Why can't religions coexist peacefully?
It has often been said that more wars have been fought in the name of religion than anything else. That may be true. That observation has often led to the question, “Why can't religions coexist peacefully?” The short answer is because the various religions are competing with one another for the hearts and souls of men. The very nature of religious belief is exclusive, because each religion makes claims about truth that are at odds with the claims of other religions.
Every religion addresses these basic questions: Where did man come from, and why is he here? Is there life after death? Is there a God, and how can we know him? These questions help frame one’s worldview, the foundational philosophy of how one deals with life. When two people have different answers to these questions, there is bound to be conflict of some sort. This conflict can range from a friendly disagreement to a life-and-death battle, depending on the people involved. Since there are hundreds of different religions in the world, and millions of people framing their worldview, it is easy to see how things can escalate.
Typically, when the question “why can’t religions coexist” is asked, the focus is on the historic struggles among Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, although other religions are often included. Sometimes, a contrast is drawn between the pacifism of Eastern mysticism and the violence of traditional monotheism (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), though violence and extremism can also be found among the mystic religions. A brief look at history will confirm that every religion has its extremists and carries its share of blame for violence. An important question to ask is whether the bloodshed can be attributed to a religion’s essential teachings, or if it comes from a twisted application of those beliefs.
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