Religion as a cause of violence
I listen to an interesting Podcast
today, a lecture by Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor
on the topic of Religion and Violence.
As a result, I've come to a slight softening in my opinion of religion as a root cause of violence and shifted the blame a little deeper.
If this topic is of interest to you, I'd strongly recommend listening to the podcast, here's my summarized thought:
Religion is not directly the cause of violence, however, it has and continues to be used as a divisive instrument, to divide an otherwise united humanity. Ultimately the root cause of the violence is seemingly a deeply psychological need for humans to divide others into in-groups and out-groups, this was seemingly a trait selected for by evolution, tied into our tribal evolutionary history. Religion has tended to be a very useful and effective tool for creating division as it has several unique features: Religions are typically mutually exclusive (one cannot typically belong to more than one), religions are self-justifying, while religions may not implicity encourage violence, they can be used to moralize violent behaviour against out-groups (of other faiths) by framing them as being evil
(Look at how that tactic was used by the US Government in framing the perpetrators of 9-11, "the axis of evil", thus justifying their own war against Iraq.)
The solution: Focus on the common elements shared amoungst humanity. Realize that aligning ourselves on opposite sides of a problem is never a long-term solution. Have groups work together
to solve the underlying social, economic, or other problems that cause challenges in our world.