01:11 PM: Message edited by: pooka ]
Posted by :Locke (Member # 2255) on :
The crusades were fought because of trade. Simply put, the East had goods that the West needed/wanted, and "Diu le volt" was just a good way to get all those soldiers over there.
Posted by PaladinVirtue (Member # 6144) on :
John, did you totally miss his point or what?

I am inclined to agree with Mr. Hill. But it is all a matter of perspective isn't it? If differences of religion are used as a tool to incite fear and hatred to fuel a war, then the casue for the war depends upon your perspective and are potentially as variable as each person engaged in the conflict. That is to say people fight for different reasons.

Then I guess it really comes down to those who start the wars in the first place. And there I agree with Mr. Hill that few governments really start wars for purely religious reasons because there is not really all that much to gain, politicallly speaking. Now if they plan on occuppying (sp?) the lands of a people of a different religion, then what they are really fighting about is land, (i.e. Holy War, crusades ring a bell?)
Posted by Robespierre (Member # 5779) on :
Religion is no more responsible for wars than gun manufacturers are. That is to say, religion is not responsible for wars in any way. A government may use any justification it wishes to lauch a war, religion, economics, defense, pork rinds, gymnastics, whatever. In the end, it is usually governments which start wars. And in the case of the Papal States, the religious leaders were the government, so their wars can also said to be caused by government, and not religion.
Posted by Brian J. Hill (Member # 5346) on :
pooka, my thread title was a play on the NRA slogan: Guns don't kill people, PEOPLE do. I agree with your point, though, that demagogues and governments are indeed responsible for most wars.

Also, though I answer to Mr. Hill occasionally, y'all can just call me Brian.
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
You're confusing ultimate and proximate causes, Brian J. Hill. Was religion the ultimate cause of the Crusades? I personally don't think so-two such potent civilizations colliding are unlikely to get along nicely, particularly given the period-but it was certainly what the soldiers thought they were fighting for.

If you asked a foot-soldier on either side on one of the numerous Crusades, "Why are you fighting?" you can bet they wouldn't say, "Well, population densities pressing against each other, lack of resources, and intolerance just makes this inevitable." More likely he'll say, "Because God says I should."

This does not make his answer true, but you are being 'intellectually dishonest' (what a tiresome phrase, and I've even used it too often) if you try to squirm away from that.
Posted by Brian J. Hill (Member # 5346) on :
I don't see where we're in disagreement, Rakeesh. I appreciate your info on the historical background of the Crusades, especially since it backs up my point that religion, rather than being the cause of wars, is often only a tool to get the soldiers to fight.

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