The Great Religions Survive

“The great religions survive. Islam is 1,500 years old, Christianity 2,000 and Judaism 4,000. Why this should be so is open to debate. My own view is that the world faiths embody truths unavailable to economics and politics, and they remain salient even when everything else changes. They remind us that civilisations survive not by strength but by how they respond to the weak; not by wealth but by the care they show for the poor; not by power but by their concern for the powerless. The ironic yet utterly humane lesson of history is that what renders a culture invulnerable is the compassion it shows to the vulnerable. The ultimate value we should be concerned to maximise is human dignity – the dignity of all human beings, equally, as children of the creative, redeeming God.”

“Is this a ‘religious’ insight? Yes and no. There have been secular humanists who have affirmed it; there have been religious zealots who have denied it. What matters most is not why we hold it, but that we hold it. Global capitalism heralds the prospect of a vast amelioration of the human condition. Equally it threatens inequalities that will eventually become unsustainable and cultural vandalism that will become unbearable. Humanity was not made for the service of economies; economies were made to serve humankind; and men and women were made – so I believe – to serve one another, not just themselves. We may not survive while others drown; we may not feast while others starve; we are not free when others are in servitude; we are not well when billions languish in disease and premature death.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 167