Introduction Whatis the first idea that comes to mind when you hear the word religion? Formajority of people, religion isa system of certain behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, holyplaces, ethics, or societies, which associate humanity with supernatural or transcendental force. There areapproximately 10,000 different religions worldwide, but about 85% of the world’s population is associatedwith one of the four major religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Eachhave their own set of rules, ethics, moral values, churches. However, in the essay we will not talk aboutreligion as a whole, we will try to provide evidence and review, whetherreligion prevents conflicts, or provokes them.
Position A Religion’s reputation is oftenunderestimated by people, saying that it does not play a huge role indiscussing globally important political topics, nor should it be involved, asit is a completely different sphere of influence. Whenever the disruption ofworld peace is at stake, all eyes are usually directed at world leaders,presidents, other influential politicians. Many point out the fact thatnowadays most attacks, which result in many needless casualties, come frompeople worshipping one religion and spreading hate towards another. This istheir main argument in regards to a statement, that religion is one of the mainpromoters of war. But is it true? It must be pointed out that mostconflicts do not begin with clash of religions. We live in a world where corruptionis thriving within authorities, they are pushed to making decisions thatbenefit them only and in most cases, the foreseen consequences are ignored.This gives a spark for internal conflicts that might escalate into somethingbigger, something that could involve other nations and evolve into seriousclashes between countries.
A rare occasion, when religion wasa primary reason to start a conflict, would be the Crusades (starting 1095),but even then the main goal was to gain territorial, political and economicadvantage against their foes. Recovering the Holy Land of Jerusalem from theMuslims was a cover-up for all the bad deeds the Christians have done along theway. To date, this has been the biggest religious war anyone has everwitnessed, and will not likely be surpassed anytime soon. A millennium later, religions havebecome more liberal, happen to not rival with each other anymore, and areinstead focusing on achieving the status of biggest church in terms offollowers all over the world. There have been numerous occasions,when religion was used as a tool of propaganda by authorities to gain trust andsupport from citizens in order to rise to power or remain in it. Sadly, it isstill in effect in some cases (ISIS). However, the religion itself should notbe judged for all the gore done in its name, nor it should be justified.
Manyexamples just in the past century have shown how political extremism. Justbecause a certain small amount of people do something intolerable to thereligion they worship, it does not mean you should blame that religion. Theproblem is the person, who chooses to step over the line in extreme fashion. No peace can ever be achieved in acommunity where material assets are valued more than moral values, where peopleare drowning with selfishness and racial negativity. Materialism will notalways fully satisfy the feeling of happiness and peace, but rather regress iteven further, that is why the answer to everlasting peace lies in the so-called”mental disarmaments” – the values that help extinguish the filthycharacteristics of a human being.
Religion does not just provide guidance topeople, but also provides them with necessary tools to reduce their greed viapractice of charity. All religions have certain sets ofmoral principles and ethical values, they play a huge role in people’s attemptsof finding world peace, the process of killing the sins that are the cause ofthe horrific actions – wrath, greed, hatred – these are the factors that drivea human person to insanity. But despite different religious beliefs,religionists should not be hindered, because their main goal is to prevent anywars from happening.
The real war, however, begins inthe mind of a brainwashed person, whereas the human body is just a moving fleshsuit, fulfilling the wants of that fragile, corrupted mind. Such can be saidabout the Islamic religious extremists, who identify themselves as “God’sservants”, they are criminals who constantly damage the reputation of Islam bydeliberately taking lives of innocent by-passers who happen to be at the wrongplace and at the wrong time. Ever since theSeptember 11 attacks, the world is still in fear of religious extremism, theyare afraid that a conflict of same proportions could repeat itself. There islittle wonder, why there is a worldwide popular opinion, that Islam promotesterrorism – and people are quick to point out the dozens of attacks to supporttheir claims. Millions of innocent Muslims have to suffer the verbal backlashdue to the actions of a few individuals, who happened to share the samereligion – facing double standards, because there have been times when a whiteperson committed a terrorist attack, but not many would address the fact thathe/she was Christian.
Repercussions were felt instantly.Immediately after the September 11 tragedy, President Bush condemned theattacks and retaliated by launching “The War on Terror”, but wanting toseparate the terrorist Muslims and civilian Muslims, he declared Islam”religion of peace”, and received admiration – all of the leaders from Muslimcountries offered condolences and condemned the attacks, uniting the communityagainst the terrorists. Even recently, the current U.S.
President, Donald Trump, banned refugees, and suspended most citizens of 7Muslim countries from entering the territory of the United States because ofterrorist links in those countries. The policy received negative feedback fromnot just leaders across the world, but even from American citizens themselves.It sparked several protest across America, showing support to the Muslimcommunity. Despite all of that, the terroristscontinued their barrage by stating that all of their committed attacks arecompletely justified by the Quran. These extremists are publically no longerconsidered as followers of Islam, but rather worshipers of a movement of theirown, which encourages dealing as much damage to the human population aspossible.
Their main aim is to destroy any remains of religious tolerance ormulticulturalism – something that is very relevant in our times. The Quran clearly states, “No war should beinitiated by Muslims, only in cases of defense are they allowed to react. TheMuslims have permission from the god Allah to retaliate if they are expelledfrom their home land”. If people need more proof to realize that Islam is apeaceful religion, they should look no further than the readings of Quran. Position B From the other side of spectrum, religionmight be the cause of many conflicts. The firsthuman who created god, was definitely smart. Let’s call him “ingenious guy”. Hefound out a very practical approach to defend himself from stronger members ofthe tribe.
He made less smart tribesmen believe that he had a very powerfulfriend living over the hills. A friend so powerful that he could make the hillsshake by stomping his feet on the ground. Even though the story was made-up other members of thetribe were too afraid to harm the “ingenious guy” who had a mighty friendacross the hills. It did not take long for “ingenious guy” todiscover that other members of the tribe could be easily led to believe thatthis friend living across the hills would make their tribe unconquerable in battle with othertribes. But in reality, the “ingenious guy” was still unsecure, so he made thetribe leader believe that he had the support of a powerful friend across thehills.
During the Bronze Age the tribal chieftainsbecame the Kings of the “ingenious guys” who, in turn became the divine men andpriests.Without a doubt, the mightyfriend story turned out to be a hoax when people managed to cross the hills andfound nothing there. As time flew the mighty friend moved to places no mancould reach.
Religion became the single mostpowerful tool of keeping people under control and even Roman Empire saw thatits culture with numerous gods would not work if they wanted to maintain powerover Europe. In the 4th century Emperor Constantine the Great startedsimplifying things by adopting the one single god of Jewish culture combinedwith folklore about a prophet who claimed to have been the son of this Jewish god;this was a wise decision because in this way he would not conflict with Jews,who he saw as a problem and wished he could get rid of.He ordered a group of”ingenious guys” to create a whole new religion from scratch which would seemimpossible unless they joined old records with scriptures taken from JewishTalmud mixed with new story of the prophet, Jesus son of god, in the onebook that would be the guideline of the new roman religion Christianity for allthe future.
It wascreated in a very short time, and there were bound to be errors in the biblebecause there wasn’t enough time to cross reference the chronicles that wereincluded. Taking into consideration that no one could read at that time and thesermons would be given in Latin these errors would not show for probablyanother 1000 years.To make matters even worse, Christianitywas widely spread across Europe in a ruthless, bloody often genocidal way.
Just like in ancienttimes, Rulers and Priests teamed up to keep their people under control. Itshows how well brainwashed people could be manipulated to fight, all in thename of God and King. Futurerulers were granted access to the powerful forces of the church and religion, aforce of almost unlimited numbers of warriors ready to fight and expand theirbelieve of power, that in reality, was in the hands of the “ingenious guys”behind religion.Rulers wouldeventually die and could be replaced while religion kept spreading its powerand influence.Allthroughout history religion has been used as one of the most powerful weaponsof genocide and annihilation known to humankind.Rulers and priests kept people compliantuntil the Age of Enlightenmentin the beginning of 18th century.
TheEnlightenment Age was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and theory, along with increased questioning ofreligious beliefs. According to History.com Staff.
(2009). Enlightenment, German philosopher ImmanuelKant summed up the era’s motto in the following terms: “Dare to know! Havecourage to use your own reason!” People started to think as individualsand soon realized that they were being used and began rising up against theauthorities. But thistime people were fighting wars for God and Country. The French Revolution of 1789was the culmination of the Enlightenment vision of throwing out the oldauthorities to remake society along rational lines, but it devolved into bloodyterror.
History.com Staff. (2009). Enlightenment.
Retrieved from:http://www.history.com/topics/enlightenment During the modernization,and mainly the 20th century, people became educated enough to understand thatthey have been manipulated. All the religionsstarted to lose their grip on people and more and more people left the church.The time without religion was born. During the late 20th and early 21stcenturies, atheism and skepticism have increased, with falling churchattendance and membership across various European countries. Nowadays number ofreligious people is still plummeting.
According to the 2010 Eurobarometersurvey, 51% of EU population “believe there is a god”, 26% “believe there issome sort of spirit” and 20% “don’t believe there is any sort of spirit”. Moreover, according to a survey measuring religiousidentification in the EuropeanUnion in 2012 by Eurobarometer, 7% of EU citizensidentify themselves as atheists. Ifyou think that religion has lost its power and influence, then think again. In June 2014 ISIS, a group which wasclassified as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and many othercountries, claimedreligious, political and military authority over all Muslimsworldwide. Its adoption of the nameIslamic State and its idea of a caliphate have been widely criticized, with the United Nations,various governments and mainstream Muslim groups rejecting its statehood.According to Ronald Tiersky (2016, September 21) “ISIS’s deadliest weapon is the idea ofHeaven”, there is no feasible negotiation, or no viable way to discourage terrorists as theyrealize they woulddie in the end.
In fact, getting killed is part of their ideology. Death,in the minds of ISIS militants, is not the end. It’s the way to heaven orparadise portrayed in the most elaborate and sensual aspects. In specificMuslim writings, they are accepted as the truth.
Many more of this could befound in Hadith, which are later commentaries on the Quran that claim toreport, what Prophet Muhammad said on various matters. For an Islamist fanatic,Heaven is an actual place, a Garden full of sensual delights. For example, takethe famous claim that in Heaven a deserving Muslim will enjoy the company of 72virgins: This is not mentioned in the Quran. It can be found in far-fetched, hadith by Ibn Kathir, from 14th century,hundreds of years after Mohammed’s death.
InISIS ideology, Heaven is a functional concept. To die as a martyr in battle ora suicide means, literally, immediate ascent to Heaven and the beginning oflife in Paradise. The idea of Heave and the vision of Paradise, is ISIS’ssecret weapon, the source of willingness for terrorists to fight to the end.
Convincing fighters that Paradise is real. ISISideology convinces newly recruited fighters that martyrdom means that ‘theywould get to Heaven faster.’ Similar to this was the explanation of brutalviolence in newly conquered cities and towns during Syrian Civil War, the beheadings, executions or the drowning ofwomen who refused to become sex slaves — is justified because ‘more violentmethods now means fewer injuries later.’ But the depth of ideological belief inthe organization as a whole cannot be left underestimated. Tiersky, R. (2016,September 21). “ISIS’s deadliest weapon is the idea of Heaven”.Retrieved December 15, 2017, from https://www.
huffingtonpost.com/entry/isiss-deadliest-weapon-is_b_12087084.html Synthesis In both parts of the essay, wetried to highlight the influence that religion has upon people, and thatsometimes it is incredibly easy to step over boundaries, set by moral values. Ourmain example was Islam, because the most recent conflicts were associated withindividuals, worshiping this religion. Our first position states that itis not the religion’s fault a certain person chooses to step off the path ofvirtue and commit such horrible deeds, and that the Church provides everythingrequired for harmony to the human’s mind. The majority of people, belonging toa specific religion, are completely innocent and should not be affected by thesanctions, caused by just few.
On the other hand, history wouldsuggest otherwise, that religion was the main reason why nations went to war,or how easy it was to manipulate people into fighting for someone they havenever met or seen. We must keep in mind, that this stuff happened centuries ago,and that nowadays religion has not occupied the first place in a person’sroutine, and that a person has the right to choose whether he wants to bereligious, or not. Therefore, we believe that religiondoes not have major influence in arising conflicts.