Religion And Conflict Essay

2161 words - 9 pages

There are more than 19 current ongoing major conflicts based on religion. (Trowbridge) These conflicts occur on every continent besides Antarctica. Throughout human history, religious conflicts have taken center stage, with more than 30 major religious conflicts in the past 200 years. Some historians have gone so far as to provide religion as causation of all war. (Wooldridge) But most religions advocate peace and harmony, so why does religion cause so much conflict?One must first understand religion to understand why it brews conflict. Religion is practiced in some form by 84% of people, as seen in Figure 1. (Hunter) Religion is something that allows people to identify with a certain society, is unparalleled in its ability to unite people. People are so driven by religion that they sacrifice their own lives for the good of their religion. From an evolutionary point of view, this is very unusual. Religion has no apparent biological benefit. There is no sign of religion or anything similar in any other animal, and biologists agree that religion is a uniquely human phenomenon. So where does religion come from?Before answering such a question, one must define what exactly "religion" is. "Religion" is a word has been used in so many contexts that its origin is truly unknown. The English word "religion" traces its origin back to Latin religio, via Anglo-French religiun. Religio, the Latin base, has no clear root. St. Augustine proposes that it originates from ligare, which means to bind or connect, prefixed by re-, meaning to repeat, resulting in religare, "to reconnect." Another proposal, presented by Cicero, is that of re- prefixing lego, which means to read, resulting in relego, "go over again" or "read carefully." ("rĕlĭgĭo", A Latin Dictionary)The definition of the modern English "religion" is not much clearer. It has many definitions, including "a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices pertaining to supernatural power" (Wardrip) and "a system of beliefs relating to supernatural or superhuman beings or forces that transcend the everyday material world" (El-Aswad). Henceforth, religion will be defined as "a set of beliefs or practices that pertain to human belief in supernatural power over the material world."The first signs of religion appear in the Middle Paleolithic period. At that point, religion became mankind's most consistent concern and belief. These sets of beliefs appear to have appeared spontaneously. It is universal to human culture. Indeed, when European explorers explored Tasmania, which is believed to have been isolated from all other humanity for more than 40,000 years, they found organized religious rituals being performed. (Rossano) Several models exist that attempt to explain the existence of religion in humans.The genetic model claims that humans are genetically disposed to religion. Dr. Dean Hamer has identified certain genes that appear to result in increased religious behavior when in larger proportions,...

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