Faith – Knowledge – Values

What provides any individual a foothold in this world? What binds society together? What gives it meaning? In what do we believe? And to what extent do we believe differently from our predecessors in earlier centuries? The 2016 Weimar Rendez-vous with History honed in on these rather fundamental questions.
As a rule, questions concerning faith first strike us as being a Gretchen question, namely the question of religion. Religions are as old as humanity itself and subject to constant historical changes. The characteristic feature of religions is not only that they create all-encompassing ideas about the origin and fate of the world, nature, and humankind, but also that they are the most cogent sources of norms and values across traditional societies. In any religiously homogeneous society the most important resource for the stability of this society is the collectively shared belief in the edifice of ideas and religiously based values.
The 2016 Rendez-vous wanted to draw upon the historical wealth of experience we have in Europe with the multiple and often contradictory answers to the good old Gretchen question. In a modern, differentiated, and pluralistic society, questions of faith are not just Gretchen questions, simply because religion no longer occupies the kernel function it enjoyed in earlier centuries. Faith and trust, however, do remain the glue of social action. We continue to believe that our money will still be worth something tomorrow. Imperfect as it is, we do believe in democracy. We believe in human rights. We believe – even if we don’t care to admit it – in advertising (otherwise it would no longer exist). We believe in good journalism whenever we come across it. We still believe that tomorrow electricity will still flow from the socket as will water from the tap. We believe our counselors and our experts, our doctors and our friends. Without these forms of »basic faith« in institutions and others, complex societies could simply not function. Particularly given that everyone has mentally interjected »Well… but« at least three times while reading these examples, it strengthens the suspicion that this everyday faith is equally facing a profound crisis. Here, too, the 2016 Rendez-vous strove to stimulate a critical discussion with a view to the historical dimension of various forms of everyday faith. A discussion about what, in what and whom we believe and why.