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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  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.

Easy peasy...
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A personal blog by John Walter.

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I think a lot. Some people say I think too much... However, I don't want to be seen as being aloof or pretentious, it's just that I really enjoy philosophical questions and deep thoughts. That's not to say that I don't find pleasure in more down-to-earth or trivial things, like beer and soccer :) I'm happily married with 3 wonderful children. I'm a partner in a technology services company based in Toronto. Myers Briggs says I'm an ENTJ

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