Q: It seems that religions have been responsible for so much bloodshed and war. Why? It does not seem that religions are ready to face persons of other faiths. How can religions do this when all human life is the same? Is the principle of non-violence not applicable to everyone?
A: You are right about men using God’s name as reason to kill others. Sometimes this has been done by people who have hi-jacked the religious system for their own purposes, and sometimes it has been done by those who are actually in control of some formal part of the religion itself. However, the problem of the case against God because of the violence practices in his name breaks down very quickly. If we reason, “If God is used to kill, then this must be a strike against God.” Then we must also complete the reasoning process to world views that are non-theistic or atheistic as well in order to complete the application of this reasoning on all mankind and across all history. Some people who are against religion, and the Christian religion in particular, have railed against Christians for the wars they have been involved in, particularly in Europe when there were Christian nations fighting Christian nations. They might continue to assert that Muslims seem out to get Hindus, Hindus are out to get Muslims, Muslims trying to kill Christians, the antagonism of Muslims and Jews, etc. However, their conclusion is flawed when they move from citing these things as terrible things to concluding that the problem is religion. It is not hard to see one’s way out of this simplistic reasoning. One need only look a short distance for an even worse travesty among those who claim there is no God as a part of their world view and their programs for humanity. One need only look at leaders and regimes that were intentionally and staunchly atheistic such as Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. to see that the problem a person might have with religious wars is child’s play compared to those who believe in no God. This is the logical conclusion of this type of propaganda against religious wars. In order to be consistent, one must include the democides by atheists and communists, as well as the travesties against religious people by non-religious people in Europe and Asia. This is where it gets interesting. This is where the argument against religions based on their ways may actually turn around and bite those who make this their case or grievance against religion. It turns out that those who lack religion are actually the most brutal killers in history by a margin that far exceeds anything even attempted by a religious type regime. Religious wars are quite tame in comparison to something like the Stalinist regime where 20+ million people were killed in the name of an intentionally non-theistic regime. The assumption of prosecution against theistic world views is based upon the innocence and ability of the non-religious to stand in judgment. When we look at things more broadly we actually find that they have no standing to give judgment, and it even turns against them in that the theistic nations and regimes are much more inclined to temper their wars and arguments than the non-theistic destroyers.
I suppose we could put it this way: If someone believes there is a God who sees and knows all and will someday bring every soul to judgment versus a person who does not believe there is this type of Being and that one can live as one pleases and that there is no ultimate accounting for life, which one would you expect to generally act in justice and fairness? Atheistic type arguments have tried to create the idea that anyone who has a belief in absolute truth of any kind (viz. God) is going to trample on others and force themselves on the world. It actually turns out that while there are a few of these types around, the idea of the existence of God actually restrains men from evil. The ones we need to fear most are those who say there is no God, and therefore will do anything. This has been the testimony of history. This has been the true source of wars against humanity, loss of innocent life, destruction of nearly unimaginable proportions.