Colloquium on Science, Religion and Development

Jun 10, 2006 ◄ Back to list

The Second Colloquium on Science, Religion and Development was held at the Wisma Kebudayaan SGM, Kuala Lumpur on the June 10, 2006 with an attendance of more than 70 people. Jointly organised by the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue of University of Malaya (UM), Social & Economic Development Services (SEDS) and Soka Gakkai Malaysia, the full day programme was attended by representatives from the academe, NGOs, inter-faith groups and university students.

This colloquium was a follow-up on the first which was held last year at University of Malaya. In addition to the promotion of greater understanding and collaboration in bridging the role of science and religion in social transformation towards a more holistic development, this conference also dwelt into the complementary role of science and religion in the disciplines of education and governance. Recognised here as essential for the foundation of harmonious and equitable social systems is a certain kind of knowledge that is not only materialistic but also spiritual.

'The Complementary Role of Science and Religion in Strengthening the Twin Pillars of Education and Economics in Development' was the title of the keynote address by Prof Dr Syed Abdul Hamid AI-Junid, the President of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR). He dwelt in some detail into the meaning and nature of happiness, viewed from various perspectives and the differences, purposes and shortcomings of religion, philosophy, science and education. He also outlined the conditions required for us to achieve happiness.

The second speaker who presented 'Value Based Development and Governance: Experiences in Poverty Eradication Initiatives in Indonesia' was Mr George Soraya, from the World Bank, Indonesia. He related a true, inspiring success story directly from his experiences in helping to eradicate poverty in Indonesia. He found that such measures were effective only when people were motivated to act by some higher principles such as joy in giving, justice, equity, unity and generosity.

In the paper 'Education: Building Moral Capabilities for Social Action' presented by Dr Lee Lee Loh Ludher, Director of SEDS, she showed that although youth may be a time of irrationality or rebelliousness, it is also an ideal time to learn about justice and altruism. Youth is now a risk group, she said, that must be guarded against the negative influences of rampant materialism. 'They should be taught to transform their own characters and consequently contribute to the transformation of the society,' she added. She sought to awaken in them an inner sense of moral purpose and enable them to take noble actions towards securing lasting social transformation.

Soka Gakkai Malaysia's representative Mr Looi Chee Choong, presenting the paper 'Youth Development through the Arts', said that music, dances and cultural performances are some of the means to bring out the youths' creativity, discipline and mutual respect - qualities that will truly contribute to a peaceful nation.

Two workshops were also carried out on education and governance, entitled 'Building Moral Capabilities for Social Action' and 'Value Based Development and Governance' respectively.