I had barely begun separating the teetering stacks of books dedicated to ancient and medieval warfare when Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod fortuitously happened to publish their three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, a massive 1,502-page compendium compiled by nine reputable professors of history, including the director of the Centre of Military History and the former head of the Centre for Defence Studies, of what amounts to a significant percentage of all the wars that have taken place throughout recorded human history.
[T]he very large size of the sample set definitely provides enough detail for the purpose of determining what percentage of Man’s wars are caused by his diverse religious faiths with some degree of accuracy. At the risk of providing significantly more ammunition to those who argue that religion causes war and invariably cite 1) The Crusades, 2) The Wars of Religion, and 3) The Thirty Years’ War, here is a list of all the wars that the authors of the Encyclopedia of Wars saw fit to categorize as religious wars for one reason or another:
[LONG LIST OF RELIGIOUS WARS]
That is 123 wars in all, which sounds as if it would support the case of the New Atheists, until one recalls that these 123 wars represent only 6.98 percent of all the wars recorded in the encyclopedia.
It’s also interesting to note that more than half of these religious wars, sixty-six in all, were waged by Islamic nations, which is rather more than might be statistically expected considering that the first war in which Islam was involved took place almost three millennia after the first war chronicled in the encyclopedia, Akkad’s conquest of Sumer in 2325 b.c.
In light of this evidence, the fact that a specific religion is currently sparking a great deal of conflict around the globe cannot reasonably be used to indict all religious faith, especially when one considers that removing that single religion from the equation means that all of the other religious faiths combined only account for 3.23 percent of humanity’s wars.
Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, p. 103-106 [PDF]