Why do humans fight over religion?  How is that logical when most religions talk about loving one another?Why do humans fight over religion?  How is that logical when most religions talk about...

Why do humans fight over religion?  How is that logical when most religions talk about loving one another?

Why do humans fight over religion?  How is that logical when most religions talk about loving one another?

Expert Answers
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • Great irony here -- Why does religion incite such passions, to the point of mutual hatred? This discussion reminds me of a poem written in the late 19th century, listed below.  The title, Odium Theologicum, translates from the Latin as Theological Hatred. Enjoy!


They met and they talked where the crossroads meet, 
Four men from the four winds come, 
And they talked of the horse, for they loved the theme, 
And never a man was dumb. 
The man from the North loved the strength of the horse, 
And the man from the East his pace, 
And the man from the South loved the speed of the horse, 
And the man from the West his grace.

So these four men from the four winds come, 
Each paused a space in his course 
And smiled in the face of his fellow man 
And lovingly talked of the horse. 
Then each man parted and went his way 
As their different courses ran; 
And each man journeyed with peace in his heart 
And loving his fellow man.



They lashed each other with tongues that stung, 
That smote as with a rod; 
Each glared in the face of his fellow man, 
And wrathfully talked of God. 
Then each man parted and went his way, 
As their different courses ran; 
And each man journeyed with wrath in his heart, 
And hating his fellow man.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This would be better as a discussion question because there are so many possible ways to think about this.  My answer comes in two parts.

First, religion encourages people to think that they are right and everyone else is wrong about a very important thing.  Religions tend to have to be dogmatic to attract followers.  Most people prefer a religion that says "this is the way to salvation" to one that says "there are lots of ways, this is just one that you might choose."  When you belong to a group that says that it is right, you tend to be annoyed by others with different ideas who also claim they are right.

Second, religions often tend to talk about loving others within the religion.  At the same time, they are not always so eager to talk about loving people who believe other things.  Most religions are pretty ambiguous on the question of how to think about non-believers (for example, look at how Christians believe that God commands us to love those who hate us and that God led the Hebrews against their enemies in the Old Testament).


e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a truly difficult question. Religions do often preach understanding, compassion, and mercy. The fact that people fight over religion, however, probably has little to do with religious doctrine and more to do with human nature.

If we look at religion as sets of organizing principles which remove "the unknown" and "chaos" from the psychological world of the believer, maybe we can begin to see why people would want to fight about religion.

When one person says that another person's religious views are untrue, he is also introducting chaos into that person's world. Living with chaos is uncomfortable, to put it mildly. Perhaps we fight to remove the threat of chaos from our psychological landscapes.

This is just one idea and I certainly don't think I've got this topic nailed. Who could?

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Conflict is part of human nature, and religion, since it relies completely on faith as opposed to facts, is often used to justify human actions.  Societies sometimes find it difficult to justify the insanity of war without bringing God and/or religion into the equation because no rational, logical approach will help them arrive at the same conclusion.

Unfortunately, it is also true that the faithful of many religions miss the messages of love and tolerance and emphasize those that can be interpreted to give them moral superiority and the illusion of God's favor.  As my college history professor once said, "Much of man's inhumanity towards their fellow man has been motivated by greed, and justified by religion."

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Religion is based on faith - the inner beliefs that an individual chooses to adopt and practice. There is no logical or tangible method of proving one religion or belief as being "correct" or "true" to the exclusion of all others.

Because of this reality, the beliefs that form the basis of my religion (which I absolutely believe to be true) may not be the same as your beliefs - and there is no way either of us can logically disprove the other. We can choose to agree to disagree and find ways to live and love each other in spite of our different views, or we can argue in an attempt to convince the other of the error of his/her beliefs.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People feel strongly about religion, and like many ideologies, religions are easily manipulated to the benefit of political leaders. So many conflicts that are ostensibly related to religion have much deeper causes. Religion, it seems to me, is inextricable from other social and cultural forces, and among these forces, it evokes the most emotion. To cite an example from the answers above, the development of the evangelical strains of various religions, I think, are not easily separated from political motives, social pressures, etc.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Humans fight over religion for the same reason they fight over all other things. People simply believe that they are right in their own ideologies and cannot accept the ideologies of others. Outside of that, each religion has its own set of ideologies and interpretations. There are far too many (interpretations and ideologies) which exist to allow all people to be satisfied with what each stands for.


accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unfortunately, what is often stressed in religion is not love and mutual peace, but a kind of evangelical arrogance that encourages adherents of a particular religion to believe that they are somehow more special than other humans. This inevitably brings conflict when they meet others who do not hold the same set of beliefs.

frizzyperm | Student

I suspect the answer is that religions do not really talk about loving one another. The 'love thy neighbor' stuff is a small part of the message. All religious texts are full of, "thou shalt not..."

Religious texts are proto-legal systems. The define what is right and wrong. They talk about, 'abominations' and 'sin'. And they proscribe a black-and-white answer.

This leads to conflict.