The Archbishop of Canterbury warned against dismissing religious people as "mad" as he spoke of the contribution of faith communities to society.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said those who have a faith should not be viewed as a "disappearing minority" who cannot be taken seriously on anything.
"We are not a disappearing minority who are still fool enough to believe in God, who are still fool enough to believe that the metaphysical is significant, that the spiritual is significant," he said.
"There are many people who wish we were and many people who think that, like the 13th strike of the clock, a person who believes in a spirituality of some kind consequently must be mad about everything else as well and therefore cannot be taken seriously on anything."
In an address at Lambeth Palace in London to 100 religious leaders from the nine major faiths, he said the major faiths faced an "enormous challenge" from the common view that religion leads to violence and trouble.
"We face an enormous challenge, we face the challenge that the common view is that religion leads to violence, that religion leads to trouble."
But he said the group present at the gathering thought "profoundly" about society and had a "deep commitment" to the common good and serving those around them.
"While we are sharing in such a way, may our lives show that, rather than faith being a problem, it does in fact put us in the best time and place for understanding, respect and becoming the answer in a world that is wandering."
The gathering also heard from Baroness Warsi, Foreign Office Minister and Minister for Faith Communities.
She spoke of her efforts as a Foreign Office Minister to speak out in defence of persecuted religious minorities throughout the world.
Interfaith work should go beyond a "cup of tea and a samosa in a drafty church hall", she added.
"If you have a shared goal and shared interests and a shared past and history then real relationships can be built out of more than just a cup of tea and a samosa in a drafty church."