Religious Violence


Religious violence. For some reason, this phrase can cause a prejudice to arise. Maybe you are thinking of the religious violence in the news. Maybe your mind is flooded with the thoughts and horror of 9/11. It’s pretty common for religious violence to impose fear. As far as time has existed, there has been violence. Whether you’re a creationist or an evolutionist, it’s pretty evident. I’m going to dissect this into the two different theories before making it relatable and sorting through this issue.

The three biggest monotheistic religions are currently Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. These three paint a picture of creation that gives a literal creation from God, YHWH, or Allah in a six day period and suggest that the earth is roughly 6000 years old. The Judeo-Christian creation can be found in Genesis or in the Book of Jasher. These three align pretty accurately, though the Koran displays a more scientifically accurate example of what the general population thinks the beginning may look like. Regardless of the science, these three are definitely in support of a monotheistic deity forming all of existence. I would like to add that there are more Judeo-Christian books that aren’t canon that express a creation story that you can find to help you better understand how this creation may have been from a fundamentalist perspective.

As far as the theory of evolution and the big bang go, the universe it dated to be 13.7 billion years old. That’s when scientists believe that the big bang occurred. Within that time, the earth is dated at approximately 4.55 billion years old. Humans are imagined to have only existed between 60-80 thousand years ago. In the science world, we’ve been around ten times as long as the creation story reveals, and yet we don’t even make up a tenth of the time that the universe has existed.

As these two ideas have support from millions of people, they contradict each other. There are Christians who follow the ideas of science, myself being one of them, and many other people of different religions who accept these scientific claims, however, this doesn’t pinpoint violence. Now that we have an understanding of these two different ideas, let’s dissect how violence came about.

In the creationist aspect, we see the first act of violence in Genesis chapter four. Adam and Eve have two sons that the biblical canon recognizes: Cain and Abel. As the narrative goes, Cain kills his brother Abel out of jealousy. This is the first counted act of violence done in a religious context. Cain realized that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but not his. He murdered his brother in order to fulfill his own desire to be accepted.

In an evolutionary aspect, we first see violence when we see the first lifeforms. One animal eats another. Since we recognize that recorded civilization is dated to about 6000 years ago as the bible suggests the point of creation, we can see that there was violence in the beginning. The part where this falls through is prior to these tribes. When humans, homo sapiens, evolved into the beautiful beings that they are, they would have most likely had to kill to survive. Now, I’m not an actual scientist. The schooling that I have is in Christian theology or the study of God. I would like to take a look at the nature of animals, though. Think of cats or dogs. They are very dominating and protective of their “land”. If they suspect a threat, they attack. This is the same for humans. There is no way that mankind in its earliest stages didn’t act against each other and other humanlike animals such as the Homo Neanderthal. It’s in our DNA to attack when we feel threatened. We protect our domain. It’s how we have always been. From cavemen to this modern world, we strive to protect ourselves.

These two aspects give quite a perspective on our human nature. Just like any given animal, we are wired to attack and defend. This is where a moral dilemma comes into play. Religions through the ages have done horrible things in the name of God. Constantine constructed the crusades to have political power and all of the violence, rape, and genocide was done in the name of God. Hitler, one of the worst figures in history, did his acts in the name of God and was highly supported by the German church. Judeo-Christian texts support the genocide of pagan tribes who don’t follow the same set of beliefs as the Jews. Islam has extremist groups who keep forming and who cause chaos through the world. Slavery was done in the name of God. The Jim Crowe Laws were done in the name of God. Manifest Destiny was attempted in the name of God. The list can continue going on.

It’s easy to say that we have a problem. The problem isn’t a religion. The problem is the heart of the people. When I say “heart”, I don’t mean a physical heart. This heart is a person’s inner most being: their “soul”. These intentions are very evil and not acceptable. Out of the heart, we have homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, sexism, and so many more corrupt thought processes. Yes, there are countless amounts of evils done in the name of God, but does that mean that God is evil? If you do believe in a God, I hope you see this deity as a loving figure. The religious texts that we have are undoubtedly writings of how mankind has struggled with God. That doesn’t make God corrupt. If you struggle with religion, it’s ok. I have too. I’ve asked questions like “why would God allow people to murder children and babies in His name?”. It’s okay to ask questions, and it’s even okay to not have answers. We are human and we make mistakes. We seek our own desires and do things in the name of God that are evil. To slap God on our evils seems to justify what we do. Not literally in every, but in the mind of the evildoer, it does.

Instead of running from religion, why not accept its flaws just as every person has flaws? Why not accept the hard truth that life is hard? Why not love the evil-doers. One of the driving factors in my faith is looking at Jesus. When I think of the cross, I think of a God who was personified through this man. While Jesus was on the cross, he asked God to forgive those who had done him wrong. The Romans and the religious leaders had no idea of the evil that they were doing. They didn’t realize that their desires were evil and the farthest thing from pure. Jesus was an example of love that shaped history.

As a conclusion, I want to ask my readers to do something. If you could, examine yourself. How are you loving people? Love makes the world a better place. It takes one person to impact the life of another. It’s easy to slap the label of God on the things that we do. Really examine yourself and ask “is this loving”. I think that the world would be a much better place if we learned to love each other and stand together. This love would do just as Jesus prayed and bring heaven to earth.

May all of you be the witnesses to the world and love one another.

Citations and Readings:

Corey, Benjamin L. “No, The Bible Doesn’t Say The Earth Is Only 6,000 Years Old.” The Official Blog of Benjamin L. Corey. N.p., 16 Mar. 2017. Web. 01 July 2017. .

Dunbar, Brian. “Brief History of the Universe.” NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 01 July 2017. .

“Evolution: Humans: Humankind.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 01 July 2017. .

“How Long Have Humans Been On Earth?” Universe Today. N.p., 23 Dec. 2015. Web. 01 July 2017. .

“Islam Creation Story.” Islam Creation Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2017. .

Johnson, Ken. Ancient Book of Jasher. N.p.: Createspace, 2013. Print.

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