I forgot to mention one of the greatest empires in geographical area, the Mongol empire founded by Gengis Khan, that killed millions of people because of a total disregard to human life. These people were more animated by greed and thirst for blood than religion. In conclusion, I think that the theory that religions and especially Abrahamic religions caused more war, deaths and misery is difficult to sustain or is at least far from a proven exact science kind of proof. The issue is debatable. Moreover, proving that all religious people are inherently irrational is not an obvious truth that any rational person shall accept unconditionally.
To get back to the main thread from which we deviated: As for the length of war, you attention is fixated on the last 1,400 years. Extremely long wars that spanned 100's of years have existed in the past. The Roman republic and later the Roman empire embarked on a series of conquests that spanned 100's of years. In terms of religion, the Romans were extremely flexible and incorporated the various gods that existed in the different regions that they conquered. As such, religion was not the real engine behind their will to conquer. The only religions that they fought actively was Druidism in the Gaul (nowadays' s France) because of its intrinsic link to Gaelic nationalism and will of independence. The second one (that I know of) is Judaism because of their refusal to incorporate Pagan elements in their religion and their refusal to be assimilated. They were militarily defeated in year 70 after four years of war.
The French and British fought each other for hundred of years. Each empire attempting world domination. The British Empire at it's height spanned all continents. At it's peak, the British Empire was driven by a mercantile ideology that pushed them to fight the Boers in South Africa and defeat a guerrilla by destroying farms, deporting and starving civilians and other counter-insurgency tactics that 19th and 20th century colonizers used and are still using. These conflicts are still going on and are still causing deaths by the millions. They are brutal, lengthy and we cannot see an end to it. As soon as one end an other starts elsewhere for similar reasons: Greed, power...
We all know that the establishment of Israel is for religious reasons. How is this relevant to what a Palestinian Muslim, Christian, Atheist or whatever should do about it? The fact is that Hamas as the secular Yasser Arafat party in the past have selected the use of armed struggle. Yasser Arafat got defeated in Lebanon and selected negotiations which did not bring much on the ground. Hamas is pursuing a combination of armed struggle and diplomacy. Hamas would currently prefer truce because they know that they are too weak to proactively attack Israel. Militarily, Hamas is confined to use asymmetric warfare. Now, I would like to better understand your point of view:
- The Palestinians have lost the war and it is not effective to resist through the use of armed struggle?
- Asymmetric warfare is immoral?
- The losses associated with asymmetric warfare are too great?
- Violent means should never be used to get back lost rights and restore justice?
- The occupying Zionist state has the right to exist because a Jewish state under Solomon existed 2000 years ago?
- It is immoral to send back the occupiers to their country of origin, they have now been in Palestine for 50 years?
- Because Hamas is a religious based party, one shall not fight under its banner even to get back his own land?
I am just asking these questions to get an explicit understanding of your thoughts.
What you are telling me is that the most effective way to get your independance and your rights is through peaceful means. History is unfortunately there to prove you wrong: Vietnam (against France and the U.S.), Algeria against France, The U.S. against Great Britain, China against the various western powers, Iraq against the British and the list goes on and on... The Egyptian independance as many others in Africa were not realy freely acquired. Great Britain simply had not the economical resources to fight wars of independance against colonies that would ultimately gain their Independance, especially after WWI. So, the peaceful independance of Egypt is debatable as you cannot consider Egypt in isolation of the historical context. I have more to write down, but I have to leave my keyboard for now.
I will first start with the four questions that I failed to answer as I missed your comment dated 7:30am on April 15, 2010.
Question 1: I rather not open this can of worm as it will open a new thread that may prove extremely lengthy. I do not mind discussing it, but suggest that we postpone it until we are done with our current discussion about war/length of war...
Question 2: I do not understand your obsessive focus on Muslim pilgrimage, especially that, as an atheist, religious rituals should make no difference to you. I mean jumping into a river or flogging your body, giving charity or whatever should be of no concern to an atheist.
Question 3: Vague question. Please be more precise.
Question 4: Wahabism is the westerm term attributed to Muslim fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia, that is no different from Muslim fundamentalism elsewhere. So what is your question exactly?
Question 5: Many forces are interacting in Saudi Arabia in different directions. I think this is the case in many Muslim countries that are in fact searching for different solutions. There is what I would qualify as a melting pot of ideas in many countries. My general feeling is that people want to evolve towards a religious based ideology, yet evolve in the sense of absorbing democratic principles. However, people prefer not to opt for a fully liberal humanistic based framework. Regardless of the accuracy of these statement, the system that I would prefer, is the system that people select through a preferably smooth evolution as long as we get closer to the rule of law and a greater separation of power, regardless of the underlying ideological framework.
5) What about the Egyptian policy of ceiling borders and participating in people's mass starvation, is that OK for you? By the way the Egyptian regime is to a large extent secular, way more than the United States.
Mohamed, regardless of your religious affiliation or non-religious ideology, have the courage to stand with justice. Have the courage to recognize evil where it is instead of blindly echoing western propaganda. I know of many atheists and even Jews that have the moral fiber enabling them to shout the truth even if it concern their own race/religion/country. These are examples to follow if we are to reach a state of peace and security on this planet.
-- end of part 2 --
You are mixing many issues together.
1) I agree that one should not select to target civilians regardless of which weapon is used. In this regard, there is not difference between using a war plane or doing a kamikaze attack. Note that Palestinians have also used kamikaze attacks against military targets, the effectiveness of which they are best judge, yet, these attacks have not made it to the media for obvious reasons.
2) If Palestinians had other weapons, they would not use kamikaze attacks. Again, I do not support civilian targets, but do not have any problem with military target in a state of war.
3) As far as the Palestinian territory is concerned, there is no reason to accept an illegal annexation regardless of the reason, religious or not. Moreover, the Israeli side had plenty of chances to get peace for land but did not accept at a time where Hamas was not in a politically strong position yet. Israel and the west have created Hamas and again, I do not care which banner people fight under, as long as they fight for their right. I cannot imagine how one can accept a land claim that is 2000 years old. What happened in recent history is pure and simple annexation and this is still going on. People are still being dispossessed by cancerous expansion of Jewish settlements in the west bank. Now, again Mohamed, if you were in their shoes, as atheist Palestinian, what would you do?
4) Hamas is in support of a truce but made his conditions clear that it will respond to any incursion in the Gaza strip, unlike the West Bank regime that does not give a shit about their own people and are busy doing business with Israel and their sponsor, the U.S.
-- end of part 1 -
It has become obvious that the western sponsored west bank regime is fully cooperating with Israel and letting Israel do as they please. Meanwhile, Egypt is enthusiastically helping to seal its borders with the Gaza strip to complete the blockus...ah I forgot, for security reasons. Let's starve these extremists until they fall on their knees. Listen, Jews have lived in Islamic countries for hundred of years and still are, in Morocco, Algeria and even in the Arabian Peninsula there are Jewish tribes in Yemen. These people lived and are still living peacefully. You tell me where the Jews of the Islamic Spain live now after being chased by the Spanish Inquisition? Bingo, Morocco. Were there no Jews in Palestine before the establishment of Israel? So, Mohamed, please, clearly explain what you expect from Palestinians? Please, enlighten us and tell us what we should do in the face of injustice? Sit down in the street, poor a gallon of gasoline on our head and light up a match? You think this is how justice is restored? I guess, with the kind of thinking you have, Egypt, Algeria and many other countries would still be colonized until today. You would be a poor fallah sweating for your British master (who doesn't give a shit about religion) and not on the Internet giving lessons on how religious wars are worse than whatever other causes/ideological wars. -- end of parth 3 -- ignore part one, it's a repeat.
As evil elements such as greed, sadism and thirst for power exist and are not likely to disappear as they are part of human nature, we will still have these conflicts multiply and bring more and more death and misery. Have a look at what happened relatively recently in Rwanda and in now in Congo. These had nothing to do with wars of religion. They were purely ethnic/nationalist. History is full of examples of continuous wars that have spanned decades and this is not the special attribute of religious wars. Example: The hundred year war between the U.K. and France and the warring states in China until its unification. So, in terms of length and number of victims, war of religions can hardly be proven worse that nationalistic/ethnic ones. Even if you get to totalitarian regimes, did you ever see worse than the atheistic regimes of the USSR with the Siberian Gulags, China with the Cultural Revolution that killed almost 30 million people or the Khmer Rouge regime that killed 1.5 million people and who's leader (Pol Pot) died unpunished in his bed? I mean, if this is not sufficient proof for you, then nothing will be.
As for the conflict in Palestine: From a totally non-religious view, this is a colonization imposed by the western powers at the end of WWII. As the Algerians fought for decades to get their independence, so are the Palestinians under whatever banner they may chose. If you follow the news, you know that the west bank and Gaza strip are completely isolated from the world. Settlements are still illegally being built and houses destroyed. So, if you were a Palestinian, let's say an atheist Palestinian, would you sit idle watching your property being destroyed, your life being made miserable, your brothers, sisters, cousins being jailed for years?
-- end of part 2 --
I do not understand how you could from a historical perspective be so selective. What should we ignore the 100's of millions caused by fighting secular regimes in the name of nationalism (the new religion)? How is that not relevant anymore? I mean these regimes caused more death than any previous war. The Napoleonic wars and American civil wars were not religious but nationalist in nature. The 19th century colonial wars and subsequent war of independance caused millions of death in the last "60 years" that you seem so proud of. What about the vietnam war and even worst the various dictators installed in Latin America, the organized coup against Alende in Chile and the democratically elected Mosadeg in Iran and the consequences of that? What about the Iraqi under Sadam that started and faught a long war against Iran after the fall of the shah of Iran? And the list goes on and on... All of these wars and misery cannot be attributed to religious regimes but to humanistic democratic republics that have total disregard for other people's blood. Mohamed, I think you either are not aware of all of these historical crimes (which I cannot imagine), or alternatively think that only european blood is worth accounting for (well...you are Egyptian :-)) or maybe you lack the intellectual honesty to recognize that even secular regimes are capable, have indeed commited and are still commiting the worst crimes.
"the islamic golden age was a wonderful time where atheists, deists muslims all lived together in peace what do you think about that?" That's another argument that shows that tolerance can be achieved in the context of a state with an official religion. By the way, you failed to mention Avicenna that has done a fantastic job in rationally reconciling philosophy and religion.
As for religions "assuming absolutes and forcing people to following them":
Non religious ideologies such as communism and even democratic systems today assume that they hold the absolute truth and moral and ethical high ground. See Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History and the Last Man". As for human rights, the current technologicaly developed countries which happen to have humanist ideologies have a poor record indeed. I hope I will not need to produce an in-depth analysis of the crimes that have and still are commited by many western countries. A tendancy to believing in an absolute set of beliefs is natural and not necessarily the sole property of religion. I am sure you believe in sacro-saint set of principles that it would be very difficult for you to give up. The question is: Do you want to impose it to others? As such, religions and other ideologies differ in their will to spread their belief system/ideological principles and the methods used to do this. Not making any effort to do so either through propaganda or enforcement ultimately leads to the death of religion, philosophy, ideology or whatever system. An ideology, religion, philosophy lives in an economico-socio-military medium so as to make it difficult to dissociate it from whether we like it or not.