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Is religion the cause of all (or most) wars?

I was thinking tonight about how it’s often said that religion is the reason most, of not all, wars are started. So I thought I’d start some discussion on the topic.

It seems to me that most wars are started due to the drive to have power over others and make economic gains. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

By raines4
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Greed is the cause and religion the excuse.


More like an excuse.


I don't think religion starts wars. I t is always to do with overtaking territory. Spouting religion is just a convenient ploy to distract from what is really going on. The more land you are in control of, the richer you are.


Religion as the cause of most wars is a tired trope. I don't buy it.

Not that cultural eradication wasn't a convenient and expedient side effect for bringing populations to bear. But would a state go all in without some significant power or economic benefit – a ROI? Not likely. Columbus didn't wander the globe to Christianize the world nor did the Spanish build the missions to civilize the heathen. California, and before that Central and South America, was part of a crusade for building an empire. The church simply provided assistance in native enslavement under the guise of saving their souls.

I'd argue that essentially all wars are resource wars, then and now. It's why we're still in Afghanistan and why we'll never leave the Middle East.

Deiter Level 8 Aug 23, 2018

No..greed and power is, but religion is a great way to manipulate the population into doing the killing for the powerful people who start the wars.


Cause of many. Justification for most.

pixiedust Level 8 Aug 23, 2018

Resources is the main culprit. Religion has always been a way of legitimizing theft (via war)

Duke71 Level 6 Aug 23, 2018

@raines We are human and continually compete for resources. The unlikely redistribution of resources equally would work for ten minutes and then someone would want more and off we go again.

@raines science and technology, perhaps. The only reason people starve today is because someone allows it. There is a great pair of books on the subject of humanity. 'Sapiens and Homo Deux'. many of your questions are answered by a PhD who had researched extensively. Cheers


I think its greed that is the root cause of most wars. Look at our own ongoing "War" in Iraq. George Bush addresses the nation and tells us he has prayed on it, and God spoke to him and told him god said to invade Iraq, This had nothing to do with the reason we invaded. This was to gain popular support from Christians, It was determined under the Carter administration when we adopted the Carter Doctrine in the middle east. That we would invade Iraq.When Saddam signed a deal with China to take over their oil industry and distribution in 1999. Its great to get the populace behind a war with Bible, Quran, Torah or whatever the preferred religious book Thumping. It makes it easier to send your sons and now daughters off to risk being killed if its in God's service and you have the moral high ground. Sending them off to be killed because your stratigic oil reserve is threatened, Is a much harder sell than Gods will.

Stevil Level 8 Aug 23, 2018

No, people and politics. WW1, WW2, American War of Independence, American Civil War, 100 Years War, Napoleonic Wars, Punic Wars, and so on...


Religion has not caused wars as evidenced by the fact that Sunni and Shia Muslim religions are the same except for a disagreement over who was supposed to succeed Mohamud, yet they have no problem killing each other with abandon. It would also be a stretch to blame Japan's territorial expansion and Hitler's madness on religion. Wars, I would surmise are caused by different tribes appearing to be "different" from my own.

dahermit Level 7 Aug 23, 2018

Wars are caused by greed, the lust for power, for resources.


No, only about 8% of wars in history were caused by religion.

Druvius Level 7 Aug 23, 2018

Humans would find "reasons" for wars sans religion.

I agree. The human primate (and the others also) are territorial...seeking to drive off those who seek to occupy the same territory.


Yes, the drive to have power over others and economic gains Is religion in my book. And not leadership.

ColdFax Level 6 Aug 23, 2018

Nah, competion for resources. Follow the money. Religion is just more publicly acceptable than 'we wanted to kill them so that we could take their stuff'.

@raines more just the moral equivalent of the sports kit that football hooligans wear.


National boundaries and territorial appropriation have caused many, long before any of the theist religions came to be invented there were wars. It was usually about dominance and conquest. Since the advent of Christianity there have been countless religious wars waged such as The Crusades in the 12/13th centuries, but it is only cause in part. As is usually the case in these sort of arguments, it is much more complicated and usually includes power struggles and politics. These things are never back and white. So yes I concur with your conclusions.


Here's my take on things:

Godless12 Level 5 Aug 23, 2018

Hit the nail on the head. Cute cartoon.


I think people are good at inventing reasons to fight regardless. Religion is awful and makes it easy to come up with excuse, but it seems the willingliness of obliterating each other runs deep in this species.

Nada Level 3 Aug 24, 2018

The simple anwer is a definitive NO.

Political power, territory, resources. These are the roots of most wars. Religion is frequently used as a tool to ensure the war gets fought, or that animosities are fully fueled for those on the battlefield and their families so that enthusiasm for the war doesn't wane. But it is not often the cause, in and of itself.

Seeker3CO Level 8 Aug 23, 2018

I'm going to go with greed. Land, money, power, etc.

UrsiMajor Level 8 Aug 23, 2018

No it’s just weapon
Cause is more real


Not the cause, but they help to gather the excuse and to gather people around the fight.
The real cause is always power, resources etc.

Pedrohbds Level 7 Aug 23, 2018

Leading writers like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens think so. Examples are The Crusades (Christians vs. Muslims), the 30 Years War & the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland (Catholics vs. Protestants), India and Pakistan wars (Hindus vs. Muslims), Israel vs. Egypt & other Arab neighbors (Jews vs. Muslims), the war against ISIS (Christians vs. Muslims). The "War on Terror" is really the "War on Religion" (radical Islam) but governments and newspapers do not like to use the word "religion".

BrooksR Level 1 Aug 23, 2018

Disagree. I noticed you did not included WW1 and WW2. Many years ago "Leading Writers" claimed the Earth was Flat and that god existed. Still today "Leading Writers" claim there is a god. Simply disagree.

@GipsyOfNewSpain I didn't include WW1 and WW2 because they don't apply. WW1 started due to an assassination and WW2 due to power crazed Hitler. The logic of your disagreement is not clear. Have you read any of Harris, Dawkins or Hitchens books? They make very strong cases for correlation between wars and religion.

@BrooksR You asking me to read your bible? I need no false prophets to tell me how to think. No god, no religion, no greed, no prophets or heroes, no bromance, no masters to bow to or messiahs to pray to. My Final Answer. Give a monkey a book, 'will feel enlighten!

@GipsyOfNewSpain No reason for you to read books - you know everything. Must be nice.


Power and economics are the cause of war. Religion is used as an excuse to justify it.

JB4now Level 5 Aug 26, 2018

More people have been killed in the name of a deity than for any other reason. Mostly wars.

Probably not true. WW1 and WW2 accounted for millions alone.

@Geoffrey51 those were only two wars. Hitler himself said he was on a mission from God.

@TheGreatShadow Weren't religious wars though

@TheGreatShadow And George Bush said the same thing.

@BrooksR Him and Tony Blair have a direct pipeline to God... so they claim...

@TheGreatShadow Quote a leader at war that was not on a mission from god... exept Stalin.

@TheGreatShadow "George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and Christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd." - Sam Harris

@GipsyOfNewSpain Damnit! Stalin was my answer... he killed people not in the name of athiesm, but he was just a bad person.

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