Recent events, such as terrorism committed by Muslims, have led to some people banking on it as a rationale for wanting religion wiped off the face of the Earth. Atheists especially are excited, using this as proof of their claim that religion is the cause of all conflict. However, I disagree. It is still a slippery slope to prove this since most experiential knowledge has shown that violence occurs for many other reasons other than religion. Yet the militant anti-religionists are vehement in promoting this view to the point of treating it like Gospel truth and perhaps even insulting others who disagree or conflict with them. Let’s get back to Earth, then.
One of the things in the news lately is the discovery of a possible stone age massacre site – perhaps the earliest known massacre. Archaeologists working in Nataruk, Kenya, found over 27 skeletons of people who may have been killed with various types of weapons. One skeleton of a pregnant woman was even found in a position where she was bound hand and foot. The event is dated to 10,000 years ago based on the evidence. If anyone believes the stone age people were non-violent and pure – this should tell them otherwise.
Whatever really happened, it is hard to connect religion to it. According to the Reuters report, the victims may have possessed food that the attackers wanted – leading to one conclusion that it was a pillaging attack. Even if the attackers might have held a religious belief of some sort – which could not be proven – it could also not be proven if this was the motivation of the attack. At least one can conclude, there was conflict, murder and violence long before religion, much more organized religion, existed. It thus most likely precludes the thesis that religion is the cause of warfare.
What would then be cause of conflict and violence? I have written in my personal blog about it, using the example of two men finding a well or oasis in the desert. Because they perceive it as a limited resource, each doesn’t want to share it. They each want exclusive ownership of this. The way to resolve this: kill the other one. The successful killer owns the well and rules over it. For me, this is the most basic way to describe conflict in the world. It’s mostly about resources and domination.
Back to the case of Islam, while I have read resources saying that the Quran in some verses encourages modern violence, many Muslims have lived without doing harm to anyone. In the end, whatever religion one belongs to, the decision to live ethically falls to the individual person. Yet the paranoia being spread in the Internet tries to gives the idea that Muslims are “sleeper murderers,” and will one day attack you even if you’re kind to them. This is baloney that tries to encourage you to be the first one to be violent.
Muslims are not engaged in a world conquest mission to force their culture onto other nations and parts of the world. This is a made-up story to make people feel threatened and to increase hatred and anger against Muslims. So when a military like the U.S. decides to invade another country, which these days tends to be a Muslim country, these people riled up in hatred will support it. But what the U.S. and participating invaders are really after are resources, like oil. Something that Mnar Muhawesh of Mint Press News explained in an excellent big-picture way.
Also, the claim that the Cologne attacks are part of an Islamic cultural effort to “conquer the world” or part of a so-called rape game are untrue. German police have already revealed that the sexual assaults are actually a modus of a criminal gang that uses the groping and other sexual assault acts to cover up their stealing or robbing their victims. Some Muslims, a few refugees, Arab-looking men and North Africans may be involved; but it is not an act of religion. It is the act of a crime group. In related news, the 13-year-old Russian-German girl who earlier claimed to have been raped by refugees or migrants after disappearing on Jan. 11 rescinded her story and admitted that she made it up. And claims that the rapes are part of “taharrush gamea” – a so-called rape game (“game” probably a mishearing of “gamea”) – are actually false.
Perhaps these overly idealistic anti-religionists should also realize that religion, as demonstrated by the explanation about Islam above, is part and parcel of culture these days. But for sure, even if you eliminate religion and any form of spirituality, conflict would still remain. As explained above, there are so many reasons people can find for hurting and killing someone. Get Real Philippines has always pointed to culture as the cause of many problems. Culture consists of the things that you actually believe and practice in everyday life. Certain cultures can have their own reasons for killing people even without religion.
For example, teens and gangs today. They don’t fight because of religion. Some want to kill someone because they were insulted or the other person seduced their girlfriend (or even simply because)! Look at the Maguindanao Massacre: it was done for political reasons. Look at headhunter culture, too. Really, people kill for the pettiest things.
Thus, if religion was eliminated from the world, violence won’t be significantly reduced; it’s likely to remain the same. If you really want to eliminate violence, why not eliminate the entire human race, since violence seems natural to humans. Or, change the nature of people in how they behave towards each other. That’s probably why religion was founded in the first place, to introduce through spirituality the idea that since we are all created by and equal before a certain deity, so we shouldn’t be hurting each other. But of course, ideas throughout time become warped and movements get hijacked, so sadly, we are back to square one.
What sullied religion was simply being tied to political interests. Getting political power can corrupt anyone, religious or not, because they get the desire to force others under their will. It is for this reason that the American founding fathers thought of separation of church and state.
I will agree with what some people from both pro- and anti-religion camps would say: the best way anyone can show that their way works best is through their personal conduct and example. Show us you live ethically (or at least that you have basic decency), we’ll believe you.