Religion is not the major cause of wars in history - Popular belief unmasked

It is highly damaging that the key word of many of our contemporaries seems to be able to be summed up in these disastrous words: "Doubt whatever does not please you, but believe in whatever you like." "

Chis popular belief with its nebulous and tenacious foundations seems, in fact, absolutely and scientifically dishonest, even, let's not be afraid of words, false. The individual who uses this argument actually has no solid basis for his assertion.

graphic-warWhile it is clear that some wars were rooted in religion, the vast majority of them are, factually, non-religious (1). In the reference book "Encyclopedia of Wars" by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod (see also another "Encyclopedia of Wars" for very similar figures), we can see with astonishment thatout of the 1763 recorded wars, only 123 are of a religious nature (for a full list of these 123 wars, see here on pages 51 to 53). Not to mention that, as William T. Cavanaugh demonstrates in his book "Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict" (must be consulted - a French translation exists here), it is not always easy to qualify wars as exclusively religious since strong secular interests (economic and political) are very often intertwined or even oversee them.

However, without going into this vast question and if we stick to these figures, it therefore constitutes less than 7% of all wars and less than 2% of all those killed in conflicts. Furthermore, when we subtract from “religious” wars those committed in the name of Islam (66), the percentage drops by half to 3.23% (mostly “Christian”; although I believe, like many, that no war should be associated with this adjective… Christ ordered first and foremost love of neighbor, even of the enemy and made it the basis of the recognition of the true Christian).

Stunning isn't it? To take a practical example having appeal not to the number of wars, but to the number of victims, while one to three million people were killed during the horrible crusades and three thousand under the dreadful Inquisition, more than thirty-five million soldiers and civilians were murdered in the highly secular, non-religious war of the First World War.

Furthermore, what shall we say of the ancient conquerors, whether it is the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks or even the Romans who are known to have generally received the beliefs of those they conquered; they even added the conquered gods to their pantheon. No religious motive behind their abuses.

This will not change with modern wars: the Napoleonic Campaign, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the Second World War as well as the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam count as they alone were the bulk of the massacres in history and were purely nationalist and ethnic, absolutely not religious.

To conclude the reflection, a certain bloodthirsty monster named Napoleon apparently said that "a good sketch is better than a long speech", so I can only leave you with a few additional figures and names of "great" atheists to embellish this article (I am not the author of this graph, so no, I will have added Napoleon and others, not just these dictators; in addition, some figures seem to me slightly open to discussion even if, basically, they are all the same globally representative of the underlying realities):


“It seems that humanity has forgotten the laws of its divine Savior, who preached love [even of the enemy] and forgiveness of offenses, and that it makes its greatest merit consist in the art of killing each other. "- Leo Tolstoy in his sublime work "War and Peace".

Inspirations: Is Religion the Cause of Most Wars? As well as the following book: The Irrational Atheist Dissecting Hitchens.

In the same vein, but more intended for Christians only: Religion is the cause of war


(1) It is appropriate here to ask two people remarks.

The first relates to the definition of the word "religion" used here. We have defined religion in a “classic”, “substantive” or even “restrictive” way (such are the qualifiers attributed to this approach by sociology). The following definition could be given: “Religion is a system of beliefs and practices relating to a transcendent supra-empirical reality which unites all who adhere to it in order to form a moral community. "(Definition given by Karel Dobbelaere in his book: Secularization: A Multi — Dimensional Concept, London, Sage Publications, 1981, p.3). This approach therefore excludes the more “diffuse” religious. Indeed, if an "extensive" definition of religion were used, there is no doubt that one could include Nazism, for example, as a religious system as well (a system particularly hateful towards the Jews and confessing Christians of the United Kingdom). period…). This is not the case here.

Then, the second remark is a clarification as to the relevance of this article. It is not a question here of saying that the religious was excluded of most wars. On the contrary, it was included / hidden even in some of the most atheistic wars. ! The purpose of this article is rather to demonstrate that although present, he was not la major cause conflicts (such is the exact wording of the title elsewhere), the main trigger wars in history. The “will to power” in man, as Nietzsche would say, was more than enough to do this.

Here is another sketch worth more than a long metaphysical discourse (by Alain Auderset).

Timothy Davi

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