Unification News for
ICUS Comes of Age at ICUS XXI
by Gregory Breland-Lexington, Kentucky
The International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS XXI) marked 25 years of support from its Founder, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, by meeting in the capitol of the United States, Washington, D.C., on the theme: "Science for the Benefit of Humanity," as part of the Third World Culture and Sports Festival from November 24-29, 1997. Conference Chair, Tor Ragnar Gerholm, Professor of Physics, Stockholm University and member of the Nobel Prize Nominating Committee of the Nobel Foundation, helped assemble a vast array of notables for this ICUS on topics ranging from "Information Technology" to "Life, Death and Eternal Hope." The 159 participants from 40 countries were truly rewarded for their efforts in which over 100 papers were presented and discussed in a three day period. In fact the discussions were so intense that many a coffee break was missed, but no one seemed to mind.
ICUS and PWPA held several joint activities together such as the Opening Reception, Opening Plenary and three evening plenary sessions. Just being in the receiving line and shaking the hands of over 500 people from 121 countries was an exhilarating, if exhausting, experience.
The Joint Opening Plenary was set in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton and Towers and was adorned with flags from each of the 121 countries represented. Dr. Gerholm gave welcoming remarks noting that science was, at least in part, responsible for making Washington, D.C. and America, in particular, the world's focal point for military and political power. He opined that with this power comes great responsibility. He was followed by the conference vice-chair, Norge Jerome, Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine and Associate Dean of Minority Affairs at the University of Kansas, who introduced the Founder. She observed that in having a woman introduce the founder for the first time, ICUS had come of age at twenty-one! After noting some of the endeavors she had been involved in such as ICUS, PWPA and the University of Bridgeport, she said the best way to know and understand a man like Reverend Moon is to come to know the fruits of his labors, "I have learned that his morality and integrity have no bounds and are manifest in the executives who administer his organizations. If you really want to know the man, look at his fruits. They say more about him than I can."
Several of the participants commented that Reverend Moon's Founder's Address was "great." In it Reverend Moon said that every parent wants their son or daughter to be better than them, that every parent wants their children to be children of filial piety, loyal citizens, and saints. And following the logic that God is the parent of humankind, God wants this for each of his children, too. Also, in clarifying who is the true owner of ones sexual organs, one's spouse, Reverend Moon gave the solution to the sexual misconduct that is plaguing many of the world's societies. If this simple idea were to take root, the confusion that surrounds male and female sexuality and appropriateness would end.
Following the Opening Plenary, ICUS went into another plenary session in which Alvin Weinberg spoke on the title of "Scientific Millenarianism." Dr. Weinberg is a famous nuclear physicist, who has chaired the conference on three previous occasions, and been instrumental in crafting nuclear energy policy for the United States government. He was one of the core members of the Manhattan Project during World War II in which the atomic bomb was created. Dr. Weinberg addressed, as we are about to enter the third millennium, certain long-reaching catastrophes such as comet collision with the earth, global warming, and disposal of nuclear waste, along with possible solutions. True, these problems may not affect our generation or even those in the near future, but their magnitude demand our attention, even now. Focusing on the disposal of nuclear waste which will take 10,000 years to become inactive, he observed we have four possible alternatives. Interestingly, beyond do nothing, more education, and a technical fix, he concluded that the possibility of religion playing an important role may be the final answer. He suggested that Hiroshima and Nagasaki ought to acquire "religious" significance similar to the Holocaust and the State of Israel in Judaism. He expressed hope that the tradition on Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons, will be incorporated into the world's religious doctrines, and thereby become a permanent human tradition.
As is the ICUS tradition we had six committees on various topics, and in addition helped sponsor a Festival-wide committee on Unification Thought. Committee 1 was chaired by Dr. Marcelo Alonso, Principal Research Scientist, Retired, Florida Institute of Technology and entitled, "Information Technology, Higher Education, and Research." Dr. Alonso was able to bring a wide international representation of experts in this field from America, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. Through the presentations it became clear that higher education must adapt to the increasing age of its students, and that the traditional methods of teaching are becoming more and more out of date. Professionals are coming to see that they need life-long educational opportunities. This is where the field of information technology can be very helpful. Many examples of what is being done in various parts of the world to serve students from all over the world were discussed, such as the Open University in England, the largest such university in the world.
Committee 2 was chaired by Bulent Atalay, Professor of Physics, Mary Washington College and the University of Virginia and entitled, "Symmetry in its Various Aspects: Search for Order in the Universe." This committee's honorary chair was the noted scientist, Yuval Ne'eman, Distinguished Professor of Theoretical Physics, Tel Aviv University, Israel. The papers dealt with symmetry in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, art, music, financial markets, and anthropology. Upon realizing the various types of symmetry in so many different fields, one is struck with the concept of a guiding force behind nature is quite compelling.
Committee 3 was a continuation from the last ICUS, it was chaired by Brett Cooke, Associate Professor of Russian, Texas A&M University and entitled, "Human Universals and the Biological Foundations of Art." One of the foremost scholars in the humanities served as honorary chair, Frederick Turner, Founder's Professor of Arts and Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas. Looking at various examples of art and literature this committee attempted to analyze the effect of Darwinian evolution on these various art forms. Some of the questions addressed included: Does art benefit humanity? Is aesthetic appreciation an inborn trait that we all have, that is only slightly modified by the culture we grow-up in? This is a field that is only now beginning and ICUS was happy to provide a forum for this discussion to continue.
Committee 4 was chaired by noted Academician, Eugine Velikhov, former Vice-President, Russian Academy of Sciences and President, Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. This is one of the foremost research institutes in Russia today. The committee was entitled, "Treatment of Non-linear Systems in Physics and Economics." Especially in Russia and other newly-emerging democracies, the old system of economics tends not to be very accurate in predicting future developments. By looking a new advances in particles, waves, astronomical structures, fluid dynamics, and plasma physics and applying these non-linear developments to the economy, more accurate predictions can be made.
Committee 5, "Wholeness Through the Pathways of Wisdom," was chaired by W. Andrew Achenbaum, Deputy Director, Institute of Gerontology, Professor of History, University of Michigan. His committee was balanced between representatives from the East and West as well as from the humanities and the medical field. One of the basic questions addressed was the effect one's faith has on healing and overcoming illness. By looking at various faith traditions it could be derived that this attribute is present in many religions, but often relies on the individual to activate it.
Committee 6 was chaired by Paul Badham, Head of the Theology and Religious Studies Department, University of Wales and was entitled, "Life, Death, and Eternal Hope." Carl Becker, Professor of Comparative Thought, Kyoto University served as honorary chair. This committee admittedly was dealing with areas not frequented by your usual scientist, that area of "life" that begins when one's physical life ends. Looking at near-death experiences, comparable memories of those who have gone to death's door and returned, and supposed communication between the living and dead made this committee one of the more interesting. Of course, if one believes in an after-life this has an affect on how one leads one's life in the here and now. Also addressed is how we care for those who are terminally ill and begs the philosophical question: If we believe it is better on the other side, why do we delay the elderly or infirm going to that better place, especially if they are in extreme pain?
As mentioned before there was a Festival-wide committee on Unification Thought entitled, "Constructing Theories for a Coming Age of Global Family." This committee was chaired by Ronald Burr, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Mississippi, and whose honorary chair was Sung-Bae Jin, President, Unification Thought Institute, Seoul, Korea. Some of the topics addressed included: "Religion vs. Science," "Theories of Evolution and Creation," "Re-construction of the Concept of the Family," "Theoretical Heirs to Socialism and Capitalism," "Equalization of Technology," and "Harmony of Humans in Nature." Dr. Sang Hun Lee, who passed away last year, was instrumental in designing this committee and many felt his presence during the sessions.
As the sessions concluded many noted how intense the time together had been. On Friday, November 28 many participants took advantage of a complementary tour of Washington, D.C. that included the Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Korean War, and Vietnam War Memorials. Following that was a stop at the White House, the World Culture and Sports Festival Exhibit at the Armory and the various museums on the mall.
We were asked to suggest three of our most prominent people for the VIP area at the RFK Stadium Blessing on Saturday. One prominent participant who was asked to sit in the VIP area hesitated at first, saying she had planned to go shopping. We pointed out to her that the Reverend and Mrs. Moon had prepared a magnificent Christmas present for her and everyone else at the stadium and we didn't want her to miss it. After thinking about it over night, she decided to go. Seeing her later that day she said it was a tremendous event and she was so happy she went.
If you would like to get a program from the conference, they can be obtained from the Secretariat's Office at 147 Goodrich Avenue, Lexington, KY 40503 or by email at email@example.com or by phone (T) 606/277-3743 (F) 606/278-4009. Programs are $2 each and individual papers can be purchased for $1 each.
Gregory Breland is the Executive Director of ICUS.
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