Religion and Conflict

Essay by anonymouspimpHigh School, 12th gradeA, October 2008

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There are more than 19 current ongoing major conflicts based on religion. (Trowbridge) These conflicts occur on every continent besides Antarctica. Throughout human history, religious conflicts have taken center stage, with more than 30 major religious conflicts in the past 200 years. Some historians have gone so far as to provide religion as causation of all war. (Wooldridge) But most religions advocate peace and harmony, so why does religion cause so much conflict?One must first understand religion to understand why it brews conflict. Religion is practiced in some form by 84% of people, as seen in Figure 1. (Hunter) Religion is something that allows people to identify with a certain society, is unparalleled in its ability to unite people. People are so driven by religion that they sacrifice their own lives for the good of their religion. From an evolutionary point of view, this is very unusual. Religion has no apparent biological benefit.

There is no sign of religion or anything similar in any other animal, and biologists agree that religion is a uniquely human phenomenon. So where does religion come from?Before answering such a question, one must define what exactly "religion" is. "Religion" is a word has been used in so many contexts that its origin is truly unknown. The English word "religion" traces its origin back to Latin religio, via Anglo-French religiun. Religio, the Latin base, has no clear root. St. Augustine proposes that it originates from ligare, which means to bind or connect, prefixed by re-, meaning to repeat, resulting in religare, "to reconnect." Another proposal, presented by Cicero, is that of re- prefixing lego, which means to read, resulting in relego, "go over again" or "read carefully." ("rĕlĭgĭo", A Latin Dictionary)The definition of the modern English "religion" is not much clearer. It has many definitions, including...