The Totality of Existence

“There is nothing relativist about the idea of the dignity of difference. It is based on the radical transcendence of God from the created universe, with its astonishing diversity of life forms – of all which, as we now know through genetic research, derive from a single source – and from the multiple languages and cultures through which we, as meaning-seeking beings, have attempted to understand the totality of existence. Just as the human situation would be impoverished and unsustainable if we were to eliminate all life forms except our own, so it would be reduced and fatally compromised if we were to eliminate all cultures and traditions except our own. The idea that we fulfil God’s will by waging war against the infidel, or forcing our specific practices on others so that all humanity shares the same religion is an idea that… owes much to the concept of empire and little to the heritage of Abraham, which Jews, Christians and Muslims claim as their own. It was not until the Abrahamic faith came into contact with Greek and Roman imperialism that it developed into an aspiration to conquer or convert the world, and we must abandon it if we are to save ourselves from mutual destruction… Fundamentalism, like imperialism, is the attempt to impose a single way of life on a plural world. It is the Tower of Babel of our time.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 172