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This page has been created for two types of people: Christians who are struggling with their faith, and honest inquirers of any persuasion who are seeking spiritual truth. The articles below were selected for their outstanding quality. I have found them especially helpful in resolving difficulties for my own Christian belief. I hope you find them as useful as I did.

3. Religion: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

3.1 Why Religion is a force for good overall   3.2 Religious atrocities

3.1 Why Religion is a force for good overall

3.1.1 Religion as a Socially Beneficial Force

Debating the Issue: Is Religion Harmful?

Is Christianity the Problem? An online debate between Dinesh D'Souza and Christopher Hitchens.
D'Souza and Hitchens debate whether Christianity is fundamentally immoral, as well as anti-social.

The case against religion as a socially beneficial force

Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies by Gregory Paul.
The author comments:

This study is a first, brief look at an important subject that has been almost entirely neglected by social scientists. The primary intent is to present basic correlations of the elemental data. Some conclusions that can be gleaned from the plots are outlined. This is not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health. It is hoped that these original correlations and results will spark future research and debate on the issue.
The study compares the USA with European democracies and tentatively concludes that the least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in achieving practical cultures of life- that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. My comments:
(i) contrary to the author's assertion, there are hundreds of studies which show that religion is socially beneficial, as George Gallup Jr. points out in his article below;
(ii) it turns out that Gregory Paul isn't a qualified statistician, mathematician, sociologist or scientist of any kind, but rather a "freelance" paleontologist, author and illustrator;
(iii) a major flaw in Paul's study is the fact that he did not bother to use multivariate analysis, and correct for the other factors (e.g. income, education level) that affect crime rates;
(iv) the USA has a number of unique characteristics (e.g. its status as a world hyper-power; its position as a bastion of laissez-faire capitalism; its unusual history; its large population; and its high level of ethnic diversity) which make it impossible to compare it fairly with nations like Sweden;
(v) Paul's study focused inordinately on murder and neglected many other categories of crime;
(vi) the fact that the authors are only able to adduce a single instance of a genuinely religious First World country (the USA) casts doubt on the legitimacy of their enterprise of evaluating the relative merits of religious and secular democracies.

Refutation of Gregory Paul's argument that religion is socially detrimental

Religiosity, Secularism and Social Health: A Reply to Gregory Paul by Gerson Moreno-Riano, Mark Caleb Smith, and Thomas Mach, of Cedarville University. This rejoinder addresses Paul's thesis, analysis, and conclusions in terms of the various methodological assumptions and frameworks used to deploy his study. It is the opinion of the authors that once all of the methodological issues are considered, Paul's findings and conclusions are rendered ineffectual.

Dogma Bites Man by George H. Gallup Jr.
Two key points explain why Gregory Paul's study does not pass scholarly muster:

Paul claims that he did not employ the standard sociological tools of regression and multivariate analyses because "causal factors for rates of societal function are complex," and because the countries were similar enough to study without using control variables. Can he identify a single other study published in a major social scientific journal comparing results across countries that did not employ multivariate analysis to control for differences among nations? No, because multivariate analysis is required for cross-national comparisons of this sort.

For the author's bold claims against religious commitment contributing to society to hold true, he would have to refute the hundreds of volumes that have proven otherwise. From parenting and fatherhood, to mental and physical health, the weight of empirical evidence is against Paul's assertions: religious commitment has notably positive effects on the individual and collective levels of human society.

From our bulging "How not to do statistics" file by Scott Gilbreath.
A Christian statistician debunks Gregory Paul's article, pointing out that: (i) correlation does not imply causation; (ii) there are likely to be many factors influencing differences in crime rates between Western countries; and (iii) Gregory Paul's reasons for not performing linear regression analysis are all bogus.

Some evidence that religion is socially beneficial

Good Faith by Karl Zinsmeister, for The American Enterprise Online.
Makes a sociological case for the benefits of religion. Discusses areas such as substance abuse, marriage and family life, sexual behaviour, altruism, health and happiness. Whereas the previous study compares sociological data between different First World countries (a procedure which is fraught with peril, as social conditions vary widely between different nations, and some countries lag behind others in terms of social trends), this report examines one country (the USA) and finds that socially aberrant behaviour correlates with lack of religiosity.

Religion is a motivating source for performing practical good works

Progress in Religion by Professor Freeman Dyson.
In his own words:

To me, good works are more important than theology. We all know that religion has been historically, and still is today, a cause of great evil as well as great good in human affairs. We have seen terrible wars and terrible persecutions conducted in the name of religion. We have also seen large numbers of people inspired by religion to lives of heroic virtue, bringing education and medical care to the poor, helping to abolish slavery and spread peace among nations. Religion amplifies the good and evil tendencies of individual souls. Religion will always remain a powerful force in the history of our species. To me, the meaning of progress in religion is simply this, that as we move from the past to the future the good works inspired by religion should more and more prevail over the evil.

Who Invented Charity? by Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
The author mounts a convincing case that the charity of the early Christian Church was utterly different in both quality and sheer quantity from anything which preceded it in the pagan Roman world. Were it not for the Catholic Church of the fourth century, we would have no charitable institutions in our society today.

3.1.2 Religion's Contribution to Science and Civilisation


(a) The Christian Contribution to Science

Christianity: A Cause of Modern Science? by Eric Snow.
In this article, Snow explains how Christianity, and in particular Puritanism, made Modern Science possible. When we think of Christianity's role in the rise of science, we tend to think of the conflict between Galileo (1564-1642) and the Inquisition in the seventeenth century, or, perhaps, Thomas Huxley debating evolution with Bishop Wilberforce in the nineteenth century. However, the remarkable truth is that the world view of Christianity was absolutely necessary for the rise of modern science. While the Greeks, Chinese, Indians, and Islam all had what can be fairly called "science," their science lacked a systematized collection of knowledge about nature, obtained through the use of reason and sense experience alone, in order to discover the underlying laws of nature, which explain how nature is organized and which allow future accurate predictions about nature's processes or objects to be made.

Christianity and the Birth of Science by Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D.
The author holds an M.S. degree in Zoology from Ohio State University and a Ph.D in Genetics from Case Western Reserve University. Here, he argues that the Judeo-Christian world view played a crucial role in this birth. Bumbulis cites four lines of evidence to support this hypothesis and responds to objections at the appropriate places. The four lines of evidence he adduces are as follows:

a. Science was born in a Christian culture;

b. Science was not born in any non-Christian culture;

c. Biblical beliefs provided fertile ground for the birth of science; and

d. Christian philosophers paved the way for science.

This is an especially useful article, as it demonstrates convincingly that Chinese astronomy (which is sometimes held up as a counter-instance to the claim that science could only be born in a Christian culture) was not in any sense scientific. Science in ancient Greece is also discussed: unlike Chinese astronomy, it assumed that the cosmos was a manifestation of the Mind of God. This explains why the Greeks were able to find evidence of genuine lawfulness in nature. However, some of the built-in philosophical assumptions of ancient Greek science (e.g. that the world was eternal) proved to be fatally stultifying; only Christianity (in the 13th century) was able to break this gridlock by questioning these assumptions, while retaining the core insights of the Greeks.

Luther and Science by Professor Donald H. Kobe.
Donald Kobe is professor of physics at the University of North Texas. Kobe begins by pointing out that the influence of Christianity in providing an appropriate intellectual ethos for a rational understanding of the universe is at least one reason for the development of modern science in Europe about 500 years ago. According to Alfred North Whitehead, the greatest contribution of the medieval period to the scientific movement was the "belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedent in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles" (Science and the Modern World, New York: Macmillan, 1925. Reprinted New York: Mentor Books, 1948, p. 13.) The origin of the belief was the medieval insistence on the rationality of God. Modern science developed during the Renaissance and the Reformation. The role of the latter on the development of science has sometimes been said to have been negative. In this paper, the views of Martin Luther and his followers toward science, especially astronomy, are examined. Although they have been criticized as being negative and obstructionist, Kobe shows that this criticism is without justification, and that Luther had a very positive attitude towards science. As he puts it:

In natural philosophy or science, questions about nature were no longer answered primarily by quoting Aristotle and the Scholastics, but by turning to observation of and experimentation on nature itself. Similarly, after the Reformation, Protestants no longer answered questions in theology primarily by quoting scholastic philosophers and theologians, but by turning directly to the Bible. Luther interpreted Scripture by asking: what is the clear and straightforward meaning of the text? Scientists interpret nature in the simplest way using the minimum number of hypotheses.

However, Kobe concedes that "without the Reformation, modern science would probably have developed in any event because of the ethos of rationality and the doctrine of creation conducive to it."

(b) The Christian Contribution to Civilisation

Europe and the Faith by Hilaire Belloc.
The author's central contention, which he supports with erudite but highly readable arguments, is that "our European structure, built upon the noble foundations of classical antiquity, was formed through, exists by, is consonant to, and will stand only in the mold of, the Catholic Church."

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
The author makes a powerful case that Western civilisation is deeply indebted to the Catholic Church, especially in the fields of science, art and architecture, law and economics.

A Gift from the Middle Ages by Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
The author argues that it was the Catholic Church which gave us the university. He concludes with a citation:

According to historian of science Edward Grant, the creation of the university, the commitment to reason and rational argument, and the overall spirit of inquiry that characterized medieval intellectual life amounted to "a gift from the Latin Middle Ages to the modern world ... though it is a gift that may never be acknowledged. Perhaps it will always retain the status it has had for the past four centuries as the best-kept secret of Western civilization."

The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries by Professor James Walsh.
Scroll down to view the table of contents. This fascinating book will make you re-think everything you believed about the Middle Ages. I shall quote but a brief extract:

It cannot but seem a paradox to say that the Thirteenth was the greatest of centuries. To most people the idea will appear at once so preposterous that they may not even care to consider it. A certain number, of course, will have their curiosity piqued by the thought that anyone should evolve so curious a notion. Either of these attitudes of mind will yield at once to a more properly receptive mood if it is recalled that the Thirteenth is the century of the Gothic cathedrals, of the foundation of the university, of the signing of Magna Charta, and of the origin of representative government with something like constitutional guarantees throughout the west of Europe....

This is probably the most surprising part of the Thirteenth Century. When it began men below the rank of nobles were practically slaves. Whatever rights they had were uncertain, liable to frequent violation because of their indefinite character, and any generation might, under the tyranny of some consciousless monarch, have lost even the few privileges they had enjoyed before. At the close of the Thirteenth Century this was no longer possible. The laws had been written down and monarchs were bound by them as well as their subjects.

The Catholic Engine of Western Progress by George Weigel.
A review of Rodney Stark's The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success - a book which shatters the myth that democracy and the free market were primarily Enlightenment projects, and that while Protestantism had something to do with the rise of capitalism, Catholicism was a pernicious faith that had to be throttled if democracy, the free economy, and science were to thrive.

Did the Christians burn/destroy all the classical literature? by Glenn Miller.
Demolishes the widely held myth that Christians were book-burning bigots who destroyed the pagan classics. Demonstrates that on the contrary, the church - both East and West - actually was the main preserver of classical literature during these difficult times in world history.


Islamic History and Civilizations by Islam for Today.
Lots of good links on the Islamic contribution to civilization.

Muslim Scientists and Islamic Civilization. Scientific Contributions Before European Renaissance, 700 - 1500 C.E.
Hundreds of e-books and articles on the contribution of Islam to science and civilization.

The Muslim Contribution to the World. Copied from "The Islamic Scholar."


Science in Classical Indian Texts.
This Web-site lists twelve well-documented examples of Hindu contributions to science and technology. Since the Infinity Foundation projects on History of Indian Science and Technology are based on a policy decision to be conservative and rigorous before accepting claims, the claims made here are only the best-attested ones.

3.1.3 Religion and Suicide

Bertolote and Fleischmann point out that in Muslim countries (e.g. Kuwait) where suicide is most strictly forbidden, the suicide rate is close to zero (0.1 per 100,000). The suicide rate is highest in atheist countries such as China, where it is 25.6 per 100,000. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. If they were living under the atheistic regime of China, 450,000 of them would be killing themselves every year, or 45,000,000 per century. Anything that saves that many lives has got to be socially beneficial.

Religious Affiliation, Atheism and Suicide
Article showing not only that membership in a highly religious culture is linked to lower levels of suicide, but also that higher levels of participation within a specific religious group are linked to lower levels of suicide.

A Global Perspective in the Epidemiology of Suicide by Jose Manoel Bertolote and Alexandra Fleischmann.
Suicide rates are lowest in Islamic countries and highest in atheistic China.

3.1.4 How religions have limited violence within societies and have helped to civilise the rules of warfare

The Ethics of War. BBC Religion and Ethics Web page with lots of background information on the history of ethical thinking about war.

Christian Teaching and Practice Relating to War

Principles Of The Just War by Vincent Ferraro.
This is a list of the conditions for a "just war", in contemporary Christian moral theory. The list of conditions has expanded over the last few centuries. Not all Christians accept the concept of a "just war"; a few (e.g. Quakers, Mennonites) are pacifists. Historically, however, the great majority of Christian thinkers have taught that war was morally licit when waged for the purpose of self-defence, provided that certain conditions were satisfied.

Of War. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part II, Question 40.
Here, Aquinas lays down the conditions for a just war. Aqinas' "Just War" theory proved to be a major milestone in the history of Christian ethical thought. Here, Aquinas lists three conditions for a just war; extra conditions were addded later.

Hugo Grotius. Article in Wikipedia.
Discusses the life of this Christian apologist, whose work, On the Laws of War and Peace (De Jure Belli ac Pacis), laid the foundations for international law and helped to civilise warfare.

On the Laws of War and Peace (De Jure Belli ac Pacis) by Hugo Grotius.
Click here for a more elegant PDF version (note: this may take a while to load on computers with a slow connection).

What Islam Says About War

Rules of War in Islam. Article in Wikipedia.

The Islamic Rules of Warfare by Michael Young.
Michael Young details how the attackers of the World Trade Center flagrantly violated the most basic Islamic conventions of war.

Hindu Teaching on War and Non-Violence

The Hindu Ethic of Non-Violence by Kauai's Hindu Monastery.
Discusses the Hindu teaching of ahimsa, or non-violence.

Peace, War and Hinduism.
Article in The Hindu, which looks at current issues in the light of Gandhi's teachings on non-violence.

Buddhist Teaching on Non-Violence

The Practice of Ahimsa in Buddhism by Kenjitsu Nakagaki.
A thoughtful article which cites the Buddha's sayings extensively in its discussion of the Buddhist teaching of ahimsa, or non-violence.

Buddhism and War: A Study of the Status of Violence in Early Buddhism by James Stroble, University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
This article examines how Buddhism responded to the use of violence by kings who had converted to Buddhism.

3.1.5 How Judaism gave the world a social conscience and Christianity spread the Jewish concept of charity

We're used to thinking of charity towards the poor as a virtue, but in many ancient societies it was regarded as a character flaw and a sign of weakness. Plato stated that "a poor man who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die." Republic 3.406d-410a. All told, "classical philosophers regarded mercy and pity as pathological emotions - defects of character to be avoided by all rational men. Since mercy involves providing unearned help or relief, it was contrary to justice" (Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, page 212). The result of this way of thinking was that millions died needlessly, who might have been saved in a society dominated by one of the three monotheistic religions.

Ethical Monotheism by Dennis Prager.
Ethical monotheism means two things:

1. There is one God, from whom emanates one morality for all humanity.

2. God's primary demand of people is that they act decently toward one another, and treat each other with justice and mercy.

According to Prager:
[W]hile observant Jews may overstress the "monotheism" in "ethical monotheism," the fact is that they believe the entire doctrine to be true. Secular Jews, on the other hand, believe that ethics can be separated from God and religion. The results have not been positive. The ethical record of Jews and non Jews involved in causes that abandoned ethical monotheism has included involvement in moral relativism, Marxism, and the worship of art, education, law, etc.

The lessons for religious Jews are never to forget the primacy of ethics and not to abandon the ethical monotheist mission of Judaism. The lesson for secular Jews is to realize that ethics cannot long survive the death of monotheism.

Who Invented Charity? by Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
The author mounts a convincing case that the charity of the early Christian Church was utterly different in both quality and sheer quantity from anything which preceded it in the pagan Roman world. Were it not for the Catholic Church of the fourth century, we would have no charitable institutions in our society today.

Pagans, Christianity and Charity by Christopher Price.
Wherever Christianity spread, it carried with it the teaching that charity was a religious duty and should be broadly given. When Christianity rose to prominence in the Roman Empire, new charitable programs were instituted. Through the Middle Ages, Christianity promoted wide-spread charity to those in need. Even into our modern day, the great charitable organizations in the West were founded upon this Christian ethic.

The Concept of Charity in Islam by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.
An extract: "All human beings, according to Islam, have been created by one and the same God, and for this reason they belong to one great brotherhood. All being descendants of the same progenitors, Adam and Eve, they should naturally be each other's well-wishers. They must willingly come to one another's assistance, like members of the same large family. Islam has, therefore, laid the greatest of emphasis on the support of destitute and disabled members of society. It is a sacred duty of the wealthy to give part of their possessions to fulfill the needs of the deprived sections of the community."

3.1.6 How Judaism, Christianity and Islam elevated the status of women and halted female infanticide

It turns out that each of the three monotheistic religions - and none of the others - elevated the status of women in the areas where they spread and flourished. Case in point: in the Roman Empire, the male head of the household could order any female living in his household to have an abortion. What's more, a married woman who gave birth had no legal right to keep her child unless the male head of the household picked it up and set it down on the family hearth. Otherwise the child had to be lplaced outside in the street, where it would either die of exposure or be picked up by some unscrupulous rogue and sold into slavery. Girls were exposed far more often than boys: research has shown that the ratio of men to women in the Roman Empire was at least 120:100. Another unsavory fact about life in ancient Rome is that men were legally entitled to compel their wives or female slaves to do their bidding in the bedroom. That included unnatural intercourse. Given these facts, it's not hard to see why Christianity, a religion which inherited from Judaism an ethic which was utterly opposed to infanticide as well as unnatural intercourse, proved immensely popular among Roman women. Islam also succeeded in drastically curtailing female infanticide; however, the pernicious practice continued in India and China.

"So what's your point?" I hear you ask. Here's my point. Population of the Roman empire: about 60 million people. Annual number of births (assuming say, 40 births per 1000 people per year): about 2.4 million, or 1.2 million boys and 1.2 million girls, of whom 200,000 were killed. Enter Christianity: up to 200,000 girls' lives saved per year, or 20 million per century, or 200 million over a period of a millennium. Do the same math in Arab countries as well, and you get even more girls' lives saved. Still think religion doesn't matter?

How Judaism, Christianity and Islam elevated the status of women

Reconstructing the rise of Christianity: the role of women by Rodney Stark, University of Washington. Article in Sociology of Religion, 22/9/1995.
"Modern and ancient historians agree that women were especially responsive to the early Christian movement. It also is agreed that women were accorded considerably higher status within Christian circles than in the surrounding pagan societies. In this essay I first explain how these two aspects of the early church were connected. Then I explain how an excess of women in the Christian subcultures, combined with a great excess of males in the world around them, would have resulted in a substantial rate of intermarriage. Finally, I show how this would have maintained early Christianity as an open network thereby able to sustain the attachments to non-members needed for continued growth." - Extract from the article.

Live Healthier, Longer, & Better - The Untold Benefits of Becoming a Christian in the Ancient World by Rodney Stark.
Describes how the Christian teaching of the spiritual equality of men and women, coupled with its prohibition of abortion and infanticide, improved the lot of women in the Roman Empire, and how Christians saved millions of Romans' lives by caring for the sick during plagues.

Reconstructing the rise of Christianity: the role of women by Rodney Stark. In Sociology of Religion, Fall 1995.

Women in Islam. A collection of articles, written mostly by Muslim women, on how Islam raised the status of women by recognising them as men's equals.

Women's Liberation through Islam by Mary and Anjum Ali.

How Judaism, Christianity and Islam halted female infanticide, while other religions failed to do so

A Brief History of Infanticide by Dr. Larry S. Milner, of the Society for the Prevention of Infanticide.

What Different Religions Say about Infanticide by BBC News.

Paganism, Christianity and Infanticide by Christopher Price.

Women's Rights in Islam: Modernising or outdated? : Social Rights of Women in Islam by Dr. Zakir Naik.
Shows how Islam put an end to the killing of female infants in 7th century Saudi Arabia.

Female Infanticide by Peacekeeper.
Contrasts Islam's prohibition of female infanticide with the policies of the atheist government of China.

Case Study: Female Infanticide in India and China by Gendercide Watch.

90 Million Missing Females, and a $45 Trillion Gap by Zenit International News Agency.
Examines the social consequences of female infanticide in China and India.

3.1.7 The Role of Christianity in the Invention of Printing and the Spread of Literacy

The Invention of Printing and the Spread of Literacy by Terry Donovan, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

Review: The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe by Professor Elizabeth Eisentein.
Elizabeth Eisenstein's definitive work, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change is a full-scale historical treatment of the advent of printing and its importance as an agent of change. Professor Eisenstein begins by examining the general implications of the shift from script to print, and goes on to examine its part in three of the major movements of early modern times - the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science.

3.1.8 Religion and the abolition of slavery

The Atlantic Slave Trade by
The article details the involvement of both Christians and Muslims in this vile trade in people. More importantly, however, it shows that the abolition of slavery was finally brought about by Evangelical Protestants and Quakers lobbying in the British Parliament. Britain then exerted heavy pressure on other countries to follow suit.

3.1.9 How the Puritans created liberal democracy

Calvinism and the Success of Liberal Democracy, Part 1 by John Snyder.

Calvinism and the Success of Liberal Democracy, Part 2 by John Snyder.

3.1.10 How Protestantism facilitated the rise of Capitalism in the West

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Criticisms of Weber's Thesis by Sandra Pierotti.

Study guide: "Religion and the rise of capitalism" by the Humanities Department, Central Queensland University, Australia.

The Protestant Reformations and the 'Rise of Capitalism': The Weber-Tawney Thesis and its Critics by John Munro.
Bibliography plus book review of Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Stanley Engerman, Departments of Economics and History, University of Rochester.

3.2 Bad things done in the name of religion: Religious atrocities

3.2.1 Counting the number of victims

Which Has Killed More People? Christianity or Gun Control? by Matthew White.
Essential reading for those who wish to get a balanced perspective on the harm wrought by religion. Matthew White's Web site on atrocities is extraordinarily thorough, comprehensive and fair-minded.

Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century by Matthew White.

Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century (Page Two) by Matthew White.

(Possibly) The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other by Matthew White.

Blame and Responsibility - FAQs by Matthew White.
An excerpt:

Q: Is religion responsible for more more violent deaths than any other cause?

A: No, of course not -- unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century -- Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union -- no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion.

Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many documented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or sex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will.

Q: OK, then who is responsible for all these deaths?

A: Beats the heck out of me. You know, I could probably score some good think-tank funding if I could only prove statistically that human cruelty is getting steadily worse, and it's all someone's fault. Unfortunately, it just looks like the numbers fluctuate randomly over time, and we fight wars and oppress the weak because that's what we're good at.

List of wars and disasters by death toll by
A handy summary of who killed how many, and when.

Invisible Encounter by Igor Sikorsky (1947).
Mr. Sikorsky, the world's formost plane designer in his day, opens with an original and interesting study of Christ in the wilderness when He he was tempted by the Devil three times. There a decision was made for good against evil, for the spiritual rather than the material. The author draws a very apt parallel in history and shows how again and again mankind has chosen the material when confronted with a decision.

3.2.2 Is Religion a Leading Cause of War?

Death Tolls for the Man-made Megadeaths of the 20th Century - Minifaq by Matthew White (click here for the section on religion).

Democide by
An interesting perspective on atrocities: although their causes are quite diverse, the common thread uniting them is that they are overwhelmingly more likely to occur in countries goverened by dictatorships. Those religions that gave rise to democracy should therefore be regarded as having done humanity a giant favour.

For a discussion of Christian atrocities, see section 7.3 on page 7.