Show that there is *religiously* motivated violence

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by wynn, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    There is all that talk about how religion motivates people to be violent and abusive.

    Show that the violence is indeed religiously motivated - and not perhaps politically, economically, a mistake etc.
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  3. babybudd babybudd Registered Senior Member

    Was not 911 religiously motivated?
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  5. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Bin Laden exploited religious passion. The religion does not teach mass murder and destruction.

    I would give as a less polarizing example the sacrifice of a living animal which can be interpreted as something violent.
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  7. Felixx89 Registered Member

    The burning down of mosks & churches over the last 3000 years. Religion disproves of other religion = murder. Read history books before asking for proof, a church burning another church is definitly built on religious opinion else it would be just a house right?

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  8. dumb dude Banned Banned

    LOLZ... Which planet you live in, bro? :bugeye:
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I think that it's complicated. So do you, I suspect, and you're trying to show our atheists that it isn't quite as simple as some of them naively assume.

    I don't think that it does, typically. What it does do is provide after-the-fact rationalizations that justify things that people wanted to do anyway. That's almost as bad.

    Of course, political rhetoric does exactly the same thing. In contemporary Europe, politics has kind of replaced religion in that regard, hence the attempts to politicize every aspect of European cultural and intellectual life.

    History isn't an exact science and we can't measure levels of motivation numerically with scientific instruments. Pretty much everything that people do, certainly the large historical movements and events, have multiple and mixed motivations. So it's an easy sophistical strategy to highlight the motivations that suit our rhetorical purposes, while ignoring the ones that don't.

    The 16'th and 17'th century European 'wars of religion' were obviously religiously motivated and clearly discredit religion, and never mind the underlying power struggle between the Hapsburg emperor and the German princes.

    While the Marxist destruction of all of Mongolia's Buddhist monasteries and the disappearance of their monks into death camps took place during a battle against counter-revolutionaries and had nothing to do with atheist anti-religious militancy.

    Rhetoric can be an amazing thing sometimes...
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Do explain what exactly was religious about those wars.

    There were Catholics and Protestants fighting over who is right about God, the Bible and everything.
    But what is religious about that? Other than the name?

    I really want to know.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    So - if someone claims to be a Christian and shoots at you for being an atheist, you conclude that this is religiously motivated violence?
    Why do you conclude this? Because the person called themselves a Christian and called you an atheist?
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'll be the first to admit the power of rhetorics.

    But we must employ critical thinking and see what exactly is religious about that phenomenon popularly refered to as "religious violence."

    Something isn't necessarily something just because some people claim so.
  13. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Vionlence isn't motivated by an exterior source most of the time, a violent man is a violent man.
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I wrote:

    That was intended to be a bit ironic, to be read in light of the passage preceeding it. I'd just written that historical events typically have multiple motivations. And individuals often choose to rhetorically highlight the motivations that support the points that they want to make, and ignore the morivations that don't.

    With regards to the 'wars of religion', atheists might choose to accentuate the religious aspects in hopes of discrediting religion, while shrugging off the political motives because they don't. And conversely, atheists might choose to describe Marxist crimes against religion as entirely political, as having nothing directly to do with atheist militancy.

    History can be very flexible, and what aspects of historical events people choose to highlight often depends on what points they hope to make.

    The recently reincarnated Wynn writes:

    You said it yourself, "There were Catholics and Protestants fighting over who is right about God, the Bible and everything". That sounds awfully religious to me.

    Obviously that kind of answer doesn't satisfy you. I don't know why it doesn't, so perhaps you need to explain your dissatisfaction a bit more.

    As for me, I think that there were lots of motivating forces at work in the 15'th and 16'th centuries. There was a tendency towards centralization and the formation of absolute monarchies, illustrated in this instance by Charles V and the Hapsburgs. And there was a tendency for feudal lords to resist surrendering their hereditary rights. Add in a growing sense of German national distaste for Roman Catholic power and influence. Factor in that the Hapsburgs were (sort of) allied with the church, and a collision becomes almost inevitable.

    So, was it a freedom struggle against the rising power of a would-be absolute monarch? Was it a nationalistic expression of German identity against Rome? Or was it a battle over "who is right about God, the Bible and everything"? In a way all of those, and in another way none of them completely.

    After all, France was a stoutly Catholic country in those years, but it fought alongside the Protestants against the Catholic Hapsburgs. How could that be? It isn't particularly hard to figure out if you look at a map and note that Spain, Belgium and the Holy Roman Empire of Germany were actually or notionally Hapsburg dominions. Much of Italy too. France was practically surrounded and was trying to keep from being crushed by an emerging would-be superstate.

    There were more than enough secular motives to go around. But the fact remains that in the 1500's, religion was still a huge force in the minds of most European people, and leaders obviously hoped to arouse their people to arms in the name of whatever those people believed to be highest and best.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    As far as I can see, to consider violence to be religiously motivated, we would have to believe that:

    1. The violence is perpetrated by people who claim to be religious.

    2. The claims of the perpetrators are to be taken at face value and to be held as a standard of religion.

    3. Religion is what any person who claims to be religious says religion is.

    4. Some religious scriptures instruct the persecution of non-believers. The people who claim to be the heirs of said scriptures, are indeed divinely ordained heirs of said scriptures. Whatever these people do, is sanctioned by the scriptures and God.

    5. A person who claims to be religious, has no political or economical interests.

    6. People make no mistakes.

    Personally, I do not believe these statements. But it does seem that many who speak about religiously motivated violence, do believe them, at least implicitly.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    I don't know - is it religious to fight over who is right about God?

    For one, there is the matter of critical thinking. We can't just jump to conclusions.

    For two, I have had experiences with people who claimed to be religious that, quite viscerally, made me rethink what "religiously motivated violence" could be.
    For example:
    My Catholic grandmother was quite abusive toward me when I was little. She renounced her Catholic faith a few years before she passed away.
    I knew, privately, a man who was externally very religious, but was otherwise a mess.
    My classmates were Catholics and bullied me, officially on account that I was not religious, but I knew they were beaten at home, or otherwise were in trouble.
    I've read literary books on the topic of religiousness, and the inner and interpersonal struggles of people with it.

    Considering such things, it's difficult to talk about "religiously motivated violence."

    There is no doubt that religious(-seeming) justifications are often given for violent actions.
    But once one knows such people personally, knowing their inner struggle, it is hard to believe that religion had much to do with it.

    We must also not forget that the general population tended to convert according to the local rulers, not rarely, under threat of imprisonment or economical deprivation (the Antireformation).
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Well, there's the ritualistic human sacrifices to appease the Gods in the Aztec cultures.

    And I'm fairly sure most religions proscribe corporal punishment (e.g. lashes) or even capital punishment - which is certainly a form of violence and abuse.

    The problem I see with the OP is that it operates as a false-dilemma: seeing violence as either being religiously motivated or non-religiously motivated.

    Unfortunately while non-religious matters may be the main motivation, the political/economic situation in the country might well be the result of the country's religious background, and the religious belief of the individuals making the key decisions could also be motivating them.

    Are wars solely motivated by religion? I can't think of any that are.
    Does religion motivate people to violence (as asked by the OP)? Almost certainly - even if in a small way that is masked by other matters.

    This is a fairly old argument that what people do in the name of religion might not be in line with their religion... and that anyone who commits violence is de facto operating outside of their religion and thus violence can not be religiously motivated... or so the argument goes.

    But I would counter this by saying that I can be motivated by golf to switch off the television when it comes on. In doing so I am certainly not playing golf nor obeying the rules of golf... but I am motivated by golf to act.

    Thus an act need not be in accordance with a religion to have been motivated by religion.
  19. Pineal Banned Banned

    Or politically motivated as an act against american policies in the ME and elsewhere.
  20. Pineal Banned Banned

    I think all of this is fair.

    Often when this issue comes up people point to the fact that religious motivations have been used to justify various wars or acts of violence and then see religion as causal AND assume that somehow without religion we will be less violent.

    I think this is confused and optimistic.

    For most of our history almost everyone was religious, meaning religion has been a useful tool to get people motivated - along with nationalism, real or imagined external threats, etc. - while resources and power seeking have often been the prime underlying causes.

    I am skeptical that an atheist world would be free of violence, but I doubt anyone would claim it would be. I am also skeptical that it would be less violent. I think those in power will find justifications and ways to get populations or disturbed individuals to carry our war and violence.

    I think this is fair given, for example, the mixed messages in the Abrahamic religions about violence. If there really was nothing in the scriptures to justify violence and following from this lack religious and other leaders could not then justify the war on religious lines, we could then say that religion was not a factor in wars. But that is just not the case.
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    No. I simply presented the topic, stretched between two extremes. Such an exposition can make a topic easier to discuss.

    What I don't understand is this:
    What exactly is religious about Muslims killing Christians, or Protestants killing Catholics etc.?

    If the essence of religion is service to God, and part of that service is recognizing all living beings as God's children - then how can it be an act of religiousness to harm them?

    To say that violence can be religiously motivated, is to either make religion into a kind of political institution, or to devalue God.

    No, you'd be motivated by your aversion to golf, not by golf.
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Saying "resources and power seeking have often been the prime underlying causes" suggests to me that religiousness is an extra, something that people can do without - that even without religion, people would have economical and political motivations.

    I'm not so sure about that. I think religiousness in some form or other may be necessary in order for people to have economical and political motivations to begin with.

    Some notion of transcendence, however rudimentary it may be, has to be present in order for people to strive for survival.

    That seems to assume that a violence-free life is possible.
    I do not think this is the case on planet Earth.

    I think violence - the struggle for survival - is inevitable, it is always present in some degree or other.
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    So you can show conclusively that an aversion to golf is not itself motivated by the existence of golf?

    And by this argument of yours, you're saying that if someone acts violently to having religious beliefs and way of life pressed upon them that this is not, in any way, religiously motivated violence?? :shrug:

    If your only criteria for "religious motivation" is along the lines of "because the religion expressly told me to!" then you are working with a much reduced understanding of motivation - and perhaps you should have explained that in the OP.

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