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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2015



From 31 March to 5 April 2006, the fifth conference of the Forum für Verantwortung foundation, entitled ‘Secularization and the World Religions’, was held at the European Academy, Otzenhausen (Saarland). The foundation invited scholars in various fields, among them Cardinal Lehmann, to cast light on the topic in a way comprehensible to the approximately 180 attendees, whose interests cover a broad spectrum. The discussions with the audience that followed the lectures showed that they had fully achieved this aim. We would like to take this opportunity to again thank all the speakers.

The lectures delivered in Otzenhausen have been brought together in the present volume in order to make them accessible to a broader public beyond the conference participants. As with the volumes arising from the earlier conferences, all published in German by S. Fischer Verlag and tackling the subjects of evolution; humanity and the cosmos; the cultural values of Europe (with a volume of the same title published by Liverpool University Press in 2008) and the future of the earth, for reasons of space it was necessary to forego reproducing the incisive discussions of the individual lectures. The podium discussion moderated by Hans Joas on ‘Religion and Politics at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century’, which concluded the fifth conference, is also left out of account here.

We would like to thank the attendees for their deep engagement and critical questions, which not only invigorated the conference but also inspired later modifications to the written forms of the lectures and have thus entered into the contributions published here.