Quick Challenge Answer: Religion is the Cause of All Wars

It’s not hard to look back in history and find a violent war caused by religion. Skeptics like to bring these up to show that Christianity and all religions are dangerous. From the crusades to 9/11, how many countless people have died? Some will go as far as saying that religion is the cause of all wars. This is a bold statement, but is it true?

All Wars?

The claim that religion is the cause of ALL wars is frankly absurd. It is clearly and objectively false. There have been religious wars, but to claim that it’s the cause for all of them is an extreme exaggeration. Religion is not even the cause of a large percentage of the wars in history.

In the Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, they claim that only about 7% of wars were fought for religious reasons. If you take Islam out of that, it is closer to 3%. Similarly, The Encyclopedia of War, edited by Gordon Martel, concluded that only 6% of the wars could be labeled religious wars.

Violent Atheists

In the 20th century, multiple regimes led by atheist dictators like Mao and Stalin caused more death than any religious war ever fought. I hesitate to respond to this objection with a “whataboutism,” however it is relevant to get the full picture. Religion and religious people have caused wars, but they are neither alone nor the group with the most blood on their hands.

We should ask a different question. What do all of these violent wars and regimes have in common? They all involve broken, sinful humans. Christian, Muslim, or atheist, they all have the same nature and capacity for great evil and violence.

Truth and Worldview Matters

This objection says nothing about whether Christianity is true. Even if they are right, and religion is the cause of all wars, that tells us nothing about whether Jesus rose again. One could turn it into a question of whether Christianity is good. To that, I would turn to the teachings of Jesus himself. The people who commit violence in the name of Jesus have to blatantly ignore his teaching. Matthew 5:38-39, 26:52-54, Luke 6:27, just to name a few. On the flipside, with atheism, there is nothing to stop you or tell you that violence and murder are inherently wrong other than your fellow humans. Worldview matters, and ideas have consequences.

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