The Year That Religion Learned Humility
TIME Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006
The great, first surprise of the 21st century was the re-emergence of religion. Not only did it arrive as the most powerful cultural force of the new millennium, it also came in a particular guise. It was a fundamentalist version of faith that was triumphant. Against the doubts and decadence of the West and amid the bewilderment and backwardness of the Middle East, an utterly uncompromising faith seemed the only answer to many prayers...
In 2006, we came to see that even the most certain theological worldview has to grapple with that of others who differ and yet require coexistence, not obliteration. Certainty can be comforting in the abstract. In the real world, such certainty has to be accompanied by toleration if we are to live in any peace or resolve our politics in a civil and rational manner. And certainty itself may be an obstacle to real faith rather than its achievement. Doubt is as much a part of faith as human imperfection is a part of life.
We have learned that the hard way in the new millennium — in our politics and in war. But we may have begun to grasp the deeper obligation — and that is not to turn our back on faith but to instill it with the humility that it demands and that all the great religious figures have exemplified.