Religion and the Meeting of Civilizations

For a long time civilization meant us and the rest were barbarians; religion meant ours and the rest were infidels. Some religions, such as Judaism and most of the religions of Asia, concede that men may use different religions to speak to God, as they use different languages to speak to each other. This relativist view was rejected and condemned by Christians and Muslims, who shared the conviction that theirs was the one true faith, which it was their duty to bring to all mankind. Between two such religiously defined civilizations, theologically akin and territorially contiguous, conflict was inevitable. Is it now? Revision of a talk from Nov. 15th, 2002.