CLIO FINAL - page 35

Misconceptions about religion include the
assumptions that people who are religious are
anti-science or that all religions claim to speak the
absolute truth. These are enormous accusations, as
well as the belief that religion is sometimes the sole
cause of war.
While there is no doubt that the Crusades
(a series of religious wars from 1095 - 1291) and the
YugoslavWar (1991 - 2001) were somewhat caused
by religious conflict, it is wrong to say that religion
primarily caused them. It is also wrong to accuse all
religions of being involved in violence and warfare.
Philip and Axelrod’s “Encyclopedia ofWars’
states that throughout history there have been 1763
wars and of them, only 123 were caused by religion,
which is just under 7% of all wars. Wars typically
start due to countless, complicated reasons and re-
ligion is often one of them, though rarely the most
important factor. Opposition is another influential
factor in many wars, be it opposition to the govern-
ment or other economic, political or social ideas.
This often coexists alongside religious tensions as
wars caused by religion are due to people having an
opposition to someone else’s social (religious) ide-
as. This shows that religion is such an integral part
of society that it is involved in everything, including
the creation of wars, though rarely as the most im-
portant reason. This reveals that although religion
does not solely cause war, it is often a factor.
However, in a test carried out, it was found
that religion played no part at all in 40% of wars (14
out of 35) and only 14% (5 out of 35) had religious
elements as their main cause. In a report by the
Institute for Economics and Peace, it was discov-
ered that countries are not made more peaceful by
having less religion. The levels of peace in a country
were found to have no correlation with the ratio of
atheists to religious people.
Countries with the highest levels of atheism - main-
ly communist or former communist states such as
Russia or the Czech Republic - were not necessarily
the most peaceful either. Another example is North
Korea. It has one of the lowest rates of people prac-
tising religion yet according to a report, last year
it was rated as one of the top ten ‘least peaceful’
countries in the world.
JohnWolffe, a professor fromThe Open Uni-
versity, said “Even if you go back to the so-called
‘wars of religion’ of the 16th and 17th century [fol-
lowing the Protestant Reformation inWestern and
Northern Europe], religion is an important factor,
but if you dig beneath the surface, issues like dynas-
tic influence, power and economics are a factor”.
He then continues to say, “I suppose a statement
I might agree with is that religion is implicated
in most of the worst wars, but to say religion is
responsible is a distortion of the evidence”. John
Wolffe’s statement perfectly supports the evidence
To conclude, religion is not the sole cause
of war, though it is often an underlying factor. Due
to misconceptions of religion, the myth of it be-
ing the cause of the entire world’s problems has
emerged through the past years. However, after
looking at the evidence from books such as ‘En-
cyclopedia ofWars’ and ‘Lethal Politics and Death
by Government’, tests and historians such as John
Wolffe, it can be seen that although religion is often
ingrained in many wars, it is not the sole cause and
therefore it cannot be said that religion causes war.
Lucie Price and Isabella Chan 9W
Does Religion Cause War?
1...,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34 36,37,38
Powered by FlippingBook