Connection between exclusive truth and violence? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
So, the other thread got me to thinking again about something I've pondered for quite a while, which is the lack of religious violence in Buddhism vs. the historical abundance of religious violence in the three great monotheistic religions.

First, I'd like to make it clear that I am not one of these people that think that religion is evil and if there were just no religion we would all be living in some sort of peaceful utopia. I believe that most religious wars are a product of humans manipulating religion to achieve other purposes, usually acquisition of land or power. I also do not think that Buddhism is superior to other religions, as all religions teach essentially the same morality. Yet there it is... I have done some research, and have never been able to find an example of a Buddhist religious war. Even if there have been small skirmishes that I'm not aware of, I think it is safe to say that Buddhism simply has not been plagued with the sort of religious violence that the Abrahamic religions have. It has at times been adopted by kings as the state religion (in China and India) but those kings did not fight wars in Buddha's name.

The best explanation that I personally can come up with is that Buddhism, unlike the Abrahamic religions, is not exclusive. Yes, it does claim to be the ultimate Truth, just as all religions do, but it also recognizes the value of other religions. There is no God in Buddhism that one must be loyal to, or who punishes people who don't follow the right path. There is just the law of karma which says that good acts will bring good results and bad acts bad results. It doesn't matter if the good acts are motivated by a belief in Shiva or Allah or Buddha or what, it's still a good act. So when Buddhist missionaries spread the word (it was very much a missionary religion), they could easily co-exist with the indigenous religions. I know that Islam has the concept of the People of the Book, but in Buddhism it extends to all people, all religions. And it goes beyond tolerance; there is a recognition that the other religions are actually good.

The other thought I've had is that Yahweh/Allah/God has a distinctly judgmental side to His character, and it is this aspect that is often manipulated to convince people to go to war. Lacking a deity with such a character, Buddhism is simply harder for kings and politicians to manipulate.

I'd love a discussion about this and am open to all thoughts. I've only referenced Buddhism and the Abrahamic religions because those are the ones I'm somewhat familiar with, but I've love to hear from people from other religions. Maybe I'm totally off base, but I won't know it without some input!
Thao is offline  
#2 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 02:59 PM
 
ursusarctos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,498
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Oooh, interesting topic!
I have pondered the same thing and don't really have answers.
What comes to mind is Hinduism. It's not an exclusive religion, to my knowledge anyway (correct me if I'm wrong) but there are still armed conflicts between Hindus and Muslims in India. I don't know much about the situation though so I wonder if it's more of a historic conflict based on land/ethnicity than a religious conflict?

Me treehugger.gif and DH caffix.gif and sweet baby DD heartbeat.gif born 08/2011.

ursusarctos is offline  
#3 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 03:56 PM
 
Liquesce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mayberry
Posts: 4,963
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
That Buddhism so strongly emphasizes principles of non-violence -- and that these principles have often been interpreted as a pacifist doctrine -- seems a better explanation for their comparatively non-warfaring history. Particularly as there are comparative pacifistic traditions within certain Abrahamic faiths, with comparative histories, that "exclusive truth" is not a claim so easily rigidly applied to the Abrahamic faiths, and that there are extensive histories of strongly faithful, non-pacifistic Abrahamic faith communities living peacefully with one another and with others.
Liquesce is offline  
#4 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
ursusarctos - that's a good point, I wonder if there are any Hindus that can weigh in?

Liquesce - also very good points! I'm sure that you are right that the pacifist principles of Buddhism play a role, but to me the issue goes beyond doctrines to the very basic nature of the religion. Because doctrines can always be twisted to serve people's ends, but the core worldview of the religion does not change.

Quote:
that "exclusive truth" is not a claim so easily rigidly applied to the Abrahamic faiths
I know that all all of the Abrahamic faiths have denominations that are less exclusive (for example, accepting universal salvation) but there is still a qualitative difference between a religious tradition where the First Commandment is "I am the Lord your God, you shall have other God before me" (an exclusive statement) and religious traditions that do not have such a principle.

Maybe "exclusive truth" is the wrong term for what I'm talking about. As ursusarctos pointed out, Hinduism (which shares the Buddhist belief in Karma) has quite a bloody history. Where it differs from Buddhism is that it believes in Gods. Maybe "exclusive loyalty" would be a better term to discuss. To me, it sets up an "us/them" mentality that is so easily abused.
Thao is offline  
#5 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 05:07 PM
 
smeisnotapirate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Posts: 5,852
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Sara caffix.gif, Keith 2whistle.gif, Toby 6/08superhero.gif, Nomi 4/10blahblah.gif, Mona 1/12 hammer.gif

 

Mama of three, lover, student rabbi, spoonie, friend, musician, narcoleptic, space muffin, pretty much a dragon. Crunchy like matzoh.

smeisnotapirate is offline  
#6 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 06:05 PM
 
chimomma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 167
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a friend who is a refugee of a war which was fought soley on the basis of religion. She told me something she said during an interfaith dialouge which really made sense to me. "We cannot argue about who is right, because if we argue about who is right we will begin killing eachother. We can only ask questions."

I do think that the idea of one religion being the right one and all who do not follow it not being right could bring more tendency toward violence. When it comes to comparing other religions to strong monotheistic religions or Abrahamic religions there is something else to note. I read a book I think maybe called "One God" which was like an examination of monotheistic religions from a non-religous perspective. The author noted that the reason monotheistic relgions are so powerful and why they usually quickly over power pagan religions is because instead of having a weaker connection to many dieties a believer has one strong, potent connection to one God. This one God then becomes so powerful to that person being able to fufil all the person's spiritual and wordly needs rather than these powers being divided. That believer is then much more easily motivated to act in the name of God.
Just some thoughts on the matter.

I personal would lean toward thinking in the bigger picture conflict will enevitably take place between people of all ethnicities and religions. The big difference in the perseption of these conflicts is that a monotheistic believer is much more likely to percieve that conflict through religious eyes and fight it in the name of the Lord, especially if his religion generally rewards doing so. If the religion is not a religion which has a place for war in its doctorine, the people will not fight in the name of religion, but for whatever wordly matter the conflict ignited from.
chimomma is offline  
#7 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 06:37 PM
 
Purple Sage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,201
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Purple Sage is offline  
#8 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 06:44 PM
 
cappuccinosmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: SW Pennsylvania
Posts: 5,628
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
That Buddhism so strongly emphasizes principles of non-violence -- and that these principles have often been interpreted as a pacifist doctrine -- seems a better explanation for their comparatively non-warfaring history. Particularly as there are comparative pacifistic traditions within certain Abrahamic faiths, with comparative histories, that "exclusive truth" is not a claim so easily rigidly applied to the Abrahamic faiths, and that there are extensive histories of strongly faithful, non-pacifistic Abrahamic faith communities living peacefully with one another and with others.
I agree with this.

I have friends who are conservative Anabaptists. They absolutely believe they are correct, that Jesus is the only way, and that their denomination has a handle on the whole truth of God (as opposed to others who only have it partially right).

These people never would, and historically never have, imposed their belief in absolute truth by violence. They won't even raise a hand in self defense. They would rather die than kill someone else. Historically they have been ready and willing to die incredibly horrible deaths at the hands of others in defense of what they believe is truth, but never killed for it.

They believe they are following the example of Jesus, who claimed to be The Truth, and who died still claiming that, but never killed anyone nor exhorted his followers to kill.

As to non-monotheistic or "nonexclusive" religions promoting less violence, they might, but apparently not all their followers agree with non-violence towards people of other religions. If such attacks can be blamed on cultural or nationalistic attitudes, then why not apply the same reasoning to followers of monotheistic faiths?
cappuccinosmom is offline  
#9 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 06:44 PM
 
ursusarctos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,498
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by chimomma View Post
If the religion is not a religion which has a place for war in its doctorine, the people will not fight in the name of religion, but for whatever wordly matter the conflict ignited from.
Yes. For example, Buddhism was the religion of many ancient Asian powers, such as Tibet and Thailand, yet they were both warlike and had feudal societies. There was no lack of war and violence, it was just never done in the name of Buddhism.

Me treehugger.gif and DH caffix.gif and sweet baby DD heartbeat.gif born 08/2011.

ursusarctos is offline  
#10 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
The big difference in the perseption of these conflicts is that a monotheistic believer is much more likely to percieve that conflict through religious eyes and fight it in the name of the Lord, especially if his religion generally rewards doing so. If the religion is not a religion which has a place for war in its doctorine, the people will not fight in the name of religion, but for whatever wordly matter the conflict ignited from.
This is an excellent point, and one I had never thought of. Off to cogitate...
Thao is offline  
#11 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 10:15 PM
 
~Boudicca~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New England
Posts: 3,721
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
~Boudicca~ is offline  
#12 of 63 Old 10-07-2009, 11:15 PM
 
CherryBomb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 8,143
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
There was plenty of violence and bloodshed before there were any organized religions preaching an exclusivity of faith. Our fallen nature predisposes us to violence, I think. People just fight over land and resources and a thousand other things.

Quote:
As to non-monotheistic or "nonexclusive" religions promoting less violence, they might, but apparently not all their followers agree with non-violence towards people of other religions. If such attacks can be blamed on cultural or nationalistic attitudes, then why not apply the same reasoning to followers of monotheistic faiths?
Agreed. I think the concept that Buddhists are not violent is a Western stereotype. Anectdotal, but the people I've known who were born and raised in Eastern, Buddhist countries don't hold that stereotype and find it perplexing
CherryBomb is offline  
#13 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 02:09 AM
 
Sailor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: CA
Posts: 2,535
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I pretty much think that any religion that says "this is the ONLY truth, and you must believe it or not be saved" is a religion that has the potential for violence. As long as one believes that their lifestyle is the ONLY correct lifestyle then it's like being against everyone else. Which can (though it doesn't have to) lead to violence.

On the other hand, a religion or belief system that is more along the lines of "there are many paths towards the truth, this just happens to be mine" doesn't have much potential for violence. As they recognize the fact that there are other religious "truths" out there and that no religion has exclusivity on that truth.

I think if someone were to do a study on violence stemming from religious beliefs, we'd see a correlation that would support the above. Actually, I'd be really interested to see such a study. Maybe I should suggest it to some anthropologists or sociologists - whichever.

Which is not to say there isn't other violence around. There is. But, I also think religions that foster the exclusive truth view have the potential for more violence under their belt than those who don't. I'm speaking in terms of history, but also current events.

You just don't see too many pagans who are ready to become suicide bombers in the name of their beliefs. Or, for instance, pagans burning other people at stakes - that isn't in the history books either. We also don't see Tibetan Buddhists going into China and burning down all the cultural landmarks in order to indoctrinate everyone into their belief system. Some religions are much less "truth exclusive" than others, and I think that leaves less of a potential for violence.

And, of course, I realize those, currently, who are violent within their religious beliefs are on the extreme ends. Right now, I think average Joe/Jane in any religion seeks peace rather than violence. It's just the extremist forms that promote mass violence.

First special delivery - April 2010 :
Sailor is offline  
#14 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 05:02 AM
 
merpk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 14,887
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Sorry, but no.

The wars in Jewish history were not fought over "truth." The wars running through the Torah were wars of defense (like when Amalek attacked them from behind, in the desert) or wars over land. There were multiple wars over the centuries when the Jewish state was conquered and occupied, and the Jews regularly rebelled (always unsuccessfully).



There were never any Jewish wars to convert anyone, and it is *not* Jewish theology. "I am the L!rd your G!d; you shall have no other" is a commandment to the Jews. G!d is G!d to the Jews, and the Jews shall have no other. That is what it means.

And theologically, Jewish belief is that there are many ways to G!d and to a relationship with G!d, and that each nation/people has its own way to connect with G!d.






A "war of mitzvah," as referred to in Jewish law, is a war of survival, and not a war of religious belief.







While I do agree that the religions borne of Judaism are supercessionist and have had "wars of conversion," I entirely disagree at your inclusion of Judaism in the category of "crusaders for truth." Jews have not been involved in religious wars, wars over "truth," except as being the victims of the maniacs trying to impose their "truth."

There was one Jewish king 2500-some-odd years ago who did try to convert others to Judaism, including by violent means, but his rule was very brief, and he is the exception, not the rule.






And before anyone brings current events into this, the war with the Arabs is over land. Yes, the Jews believe they have a religious right to live in the land. But that is not the same as a war over truth. It's a war over the right to live somewhere.





Now, that said, Judaism has more than its share of problems, and yes, there are entire chunks of the Jewish population who believe that they have "the truth for Jews" and are semi-hysterical with need to impose their view of truth on other Jews ... but that's a problem for Jews, not others.
merpk is offline  
#15 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 06:56 AM
 
genifer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: In a land, far far away...
Posts: 1,223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Humans will find any excuse to war, religion, land, even for peace! lol. Humans take ideologies and use them to their own end. To me, it seems that humans in general have a lust for blood. Whatever faith, religion or lack thereof. Imho, it isnt any one religion that is at fault there, its the condition of the human heart. Individually and collectively.
genifer is offline  
#16 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 06:58 AM
 
genifer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: In a land, far far away...
Posts: 1,223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
As to non-monotheistic or "nonexclusive" religions promoting less violence, they might, but apparently not all their followers agree with non-violence towards people of other religions. If such attacks can be blamed on cultural or nationalistic attitudes, then why not apply the same reasoning to followers of monotheistic faiths?
This is such a good point, and one most people dont seem to be able to get their head around fully, ime. I dont even know who said it, Im quoting a quote... off to find out!

gen

Eta.. wanted to give credit to Cappaccinosmom for the quote. thats all....

discuss...
genifer is offline  
#17 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 08:54 AM
 
Bluegoat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 2,619
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
THe first thing I would say in response to merpk is that a religious war is not just one that seeks to convert, but any war which uses religion as it's justification. Perhaps even when that is not the real reason. So although, for example, I wouldn't really describe currant difficulties in Israel as a religious war, is is justified on religious grounds by some people, and I think that on a wider scale is often what religious wars are.

Or to look at it another way: of all the things that cause war, should we be suprised that the basic world-view of those involved, and way of life, should be part of it. That after all is how we all interpret reality.

I would also ask - is a religious war fundamentally different than a war over political philosophy or secular beliefs? Could we include efforts to say, spread Communism as "religious" wars? What about the Roman conviction that Rome was meant to rule the world? If we could, it would put an interesting spin on the present difficulties in Tibet, for instance, especially if things become more violent at some point. It seems to me any really different vision of life can bring about frictions and the desire to see the other group in the wrong.

But - most religious wars are really excuses or ways of interpreting other kinds of conflicts, over the usual things. They are about land, or power, or a perceived or real threat. As far back as the Trojan War, gods have been brought into conflicts, but they are seldom the main reason. (Although, perhaps Homer would have argued that other events were an excuse for a war that was essentially religious, in the case of Troy.)

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
Bluegoat is offline  
#18 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 10:26 AM
 
smeisnotapirate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Posts: 5,852
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
THe first thing I would say in response to merpk is that a religious war is not just one that seeks to convert, but any war which uses religion as it's justification. Perhaps even when that is not the real reason. So although, for example, I wouldn't really describe currant difficulties in Israel as a religious war, is is justified on religious grounds by some people, and I think that on a wider scale is often what religious wars are.

Or to look at it another way: of all the things that cause war, should we be suprised that the basic world-view of those involved, and way of life, should be part of it. That after all is how we all interpret reality.

I would also ask - is a religious war fundamentally different than a war over political philosophy or secular beliefs? Could we include efforts to say, spread Communism as "religious" wars? What about the Roman conviction that Rome was meant to rule the world? If we could, it would put an interesting spin on the present difficulties in Tibet, for instance, especially if things become more violent at some point. It seems to me any really different vision of life can bring about frictions and the desire to see the other group in the wrong.

But - most religious wars are really excuses or ways of interpreting other kinds of conflicts, over the usual things. They are about land, or power, or a perceived or real threat. As far back as the Trojan War, gods have been brought into conflicts, but they are seldom the main reason. (Although, perhaps Homer would have argued that other events were an excuse for a war that was essentially religious, in the case of Troy.)
I disagree completely. By that reasoning, every war that included a religious person would be a "religious war" and we all know that's just not true.

I totally agree with merpk, and she said it all better than me. I just want to clarify things. I think that Judaism is fundamentally different from Christianity and Islam because we DO NOT seek converts. Maybe you want to change the wording to "religions that seek converts" as opposed to "Abrahamic religions" because you than then have a wider spectrum of more similar religions with a similar motive. I would include Communism in that group, which I completely agree fits this model you're building of religions ("belief systems") which can propagate violence to spread their ideas among people.

So I'd actually put Judaism in your "Buddhism" column. We are defenders, not conquerers.

Sara caffix.gif, Keith 2whistle.gif, Toby 6/08superhero.gif, Nomi 4/10blahblah.gif, Mona 1/12 hammer.gif

 

Mama of three, lover, student rabbi, spoonie, friend, musician, narcoleptic, space muffin, pretty much a dragon. Crunchy like matzoh.

smeisnotapirate is offline  
#19 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
As to non-monotheistic or "nonexclusive" religions promoting less violence, they might, but apparently not all their followers agree with non-violence towards people of other religions. If such attacks can be blamed on cultural or nationalistic attitudes, then why not apply the same reasoning to followers of monotheistic faiths?
Right, I think we agree cappucinnosmom, there's no double standard here. I wouldn't call the attack described in your article "cultural or nationalistic", I'd call it a religious attack. I don't deny that individual or small groups of Buddhists may engage in violence, I mentioned that in my OP. However the scale of violence in the name of the Abrahamic religions has historically been higher than that in the name of Buddhism (or Jainism, which is very similar), and I'm wondering how people explain that. I think we all agree that people are people no matter what religion they follow, so it's not that Christians or Jews are somehow more violent than Buddhists. It's something else.

Quote:
The wars in Jewish history were not fought over "truth." The wars running through the Torah were wars of defense (like when Amalek attacked them from behind, in the desert) or wars over land.
I actually wasn't just talking only about wars of conversion, although I can see how you might get that impression since I talked about Buddhist missionaries. That is just one sort of religious war, but actually I think it is in the minority compared to wars over land and power where religion is used as the justification. The Jewish wars in Exodus were wars over land, and very much carried out in the name of Yahweh (Yahweh gave them the land and commanded them to eradicate the local gods) so I classify that as a religious war. Please let me know if you disagree.

The crusades are another classic example of wars over land but justified by religion. The rallying cry was to take back Jerusalem, not to convert the infidel. Whatever the motivations of the kings that prosecuted the war, it was sold to their people as a religious war, and if it had not been for the powerful unifying and motivating influence of that religion, not to mention the heavenly rewards promised to martyrs, I wonder if they would have been able to motivate so many peasant to pick up their pitchforks and join.

It seems that Buddhism is more immune to such cynical exploitation, and I wonder why. Maybe Liquesce and chimomma are right, it is because its radical pacifism simply doesn't allow it.

Quote:
By that reasoning, every war that included a religious person would be a "religious war" and we all know that's just not true.
Maybe we need to define "religious war". To me, the wars in Exodus were "religious wars" because they were specifically fought in the name of Yahweh and the antipathy towards the local gods of the lands they conquered is made very clear (altars torn down, etc). World War II, on the other hand, was not a religious war, because although many religious people participated on both sides, religious conflict was not given as one of the reasons for the war. The Iraq war is a harder one: while not necessarily openly stated, it seems to me that there was a undercurrent of religiously-motivated fear that led to so many Americans supporting the invasion of a country that demonstrably had nothing to do with the attacks on 9-11 other than being co-religionists with the perpetrators. I could be wrong about that, though.

Quote:
Maybe you want to change the wording to "religions that seek converts" as opposed to "Abrahamic religions" because you than then have a wider spectrum of more similar religions with a similar motive.
No, because as I've said, Buddhism is historically a missionary religion. Monks went all over Asia spreading the dharma. There were able to do it non-violently, I think, because Buddhism has space for other religions. I'm really not trying to pick on just the Abrahamic religions, though, I'm sorry if I give that impression! The problem is those are the only religions I am knowlegeable enough about to discuss. I keep hoping that someone who knows about Hindu religion and history might join this thread.

Quote:
I would also ask - is a religious war fundamentally different than a war over political philosophy or secular beliefs? Could we include efforts to say, spread Communism as "religious" wars? What about the Roman conviction that Rome was meant to rule the world? If we could, it would put an interesting spin on the present difficulties in Tibet, for instance, especially if things become more violent at some point. It seems to me any really different vision of life can bring about frictions and the desire to see the other group in the wrong.
Good point about communism and I absolutely agree! Yes, I think we could put the cold war in the same category as religious wars, because it was a war over competing ideologies. But again, the ideologies concerned (communism and capitalism) are exclusive ideologies in that they do not allow space for the other. In real life, most societies take a middle path between the two ideologies, incorporating both capitalistic and socialistic elements. But during the cold war, those ideologies were polarized and used to justify a lot of unnecessary violence (the Vietnam war, for one).
Thao is offline  
#20 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 05:59 PM
 
genifer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: In a land, far far away...
Posts: 1,223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Im gonna throw something silly out there.... What if we started a thread about the connection between Potato pealers and violence. Tubers and violence... ...Marriage and violence. Or knives and violence? teens and violence? Men and violence.

The way I see it is that violence is violence from the bottom of the spectrum of human existance to the very top end. I do have a hard time wording exactly what I am trying to say sometimes. I guess I dont understand why we choose to ponder the phenomenon of violence as it correlates to religion as if it is the most horrid and exclusive kind of violence. Truely it is horrid, but violence is violence and it is simply rampant thru out every single society from top to bottom. People are violent. What makes this kind of violence so special? I guess I wonder why we are so aghast at religious violence when violence is all around. To me there is absolutely no difference whatsoever. I guess Im wondering what the point is in discussing it? What are we trying to discover? Why do we marvel that people kill each other and war with each other?

My observation is that we are simply a blood thirsty lot, us humans. Right down to the depths of our hearts. We love but we also hate. If we want to talk about violence and religion I think we need to get to be honest and say that absolutely no religion is free of some kind of violence. It is the human heart that is black and full of violence, in any and every form. Are we trying to find out the best religion out there? These are obviously hypothetical questions, I dont intend for everyone to take all of my questions and answer every single one (Im sure some might try...but that would be tedious). My point is that whether or not a religion or faith (or lack thereof) has had major wars over any religious doctrine (or for land, power, etc) if we dig deep enough, we will find that every single faith (or lack there of), has some kind of violence associated with it. Maybe most likely bc of how some of its followers interpret some religious doctrine therein. But also bc of greed.

take a step back and we simply see violence at the heart of human existance. There I got there (the tv is REALLY loud making it thoroughly impossible to concentrate).

I know I have attempted to make a valid point... My hope and prayer is that it made its way out of my brain onto the screen for all to enjoy... .. and that it made sense, of course.

(going back to check out what else has been written...)

Hang on... Are we really saying that it is bc of God that we fight wars? Are we saying it is bc of a belief in a God, a Supreme being that we war? I still say it is not! Its bc we are a bloodthirsty lot. And if we go back to the old testament (my jewish contemporaries, I apologise for any offense in calling that part of my bible the old testament, forgive me) and discuss the wars between the hebrews and their contemporaries... I will say that the problem doesnt lie with God, or with a belief in God. It would take a long time to really get into all that, it would require (for me anyway) to go away and pray a long time about it, but *I* am positive, I am absolutely certain that no fault lies with God. Some may be comfortable with saying that. Some may be even comfortable with saying there is no God. Im not one of them. I am one, one tiny lil ole me, who sees God as the center of my worldview. So this would obviously colour anything I said up there.



Did I just open a can of worms? or contribute to it?

I was really trying to avoid editing this post... but I wanted to add that these things are deep man! If you want to talk about this stuff in any kind of seriousness, we have to be prepared to get down and dirty and VERY deep... man. We cannot possibly be willing to settle for a superficial purusal of ... the surface of this ...stuff!

you get me?

(Im reallywishing I didnt smoke so much pot in college... sigh )
genifer is offline  
#21 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
I guess I dont understand why we choose to ponder the phenomenon of violence as it correlates to religion as if it is the most and only horrid and exclusive kind of violence.
I know that there have been threads and posts on this board that blame religion for all violence, but I'd really appreciate it if we could not bring that sort of extreme viewpoint into this thread, not from people who believe it and not as a straw man to debate against. No one in this thread has said anything of the kind, genifer! In society, we do talk ad nauseum about possible factors/causes of violence -- TV and violence, divorce and violence, guns and violence, etc (although I haven't seen anything about potato peelers and violence, LOL!). Why should religion be exempt?

It goes without saying that violence comes from the human heart, that that is the root cause. I agree with you completely. However, it is a historical fact that some religions are used as justification for war more than others. I'm interested in exploring this phenomenon, talking about why that is. I'm not doing it to prove that Buddhism is the "best" religion, I'll say again that I don't think Buddhism is better than any other religions. The Abrahamic religions have some strengths which Buddhism lacks IMO, in particular accessibility and a strong drive to change the world.

As for why I want to discuss it... well, I do feel quite strongly that exclusivity in anything (religion, ideology, maybe even potato peelers!) carries a potential for violence. However I'm well aware of confirmation bias and that I may only be seeing what I want to see. If I just keep it inside, or only talk about it with people who think like I do, I will never be able to confirm or disprove this belief (to the extent it CAN be confirmed or disproved, which may be impossible!). I have huge respect for the people on this board and can't think of anywhere better to test it out. I totally understand if this conversation is not your bag of tea, but I've already learned some new things here and would like to learn more.
Thao is offline  
#22 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 11:05 PM
 
smeisnotapirate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Posts: 5,852
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Ok, Thao, but then WW2 was also a religious war - it was motivated on both sides by a belief that G-d was on THEIR side. Hitler was convinced that both the Bible and Nostradamus predicted his success, and the Allies felt the same. Check out references to the antichrist throughout WW2.

Sara caffix.gif, Keith 2whistle.gif, Toby 6/08superhero.gif, Nomi 4/10blahblah.gif, Mona 1/12 hammer.gif

 

Mama of three, lover, student rabbi, spoonie, friend, musician, narcoleptic, space muffin, pretty much a dragon. Crunchy like matzoh.

smeisnotapirate is offline  
#23 of 63 Old 10-08-2009, 11:21 PM
 
lilyka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Posts: 18,301
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
We also need to keep in mind that many "religous wars" are really cultural wars having nothing to do with God but more national lines drawn based on religous heritage (often by people who have no real connection to the faith). I have friends who were involved in an ugly war that to every one seemed to be a religous war. but for generations the land had been controlled by communist athiestic governments. Neither the Muslims or the Christians worshiped anyone or believed in any God. Muslim and Christian had come to mean their nationality and heritage in a country with ever changing leadership and boarders. it had nothing to do with God or religon. it was about ethnic lines. not religon. but those ethnic lines were drawn according to which faith their ancestors aligned with long before the communist came in. (i have to wonder if people got a long better before that. when they were too busy worshipping to fight each others....)

it seems like many religous wars are the result of that sort of thinking.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

lilyka is offline  
#24 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 01:36 AM
 
Sailor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: CA
Posts: 2,535
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Well, what about violent events that weren't wars? For instance, take a look at the history of the Catholic Church. MILLIONS died in the inquisition. Some of them were political, and a lot of them were people who didn't believe in the Catholic religion. But, it was definitely a campaign against the beliefs of others, and "pro-Catholicism."

Say, back in the day, the Catholic Church had a policy of "this is what we believe, but it's OK for others to have their beliefs." Something like the inquisition wouldn't have occurred, as they would have no justification to kill those whose beliefs didn't agree with them.

Then there were the Crusades. Though, one can argue a political point for that too, I suppose.

Btw, I'm not picking on the Catholic Church - it's just the religion in which I was raised in, so I know it and it's history best.

I actually think ANY ideology, religion, or political system that believes that they have exclusive truth is a dangerous one. And that, for me, includes atheists who believe they have the corner market on truth.

It is VERY easy to use such a belief in exclusive truth as a justification for violence. It's been done throughout history, and is still being done. America goes to other countries in the name of democracy because they believe democracy is the ONLY way to run a country. Whether that is the real reason they go into the countries or not is another story. But, they use the exclusive belief idea as justification for violence.

A person or group of people or ideology that does not hold the exclusive truth idea is a lot less dangerous. They can't justify their violence via their beliefs, as their beliefs are all inclusive.

First special delivery - April 2010 :
Sailor is offline  
#25 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 03:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
Ok, Thao, but then WW2 was also a religious war - it was motivated on both sides by a belief that G-d was on THEIR side. Hitler was convinced that both the Bible and Nostradamus predicted his success, and the Allies felt the same. Check out references to the antichrist throughout WW2.
I tried googling it, but didn't come up with much except that Bonhoeffer and some American spiritualist thought that Hitler was the antichrist. And that Hitler himself was a Christian who believed that killing Jews was the work of the Lord .

The Holocaust is clear example of religious violence, but I'm still not sure about the war. Sure, both sides believed that God was on their side. Christians generally believe that God is with them when they go to work too, and might believe that God was at their side helping them do particularly well in a business presentation. But it doesn't make those activities religiously-motivated or justified, like, say, going to church or tithing. To me there is a qualitative difference between those Buddhist monks threatening to burn down a Christian church (religious violence) or ancient Jews conquering other tribes on Yahweh's orders (religious violence) compared to violence that is ostensibly for other purposes (lebensraum, in the case of Hitler's invasions of neighboring countries) but with an assumption that God is with you.

You are right, though, that the concept of "religious war" is hard to define.
Thao is offline  
#26 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 05:26 AM
 
genifer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: In a land, far far away...
Posts: 1,223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Ok, I understand fully what your wanting to discuss. I get it. Im looking way back to the origins of Christianity for a mo. I found an interesting article and just purused it a bit and it got me thinking. Im not sure if we can answer this question so easily tho. I think its a bit tricky and might go deeper then a surface look at things.

Im going to ramble a bit here... forgive me.

In the Beginning.... lets say, we had the roman empire. That culture worshipped many gods, and was generally tolerant of an individual's right to believe in whatever god or gods they wanted. Obviously this sort of religion goes waaaay back further then the Roman empire, and monotheistic religions do as well, but for the sake of keeping this reletively short, and not wanting to go into the history of Judaism... yet, I just wanted to start with the beginning of Christianity... bc thats how my brain works... and maybe Im typing all this out here for my own sake, to help me understand all this better (my mind would race if I didnt 'get this down'). But the Roman empire also thought that the Emporer was divine, didnt they, and did conquer 'In the Name of Ceasar' didnt they? Christianity, in its beginnings was an oppressed and persecuted faith... When and why did it turn so ugly? (Ive not gotten that far yet).

Buddhism, from my understanding, doesnt necessarily worship any exclusive god, and doesnt believe there is a creator god... but the god within(?). Thats the way I heard one buddhist put it.

What about buddhism and suffering? Am I right in guessing that buddhism is a religion that seeks to put an end to suffering. Is that an ultimate goal? This is what Im getting in the little bit of study on buddhism Im able to do at the moment. If this is so, then perhaps this goes a long way in answering the original question. If that is the case then war, on a grand scale would cause much suffering, and so somehow, they've managed to avoid it on a grand scale.

Now, as a christian, my understanding is that suffering is actually helpful to human existance. However that may sound, and perhaps someone else could elaborate a bit further, from my understanding suffering, pain, etc isnt necessarily a bad thing. And perhaps this may explain why christians, muslims (I dont know about jews) are more prone to go ahead and take the next step, why they find it easy (generally speaking) to war, bc they arent as worried about the pain and suffering it may cause, they are thinking of the 'greater good'. Im not saying its right, or that I personally, as a christian subscribe to going that far, stretching the 'usefullness' of suffering to extend to fighting for or defending God.

Now, that reasoning, to me is an excuse kings will have used to justify, an underlying, almost unmentionable mentality, as if they dont understand it in themselves, cant see it. But I can see how it easily lends to war on a grand scale. The real reason would be, imho, self righteousness, greed, manipulation, human ego and a willingness of followers to not question these things... follow like sheep and not consider who they are really answering to.

Is that clear as mud?
genifer is offline  
#27 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 08:53 AM
 
ursusarctos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,498
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
The Jewish wars in Exodus were wars over land, and very much carried out in the name of Yahweh (Yahweh gave them the land and commanded them to eradicate the local gods) so I classify that as a religious war. [...]

The crusades are another classic example of wars over land but justified by religion. The rallying cry was to take back Jerusalem, not to convert the infidel. Whatever the motivations of the kings that prosecuted the war, it was sold to their people as a religious war [...]

To me, the wars in Exodus were "religious wars" because they were specifically fought in the name of Yahweh and the antipathy towards the local gods of the lands they conquered is made very clear (altars torn down, etc).
Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
And if we go back to the old testament (my jewish contemporaries, I apologise for any offense in calling that part of my bible the old testament, forgive me) and discuss the wars between the hebrews and their contemporaries... I will say that the problem doesnt lie with God, or with a belief in God.
Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
But I can see how it easily lends to war on a grand scale. The real reason would be, imho, self righteousness, greed, manipulation, human ego and a willingness of followers to not question these things... follow like sheep and not consider who they are really answering to.
The wars in the OT are recorded as being sanctioned by God. God giving the tribes of Israel their homeland "back" from the other tribes who lived there. The accounts are brutal.
What I suspect is that "God told me so" was the excuse the leaders used to go get some land. I personally don't believe that God would sanction or encourage such brutal slaughter and enslavement, no matter how chosen his people were. I think the people who wrote the OT thought that God was on their side when they won battles, and wrote that into the OT - "see, God was behind this all". The OT books are the POV of the victors of a long, drawn-out conflict for land. Of course they are going to cite divine justice when they are victorious, just like every other culture in the area at the time (and many around the world throughout history and today). If the other side had won, they would probably have said it was the will of God too.
I think the same kind of use of the name of God is what was going on with the Crusades. They were wars for land and power, couched in religious terms. "God said we should" is a very powerful motivator for people to follow in actions that may be difficult, brutal and unjust to others. Especially since people already have tendencies towards greed, cruelty, self-righteousness, etc. etc.
I do think it is more difficult to couch a war in religious terms if your religion expressly forbids killing and violence. However, this does not mean that other reasons cannot be found for wars - honor, justice, the greater good, revenge, cultural superiority complex, etc. In historically Buddhist countries there was plenty of violence and warfare - it just wasn't couched in religious terms to my knowledge.
So I don't think that any one religion leads people to be more warlike. I do think that some religions may be more easily used by power hungry people to justify war (which would have taken place under a different pretext if the religion did not allow war). Which may result in some religions appearing to have justified more warfare.

Me treehugger.gif and DH caffix.gif and sweet baby DD heartbeat.gif born 08/2011.

ursusarctos is offline  
#28 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 09:03 AM
 
ursusarctos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,498
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hold on a second though... The 10 commandments expressly prohibit killing. It doesn't get much more explicit than "thou shalt not kill"... So theoretically it shouldn't be any easier to manipulate i.e. Christianity to justify a war than to manipulate Buddhism to justify a war, right?
Oh but wait... now Wikipedia says that it's actually "you shall not murder" and only the Catholics translate it as "kill". Confused...

Me treehugger.gif and DH caffix.gif and sweet baby DD heartbeat.gif born 08/2011.

ursusarctos is offline  
#29 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 09:31 AM
 
genifer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: In a land, far far away...
Posts: 1,223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
I will say that the problem doesnt lie with God, or with a belief in God.
See, this is where it gets sticky and complicated and very uneasy to unravel imho. And it is absolutely impossible (for me, ime) to discuss these things with people who dont believe there is a God.

At the risk of sounding.. whatever it sounds to others... I will respectfully disagree with a lot of what you said, tho. To 'get into it' would require that I go onto 'defend' my God, and I dont think its in my power to do so. I can completely see why, on the surface of things, it looks as you described ursusarctos, which is why I kept saying it would require us to look really deep into these things. Again, I dont think its even remotely possible for one outside of the faith to understand why someone on the inside believes what I believe about God and how we understand those verses.
genifer is offline  
#30 of 63 Old 10-09-2009, 10:35 AM
 
ursusarctos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,498
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Again, I dont think its even remotely possible for one outside of the faith to understand why someone on the inside believes what I believe about God and how we understand those verses.
I can accept that. Obviously my opinion is coming from the pov of someone outside of Christianity, which means that my relationship to the Bible is completely different from that of a Christian (of which there are many different types/interpretations as well).
I am curious though, what does someone on the inside as you said believe about God (pertaining to this discussion) and how are those verses understood?
I had understood you to be pretty much saying the same thing - religion doesn't lead to war in itself, humans just fight because of their own badness (aggressiveness, cruelty, self-righteousness, desire for land/power, etc.) and tend to use religion (or other absolute belief systems like Communism) as an excuse.

Me treehugger.gif and DH caffix.gif and sweet baby DD heartbeat.gif born 08/2011.

ursusarctos is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off