Introduction

 

What
is the first idea that comes to mind when you hear the word religion? For
majority of people, religion is
a system of certain behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, holy
places, ethics, or societies, which associate humanity with supernatural or transcendental force.  There are
approximately 10,000 different religions worldwide, but about 85% of the world’s population is associated
with one of the four major religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Each
have their own set of rules, ethics, moral values, churches. However, in the essay we will not talk about
religion as a whole, we will try to provide evidence and review, whether
religion prevents conflicts, or provokes them.

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Position A

 

Religion’s reputation is often
underestimated by people, saying that it does not play a huge role in
discussing globally important political topics, nor should it be involved, as
it is a completely different sphere of influence. Whenever the disruption of
world peace is at stake, all eyes are usually directed at world leaders,
presidents, other influential politicians. Many point out the fact that
nowadays most attacks, which result in many needless casualties, come from
people worshipping one religion and spreading hate towards another. This is
their main argument in regards to a statement, that religion is one of the main
promoters of war. But is it true?

 

It must be pointed out that most
conflicts do not begin with clash of religions. We live in a world where corruption
is thriving within authorities, they are pushed to making decisions that
benefit them only and in most cases, the foreseen consequences are ignored.
This gives a spark for internal conflicts that might escalate into something
bigger, something that could involve other nations and evolve into serious
clashes between countries.

 

A rare occasion, when religion was
a primary reason to start a conflict, would be the Crusades (starting 1095),
but even then the main goal was to gain territorial, political and economic
advantage against their foes. Recovering the Holy Land of Jerusalem from the
Muslims was a cover-up for all the bad deeds the Christians have done along the
way. To date, this has been the biggest religious war anyone has ever
witnessed, and will not likely be surpassed anytime soon.

A millennium later, religions have
become more liberal, happen to not rival with each other anymore, and are
instead focusing on achieving the status of biggest church in terms of
followers all over the world.

 

There have been numerous occasions,
when religion was used as a tool of propaganda by authorities to gain trust and
support from citizens in order to rise to power or remain in it. Sadly, it is
still in effect in some cases (ISIS). However, the religion itself should not
be judged for all the gore done in its name, nor it should be justified. Many
examples just in the past century have shown how political extremism. Just
because a certain small amount of people do something intolerable to the
religion they worship, it does not mean you should blame that religion. The
problem is the person, who chooses to step over the line in extreme fashion.

 

No peace can ever be achieved in a
community where material assets are valued more than moral values, where people
are drowning with selfishness and racial negativity. Materialism will not
always fully satisfy the feeling of happiness and peace, but rather regress it
even further, that is why the answer to everlasting peace lies in the so-called
“mental disarmaments” – the values that help extinguish the filthy
characteristics of a human being. Religion does not just provide guidance to
people, but also provides them with necessary tools to reduce their greed via
practice of charity.

 

All religions have certain sets of
moral principles and ethical values, they play a huge role in people’s attempts
of finding world peace, the process of killing the sins that are the cause of
the horrific actions – wrath, greed, hatred – these are the factors that drive
a human person to insanity. But despite different religious beliefs,
religionists should not be hindered, because their main goal is to prevent any
wars from happening.

The real war, however, begins in
the mind of a brainwashed person, whereas the human body is just a moving flesh
suit, fulfilling the wants of that fragile, corrupted mind. Such can be said
about the Islamic religious extremists, who identify themselves as “God’s
servants”, they are criminals who constantly damage the reputation of Islam by
deliberately taking lives of innocent by-passers who happen to be at the wrong
place and at the wrong time.

 

Ever since the
September 11 attacks, the world is still in fear of religious extremism, they
are afraid that a conflict of same proportions could repeat itself. There is
little wonder, why there is a worldwide popular opinion, that Islam promotes
terrorism – and people are quick to point out the dozens of attacks to support
their claims. Millions of innocent Muslims have to suffer the verbal backlash
due to the actions of a few individuals, who happened to share the same
religion – facing double standards, because there have been times when a white
person committed a terrorist attack, but not many would address the fact that
he/she was Christian.

 

Repercussions were felt instantly.
Immediately after the September 11 tragedy, President Bush condemned the
attacks and retaliated by launching “The War on Terror”, but wanting to
separate the terrorist Muslims and civilian Muslims, he declared Islam
“religion of peace”, and received admiration – all of the leaders from Muslim
countries offered condolences and condemned the attacks, uniting the community
against the terrorists.

Even recently, the current U.S.
President, Donald Trump, banned refugees, and suspended most citizens of 7
Muslim countries from entering the territory of the United States because of
terrorist links in those countries. The policy received negative feedback from
not just leaders across the world, but even from American citizens themselves.
It sparked several protest across America, showing support to the Muslim
community.

 

Despite all of that, the terrorists
continued their barrage by stating that all of their committed attacks are
completely justified by the Quran. These extremists are publically no longer
considered as followers of Islam, but rather worshipers of a movement of their
own, which encourages dealing as much damage to the human population as
possible. Their main aim is to destroy any remains of religious tolerance or
multiculturalism – something that is very relevant in our times.

 

 The Quran clearly states, “No war should be
initiated by Muslims, only in cases of defense are they allowed to react. The
Muslims have permission from the god Allah to retaliate if they are expelled
from their home land”. If people need more proof to realize that Islam is a
peaceful religion, they should look no further than the readings of Quran.

 

Position B

 

From the other side of spectrum, religion
might be the cause of many conflicts. The first
human who created god, was definitely smart. Let’s call him “ingenious guy”. He
found out a very practical approach to defend himself from stronger members of
the tribe. He made less smart tribesmen believe that he had a very powerful
friend living over the hills. A friend so powerful that he could make the hills
shake by stomping his feet on the ground. Even though the story was made-up other members of the
tribe were too afraid to harm the “ingenious guy” who had a mighty friend
across the hills.

It did not take long for “ingenious guy” to
discover that other members of the tribe could be easily led to believe that
this friend living across the hills would make their tribe unconquerable in battle with other
tribes. But in reality, the “ingenious guy” was still unsecure, so he made the
tribe leader believe that he had the support of a powerful friend across the
hills.

During the Bronze Age the tribal chieftains
became the Kings of the “ingenious guys” who, in turn became the divine men and
priests.

Without a doubt, the mighty
friend story turned out to be a hoax when people managed to cross the hills and
found nothing there. As time flew the mighty friend moved to places no man
could reach.

Religion became the single most
powerful tool of keeping people under control and even Roman Empire saw that
its culture with numerous gods would not work if they wanted to maintain power
over Europe. In the 4th century Emperor Constantine the Great started
simplifying things by adopting the one single god of Jewish culture combined
with folklore about a prophet who claimed to have been the son of this Jewish god;
this was a wise decision because in this way he would not conflict with Jews,
who he saw as a problem and wished he could get rid of.

He ordered a group of
“ingenious guys” to create a whole new religion from scratch which would seem
impossible unless they joined old records with scriptures taken from Jewish
Talmud mixed with new story of the prophet, Jesus son of god, in the one
book that would be the guideline of the new roman religion Christianity for all
the future.

It was
created in a very short time, and there were bound to be errors in the bible
because there wasn’t enough time to cross reference the chronicles that were
included. Taking into consideration that no one could read at that time and the
sermons would be given in Latin these errors would not show for probably
another 1000 years.

To make matters even worse, Christianity
was widely spread across Europe in a ruthless, bloody often genocidal way. Just like in ancient
times, Rulers and Priests teamed up to keep their people under control. It
shows how well brainwashed people could be manipulated to fight, all in the
name of God and King.

Future
rulers were granted access to the powerful forces of the church and religion, a
force of almost unlimited numbers of warriors ready to fight and expand their
believe of power, that in reality, was in the hands of the “ingenious guys”
behind religion.

Rulers would
eventually die and could be replaced while religion kept spreading its power
and influence.

All
throughout history religion has been used as one of the most powerful weapons
of genocide and annihilation known to humankind.

Rulers and priests kept people compliant
until the Age of Enlightenment
in the beginning of 18th century. The
Enlightenment Age was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and theory, along with increased questioning of
religious beliefs. According to History.com Staff. (2009). Enlightenment, German philosopher Immanuel
Kant summed up the era’s motto in the following terms: “Dare to know! Have
courage to use your own reason!” People started to think as individuals
and soon realized that they were being used and began rising up against the
authorities. But this
time people were fighting wars for God and Country. The French Revolution of 1789
was the culmination of the Enlightenment vision of throwing out the old
authorities to remake society along rational lines, but it devolved into bloody
terror. History.com Staff. (2009). Enlightenment. Retrieved from:
http://www.history.com/topics/enlightenment

 

During the modernization,
and mainly the 20th century, people became educated enough to understand that
they have been manipulated. All the religions
started to lose their grip on people and more and more people left the church.
The time without religion was born. During the late 20th and early 21st
centuries, atheism and skepticism have increased, with falling church
attendance and membership across various European countries. Nowadays number of
religious people is still plummeting. According to the 2010 Eurobarometer
survey, 51% of EU population “believe there is a god”, 26% “believe there is
some sort of spirit” and 20% “don’t believe there is any sort of spirit”.

Moreover, according to a survey measuring religious
identification in the European
Union in 2012 by Eurobarometer, 7% of EU citizens
identify themselves as atheists.

 

If
you think that religion has lost its power and influence, then think again. In June 2014 ISIS, a group which was
classified as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and many other
countries, claimed
religious, political and military authority over all Muslims
worldwide. Its adoption of the name
Islamic State and its idea of a caliphate have been widely criticized, with the United Nations,
various governments and mainstream Muslim groups rejecting its statehood.

According to Ronald Tiersky (2016, September 21) “ISIS’s deadliest weapon is the idea of
Heaven”, there is no feasible negotiation, or no viable way to discourage terrorists as they
realize they would
die in the end. In fact, getting killed is part of their ideology. 

 

Death,
in the minds of ISIS militants, is not the end. It’s the way to heaven or
paradise portrayed in the most elaborate and sensual aspects. In specific
Muslim writings, they are accepted as the truth. Many more of this could be
found in Hadith, which are later commentaries on the Quran that claim to
report, what Prophet Muhammad said on various matters. For an Islamist fanatic,
Heaven is an actual place, a Garden full of sensual delights. For example, take
the famous claim that in Heaven a deserving Muslim will enjoy the company of 72
virgins: This is not mentioned in the Quran. It can be found in far-fetched, hadith by Ibn Kathir, from 14th century,
hundreds of years after Mohammed’s death.

 

In
ISIS ideology, Heaven is a functional concept. To die as a martyr in battle or
a suicide means, literally, immediate ascent to Heaven and the beginning of
life in Paradise. The idea of Heave and the vision of Paradise, is ISIS’s
secret weapon, the source of willingness for terrorists to fight to the end.
Convincing fighters that Paradise is real.

 

ISIS
ideology convinces newly recruited fighters that martyrdom means that ‘they
would get to Heaven faster.’ Similar to this was the explanation of brutal
violence in newly conquered cities and towns during Syrian Civil War, the beheadings, executions or the drowning of
women who refused to become sex slaves — is justified because ‘more violent
methods now means fewer injuries later.’ But the depth of ideological belief in
the organization as a whole cannot be left underestimated. Tiersky, R. (2016,
September 21). “ISIS’s deadliest weapon is the idea of Heaven”.
Retrieved December 15, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/isiss-deadliest-weapon-is_b_12087084.html

 

Synthesis

 

In both parts of the essay, we
tried to highlight the influence that religion has upon people, and that
sometimes it is incredibly easy to step over boundaries, set by moral values. Our
main example was Islam, because the most recent conflicts were associated with
individuals, worshiping this religion.

 

Our first position states that it
is not the religion’s fault a certain person chooses to step off the path of
virtue and commit such horrible deeds, and that the Church provides everything
required for harmony to the human’s mind. The majority of people, belonging to
a specific religion, are completely innocent and should not be affected by the
sanctions, caused by just few.

 

On the other hand, history would
suggest otherwise, that religion was the main reason why nations went to war,
or how easy it was to manipulate people into fighting for someone they have
never met or seen. We must keep in mind, that this stuff happened centuries ago,
and that nowadays religion has not occupied the first place in a person’s
routine, and that a person has the right to choose whether he wants to be
religious, or not.

 

Therefore, we believe that religion
does not have major influence in arising conflicts.

 

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