Social Question

eden2eve's avatar

Why is it so common to blame religion for the world's woes?

Asked by eden2eve (3693points) September 10th, 2010

I understand that many disputes, even wars, have been said to have existed due to religious differences, but historically there have been many other defined causes of wars, injustice and disputes. What about power, love or materialism? Many atrocities have been committed in the name of differences or ideologies.

Political or personal power has been cited as the cause for countless instances of violence. Land or resources are a very common source of bitter feuds and bloodshed. Or simply vengence over alleged (or actual) wrongs committed by the enemy. Sometimes it’s just because an individual or a group is “different”, that horrific injustices have been committed. Even the desire for a particular woman has, in the past, caused wars or bloodshed. I’m certain that astute and educated others could add to this list.

I have seldom or never heard anyone say “I am giving up land, oil or money because they have caused so much war and bloodshed.” Or politics and power. Or certainly not love or relationships.

I think that these are all excuses, and that all disputes are caused by human beings, their desires and their ability to hate, and not an ideology or an object.

Why the bias against religion? I think that humanity should decry, even aspire to stamp out, bias and hatred.

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93 Answers

thekoukoureport's avatar

Religion is the reason for all the misery in the world. plain and simple.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Because it’s usually to blame.

Qingu's avatar

The fact that there are other reasons behind the world’s woes doesn’t mean religion isn’t a major cause.

It’s not a bias. The basic problem here is that you can open up the Bible and the Quran and find justifications for shunning and even murdering unbelievers, slavery, misogyny, and (in the Bible’s case) genocide.

ucme's avatar

God only know’s :¬)

syz's avatar

Because religion is often the root of the bias and hatred.

muppetish's avatar

It’s not that religion is the only cause (or even the main cause, in some cases.) The reason I am upset is when I was young and naïve, I thought religion was only ever a cause for good in the world. Religion, as I was taught, was supposed to be about love, compassion, and peace. When I learned how religion was being utilized as a justification for (what I viewed to be) atrocities, it created this pit in my stomach that has never been filled. Whether it was sacrificing the lives of innocents to an Aztec god, invading foreign territories to spread Christianity or launching terrorist attacks in the name of Allah… it’s emotionally wrecking to think that people use what should be something positive and wonderful to cause harm.

So, yes, there are PLENTY of other reasons that drive countries into war. That drive people to hate one another. To sever any ties of kinship for our fellow human beings. Religion is just one of the big ones that hurts the most.

Seek's avatar

Theism body count, vs. atheism body count

As for the others:

I’d love it if we could give up oil
I’d love it if we could return to using and giving back to the land as opposed to “owning” it.
Kinship is a biological imperative. We can’t just “give up” the desire to care for our own without discarding millions of years of evolution.
Humans desire power and status, and far too often use religion to attain it. How many powerful dictators were nonreligious? Name one other than Stalin. I’ll wait.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why blame religion? Because it’s the truth. People who would otherwise negotiate often become quite argumentative when you start questioning their most sacred beliefs.

The root is fear. People are scared that death is the end and there is nothing after it. Religion gives them solace and stories to assuage that fear. Many people are willing to die to protect that.

Randy's avatar

Because it makes an easy scapegoat. Plain and simple. Anyone who kills and starts war over religion has a screw loose, is misinterpreting or not reading their religious text completely because in every religious text, it mentions peace among all people over war. There are times when there is war but it’s not the first option and is left as a last resort.

thekoukoureport's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Ghengis Khan, Atilla the Hun, Alexander the great, Napolean, the Zulu King can’t rember his name.

JLeslie's avatar

I figure if people are going to blame their hateful behavior on their own religious beliefs, why shouldn’t I?

Trillian's avatar

Religion is a word that is part of an ideology. Differing ideologies and perceived scarcity of commonly desired things (Like a strip of land) are the basis of conflict. Ideology is rooted in religion and culture, but conflict is a result of….well, I don’t want to get all into that.
I will say that two people can have the same religion but differing ideologies, so one will happily go try to slay the moor and take back the holy land, and the other will not.
One will strap a pack of explosives to his chest, climb aboard a crowded bus and push the button, another will recoil in horror.
It is not religion per se, it is people with an agenda manipulating the unwashed masses by appealing to their ideologies.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Because people don’t want to place the blame where it belongs…on themselves.

CMaz's avatar

Because religion is about assimilation.

It is not an option, it is an absolute.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with @Randy – in some ways, religion gets used as a reason when other reasons are behind wars and injustices – those reasons being about money or sexism or nationalism or what have you. OTOH, because of the way some people interpret their religion, many people suffer and many people die. Many people do good and just things because of religion as well but I’d be happier, overall, if the institution paid more attention on how to focus its energies into the good aspects rather than waste so much energy on the bad or what they feel is the ‘right and only way to believe’. Finally, I, personally, don’t place all the world’s woes on religion – I place blame on economic disparity and a hunger for power.

Qingu's avatar

@Randy, have you actually read the Bible?

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think people who shun unbelievers, treat women and gays as second-class citizens, believe that slavery should be legal, and engage in religious holy wars are “misinterpreting” the Bible or the Quran.

The Bible and the Quran explicitly say to do all of those things.

Seek's avatar

Genghis Khan, No
Atilla, no way to know, as the records of Hun religion are contradictory. He did however show respect for the Pope, and cease his onslaught after meeting him.
Alexander the Great, No
Napoleon, no (he may have had a utilitarian view on religion, but religion nonetheless)
Can’t tell you about the Zulu king as I have no idea who you’re talking about.

stardust's avatar

Religion is another scapegoat. People act out of their own fears, beliefs, ideologies, etc. It’s much easier to place the blame on a collective group/following than it is to look at oneself and question such behaviour.

eden2eve's avatar

@muppetish @Randy @Trillian @Ben_Dover @stardust and @Simone_De_Beauvoir

Thank you for your well reasoned responses. I asked why people blame religion, and you provided insightful answers which helped me to better understand this phenomenon. Others just stated what I have come to believe are excuses with no rationale. I still believe that people use all of these reasons as justification for their own brand of hatred and intolerance. I wonder, if there were no religion, would they designate a different cause? I think that @Trillian is spot on, and that we all could benefit if human-kind would attribute these atrocities to people and their human frailties rather than ideologies.

I also appreciate @Simone_De_Beauvoir for reminding us that there have been many very beneficial and desirable events attributed to religion and those who follow it, and I feel that these are not appreciated nor acknowledged by those who wish to scapegoat religion for their own purposes.

Randy's avatar

@Qingu Of course. I grew up in a heavily Christian home. My grandpa and uncle were and still are pastors and many of my other family members are involved in the church in other ways such as deacons, music leaders, Sunday school teachers and so on. I’ve also read parts of the Torah and the Qur’an although I haven’t studied either near as extensively.

In the Bible, (using the old testament as an example since there are many more stories of war and “mean” God in there), killing was seen as an evil act and a sin against God. It didn’t matter if it was your best friend who was also a believer or a murder you never met or a whole fleet of warriors. Because the Jews are known as God’s chosen people, they were the main focus of most the stories. In all of them, they used war as a last resort and only did so when God said it was ok with the exception of a few times and they were punished for it afterward. God took care of them and they were to rely on him to smite their enemies unless he told them otherwise.

Randy's avatar

Oh, and @Simone_De_Beauvoir is right in my opinion. Most of our, our meaning mankind, problems come from hunger for power rather than religion.

CMaz's avatar

“I wonder, if there were no religion”

You are missing the point. Religion is not a club or a hobbie.

Seek's avatar


Listing the wars fought over religion and the extreme death toll involved is not an “excuse”, it is a reason.

When “my god is better than your god” or “I worship god right and you don’t” leads to 2.25 BILLION deaths (the most conservative estimate possible), there’s a problem.

Qingu's avatar

@Randy, did you read the parts of the Bible where God commands you to kill people? Breaking any of the ten commandments is a capital offense. God also commands you to kill unbelievers, even if they’re your own family, “without mercy” (Deuteronomy 13:6). He commands you to stone to death newlywed brides who can’t prove their virginity, on their father’s doorstep (Deuteronomy 21).

In war, God commands you to either enslave the city if they immediately surrender, or—if they don’t—kill all the men and then enslave the women and children (Deuteronomy 20:10). That’s for cities not in the promised land. For cities in the promised land, God just commands outright genocide (Deuteronomy 20:16). The whole book of Joshua is basically a celebratory description of the Hebrews’ multiple God-ordered genocides.

So, I’m confused as to how you arrived at the conclusion that the Bible forbids killing. Or that God punishes the Hebrews for going to war. In fact God punishes the Hebrews several times for failing to commit total genocide against their enemies.

crazyivan's avatar

Religion can be used to manipulate otherwise moral people into murder. Money can push people toward immorality (as can representations of it like power and oil), but these people know that they are being immoral as they do it. Only religion can be employed to make people think they are being moral as they kill people.

(and I must say that dismissing other people’s opinions as “excuses” is, in itself, an excuse not to take them seriously)

eden2eve's avatar

“Only religion can be employed to make people think they are being moral as they kill people.”

That is an absurd statement. I can think of several other reasons people (also known as the actors) use to justify killing as being “moral”.
ie: Wars fought to protect one’s “homeland” against those who might be construed as trying to destroy or conquer it.
Killing someone who has their knife poised above one’s infant, ready to plunge said knife into the infant’s heart.
Capitol punishment.
Law enforcement officers who find it necessary to kill an individual whose stated purpose is to kill innocent people who are in their power.
In less “civilized” eras, events where individuals, even royalty, have been put to death to preserve the power of others.
A person who hunts for and kills someone who harmed a loved one.
People who torture and kill prisoners in order to get information from them that they feel is essential in defending their cause.
Leaders of countries in modern times who kill those who oppose their leadership or ideologies.

And please remember that people would have committed these acts, not ideologies. Another (different) actor from the same culture or era might have felt entirely differently, and behaved differently.

All of these have been accepted by perpetrators as just or moral in the eyes of themselves and by at least some of their adhearants. With a couple of exceptions, I am not necessarily justifying these examples, but others certainly have.

Qingu's avatar

@eden2eve, it seems like you’re saying that we can’t criticize ideologies—like Communism or Nazism—because people, not ideologies, commit acts.

This doesn’t really account for the obvious fact that people commit acts because they believe in certain ideologies.

Plucky's avatar

Because religion is purely human.

Winters's avatar

Too many people can’t get over the childish fight of “my god is better than your god.”

CMaz's avatar

“my god is better than your god.”

That is what religion is ALL about.

And not just better. The only God.

eden2eve's avatar


The majority of the individuals who are proponents of any and all of the philosophies stated above have not been violent or perpetrators of atrocities. There have been only a small part of any one group who use their ideologies as an excuse to commit violence on another person or group.

Even though we don’t necessarily agree with an ideology, we can allow them to live as they see fit. It is only when a person is by temperment capable of hatred, violence, greed, or abuse do these events occur. Therefore, it is the individual (or their negative attributes) that is responsible for the evils we have all been so appalled to observe or learn about.

It is the individual, and how they interpret their philosophy and how they act upon that interpretation, who is responsible.

Randy's avatar

@Qingu that’s not what I said at all. You seem to think that I said that no one murders in the bible. If you read my post that was specifically meant for you, you’ll see that I said that people were not to murder unless otherwise told to by God. Here are some examples of murder being evil and frowned upon by God.

Matthew 19:18
He saith unto him, (He of course being Jesus), ”Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Though shalt not bear false witness.

Romans 1:28–32
28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29. Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whispers,
30. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knows the judgement of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Galatians 5:19–21
19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Numbers 35:16–18
16. And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so the he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
17. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
18. Of if he smite him with a hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

1 John 3:15
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

God did at times tell people to kill and murder but unless God specifically tells someone to do it, than it’s a sin against him. Now I’ll show you some examples of where the Bible mentions that we need to be peaceful.

Luke 10:30–37
30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32. And likewise, a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him and passed by on the other side.
33. But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.
34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was a neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?
37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Genesis 15:15
And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

Proverbs 3:13–17
13. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15. She is more precious than rubies: and all the thing thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

Jeremiah 6:14
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying Peace, peace when there is no peace.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ChazMaz Yeah, people are so earnest about that like they know.

Seek's avatar

people were not to murder unless otherwise told to by God.

See? There’s that whole “Told to by God” thing.

God tells the Jews to kill the Muslims, tells the Muslims to kill the Jews and the Christians, tells the Christians to kill the Jews, Muslims, witches and abortion providers… God orders a whole lot of killing for someone who never directly speaks to humanity.

eden2eve's avatar

Or my political view is better than yours, or my school has a better football team than your school, or my sexuality is better than yours, or my country is better, my favorite book or movie is better, child is the most beautiful. Even my scientific principle is more correct than yours. We are talking about human nature.

What’s the problem? We all think ours is the most ideal. Would we be in that camp if we didn’t have a preference, and believe that ours is the best?

Qingu's avatar

@Randy, I think you’re confusing the words “murder” and “killing.”

Murder is unlawful killing. Plenty of types of killing are not unlawful in the Bible, and are in fact mandated by the Bible.

CMaz's avatar

If everyone would just listen to me (God). There would be no more problems.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Heres a different way to ask this question; Since history began suffering has occured in the name of a deity for the purpose of control. So why is religion getting such a bad rap?

Randy's avatar

@Qingu You’re making my point. Mandated: as in God telling a person/group to kill. Other than that, it is murder as some of the examples I gave mention.

All of that means that killing is not ok unless otherwise said so by God which I’ve been saying the entire time that happened more so in the old testament and when God did tell others to go to war, it was because of idol worship, inhabiting lands that were promised to his people or something similar. The times people went to war without God telling them to do so, they were punished. On the same note, if a nation didn’t go to war when God told them to, they were punished.

EDIT And by the way, murder isn’t unlawful killing. It’s a little deeper than that. Murder is intentionally killing someone.

Pistol's avatar


The Old Testament laws you are quoting are not relevant. As a Christian living after Jesus had come and gone, the laws are different.
Jesus fulfilled both the Law and the Prophets. He did’t do away with the Old Testament. That doesn’t mean that Christians have to keep all the other old laws. Jesus made changes in the law and they became “set aside” or declared “obsolete” (Heb. 7:18; 8:13). Some laws were the same, some were changed, and others were “abolished” (Eph. 2:15).
The Law and the Prophets pointed to him and were intended from the beginning to be fulfilled by him.

And @eden2eve to answer your OQ…
it’s the close-minded mentality of humans to blame what they don’t understand or are afraid of.

If you want to be a Muslim then go ahead.
If you want to pray to Buddha next to me at work, go head. I’m happy that you have that freedom.
But when you try and take my freedom of religion, my freedom to live my life the best way I see fit, then we have war.

Religion probably is the biggest cause of war, not because it is a terrible thing, but because it is important to a majority of people from all around the world and most are willing to die to protect it.

And people with little minds place blame on someone who is trying to do what they think is better in their own life. It’s hate, discrimination and the attitude of intolerance towards difference. Wether it be a Christian pastor in Florida who hates Muslims and want’s to start something or a Jihad who hates Christians and attacks. It goes back to the person… not the Religion.

Qingu's avatar

@Randy and @Pistol, Christians in the middle ages thought the Old Testament laws were still relevant, which is why they went on the Crusades and slaughtered the idol-worshiping Native Americans en masse.

I imagine it’s because they paid attention to Jesus when he said that anyone who follows all of the laws will be called “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven, and that he has not come to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17).

Sure, you don’t have to follow the laws that mandate killing of unbelievers—but surely you’re not saying it would be wrong to follow God’s laws, are you?

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu Christians in the middle ages went on the Crusades to rape pillage and plunder.

Qingu's avatar

Also, slavery is allowed in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. Paul tells slaves to obey their masters (1 Tim 6:1).

In Leviticus 25:45, God says you can legally purchase slaves from foreigners and hand them down to your kids as property. Exodus 21:22 says you can legally beat your slave to the same extent that the Romans beat Jesus before they crucified him.

So it’s certainly understandable that American Christians felt they had a God-given right to own human beings and treat them as chattel.

crazyivan's avatar

@eden2eve That was a very articulate response, but it seemed to miss the point of my post. I freely admit that people who are otherwise moral can be talked into killing in the name of God. I did leave out patriotism, which certainly should be included in that list, but none of your other examples spoke to the point I made. It doesn’t take much to get immoral people to immoral stuff.

Qingu's avatar

@Ben_Dover, raping and plundering is allowed by your god. See Numbers 31, where Moses tells his troops to kill all the conquered Midianite men and non-virgin women, but to keep the young virgin girls for themselves as “booty.”

As I said before, Deuteronomy 20 explicitly says not only to plunder your conquered enemies but to enslave them as well.

Or are you saying the Christians were wrong to rape and plunder the infidels of the holy land because they should have been ethnically cleansing them instead? Since that’s what the Bible says you should do.

thekoukoureport's avatar

ha ha ha ha ha I am awed by the level of discourse we have reached. ladies and Gentleman I am honored to read such well attributed responses.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu My god has granted us all free will, so perhaps there is an iota of truth to your statement. However, He doesn’t command us to rape and pillage.
Most of what you read in the bible is perversion of the reality of what it once was. this was perpetrated by King james, who authorized the version which most people are quoting. This version was designed to keep people under control.

Yes, of course Christians were wrong to rape and plunder anyone…and also they were wrong to enslave anyone.

Your reasoning is ludicrous at best.

JLeslie's avatar

@thekoukoureport this is commonplace for @Qingu you can always rely on him to quote scripture when someone tries to argue it has no violence in it. I appreciate his knowledge.

crazyivan's avatar

@Qingu and @Ben Dover – The key to properly interpreting the bible is to ignore the parts that don’t measure up to your personal standards and only embrace the good parts. Unfortunately, only Christians know which parts to ignore and which parts to embrace.

Randy's avatar

@Qingu Jesus didn’t abolish the law, but he changed it. After Christ’s death, no one was to give sacrifices anymore. The way into heaven was through Jesus.

The crusades weren’t based on the old testament. The ten commandments—(which are still relevant after Christ’s death) say that idol worship is a sin. They slaughtered them based off the ten commandments. I’m not saying that wasn’t an over reaction but it wasn’t based off them believing that the old testament was relevant or irrelevant.

And what does slavery have to do with any of this? According to the entire book of the bible, slavery a legit business. I don’t think it is but I’m about equality.

I’ve stated my beliefs on Fluther several times and I don’t mind doing it again. I’m not Christian. I’m basically agnostic because of many questions I have about Christianity and religion as a whole that can’t be answered. You seem to be trying to say that Christianity is wrong which really can’t be proven. Just because you or I or anyone else doesn’t believe it, doesn’t make it wrong.

Tolerance and equality is the key to keeping war in check. Religion has nothing to do with, really besides playing as the scapegoat.

Qingu's avatar

@Ben_Dover, you have an interesting view on the Bible. How do you decide which parts are true, and which parts were falsely made up by the King James translator? How do you explain the fact that modern Bible translations are based on documents from long before King James?

@Randy, Pope Urban II and Innocent IV (IV? iirc) both justified the Crusades by appealing to Old Testament laws. (Also, the Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament.)

I’m glad you disagree with the Bible’s views on slavery, but I don’t understand why you don’t think religion has anything to do with war. I’ve quoted multiple verses from the Bible that command you to go to war. The Civil War in America was fought over slavery, which is fully sanctioned in the Bible—perhaps if Southerners weren’t religious, they wouldn’t have fought so fiercely to keep their Biblically-allowed slaves.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu Simple. God is Lovingkindness. Anything that detracts from this reality is BS.

Althoiugh at one time the bible was based on documents written long before King James was born, when King James authorized his version, he made sure it was rewritten according to his specifications. What is so hard to understand here?

Randy's avatar

@Qingu The ten commandments are in the old testament but like you mentioned, the old testament didn’t become irrelevant after Christ’s death, the rules just got tweaked a little. The ten commandments were still in place though and it was them specifically that caused the crusades, not the old testament itself.

Perhaps if those southerners weren’t so lazy, they wouldn’t have fought to keep them either.

People claim religion all the time for going to war but really, they have an alternative motive and going to war for religious rights always sounds better than going to war because the opposition has something that’s valued.

Qingu's avatar

@Ben_Dover, much of our modern Bible translations are based on documents from before King James.

Modern Bible translations mostly line up with the KJV.

So I don’t understand how you can believe that the KJV “rewrote” the Bible when it lines up with earlier Biblical documents. The main differences between the KJV and modern translations are archaic language issues.

Harold's avatar

Because God is not behind religion. Religion IS a major cause behind war and misery, but not God. The God of the bible established a pure, simple early Christian church, and it became perverted into the abomination that is the Roman Catholic church: denying priests the right to marry, teaching that a loving God would burn people eternally in hell, saying that its human leader is infallible, murdering millions who dared to disagree, raping and pillaging to “convert” in the crusades, etc, etc. This is religion, but it is NOT God.

People who truly love God are tolerant, they accept everyones right to believe as they choose, they don’t murder abortion doctors, they don’t pressure others, they don’t molest altar boys, they don’t fly planes into buildings, and they don’t start wars.

Yes, religion is to blame, but it is a trick of Satan to make people believe that God is behind it, when in fact it is his perversion of what God has established.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu Don’t be absurd. You are just giving the same tired old cliches. King James redid the bible. After he was finished with it, most of it had radically changed from the original, which was written in Aramaic.
You should probably study this reality before just issuing forth the same old claptrap.

basstrom188's avatar

Sometimes conflicts which appear on the surface to be religious if you look deep enough are not. People use religion as a pretext and sometimes the deep rooted reason is forgotten.

Jabe73's avatar

I think we need to be honest here. As long as you have certain religions that claim they are the only way you will never have peace. I think religious tolerance is a pipe dream. As long as religious intolerance exists there will always be conflict.

Another consideration is the way each person interprets their religious views and uses certian religious texts to justify their behavior for selfish intentions (such as power, philosophy, etc). There are many different denominations or sects of each individual religion as well. This is the problem. Religion isn’t the only blame here, there are other factors such as power, greed. Anyone can twist religion to support justifying their motives. This is why religious tolerance will never exist.

crazyivan's avatar

@Qingu isn’t it frustrating knowing more about the book these people are arguing from than the people who believe it to be the word of God?

Qingu's avatar

@Ben_Dover, I’m sorry to be blunt, but you don’t really know much about the Bible.

The Old Testament was not written in Aramaic. It was written in Hebrew. Early Hebrew didn’t have any vowels, and we don’t have many documents written in Hebrew (iirc the earliest are the Dead Sea Scrolls). Some of our earliest Old Testament documents are from a Greek translation called the Septuigent. Other early OT documents come from a (iirc) 8th century or so Hebrew text called the Masoritic text. It has vowels.

The New Testament was not written in Aramaic either. It was written in Greek. The earliest NT documents are from the 90’s AD, and only fragments. Most comes from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Note that all of these documents are centuries and centuries before the King James version. Note also that modern translations are based on these earlier documents—not the King James version. Finally, the KJV didn’t “redo” the Bible, it was actually a pretty good translation for its time, based on available documents, and largely lines up with our more extensive translations based on earlier documents.

It is hard to understate how wrong you are, and how misplaced your confidence here is.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu Hebrew was a language spoken and written by the elite/upper class. Aramaic is actually the language in which the bible was written.
Greek was also a language which was used mostly by the elite/upper class in re a written language.

Remember, most people could not read nor write back in those days.

King James made sure those scribes and monks rewrote the bible according to his whims. If they failed to do so he ad them killed.

It is hard to understate how wrong you are, and how misplaced your confidence here is.

You should really educate yourself on these matters before pretending to know what you are talking about.

crazyivan's avatar

You’re sticking with the written in Aramaic thing? You don’t know that only the elite/upper class knew how to read until the invention of movable type? Wow… good luck @Qingu!

Qingu's avatar

@Ben_Dover, nope, you’ve got them backwards. Aramaic was the spoken “common” language, Hebrew was the written scholarly language.

Greek was the lingua franca of much of the Roman Empire. It is amazing that you believe the New Testament was written in Aramaic. (Though Jesus probably spoke Aramaic)

I mean… at this point I have to wonder if you’re being serious.

crazyivan's avatar

As I understand it, the Talmud was originally written in Aramaic (as were the oldest surviving copies of the books of Ezra and Daniel), but that’s about it. I’m certainly no biblical scholar, but I know for certain that the pentateuch was originally written in Hebrew.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu That’s what I said, “Hebrew was a language spoken and written by the elite/upper class.”

Now I see that you just enjoy going on and on without even reading a word I’ve said. Later…

Qingu's avatar

Okay. But the Bible was not written in Aramaic. Except for the small parts mentioned by @crazyivan It was written in Hebrew.

Harold's avatar

The OLD testament was written in Hebrew (with minor bits in Aramaic). The NEW Testament was actually written in Greek.

Jaxk's avatar

Well, this has been quite a bible lesson. And very helpful.

Apparently wars aren’t started over religion but rather language.

Qingu's avatar

God dammit! Thanks, @Harold for correcting me.

Harold's avatar

My pleasure, @Qingu !!

eden2eve's avatar

It seems to me that the way this thread has developed supports my original POV, that dispute is caused by people who are strongly invested in believing that they are right, in various situations and causes. This belief can be reasonable and rational, or it can be illogical and even irrespective of their own philosophies and ideologies. But, as in this case, it freqently has little to do with the idea that started it all, and not even two people with the same stated philosophy will necessarily agree.

And I believe that the only solution is for people to be tolerant of ideologies, but strenuously opposed to violence and abuse, perpetrated by people, in all of it’s forms. And for society to place the blame (and demand change), not on ideas, but on individuals.

Jaxk's avatar

I think you have a point. It is interesting however that the disputes (at least on this thread) about religion were ideology driven. Religion says kill, religion says don’t kill, etc. The claws didn’t come out until there was something concrete to dispute, the language it was written in.

Just an observation :)

cockswain's avatar

I wish fluther would stop recommending every religious thread to me.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Qingu @Harold

The bible may have been written in Hebrew…but it was handed down by word of mouth for hundreds and hundreds of years…In Aramaic.
Sheesh, get real.

Pistol's avatar

@Qingu I have to say you are very well versed in the Bible! I am seriously Impressed.

You did quote Exodus 21:22 wrong though. It does not say what you said. It says this: If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

Not to mention I already said Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. If you fulfill the law that means you are no longer bound to it. The law becomes null and void.
Thats why we don’t make sacrifices any more. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. We are forgiven by his blood and not by sacrificing animals any more.

You said the Bible says ” anyone who follows all of the laws will be called “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven” I couldn’t find that scripture but i did find Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I think your trying to twist it to your perspective.

Just because they had slaves then, doesn’t mean we should now.
Just because they stoned adulterers doesn’t mean we should now.
And even if Jesus did say, “follow all the laws” (hear me out) That still doesn’t mean to follow those. Take it in context with common sense. If someone told you “go right”, then said “wait left is better, do all that I tell you” Obviously you can’t go right and left at the same time. Obviously he has given you new instructions that outdate the old ones.
Jesus want’s us to follow all his laws. If they have been changed then we obviously cant follow the old and new laws on a certain subject if they stand against each other. So we follow the updated ones.

It all comes down to the fact that there is an updated law that we abide by. Things have been done away with, things have been modified and things have been kept the same.

As for the “slave” reference in 1 Timothy 6, It’s simply saying that servants should honor their masters. It doesn’t say we should have slaves. A slave is a person held against their will which is forbidden in Deuteronomy 23:15–16 (yes it is in the old testament but no where does it say in the new testament that this law should be changed). A servant is someone who serves.

So I’ve poped most of your ideas so far.

This could go on and on and on and on.

My point is war is blamed on religion when its mostly people’s selfishness (for power, money, recourses, etc.) and intolerant nature (hate, discrimination, intolerance, etc.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ben_Dover Oh yeah, I love that – pick what you think is awesome and ignore the rest…makes zero sense to me, personally.

crazyivan's avatar

@eden2eve I don’t think that there was anything anyone was going to say on this thread that would change your preconceptions but it has sparked quite the lively debate.

Qingu's avatar

@Pistol, you are correct, I was wrong (again, hrmph). The verse in question were right before and right after the one I quoted (the laws for slave treatment are sprinkled throughout Ex 21)

That said, I think you are being intellectually dishonest here. You said Jesus didn’t abolish the law, he fulfilled it… but then you define “fulfill” to mean the exact same thing that “abolish” means. The verse I (and you) quoted was Matthew 5:17.

What I want to hear from you is this: do you think it would be wrong to follow the OT laws today? I understand that Jesus’ sacrifice means you don’t have to follow the laws, since your sin would be forgiven; however, Jesus explicitly says that following the laws will get you called “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven. Paul says the law is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). Deuteronomy 4 starts out with God bragging about how wise and just his laws are, and how they’ll never change, and how other nations will envy their wisdom. I am assuming you disagree with God?

You also are using a bad translation if you think the people in question are “servants” and not “slaves,” and you are apparently ignoring all the verses I quoted where the Hebrews were ordered to take war captives as slaves. These weren’t English butlers. They were property you could hand down to your children, and beat to near death legally. The English word for such a person is slave. Also, Deuteronomy 23:15 does not say what you claimed it says, and from the context it appears to be talking about Hebrew slaves, not foreign slaves (Hebrew slaves enjoyed certain rights that foreign slaves did not, such as being released at Jubilee).

Qingu's avatar

@Ben_Dover, you originally said “the original, which was written in Aramaic.”

This is why I responded to you the way I did. You are probably correct, the oral traditions that predate the written Bible may well have been passed down in Aramaic, or at least partly. Also, Jesus probably spoke Aramaic. However, the original written texts of the Bible were mostly Hebrew and Greek.

crazyivan's avatar

@Ben_Dover and what does the oral tradition have to do with questions about the translation and whether or not they come from the pre-King James version?

Pistol's avatar

@Qingu To be honest, I don’t know.
You have raised some questions for me and I have actually wanted to know, for quite some time, the specifics of the laws that, as a christian, I am to follow. I wish there were a book that covered every single law and said “This one is still the same, this one is changed, this one is no longer to be followed.” Unfortunately there isn’t that I know of, nor do i know if anyone could ever figure that out.

I have actually struggled with this for quite some time.

I do have to say that I am a christian who believes that the Holy Bible is God’s inspired word and I intend to learn as much as I can about it. If one day I find it to be a big sham… then I will rethink my position and more than likely abandon christianity. I don’t think it will ever come to that. At least I hope not.

I can say “well you just have to have faith.” To a certain extent I do believe that but I am too much of a thinker to just accept the convoluted messages in the Bible.

I think we all would like to believe we know the truth or that we are theologians of our own faith. Really it comes down to who is better versed. (I think you win here) Do any of us really know anything? I think that is where faith comes in.

I have to admit you have stumped me @Qingu! Toché!

crazyivan's avatar

@Pistol I think the truth is that if we were all as open-minded as you were in that post the world would have a lot fewer woes to pin on religion.

cockswain's avatar

@crazyivan I second that, that was a very reasonable thing @Pistol said.

@Pistol I used to think nearly identically to that as a Christian, and eventually guided myself out of what I view as a great illusion.

“Do any of us really know anything? I think that is where faith comes in.” We know things, but the truth is there is not a person alive that knows what happens after death. There is no way any living creature could understand the entire universe. We’re still just animals. I used to feel despondent about this sort of thing. Now I just relax, accept it and enjoy the ride.

Qingu's avatar

@Pistol, well, I’m glad you’re willing to question the Bible. I don’t come from a religious background, but judging from people I know who have, that takes a lot of courage. I also agree with @crazyivan.

I think it’s true that there are many things we cannot know. But I also think there are things we can be pretty sure of. And I’m pretty sure that the Old Testament is largely an example of Mesopotamian mythology. The Old Testament’s god, Yahweh, is a fairly standard Mesopotamian deity (he’s not even strictly monotheistic). Many of the stories in Genesis are based on earlier Babylonian and Sumerian myths, in particular the flood myth. Many of the laws in Exodus are based on the Code of Hammurabi—a text that, like the Laws of Moses, claims to be handed down by divine powers onto stone tablets. An ancient Babylonian cult based on the moon god had sacred days called “shabatu” that were considered astrologically unlucky; the god of this cult, Sin, is cognate with Mount Sinai and his form resembles early pictures of Yahweh.

Religion is supposedly all about faith and miracles. But what would be miraculous to me is if, out of all the world’s religions, all of the beliefs and ideas that we can study with reasonable certainty and trace their histories as the obvious works of men—even just out of all the ancient Mesopotamian religions—this one particular cult of Yahweh just happens to be the only one that isn’t made-up.

anartist's avatar

Because it inspries zealotism and zealots commit all sorts of horrendous things for their religions.

thekoukoureport's avatar

The only religion that is weirding me out is the Jewish faith and the Bible Code. Hows that happen?

The Christians back to Saul of Tarsus (the greatest salesman ever) have been using the name of Jesus to subjecate the masses. If not for the Roman Emporer (constantine I think) having an eplictic seizure on the way to destroy the christians. There would be no christians. (i know it had to be a seizure cause I had an acid trip that closely ressembeled the vision descibed in the bible).(don’t know which passage maybe @Quingu can help) Thats ok though cause Horus was around in egypt. Who was born of the father osiris and a virgin mother. Just like Herculies, a greek religion that died off around 100BC. Both where resurrected to sit at the right hand of the father. Although christians didn’t recognize the virgin birth until the first council of nicia (forgive the spelling and the facts if wrong it’s quite intimidating to talk in this string but I know i am on the right track) The earliest writings of the bible occurred YEARS after the death of Jesus. Noone in this string can even tell a story about their own life without embelishing the facts, let alone stories that ran for generations about their god.

Most christian holidays are placed on other religions holy days for reasons of control. Christmas. Hannuka (jewish) winter solstice (pagan) Easter Spring equinox, (pagan) that’s where the Easter bunny came from a pagan simple of virility.

Where would we be as a society if the christians had not destroyed the great library of Alexandria and all knowledge that was not directly attributable to god. (the dark ages)

The muslims have been fighting since Muhammed died over who his successor was. One side said his brother one said his cousin and the fun has ensued ever since.

I think the only religion that has not been used for violence would be Buddhism.

I know we got locked in on the word of the bible, but if we look to how it was written then you will realize how this BOOK has been used to CONTROL man since it’s inception. Because if you just followed the words of Jesus we would be living in a utopia.

So yes Religion sucks and it is the root of all evil in the world because it is the perfect crutch for man to not take responsibility for his actions. Like one of you said “thats the devil who’s at work there not god.(or words to that effect) Isn’t the meer presence of a devil fly in the face of a one god theology?

CMaz's avatar

“raping and plundering is allowed by your god.”

That has gone on in all society’s, God or God less. Seems to be a human nature thing.
We just found a way to do it and sleep better at night.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@ChazMaz No, it hasn’t, and the demonstable by any cursory look at a handful of ethnographies. No society has been perfect, but there have been plenty in which rape and resource theft don’t occur. The Okinagans of British Columbia don’t have a word for rape, because it’s never been a part of their traditional culture.

Religion is an intertwined aspect of a culture, right along with politics and economics. A dysfunctional society will be reflected in the mores present in their religious and political beliefs.

iamthemob's avatar


That doesn’t necessarily refute the point, though. First, whether or not it’s all, I feel comfortable in asserting it has been common in the vast majority, in some way shape or form. Second, not having a word for rape doesn’t mean that there aren’t occurrences, perhaps frequent, of what would be considered rape. Only recently in the U.S. has it been possible to prosecute someone for “marital rape”...for most of history it was an oxymoron almost. It was not defined as rape if a husband forced sexual services from his wife. Forced marriages in African guerrilla organizations have been a way to commit acts of genocide while escaping being genocide in the literal sense – and have been a method of ensuring no prosecutions for rape, and return of defiant women as, in U.S. asylum laws, women seeking asylum married in this manner can be considered as having provided material support to terrorist organizations.

The fact that they have no word for it may, therefore, indicate the opposite is true – women may be so used to it, and historically so, it is an alien concept that they have a sexual choice.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@iamthemob That’s why I put the second part of that sentence. There is no rape in the culture. Period. Statement of fact.

iamthemob's avatar

@incendiary_dan – That’s why I went to length in describing the ways we culturally perceive rape. I’m not saying that you’re wrong – I’m saying there isn’t really any proof that, when their traditional culture is laid bare, it’s clear that nothing that would be construed as rape doesn’t happen. It could happen all the time, just not in the standard violent way.

But the main point is that this doesn’t refute the position that @ChazMaz takes – it neither proves it’s not present in some way in all cultures nor does one example demonstrate that it’s not prevalent in the vast majority.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s actually UNcommon to blame religion for the world’s woes… except on Fluther.

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