By Caitlin Chodakowsky
I have lost count of the amount of times people have accusingly or curiously asked me this question: If God is good, why is religion the cause of most wars?
Before I explain, allow me to start with a correction: religion has not caused the majority of history's wars.
While Islam Jihadists are to blame for 9/11, the recent terrorist attacks in France and many other suicide bombings done in the name of Allah, it is true that in the last 2000 years some wars have tainted the name of Christianity.
The Crusades, the French Wars of Religion, the Taiping Rebellion, the Troubles in Northern Ireland and even other tragic events like Australia's Stolen Generation are rightly attributed to people who called themselves Protestant Christians and Catholics.
Yet have you stopped to ponder why the 20th century is considered one of the bloodiest in human history? The two World Wars and the Communist Revolutions in Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Cuba all had nothing to do with any historical religion yet accounted for over 70 million deaths.
In fact, it could be argued that the ideologies behind the communist movement, which caused millions of deaths, and Hitler's evolution-inspired Holocaust, were both strongly aligned with atheism (or, more precisely, the belief that the Biblical God does not exist).
In Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod's three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, 1763 wars were documented, of which only 123 (7%) were classified as being religious in nature. They stated that less than 2% of all people killed in warfare were killed because of a religious conflict.
Adding to this, 66 of these wars were waged in the name of Islam, cutting the percentage of religious wars in history down to 3.23%.
Instead of religion, most of the other wars were about domination, independence, control, wealth, resources, economics and/or politics.
While the figures speak for themselves, it is clear that religion or no religion, war and terrorism is a result of evil people not God.
Perhaps some are left asking, well then why did God create evil people? The Bible's answer, in the book of Genesis chapter 1, is God created everything perfect and good.
He then gave the first created man and woman freedom of choice and with it one command: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die (Genesis 2:16)."
Yep, you guessed it. They ate from that tree. With their disobedience not only did death enter the world but so did evil and sin – this has plagued us ever since.
Jesus' answer to crime, cruelty, loss of life, and evil is clear: "From the inside, out of the heart of men come bad thoughts, sex sins of a married person, sex sins of a person not married, killing other people, stealing, wanting something that belongs to someone else, doing wrong, lying, having a desire for sex sins, having a mind that is always looking for sin, speaking against God, thinking you are better than you are and doing foolish things. All these bad things come from the inside and make the man sinful (Mark 7:21–23 NLT)."
While God may permit war to happen for His own divine reasons, it is sinful people who wage it in the name of religion.
Jesus' summed up His radical view in this quote: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:43)."
Even with the influence of this true Christian understanding we will never see peace in our age until Jesus' promised return. You can read about His coming reign of peace on earth in the Bible's last book of Revelation.
This is His promise we can hold onto if we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour: "He (Jesus) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4)."
I look forward to the new order, how about you? •