Wednesday, December 03, 2008
There is a really strange group of people who hold with religious fervor the tenet that all war is the result of religion. Adherents to this belief have faith that, if mankind simply discarded religion for reason; there would be an evolution in the world spirit that leads to a state of eternal peace.
The statement is essentially that war is the product of religion. If we replaced religion with reason, there would no longer be war.
I feel like tossing a sabot in the machine.
When I read history, it appears that the irreligious are as likely, if not more likely, to go to war than the religious. Of course, since one finds religions on every corner of the earth; it is possible to frame a religion as the reason for any given war.
It is all but impossible to argue a person away from a religious tenet. Atheists would simply accuse me of framing the irreligious for participating in the various communist revolutions that were theoretically based on pure reason.
No, making arguments about specific wars just leads to shrill noise; So, I wish to toss my sabot at one of the central premises of the argument.
The term "reason," of course, simply refers to whatever ideas spurred people to action. Historically, everyone who has agitated for war has done so with a reason in mind.
As we argue about the reasons for war, one cannot help but realize that, if there is a reason for every war, then "reason," is somehow a common attribute to all wars.
If there is even one war where religion is not the reason for the war; then one might come to the horrible realization that "reason" is the cause of war.
This really throws in doubt the supposition that we could get rid of war if we replaced religion with reason.
If reason is the cause of war; some might reason that we could live in harmony with nature if only we learned to discard reason. You will actually find a very large number of people in our society trying to do just this.
I contend, however, that the statement: "if we discard reason we will return to harmony with nature" is flawed.
The ability to reason is part of the nature of man. Denying one's nature does not restore harmony with nature.
Sadly many people, at this point, throw up their hands in despair.
There is hope. I believe that it is possible for us to improve our method of reasoning to reduce the likelihood of war. The path is difficult. There are many paradoxes and ancient hatreds that mar the path peace. (An example of paradox is that one cannot stop war simply by surrendering as the propensity to surrender invites invasions. As for ancient hatreds, we find that the current wars in the Middle East seem to be part of a continuing conflict that reaches back to ancient wars between the Ancient Greeks and Persians.)
The secret to reducing war is to realize that there are different types of reasoning. There is sound and unsound reasoning. If our goal is to stop war, then the better path to blaming wars on religion would be to explore the foundations of our system of reason and to improve our rational skills.