History being misquoted
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09-01-2013, 11:14 AM
History being misquoted
Hello I'm new to these forums but a long time fan of Seth and his work.

Recently I was listening to a podcast where someone said that religion has been the leading cause of war throughout history. As a history nerd I must correct this statement and show why it was probably made.
Most of recorded history shows that war and conflict have been a common thing since civilization formed. The wars of early man were small and fought over farm and grazing land. As civilization evolved (why does no one use that in evolution arguments?) the wars became bigger and fought for a growing list of reasons but most of these wars were for land, wealth, security, or offenses. From the Egyptian empire to the Roman empire, wars were fought to expand land ownership to increase wealth. It was not until the Crusades that we start to see truly Religious wars, but I am also going to present the argument that even wars of religion were really wars for land with the motivation of the soldiers being religion. I say this because many of the wars between the Ottoman Turks and the Eastern Christian kingdoms are sometimes played out as religious conflicts but if you really boil it down it was land grabs by kings and nobles. Also the bloodiest wars in history WWI and WWII were not religious conflicts they were ideological at most, but were mainly land grabs.
Now I understand why people today think that religion is the cause of most war and death, and it is a contributing factor. But this is believed today because many current conflicts boil down to ethnic or religious conflicts. These conflicts are normally brutal and brought straight to our living rooms by up to the minute news updates, but they are a rarity in history.

Thanks for reading this, hope this helps people understand history a bit better
EVERommels "Mission for historical truth"
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09-01-2013, 11:30 AM
RE: History being misquoted
Good point, and welcome to the forum.

I wonder if some of the "religious" war stereotype is inspired by biblical "history" - all those religious wars in the bible (many of which may never have happened) and even the ones that were just land grabs all seem religious because we're reading about them in the bible. Maybe that's shading people's limited understanding of real history.

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09-01-2013, 11:35 AM
RE: History being misquoted
(09-01-2013 11:30 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  Good point, and welcome to the forum.

I wonder if some of the "religious" war stereotype is inspired by biblical "history" - all those religious wars in the bible (many of which may never have happened) and even the ones that were just land grabs all seem religious because we're reading about them in the bible. Maybe that's shading people's limited understanding of real history.
I agree with that point. Look at the Muslim conquest of the middle east and North Africa. It was really a land grab by nobles who used religion to motivate their soldiers. The same holds true for the Jews in the bible conquering Isreal because they were just trying to find a homeland for their people and than expand it. Theres a great history channel show called Bible battles that looks at the bible from a military angle and it shows that the mass slaughter was so you didnt have rebellion problems and you could repopulate the country, and other things like this.
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09-01-2013, 01:59 PM
RE: History being misquoted
Yah. It would be better to say that wars are primarily for resources, influence, and power.

Religion only ENABLES the leaders to dress it up as something else and fire up the masses in support.

.... but then, wait. If we've got, say, ninety percent of the people in the upper ranks of society (the kings, emperors, advisor's councils, etc) making the decisions based on real politick and strategic factors.... but ninety percent of the everyday citizens and footsoldiers are pushing forward on the basis of religious conviction... and if the latter group outnumbers the former by 100 to 1.... then isn't it really about religion anyway?

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09-01-2013, 02:07 PM
RE: History being misquoted
But many of the land grabs were somewhat justified by a certain religious/dogmatic doctrine, manifest destiny or whatever.


The idea of God is the sole wrong for which I cannot forgive mankind. -- Marquis de Sade
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09-01-2013, 02:36 PM
RE: History being misquoted
(09-01-2013 01:59 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  Yah. It would be better to say that wars are primarily for resources, influence, and power.

Religion only ENABLES the leaders to dress it up as something else and fire up the masses in support.

.... but then, wait. If we've got, say, ninety percent of the people in the upper ranks of society (the kings, emperors, advisor's councils, etc) making the decisions based on real politick and strategic factors.... but ninety percent of the everyday citizens and footsoldiers are pushing forward on the basis of religious conviction... and if the latter group outnumbers the former by 100 to 1.... then isn't it really about religion anyway?
What I'm saying is that to accuse religion of being the fault of most of the wars in history is wrong, are there examples that are 100% religous based sure. But i would say over 90% are for power, influence, or resources. Because the Crusades started as a holy war than turned into a land grab.
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09-01-2013, 07:05 PM
RE: History being misquoted
South Park went through a phase where they felt they needed to pick on every religious belief, even their own atheism. What did the atheism episode (Go, God, Go!) make fun of? It depicted a future where everybody was atheist and yet they were still at war... over what atheists should call themselves.

It's hard to prove causation here. There's little doubt that warring countries in the past had different national religions... even today, how often do countries that follow the same religion get into wars with each other? It obviously does happen, for example when Iraq gassed Kuwait, but even in that case the warring countries were different sects of the same religion. But it strikes me as rather rare that countries sharing a religion will go to war with each other.

Let's not forget that the *actual* cause of a war is often difficult to determine. President Bush said (in an interview with Katie Couric ) that the connection between Iraq and 9/11 was a "jihadist mentality" and "an ideology"...

Quote:BUSH: Well – the first thing I would tell people that – we weren't in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, when 19 killers killed 3,000 Americans in the most brutal attack on our – on our soil – ever.

COURIC: But they were from Saudi Arabia.

BUSH: No, but they're – but– but they share the same jihadist mentality, this radicalism. See, that's the interesting thing about this war, Katie. It's – we're not facing a nation-state. We're facing people from other nation– around the – around the globe, frankly, that share an ideology and the desire to – achieve objectives through killing innocent people.

What did he mean by "nation-state"? I think it was semantics for "religion". And that seemed more obvious when there was tension between the US and Iran and it looked like yet another war against a Muslim nation was imminent. Do we hate the Middle East? Clearly not Israel, and the reason for that seems both obvious and religion-based... (though to be fair, we're also quite friendly with Turkey and Qatar, two Muslim countries).

I'm not arguing that religion is the main driving force behind war, but I think the issue is "grayer" than you view it, Eve.

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10-01-2013, 11:44 AM
RE: History being misquoted
I agree that it seems unfair to blame religion for causing wars since there are always other factors. For example, Hitlers Catholic faith seems to play a part in his Jewish hatred. Also the Israel / Palestine conflict, despite not being caused by religion, is certainly being fueled by it.
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10-01-2013, 12:01 PM
RE: History being misquoted
(10-01-2013 11:44 AM)FingerWatchTom Wrote:  I agree that it seems unfair to blame religion for causing wars since there are always other factors. For example, Hitlers Catholic faith seems to play a part in his Jewish hatred. Also the Israel / Palestine conflict, despite not being caused by religion, is certainly being fueled by it.

Hmm, while I agree with the Hitler remark...I'm having a hard time seing the Israel/Palestine conflict being anything other than religious.


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10-01-2013, 03:05 PM
RE: History being misquoted
Welcome to the forum. I hope u find what u are looking for.

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