Berlin, 13 June 2017 – Asher Maoz, Dean of the Peres Academic Center Law School in Rehovot, Israel, came to the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) to deliver a lecture titled “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – Inter-faith Relations”. Underlining the difference between two realms of truth, he has no doubt that a peaceful co-existence of seemingly exclusive religious belief systems is very much possible. One condition is to strictly distinguish between truth about facts and numbers, “worldly truth”, and the truth of religions. The former concerns objective knowledge, the latter concerns subjective beliefs, both of which, by their very nature, must not and cannot be gauged on the same scale.
Maoz is a professor of secular law, not a religious leader, but has written extensively on issues of faith. For him, it is much less the true believer who may threaten the peace among followers of different faiths – the true believer instinctively knows that fundamental nature of religious truths is different from the science of facts. More danger, said Maoz, may come from the secularly minded, who often lack that understanding, or from individuals who follow a certain faith without being religiously inclined, or from those who may be subconsciously sceptical but are often even more fanatical about outward issues like the right behaviour, dress, or manners.
Addressing religious leaders, Maoz formulated two basic demands: practice dialogue – inter-faith relations – and avoid, at all cost, religious wars. Decisive for the achievement of peace among religions is the moral, cultural, and civilisational equality of their leaders. Contrasting a popular view in the West, particularly in secularised European societies, Maoz insisted that at the root of the many religious conflicts, past and present, is not the fact that people believe in things which cannot be subjected to scientific corroboration, but to the contrary – that people lack religiosity, or lack proper understanding of religion as a system transcending the realm of facts and numbers. This formulates another never-ending task for religious elites to preach and teach not only sentences and dogmas, but also the inner nature of the inflammable substance they deal with.
Furthermore, the peace-threatening potential of inner-faith debates and conflicts may be even higher than that of inter-faith differences. The best examples: the post-reformation European wars and the fight between Muslim Shiites and Sunnis.
In conclusion, Professor Maoz’ remarked that one easily grasps why religion – the capacity of our mind to transcend the limitations of facts and numbers – and dialogue are two sides of the same coin: Dialogue between leaders and disciples, and dialogue both within faith groups and among them; A dialogue marked by openness and respect, such as at the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute in Berlin.