Matt J. Rossano: Why Religion Does Not Equal War
To my knowledge there has only been one attempt to actually quantify religion’s role in war-making throughout human history. As part of a special they were airing on the subject, the BBC asked Dr. Greg Austin, a research Fellow in the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, to investigate religion’s role in the history of war. Austin, with the help of colleagues Todd Kranock and Thom Oommen, conducted the War Audit, where they evaluated all the major conflicts over the past 3,500 years — 73 wars in all. The wars were rated on a 0-5 scale for religious motivation, with 5 indicating the highest religious motivation. So for example, The First and Second Punic Wars (264-241 and 218-201 BC respectively) rated a 0, while the Crusades (1097-1291) rated a 5. While conceding that subjectivity always plays some role in these sorts of assessments, Austin and colleagues, nevertheless, maintained that the general trend they observed was “beyond debate” (p. 12).