With the rise of political islamism contributing to some resorting to global islamic terrorism around the globe, there is the reappearance of the notion that ‘religion is inherently violent’, that religion and war go like the automobile and its driver. Religion and violence appeared as early as the Ancient Sumeria, earliest civilisation found in Mesotoptamia which is modern day Iraq, to the Christian Crusade, to the Thirty Years War to the American Civil War and to the present Islamic terrorism.
In her book, ‘Fields of Blood‘ Karen Armstrong‘, strongly suggests that regardless of religion if it did not exist, violence has always existed since prehistoric early human times to this day. However, there is the counter argument from the new aethist camp, from the likes of Sam Harris, Richards Dawkins, and others, who would point out that a majority of mass murderers are infleunced by religious fervour.
Followers of religion, would argue that religious text can be taken out of context. Interpretation of content can differ from reader to reader. Where there is contradictory passages of religious text can feul the reader to choose what certain text fits his perception of narrative. Aethists would point out that the likes of Mother Teresa, Princess Diana are a few, whilst they are outnumbered by the likes of Charles Manson, Osama Bin Laden, Jim Jones.
Supporters of religion would alternatively would point out that more than religion, nationalism has caused deaths over land, property and power. Even in modernity, as Max Weber, the sociologist, highlighted that states have committed violence in the name of secularism, nationalism, nazism, communism. However, even these ‘isms’, have similar patterned religious like undertones which itself can be called religion. You can decide for yourself;
Religion is always good and righteous and it’s actually the followers that distort the word of God, which can lead to violence and terror. Or religion has always been inherently violent.