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-Is Religion Really the Cause of Most Wars?

by Dr. D ~ November 29th, 2014


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone make the comment that ‘most wars are caused by religion’ like it was self evident. With the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East, 9/11, not to mention past fiascos like the Crusades and The Inquisition, the claim seems rather intuitive and has become an icon of modern cultural truth that is accepted and unquestioned by millions. But is it really historically accurate?

I believe the facts of history disprove this popular notion. The major wars of the 20th century had political/ideological causes and most wars in the ancient world were caused by territorial expansion. Just how many conflicts were really caused by religion? Some were for sure but my reading and study of history has driven me to conclude that only a faction of the wars in documented human history really had a religious contribution or cause.

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2 Responses to -Is Religion Really the Cause of Most Wars?

  1. Brian

    I agree with you, Dr. D, and would like to add an illustrative example from history:

    In about the year 772, Charlemagne invaded Saxony, a non-Christian portion of what is now central Germany. His stated goal for the invasion of Saxony was to convert the Saxons, by force, to Christianity.

    Yet, within his own court, the religious figures therein urged Charlemagne not to do so – that it was wrong to spread Christianity via war. Most tellingly, they argued that his true goals were political conquest, and that his stated religious motivations were merely a pretense. Finally, they argued that it would be counterproductive to spread Christianity by warfare, since the defeated Saxons would hold a grudge against Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire.

    To all of which, Charlemagne replied “It works for the Moslems”. He then proceeded to do as he pleased.

  2. Dr. D

    Thanks Brian,
    And war still seems to be part of the Muslim playbook.

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