Author Topic: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?  (Read 1387 times)

Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« on: January 28, 2014, 12:03:41 AM »
I've heard this claim repeated by multiple authors, and though it's tempting to accept I'm wondering how true it actually is.

Something should be said about the tolerance of polytheism compared to monotheism. Whereas monotheists tend to denounce and forbid the worship of deities other than their own, polytheists have historically when encountering foreign gods tended to either accept them as an addition to their pantheon or associate them with a preexisting god in their pantheon. Polytheism also tends to be more flexible and accepting of alternative interpretations, and less dogmatic than monotheism.

But is it really true that there have been no religiously-motivated wars in history that didn't involve a monotheistic sect? Keeping in mind that no war has ever had a single cause and a primarily political war could still have a religious factor to it or vice versa, do you think this statement is factful?

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 12:34:28 AM »
No I do not. Many warlike Native American tribes raided each other over religious differences, and that's a fairly tame example. Other warlike polytheistic civilizations include the Aztecs, the Mongols, the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Japanese, just to name a few.
"We must respect the other fellow\'s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
 -- H. L. Mencken

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 01:29:35 AM »
the Greeks, Myceneans, Babylonians and Romans were polytheistic. Don't think anyone would consider them essentially peaceful. Don't know about the Mongols, but they were not Islamic.

Offline darsenfeld

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 05:29:06 PM »
The Romans didn't necessarily start wars based on religion.  Neither did the Mongols or the Greeks.  

Though religion is bollocks and a tool to humanise Godly ends and God doesn't exist, war is human.  If chimpanzees can go to war, lions have inter-pride conflicts, even dolphins have inter-pod conflicts, then it figures war/conflict is inherent.  I'd imagine homo erectus and heidelbergensis had wars against rival bands, and religion is just a pretext/excuse for war.
consistency is for dopes....

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2014, 08:11:57 PM »
Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?

Does it matter?

Does it matter whether you're screwed by one god or many gods?

Reminds of me the blaze of public debates worldwide about whether human activity is or isn't the cause of global warming...

Who the f...k cares what the cause of global warming is! We can't undo it anyway. So instead of wasting all that time and debating energy on trying to find an answer that doesn't solve the problem let's redirect that energy into actually dealing with the problem. How? By adaptation of course! As good Darwinians do. Same with the Japanese martial art judo. 'The reed bends with the storm, but doesn't break'. A.k.a. going with the flow, and exploiting opportunities.

Apply that to religions. All of them. Monotheistic, polytheistic, or dodecatheistic for all I care. Hit 'm where it hurts. Exploit their weaknesses. It's about time. They've been doing it to the gullible for tens of thousands of years.

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2014, 02:34:37 AM »
Shamelessly copied from Wikipedia:  "In the religions of the Ancient Near East, each city state would have its own tutelary deity, as it were owning, ruling and protecting the city. Warfare between these cities was conceived of as warfare between the cities' national gods."  "Thus, while each war would be seen as a conflict between the deities of the warring parties, there are very few example in ancient history of an actual "Holy War", where the motivation for the conflict is itself religious in nature. The prime example are the "Sacred Wars" waged by the Amphictyonic League to protect the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the chief religious sanctuary of the ancient Greeks (First Sacred War 595 BC-585 BC, Second Sacred War 449 BC-448 BC, Third Sacred War 356 BC–346 BC)."

But yeah, the vast majority of the major conflicts in Common Era are monotheists attacking polytheists or monotheists attacking monotheists.  I'd chalk it up to the coincidence of monotheism cohabiting with high technology, but the Abrahamic religions were prone to violence before they ever got the chance to sail the globe and subjugate the natives.

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2014, 03:17:00 AM »
There have been plenty of wars in Asia, even relatively recently, where monotheists would not have been a majority of any country involved--unless someone wants to get really deep into semantics about what constitutes a war
"Observe that noses were made to wear spectacles; and so we have spectacles. Legs were visibly instituted to be breeched, and we have breeches" Voltaire�s Candide

Offline Atheon

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2014, 04:59:42 AM »
The Boxer Rebellion in China.
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 12:28:27 AM »
There have been plenty of wars in Asia, even relatively recently, where monotheists would not have been a majority of any country involved--unless someone wants to get really deep into semantics about what constitutes a war

...or into the semantics of what constitutes a god.

Take Shiva. Apparently he has something like 378 different appearances that are all worshipped. Depending on who's counting. Is Shiva then counted as one god or as 378 gods?

I understand that the gods Vishnu and Brahma also use that m.o. Although they have 'only' a couple dozen different appearances afaik.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 12:49:24 AM by Mandingo »

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 12:50:10 AM »
...or into the semantics of what constitutes a god.

Take Shiva. Apparently he has something like 378 different appearances that are all worshipped. Depending on who's counting. Is Shiva then counted as one god or as 378 gods?
That is an excellent point. I've also heard people try to claim that having a primary god or a city/state having a patron god out of a pantheon is (somehow) the equivalent of being monotheistic.
"Observe that noses were made to wear spectacles; and so we have spectacles. Legs were visibly instituted to be breeched, and we have breeches" Voltaire�s Candide

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2014, 04:10:13 PM »
Wars are quite often over resources or egos.  Religion is the method by which you get the great unwashed shambling herd to take up arms against the other great unwashed shambling herd over there whose stuff you want.

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2014, 09:51:38 AM »
Wars are quite often over resources or egos.

Watch Putin as we speak.

Quote
Religion is the method

a method (but a surefire one)

Quote
by which you get the great unwashed shambling herd to take up arms against the other great unwashed shambling herd over there whose stuff you want.

...with complete disregard for the accompanying death, pain, misery and destruction of billions of bucks worth of civilisation.

Re: Have all religious wars been instigated by monotheists?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2014, 04:35:07 PM »
Mongols were shamanistic and respected other religions (I think that's right, correct if wrong)