Religion and War Religion Has Been, and Essay

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Religion and War

Religion has been, and will continue to be, a cause of war. It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate how religion, but more precisely faith-based thinking, has been used to foment violence and cause war.

To understand the role that religion has played in sparking violence and causing nations, tribes, etc. To go to war, one must first understand what exactly war is. One of the best approaches to understanding war, and the components of war, was articulated by Carl Von Clausewitz in his seminal work On War.

In his book, Clausewitz defines his trinity model of war, also known as the "remarkable trinity." That is, Clausewitz argues that war consists of three distinct forces (1) primordial violence, hatred, and enmity; (2) the play of chance and probability; and (3) war's element of subordination to rational policy" (Bassford, 2011). Here one will notice the Hegelian dialectical format in play, we have a thesis, war is a combination of irrational forces such as enmity, hatred, violence, we have antithesis, war is a rational activity as it falls in accordance with coherent, logical policy, and a synthesis, war is non-rational (not irrational or rational), and is a product of chance and probability.

The result of this rather complicated analysis is an accurate rendering of war. War is a combination of tri-lateral forces -- the rational, irrational, and non-rational, - which create the chaotic and unpredictable reality of war. The key to understanding war is, or to developing a sensible theory of war, is to, as Clausewitz says, "maintain a balance between these three tendencies, like an object suspended between three magnets" (Clausewitz, On War).

In looking at religion and how it fits within the Clausewitzian framework, one can argue that religion is an irrational, catalytic force along with primordial violence, hatred, and enmity. The reason religion can be categorized as an irrational, catalytic force is because religion is, in its essence, irrational. Biologist and Author of the God Delusion, Richard Dawkins has said, "religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time" (2006). He also goes on to say that, "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence" (2006). The Dawkins' quotes underscore that in order for one to believe in religious dogma, i.e. transubstantiation, papal infallibility, etc., one has to reject empirical evidence to the contrary. In short, one has to reject reality.

If one is capable of rejecting reality, he/she becomes all the more willing to accept the horrors of war. As Steven Weinberg once said, "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion" (1999). In other words, those who would be otherwise moral may be convinced to commit atrocities because of or in the name of religion or faith. For example, the notion that it is socially acceptable to stone a woman to death because she betrayed her husband is an act of violence that is unthinkable in most modern societies. However, it becomes…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Bassford, C. (2011). Tip-Toe Through the Trinity. Retrieved from

Clausewitz, C.V. (1982). On War. New York: Penguin Classics.

Dawkins, R. (2006). The God Delusion. New York: Bantam Books.

Weinberg, S. (1999). Address at the Conference on Cosmic Design. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Washington, D.C.

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