Student - B.E - computer Science and Engineering,

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Will the absence of Religion make the world more peaceful ?

One of my aunts who is an atheist insisted that the absence of Religion will make the world peaceful but according to my observations people always seem to associate themselves into some group and drift away from other communities if you may say so. For example: I live in India where each state has their own language thereby a separation is created by language and there are also people who dissociate themselves from other people based on looks, accent, tastes, preferences etc. So, do you really think that the absence of religion will make the world more peaceful?

  • Dec 4 2012: More peaceful? Maybe. Peaceful? No.
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    Dec 4 2012: I don't believe that religion is the reason that the world is not a peace now. I believe that the absence of ignorance, fear, greed, deceit, and arrogance will make the world more peaceful. Although these qualities exist in what people believe, they are not limited to religion.

    You have noted that some people dissociate with others who are different. You are getting at the heart of the matter. Religion united people. The same power that united them, set them at odds with competitive groups because life itself is competitive. This is a herd mentality which exists in many religions. Herd mentality arises from the pressures of survival. When people are dying for lack of needs or reasons unknown, people will compete against each other to secure life for their own people. Because religion is a uniting factor, leaders often use it to motivate their people to aggression.

    Will getting rid of religion eliminate the pressures of survival? Only if religion is preventing people from meeting their needs. There are some beliefs in religion that are suppressive, and therefore, counterproductive to growth. These need to be addressed. But there are also some beliefs in religion that are comforting, inspirational, and enlightening. Because of this, the absence of religion may have negative as well as positive consequences.

    As one who nearly became an atheist, I can say that religious beliefs divided my family. I can also say that they are often at odds with science. It is a sore contention with the scientist. What tipped the scales is spiritual experience. I saw beyond the common beliefs in religion, which led to a metamorphosis of my own beliefs. I now see a value in religion that I did not see before. I will contend with a religious believer. But I will not advocate for the dissolution of religion.
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    Lejan .

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    Dec 4 2012: The absence of their claim to absoluteness would do just fine. On those religions who do. Less talking and more doing would help too.
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    Dec 5 2012: Some of the most objectionable people I've had the misfortune to know, have been devoutly committed to a religion of some sort. I find this to be an extraordinary, dissonant mix of faith purporting to be peaceful, juxtaposed to actual ungodly behaviour of those religion's adherents.

    The only explanations I can offer are that:

    - Religion has become a useful foil to mask bad behaviour.

    - Religious scriptures have been commandeered as political manifestos to achieve global political ends, such as fighting wars in the name of God, and for justifying inappropriate behaviour in the name of commerce and territorialism.

    Scale those two up to a global picture, and you get what we've got right now.

    Religion on a local community scale could safely be related to truly peaceful, mutual respect for those who hold that faith. Religion on a global scale on the other hand, would not - and does not.

    In my view, this is yet another nail in the coffin of globalization, and religion has probably been one of the major sacrifices.
  • Dec 5 2012: The absence of humans will.
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    Gail .

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    Dec 4 2012: The world would be far better off if the religions that worship the god of Abraham were to disappear. But conflict would not end. Conflicts would be more localized. The three major religions are so large that conflicts engage more people across the globe.

    IMO, the biggest problem with these religions is that their members are eager to accept what they are told at face value, without thinking things through. This leaves them "sheeple", and sheeple are always dangerous.

    Thankfully, Judaism and Christianity are in real decline. I suspect that when these go away, so too will Islam. Perhaps then we can begin to embrace equality that brings cooperation with it. Until then, these religions are tyrannical monsters and a danger to our survival.
  • Dec 4 2012: I think that this is a really complex issue. Most of these "would the world be better if" questions are rather unproductive in nature though. Most of these issues have both good and bad aspects; we cannot make a valid judgement simply because we do not know what history would be like without it.

    That being said, I do not know if there would have been less wars without many religions. There were many wars that did have religious underpinnings. Many of the wars in Europe were between Catholic and Protestant nations. However, is religion the cause of it? It is likely that the British Isles and France would have conflict because of their proximity; they would be in competition for resources. Religion was a major cause of those wars, but there would probably still be conflict even if there was no religion just due to human nature. As Barry Palmer said, it would also be a lot more fitting to say that religion is used to justify wars.

    In addition to that, in talking about religion, one must be incredibly specific about what one is talking about. There are pure forms of religion and then there are the misconstrued versions that people have. Islam translated is "peace." Most Muslims are incredibly peaceful people who want to improve the world, but there certainly are some who are using the faith to incite radical behavior. It would be incredibly unfair to say that all Muslims are radical extremists, so the definition of religion is incredibly important.

    Finally, it is also important to note that religion has also been part of peace and good. The story of slavery and civil rights in the western world is a good example. William Wilberforce, one of the main leaders of the antislavery movement in Great Britain, was an evangelical Christian. Dona Beatriz was a leader in the anti-slavery movement in Kongo and a Christian. Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher who led the civil rights movement. Their actions were influenced by religion. Religion has its peaceful side too.
  • Dec 3 2012: "Will the absence of Religion make the world more peaceful?"

    Yes definitiely. It would mean one less artificial divide between people. There will still be conflict but it will be reduced.
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    Dec 3 2012: Excuse my English as it's not my first language.

    Yes, as history shows that faith and religion made wars worse. Because of religion, people will be ready to kill themselves to get to the heavens.

    On the other hand, even if religion didn't exist, peace will not surround the world, because evil is right inside every one of us. As we have evolved from animals, we still have that instinct of primates to conquer and establish our own territory and people get aggressive whenever someone else tries to pass by it.

    So we could have a more peaceful life, but evil will stay due to the human nature.

    Greetings.
  • Dec 10 2012: Obviously, it is impossible to truly predict what would happen without religion, simply because it has existed in some form throughout human history. As an atheist I don't necessarily think religion is bad, because religion can just be anyone's personal belief system. However, historically organized religion has been the cause of violence, i.e. the Crusades. The point was made earlier that many modern organized religions have been twisted and misconstrued, and are more political and based around public perception than actual devotion, and I think this is a part of the problem. At their roots almost all religions have been about bringing people together, but today they exist instead as a man-made division between people, and this one of the problems.
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    Dec 10 2012: No. I do not believe that the absence of Religion will make the world more peaceful. Man has used Religion as an excuse to create violence. We humans have evolved partly because of war. In the history of man, wars have often been started from poor little excuses. Many religious doctrines are written in such ways that any interpretation is possible. Further I would like to add that I am not a religious person and am not edorsing any theologica belief however, I believe that religion is imbedded to humans therefore it has earned a rightful place. Eg. there would be no need or a place for science. Science partly exists because we ask the question, is there a God?
    Cheers
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    Dec 8 2012: Understand from where you are coming from.......yes we humankind has enormous capability to find reason to discriminate or supress others.....

    However , I do feel absence of religion will give us one reason less to fight or kill each other ........
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    Dec 5 2012: I believe that religion is a more personal thing than a thing everyone should know about you. I think religion today, keeps many people alive and happy, with all of the bad things that are going on and the things that people are experiencing. Any religion will keep the followers of that religion happy and sophisticated. And it is good to experience many different cultures and religions as well, don't get me wrong. I love the world and it's people, and I think that the absence of religion would not make the world more peaceful, because for me, religion gives me hope. And I look forward to seeing my family members/friends and pets who have already passed, because I could not stand to just think that when we die, we are just gone.
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    Dec 4 2012: No
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    Dec 4 2012: Are people who have no religion peaceful?
    • Dec 4 2012: More often than not.
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        Dec 5 2012: My personal experience is at variance with your statement. Actually, on a personal level -which is quite different from the level Mr. Barnabas is asking about- some of the most hostile, mean-spirited people have been folks who eschew religion. As I count backwards through the wars in which Americans have participated I can't think of one that was primarily a result of religious friction. (The never ending Middle East wars are about real estate, oil, and deep-seated ethnic hatred). It's easy to blame religion, including Atheism, for man's ills but I don't think the facts support it.
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      Dec 10 2012: Mr. Long. your question of, are people with no religion peaceful? is a very good one, because it is in those people that we might find the real answer.
      Cheers
  • Dec 4 2012: The absence of war will.
    The absence of competition for each person's share of the earths resources will.
    The stopping of killing life forms, the oceans and the continued degradation of all our ecological, environmental systems will.
    The end of the monetary system will.
    The ridding of the reasons for greed, crime, inequality, poverty, and slavery will.

    So yes, the absence of religion will play a huge part for peace, FINALLY! Something religion has always says is one of its main intentions or purposes, can finally come to fruition if religion would only leave!
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      Dec 5 2012: To be clear, are you saying that the absence of war would make the world more peaceful?
  • Dec 4 2012: people need rules & a system - otherwise would be anarchy. religion gave them a simple set of rules "imposed by god" to keep them a bit in their spot.
    Also people have needs that religion fulfils - partly (need to be part of a group, need for structure, leadership, feer of death, need for an "ultimate" goal like redemption, and MOST IMPORTANT : THE NEED TO FEEL THEY MATTER & ARE SPECIAL - which most religion tells them)

    SO... if you take away religion without puting an alternative phylosophical system in place would by worse. The needs religion fulfils so far would go unfulfilled, people would be unhappy, disturbed, violent, etc
    Specialy if you do it by force - they become martyrs.

    If through culture & education you convince people that religion is bullshit & they chose to have another phylosophical system to guide them (like most atheists today) - then things qould change to the better (like Sweeden or Japan)
  • Dec 4 2012: Religion is a philosophical following; the world without religion is no more peaceful than the world with religion. Religion has inspired some of the greatest advances, but has also led to the suppression of great ideas. I think religions around the world are going through tough opposition, but their purpose is to create a community. Individualism and personal identity are important but people forget it is impossible to live a life of isolation. Religion serves the purpose of building communities and uniting people a difficult task that many businesses and social events attempt to replicate.
  • Dec 3 2012: No, not at all.

    Religion is a rationalization for fighting, not its cause. People inclined to fight will always find an excuse.

    People who want to live peacefully do so, with people of any and all religions, and with people of no religion.
    • Dec 3 2012: This is simply not true: there are and have been many conflicts that really were ignited by religion. The Troubles in Northern Ireland were such a case: the rest of Ireland and the UK lived in peace and relative prosperity and it's not like there were natural resources to fight over: simply put, for the average fighter religion was the reason they fought. Today many nations exist that are so large and diverse they wouldn't survive a day if their populations became strongly split along religious lines. Without religion it is a lot harder to motivate ordinary people to fight.
      • Dec 4 2012: There are an infinite number of ways to divide people into "us" and "them".

        If religion is not available for the task, another method will be employed. It is the underlying psychology that is the basic problem.

        The Troubles in Northern Ireland may have been along religious lines, but nationalism was, at least, an equally important motivator.

        I will grant you that religion makes the job of the trouble makers a bit easier.