August 8, 2009

Religion, War, and How It Works

These days, it's the interpretation everyone seems to be so worked up about. Some have decided that the words of the Qur'an justify the killing of the "unbelievers." Some have decided that the words of the Bible justify the same atrocities. Some have decided to forget the whole religion thing and attack those who follow it.

None of these seem to be very good ideas.

I realize that every human being is proud of his or her beliefs. Invariably, every human being has some kind of belief- be it the existence of one God, or many deities, or another God Who is absolutely not related at all to the God of any other religion. Whatever these beliefs are, there is also invariably some kind of conflict. Christians don't like to be told that the God they follow is the Allah of the Muslim religion. Muslims don't like to be told that the Allah they follow is the God of the Christian religion. Nonbelievers don't like to talk about God at all. Everyone else has his or her ideas about how it should all go, of course; but I'll focus on Christians and Muslims since the large-scale conflicts today seem to be mostly between and among those groups.

Religion often provides an excuse for people to do some pretty horrible things. Way back when the Romans threw Christians to the lions, they used religion as an excuse. Nowadays, it's war and different kinds of torture- waterboarding and suicide bombers driving trucks into buildings instead of lions.

But frankly, if religion didn't exist these people would just find a different excuse to kill.

You see, the religious texts themselves have quite a few vague and contradictory passages that can be twisted to mean almost anything; throughout history they have been stretched to convey all sorts of messages. But if the texts had never been written down or dictated or heard (I won't speak to their origins, just to their existence) then both Christians and Muslims would have found something or Someone else to justify their actions. It's a natural human instinct- to blame someone else for what you've done.

I'm not trying to discredit religion. Far from it. I'm trying to demonstrate that religion really has little to do with the conflicts we face today. Because even if we accept the fact that religion dictates everything we do, religious texts could also be taken to mean wonderful and positive things; take for example these three passages:

Remember... the kindness of God to you who were formerly enemies. He has now bound your hearts together, so that through His goodness you may become brothers. -Qur'an, Surah 111:97

...I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The lesson of forgiveness is one we can all learn again, and renew; despite and as a result of the many wars this world is fighting and the many smaller conflicts we all must face, every one of us must learn to forgive. For forgiveness leads us to acceptance, and to peace, and to happiness...

Basically what I'm trying to show you is that not only are the religious and nonreligious texts similar to each other, they're also up for positive interpretation; these particular texts promote forgiveness, which seems like a pretty good idea. (We as a planet have tried the whole crusade-jihad-holy-war thing quite a few times and, let's face it, it didn't work.)

In short: Religion is used as a justification for war. We as humans would find a justification for war even if religion did not exist. The need for justification will always exist but is not necessarily valid... Even if religion was necessarily the dictator for our actions, we could also use religion to justify forgiveness. I vote that we decide to either realize that religion is only a justification or interpret the main religious texts in a way that makes these awful wars finally end. Whether you're a nonbeliever or a religious person, one of those options will work for you.

This world has had enough sadness and murder. And what's more, God, Allah, almost all other prominent deities and atheists seem to agree: Forgiveness is what we should be aiming for...

No comments:

Post a Comment