All wars are holy wars

by Don Hartness

My next two posts in this string of quotes comes, once again, from Scott Peck.

I just finished The Road Less Traveled. I have read many, many books in my life, more than I could even estimate. This book is in my top five. If I were to engage in a challenge with an atheist, with each of us requiring the other to read one book of our choosing, I would hand this book to my atheist friend. It is not a defense of Christianity, religion, or theism in general. Rather, it is a broadening of the mind.

A few definitions are in order before presenting these quotes.

First, Peck uses the word “religion” in the sense of a person’s world view. When used in this light, everybody has religion of some sorts, no matter how narrow or broadly encompassing that religion might be. “We tend to view religion as something monolithic, cut out of whole cloth, and then, with this simplistic concept, we are puzzled as to how two very different people can both call themselves Christians. Or Jews. Or how an atheist might have a more highly developed sense of Christian morality than a Catholic who routinely attends mass.”

This leads to the realization that one’s religion is not inherited. That is to say, one does not become a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or whatever from upbringing. It is not a birthright – it is a worldview born from engaging this thing called life. This is the act of “transference” that Peck eludes too in this quote. “The path to holiness lies in questioning everything”.

As I mentioned in my earlier written post, some atheists argue a moral high-ground because their views do not start religious wars. To this, I have two points. First, I suspect this is only because atheists lack the sheer numbers to start a war. Whenever a particular view has risen in ascendancy in significant numbers over opposing views, persecution invariably follows (see the next Peck quote following this one). Although some would deny this, there are many atheists who would love nothing more than to eliminate religion, in all its forms, through any means possible (and if you don’t believe me, you can pay a visit to and absorb some of the virulent hatred radiating off that site although, as a word of caution to theists, don’t waste your time with engagement).

Secondly…well, I’ll let Peck point out the fallacious of this reasoning in the following quotes…

“To develop a religion or world view that is realistic – that is, conforms to the reality of the cosmos and our role in it, as best we can know that reality – we must constantly revise and extend our understanding to include new knowledge of the larger world. We must constantly enlarge our frame of reference. We are dealing here with the issues of map-making and transference…To some extent the religion of most adults is a product of transference.

Most of us operate from a narrower frame of reference than that of which we are capable, failing to transcend the influence of our particular culture, our particular set of parents and our particular childhood experience upon our understanding. It is no wonder, then, that the world of humanity is so full of conflict. We have a situation in which human beings, who must deal with each other, have vastly different views as to the nature of reality, yet each one believes his or her own view to be the correct one since it is based on the microcosm of personal experience. And to make matters worse, most of us are not even fully aware of our own world views, much less the uniqueness of the experience from which they are derived…We are indeed like the three proverbial blind men, each in touch with only his particular piece of the elephant yet each claiming to know the nature of the whole beast. So we squabble over our different microcosmic world views, and all wars are holy wars.” p.191-193