The power of Images

Television creates new truths by piling image upon image. One of the central claims of the New Atheism is that many of today’s global problems, especially the violent conflicts throughout the world, are the poisonous fruit of religion. As one commentator remarks, however, ‘The first time you push out a falsehood, people say, that’s a lie; when you repeat it a thousand times, they begin to say, there must be some truth in it.”

Religion and War

According to the Encyclopedia of Wars, of the 1763 major conflicts in recorded history only 123 (just over 7%) are considered to be over religious differences. A BBC survey found that religion played some part in 40% of conflicts, but usually a minor one.

What creates the widespread sense of religious conflict wracking our world? Partly it is because Mosul and Aleppo are in our living rooms at the flick of a switch – and groups Like ISIS are so skilled in their use of social media. The majority of religious people who pray and work for tolerance, justice and peace have no such coverage.

Of course truth is never simple. It is only in the last five centuries, and largely in the West, that state and church, politics and religion, have been considered separate realities. For most of human history, religious beliefs have been used to shore up dubious politics. Great religious leaders such as Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, have been men of peace; sadly, not all their all followers have followed the same path.

Father Neil Vaney

Next steps

This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 3, ‘Jesus Christ’ referencing page 6. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 3’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.