Saturday, November 27, 2010

Religion Is Not the Source of World Conflicts (Part 2)

Many people, including religious people, believe that religion is the source of conflicts we see around the world. However, what most people do not realize is that there is one thing that all conflicts have in common. And that one thing is not religion but human beings.

It is not religion but human ignorance that causes conflicts, be it at a family level or world level. It is the ignorance that people have with regard to the value of human life, God’s nature, His will, His word, His desires, His intentions, and His plans. This ignorance translates into people’s misunderstanding of the preciousness of human life, God’s nature, His will, His word, His desires, His intentions, and His plans.

Take the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine for instance. Which of the two involved religions is the source of the conflict? Is it Judaism? Is it Islam? It is actually neither. It is rather the believers of those religions who have caused and fueled the said conflict through their misunderstanding of the teachings of their religions.

Yet, when we look at around the world, we can see that believers of both religions can live peacefully as neighbors when in other parts of the world. Case in point, when you go to some parts of Borough Park in Brooklyn, New York, you find Jews and Muslims (as well as other people) roaming the streets, visiting the same bank, and living as neighbors without any conflict. If religion really was the source of conflicts, shouldn’t the war between Jews and Muslims extend to wherever they lived, be it in Europe or the United States? How come this conflict prevails only in Palestine and nowhere else? Is religion really the source of this conflict or is it the people?

A few days ago, on Tuesday, November 23rd, the North and South Korea exchanged gunfire. Was religion the source of this exchange? Is religion even the source of conflict between North Korea and South Korea? If we claim that religion is the source, then we will have to answer the following questions: Which religion is the source of the Korean conflict? Is it Buddhism? Is it Christianity?

We know that South Korea is a very religious country. As such, South Koreans try their best to avoid conflict with their northern counterpart for they believe that they are all but one people. By contrast, it is a well known fact that North Korea is not a religious country. Now, if religion was the source of world problems and conflicts, shouldn’t South Korea be the aggressor between the two countries? It would have supported the belief that religion is the source of world conflicts because, between the two countries, South Korea is the one where religion is prevalent. Why are therefore the South Koreans not the instigators? Instead, it is those without religion, the North Koreans, who are the instigators. Can those who claim that religion is the source of world conflicts do so with certainty?

If religion, belief in a deity, were the source of conflicts, wouldn’t there be war in every nation all over the world? Religion brings peace and balance in human society. Given that there has been conflict even where religion has not been prevalent, we cannot say for certain that religion is the source of conflicts we see around the world. It is humanity rather than religion that is the source of conflicts.

I am in no way ignoring the fact that people have used religion to start and fuel conflicts. My point is that those who have done so acted on their misunderstanding which was caused by their ignorance of their own value, the value of others, and the nature of God, His will, His word, His desires, His intentions, and His plans.

Religion is not the source of world conflicts; people are.

Enjoy your holidays!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Religion Is Not the Source of World Conflicts

It is a strong belief of mine that religion is not the source of the conflicts we see in the world; people are. And I really hope that more people will embrace this understanding so as to give to religion the consideration it deserves.

Although the representatives of all the major religions are involved in a war or two, none of these religions teaches violence as the solution to disagreement or death of innocents as an answer to injustice. Any use of force as a solution is not a precept of any major religion but an expression of a serious misunderstanding on the part of believers. This is true for all of these major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

How many believers does each of these major religions have? What fraction of these believers promotes the unthinkable? How can it be concluded that religion rather than people is the source of world conflict when it is only the minority of believers that spread terror? Why are people so keen to sullying the reputation of religion? Who benefits when religion is demonized? Shouldn’t the majority of believers be conflict lovers if religion was the source of world conflicts? Think about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My take on Bill Maher’s documentary -- Religulous

Today, my wife and I watched Bill Maher’s Religulous. It is a thought provoking documentary, to say the least. Just like other critics of religions, Bill Maher believes that religion is the source of all, if not most of, the world problems. It still surprises me that people fail to distinguish human responsibility from what religion offers.

I however agree with Bill Maher that all the religious scriptures we hold dear have been written by human beings. Hence, we cannot blindly affirm that they are flawless. This is a strong statement to make, but, truth be told, it was men’s minds and hands that scribed whichever revelation or recollection of spiritual experiences they have had; not God Himself.

Religulous is a documentary that uses a non-religious approach to confront religiosity. Bill Maher basically contends that when religious people become fanatics, stop thinking rationally, religion can become a destructive force. So he calls on rational people, those who are not blinded by religion, to come out of hiding and help right the wrong caused by religion.

Bill Maher uses his background and know-how of a comedian and journalist to push interviewees to the brim, make them uncomfortable (probably unintentionally), surprise them with some faith challenging questions, and, from time to time, relax them with a joke or two.

It is a good documentary that I recommend to anyone who has an open mine, for it really got me thinking.

(Check out the trailer below)