Our Quick Challenge question for last week was:
“Religion has been the cause of more wars than anything else in history. We need to do away with religion to stop all the wars that follow from it.”
This statement is factually incorrect. Religion is actually the cause of a very few wars. Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod’s Encyclopedia of Wars is an excellent source on the subject. In their exhaustive study of over 1,700 wars, only 123 (or about 7%) were fought for religious reasons. If you remove the 66 wars waged in the name of Islam, that number shrinks to a little more than 3%. A second scholarly source, The Encyclopedia of War edited by Gordon Martel, confirms this data, concluding that only 6% of the wars listed in its pages can be labeled religious wars.
As one of our readers also pointed out in the comment section, the 20th century was by far the bloodiest century in human history. But is was the atheistic regimes of Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong that account for over 100 million non-combat related murders. These numbers dwarf any atrocities committed in the name of religion.