Isn't religion the #1 cause of war?

THE SHORT ANSWER: Nope. Religion is often a factor, but wars whose primary cause is religion are fairly rare.

Keep reading to learn more.


The short answer is, "no."

There are a few studies on war that will help support that very resounding no.

Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod released a three volume set in 2008 called Encyclopedia of Wars.

Just so you know, I don't have a copy of these books. That's mainly because even a second hand copy can go for as much as $540. So admittedly I'm trusting the word of those who have read it.

It covers every major battle since 3500 BCE. It's reveled that 66 wars were categorized as being waged in the name of Islam.

Let's represent that with an M for muslim. Here are 66 Ms.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM


Through that same time period 57 wars have been waged in the name of ALL THE OTHER RELIGIONS COMBINED. Let's represent these with R. Here's 57 Rs.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

So 53.65% of all "religiously motivated" wars were waged in the name of Islam, and 46.34% were waged in the name of all other religions put together.

So what about non religious wars. It's true that most wars may have a religious factor, because the majority of people are religious. However Encyclopedia of Wars claims that out of the 1,763 wars, 1,640 were not motivated by religion. Usually these wars are motivated by Governments. So let's put all of these together.

Here's our legend.

M Wars waged in the name of Islam
R Wars waged in the name of all non-Islamic Religions.
 non-religious wars.

M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R R G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G G 

So apparently, religion is not the greatest cause of war.

There have been other studies that have revealed similar outcomes, such as this one done by BBC.
GOD AND WAR

Here is one that covers just the armed conflicts of a single year (2013). As you can imagine it found similar info.
PEACE AND RELIGION

So hopefully we will stop seeing this silly claim come up on message boards.


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