Thursday, July 5, 2012

Essay on Religion

Essay on Religion

For as long as man has walked the earth, he has been plagued with a number of challenges. Among them was one that still plagues him to this day, the challenge, which is a very light way of saying it, is war. In the past one-hundred years, war, fought by man, has advanced in ways that has been unthinkable, yet one thing remains the same: a man’s need to kill another for his own gains. In every sense of the word this is what it comes down to, a form of legalized murder; when one does not approve of another’s behavior, he takes it upon himself to stab, shoot, bomb or beat him to death, depriving his victim of what all of us, especially in the West, take for granted. (Silverman) Millennia before the notion of religion or of a higher being, one man would wage a primitive form of warfare on another, it can therefore be clearly deduced that religion is not the cause of war, but merely a motive for some to wage it.

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With the advent of the agricultural society, the nomadic tribes settled into villages and primitive towns. The days of the hunter/gatherer were becoming less sustainable for societies. As a hunter/gatherer culture, having just about 40 people per clan, the early peoples were forced to meander through treacherous landscapes in order to sustain themselves. (Hirst) It would not have been uncommon for them to come across similar tribes seeking out sustenance. In certain cases it would have made more common sense for the leaders to ally themselves with the others in order to accomplish a common goal, like finding food, yet as it is well know, the cohesion of two very different groups would have been difficult to maintain. It is therefore more likely, that when the two competing groups came across a necessary resource, violence would have ensued, thus causing a war between the two sides. Moreover, once settled into the agrarian way of life, the civilized societies would similarly wage war.

As small towns and villages began to spread out because a sustainable way of life allowed for a boom in population, the territorial and resource claims by the chiefs of the towns would depend on their strengths or weakness as leaders and politicians. Those able to negotiate and reason with other sides, would have likely allied themselves with them, those that did not, were forced into a war between the two or more societies. As the old adage goes, to the victor go the spoils, which was rightly said because after their victory, a clan would not only expand its territory, hence greater farm land, but also the precious metals and tools that were essential to maintain the modern way of life. Allowing for a society to expand like this, ancient nations and kingdoms emerged, along with certain beliefs about life and death.

Before Judaism, Islam or Christianity, early people worshipped spirits, the sun, the moon, and almost anything else their imagination would allow them to. These early religions were more of a way of explaining the world around them to the people. Certain values, rituals, chants were established in order to worship the appropriate deity. Like any other movement or idea, religions began to grow and became something more than just an explanation for something. They blossomed into civilizations, proselytizing millions of people in many parts of the world. The more advanced they became, the larger and more powerful was their reach. As the main western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam were involved in proselytizing non-believer by the sword. Thus the war over religions emerged. (All About Religion)

Before Judaism was a passive religion, its empire expanded far beyond where it is right now. Moreover, Christianity today wouldn’t be where it is now without applying the sword. But none of them compare to Islam. By the words of the prophet Mohammad, the religion spread like a wildfire from a few small nomadic tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, to the western part of Africa and down, up north to encompass almost the entire middle east, and as far east as Indonesia, with the largest Muslim population in the world. (Barkati) This conquest wasn’t achieved through dialogue or diplomacy, but only by the sword. So the question one would then ask himself is whether or not wars like this started because of a religion?

Religion became the reason for war in certain cases, where an ideology was needed to be spread to the masses. Yet one can clearly see that before the notion of religion was in place, what we now would consider a war, would have been taking place between people for millennia. For reasons of resources, land, maybe even honor and of course religion, war has been waged, and to deduce that religion is the sole cause of war would not make any rational sense. Therefore, religion is the cause of war in certain cases, but it is not the only reason for war. Looking at the past behaviors of man, it is difficult to maintain an optimistic viewpoint that one day the world will see peace, because it is not in man’s nature. Certainly the passive people within a society will always argue against war, but as many of us have recently seen, there are powerful forces that always prefer war over peace, no matter what the reason.
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