As Im sure many people reading this know, one of atheists most used objection is that without religion there would be no warfare. Any individual mildly educated on the history of the world will tell you that this is preposterous; with the most famous example being communism, which at its core is atheistic. Aside from this little insight let me go into a little more detail on the issue.
The common held belief, even by those on the Christian and Conservative side of things, is that prior to modern times the world was full of much more violent and constant warfare. This may be true to an extent but only in a very general sense. Yes the world was harsher and many times violent, but this was due more to the nature of things. Obviously with less advancements in medicine and technology death at the hands of nature was much more commonly met. However it is untrue that warfare existed on a larger or more destructive scale. Warfare during the Middle Ages was radically different then the warfare that modern man wages. Middle Age warfare was predominantly fought over land disputes and other petty disagreements among sovereigns. Furthermore it is important to note that this warfare was many times fought on a much smaller scale. It was predominantly fought in a series of battles between private armies with the goal to outmaneuver the enemy. The victor of these battles being the victor of the dispute. It was not until Napoleon that we saw the mobilization of entire states to warfare.
With that aside, it wasn’t until the the modern period that we begin to see warfare being waged between ideologies. Now some will say, “What of the Crusades?” It is important to first understand the Crusades as not a clash of ideology. Yes, it is true that the Crusades was waged between two rivaling religions, however it was not motivated solely based off that fact. The Crusades were a armed response to the conquest of the Islamic world into Christendom. Furthermore they where armed pilgrimages with highly concentrated objectives by the Christians. The amount of land taken by the Mohammedans was never fully recovered, or even attempted to recover, by the Christians. The main goal of the Crusades was one, to halt further advancement of Islam into the Occident and secondly, and probably more importantly, an attempt to organize armed pilgrimages into Christian holy sites. So to claim it was an ideological war is a gross over generalization.
It was not until the World Wars that we begin to see true ideological conflict. WWI being a prime example. When the United States entered the first World War it became a war aimed at “making the world safe for democracy” and putting an end to the last remaining Monarchies of the time. The second world war was similar, but with a more secular conflict between ideas. This time it was Democracy conflicting with Fascism. With the conclusion of this war it soon led into democracy fighting against the ideology of communism. As we see here, the predominance of modern warfare has revolved around the imposition of democracy on a global scale. Anyone versed in history and holding counter-revoltionary ideals will understand that this is a purely secular and civil religion in itself and lay the foundations to atheism. So in retrospect we can see that the rise of atheistic and anthropocentric thought brought much more bloodshed then that of classical religion. Ever since the French Revolution the world has been attempting to eradicate theocentric religion and force a more secular, atheistic ideology, many times by force and warfare. It is also important to note that the change to the modern nation-state created a extremely destructive form of warfare. It involved the entire mobilization of a nations people, economy and political machine to warfare and only ended with a total surrender, no truces. The modern secular ideology does not stop its warfare until the enemy it fights is completely crushed, reformed and rebuilt to the model of the victor. We can see this through several examples. The result of WWI was not a truce or peace but a complete and total removal of the Monarchial structure of government and the dismantling of the Holy Roman Empire until it conformed with democratic government. We can also look at more recent examples such as that of Iraq. Iraq was completely toppled followed by years of nation building and forced democratization. Non of these endeavors have proved very fruitful. Forced removal of democracy led to Nazism, ISIS and many examples of a failed state.
As we see the rise of enlightenment, anti-religious thought fueled a long chain of ideological secular conflicts that continues to this day. Even prior to the modern times, warfare was mainly a secular endeavor carried out by Kings who had non-religious disputes with other Kings. Religious warfare is rare, was rare and motivated a small portion of conflict. Now one could claim that secularism is a religion in itself but all that shows is that atheistic ideology such as the secular religion has created much more destructive warfare then Christianity ever did. In summary the atheist ideology has much more blood on its hands then any other single religion when one looks at the big picture.
Of course there is quite a bit more too it.
Monarchy and War –Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn