The Words of the Clevenger Family
The happy staff members of ICUS XVI pose with the True Family.
Imagine a teenage boy praying on a mountain. Then see him being asked by Jesus to create nothing less than a world of peace and happiness for all mankind. The how-to-do-it instructions? Well, he has to develop them himself.... Next, picture a cardboard shack with dirt floors and a bit of rice available for food. It is inhabited by a young man who has survived almost three years in a communist prison and a grueling journey from North Korea to Pusan. Even after such a living nightmare, this young man still has intact a phenomenal dream of a beautiful world. And that's about all he has -- except for stubborn determination and a passionate love for God. Add to this 21 hours a day of hard work year after year, guided by wisdom and vision, plus the sacrificial effort of many others along the way who were willing to hope, even if they didn't believe, that such a world might be possible.
What do you get? Until this era, one might predict the result would be a lot of disillusioned people with broken dreams, settling for whatever they could eke out from a very non-ideal world. However, this most remarkable man, no longer young, is really doing it,
Painting by Shigeyoshi Wabe: Father on his long trek from North Korea to Pusan, carrying Mr. Chung Hwa Pak on his back
Walking into the Waverly Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 26, 1987, for the 16th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) was like walking into an eons-long dream come true. As one emerged from the elevator and strolled down the halls circling the beautiful interior garden area, one glimpsed in the various conference rooms signs proudly announcing that here "The Unity of the Universe" will be discussed, and there "The Value of Human Life" will be considered. These weren't going to be just idle conversations. Some 250 scholars from 40 countries -- some of the best minds of our time -- had come together eager to explore these and other areas, not just for their own intellectual gratification, but with the desire to help solve mankind's problems -- a necessary step in the process toward a world of peace and happiness for all mankind.
Listening to the ideas of many of history's greatest thinkers being brought to bear on the timeless issues at hand, one couldn't help but feel that somehow all those who through the centuries have contributed some insight towards illuminating the mysteries of this world were there participating, making the discussions not only inter-everything (-disciplinary, -religious, -cultural, -national) but also "supra-century," so to speak. In this "extended family" of scholars, as Chairman Alvin M. Weinberg observed in his Opening Remarks, who are bound by their common willingness to participate in something "controversial" and to venture beyond the limits of their chosen discipline, there is great freedom to express questions and conclusions beyond what they may have a chance to do in their normal daily environment. One scholar's concepts are bounced against the ideas of another who may have greater knowledge in a certain area or a totally different perspective and experience, with the result being that more and more of the "whole elephant" (as in the tale of the three blind men and the elephant) is pieced together. Cared for from the moment they are picked up at the airport and transported to the hotel, the participants feast not only on delicious food, but more importantly on a smorgasbord of nourishing ideas.
A spectacular view of the atrium of the Waverly Hotel in Atlanta, site of ICUS XVI.
Every year the conference officially begins Thanksgiving evening, the fourth Thursday in November, as each participant is personally welcomed by True Parents in the reception line. This year the scholars found it easy to get acquainted with each other as they mingled in the large banquet hall amidst tables laden with an array of international food. Near the seafood table I talked with a couple from Scotland, at ICUS for the first time. He is a psychologist who investigates how fear of a nuclear war affects people. He thought Rev. Moon must be a very rich man. I pointed out that he probably could be but that our movement spends all its money on conferences like this. Hmmmm.
By the fresh vegetable display, I spoke with an ecologist who sometimes takes the identity of "Johnny Biosphere" -- like Johnny Appleseed, who traveled around planting apple orchards -- and goes to different schools and groups to dramatize and explain the importance of caring for our ecosystem.
By the dessert table, I listened to a man who investigates death and dying explain several possibilities for what may happen after death. His search hinges on receiving communication from those who had died. I wanted to introduce him to Heung Jin Nim. He feels that if someone can really prove that there is life after death, it could substantially change the world.
Between tables I met professors who had personally known Einstein and the world-famous chemist Linus Pauling. One scholar was studying the issue of malnutrition in the world and how to alleviate it.
Everyone seemed happy and excited to be there, and to be bringing a very sincere and learned contribution to the work which was to begin the next day.
On Friday morning, the Conference Executive Board was introduced, and then Professor Tor Ragnar Gerholm, one of the vice-chairmen of this year's conference, gave Father a very warm and insightful introduction. 'As we all know." he said, "Rev. Moon is a controversial man. Why? Because he matters. He matters not only here and now, at ICUS of which he is the founder, not only in the United States, or in his homeland of Korea.
Rev. Moon matters all over the noncommunist world. And because of that, he matters also among the communists, who in him rightly see a conscious, determined, and influential antagonist." Dr. Gerholm went on to recognize that
for Rev. Moon, nature is "God's textbook of lover' That is why science is so important to him. We, the scientists, are the learned men and women able to read and interpret this "textbook of love." If this seems strange to us, it is only because we have long since forgotten what was originally the sole purpose of our profession.
Dr. Fred M. Johnson, professor of physics at California State University at Fullerton, uses props to present his talk on "Organic Molecules and the Origin of the Solar System" in Committee I.
Dr. Gerholm's own sensitive, beautiful heart was further revealed as he then asked,
Could it be that Rev. Sun Myung Moon had to expose himself to unbelievable humiliation, suffering, and physical torture, had to travel all the way from the Far East to the United States, had to establish ICUS in order to remind us, the scientists, of what we once all knew but now seem to have forgotten? I will not answer this question.... But let me say this. Whatever we feel about religion in general and about the Unification theology in particular, Rev. Moon is no doubt a genuine religious leader, a man of integrity and inspiration. When a man of such extraordinary qualities turns to the scientific community and asks us, the scientists, to do work of spiritual importance, we should all, in the name of science, feel encouraged.
The chairman, Dr. Alvin Weinberg, initiated a standing ovation as Father got up to speak. In his Opening Address, Father urged the scholars to seek solutions for the world's problems with a mind toward considering the will and love of God.
The actual work of the conference then began, as the seven committees discussed the 88 papers that the participants had researched and written throughout the year. All addressed, in many different ways, what Dr. Weinberg called the "magnificent twin aims of ICUS"
These aims -- searching for the unity of all knowledge and for absolute values in science -- truly are breathtaking. When I was in school, I knew that a chemistry textbook anywhere in the world had to have the same basic content, because the same basic laws and processes prevail everywhere (on earth, at least!) independent of man's concepts. It seemed to me that there should also be some universal constants that could guide all men toward lives of deepest fulfillment. Attending this ICUS, I was moved to realize that the search for these constants, which led me to the Principle, is also reflected in ICUS' noble quest -- to find the unity of thought and discover universal, transcendent values.
The progress of this search can be marked by the fact that this year only three of the committees dealt primarily with science while four concerned themselves with issues that Dr. Weinberg pointed out were "much more in the realm of religion and philosophy" than in the realm of science. In his summary remarks, Dr. Weinberg noted that one could "properly ask why such matters belong in a conference on the unity of the sciences in the first place" His answer was two-fold: 1) Although the subject matter is essentially religious, the approach is scientific; and 2) ICUS has accepted the broad interpretation of knowledge -- to include religious knowledge. Dr. Weinberg observed that in the search for understanding among the monotheistic religions, "the great question of how shall man live is always immanent."
Dr. Riitsu Nishio, director of Academic Research, PWPA Japan, explains "The Interaction of Spirit and Matter and the Qi Function" in Committee VI.
A sampling of the comments and questions I heard in the committee sessions reveals the quest to under- stand what a truly "good" and full life is:
"How do you cultivate the content of your own heart?"
"Should we aim toward a society in which people have fewer preferences, say 20, and we can satisfy 19 of them, or toward a society in which people can have many preferences, say, 200, but we are only able to satisfy 100 of them?"
"What do we, who have trouble hearing each other, much less God, do with the God of Abraham, who is masculine, and who speaks to His people in a very direct and specific way?"
"God didn't give us the idea of prophethood -- He gave us actual prophets. Thus God reveals Himself not in generalities, but in specific examples."
"We live in an age of diminishing expectations -- socialism and capitalism now provide more questions than answers. We need something else..:" [Addressed to representatives from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam] "What is the ultimate purpose for which man was created?"
Regarding the "trans-scientific" nature of many of these issues, Dr. Weinberg asked that all the participants "subject what is said to strict logical criticism" to avoid "pseudo-science that parades as science.'
The scholars' respect and affection for Father are growing in direct proportion to how much personal contact they have with him. At a VIP dinner with True Parents, held Friday night for the plenary speakers and committee chairmen, Father invited questions and answered queries about his vision for ICUS. He then asked the scientists what they thought of him. When there was no response, he himself answered by saying, "I know you must think I'm a strange fellow" His warmth and humor helped those attending see him as a very personable as well as remarkable man. One professor of ethics who has had the opportunity to meet with Father at the Unification Theological Seminary observed that Father has reached the highest level of moral development, as described by Lawrence Kohlberg: the level at which a human being is genuinely motivated by a desire to benefit all mankind.
Discussion during one of the sessions of Committee II: The Value of Human Life, led by Dr. Paul Badham and Dr. Ninian Smart.
The Farewell Banquet was attended not only by all the professors and scholars, but also by clergymen from the area who had participated in the Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy (ICC). Dr. Ralph Abernathy gave a stirring invocation to open the evening, and then presented Father with a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., to commemorate the holding of the 16th ICUS in Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. King. He praised Father's role in the unification of all people -- East and West, black and white.
In his Farewell Address, Father warmly acknowledged the nobility of the participants, especially those who have supported ICUS through all the persecution in its early years. He told the scholars, "Because I founded this project solely to fulfill God's will, I never doubted that it would prosper." He concluded by saying he looked forward to seeing everyone in Los Angeles next year (site of the 17th ICUS), and then received another standing ovation. Dr. Kenneth Mellanby, chairman of the ICUS Planning Board, presented a trophy to Father inscribed with a tribute in recognition of Father's "profound vision for global understanding and harmony, his extraordinary success in achieving that vision, and his unchanging commitment to prepare the world for the 21st century." The trophy was given with "deepest affection, gratitude, and respect" from the Planning Board.
The evening concluded with a moving performance of classical music by members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Eaton and Kevin Pickard. Jamie Louise Baer was the soloist in the beautiful "Song Cycle for Soprano and Orchestra," composed by Kevin Pickard over a text by Randolph Remmel.
Not everybody can discover the Principle the way Father did. But such an impetus for research and forum for discussion as ICUS provides cannot help but enable those who sincerely desire to know what is come giant steps closer to this goal. In the process, these scientists contribute their own substantial understanding and experience, build meaningful professional and personal relationships, and some are even able to have their findings published, in order to reach a much wider audience beyond those who are fortunate enough to attend the conference. Although Father's vision has spawned innumerable projects and conferences in essentially every area, it is noteworthy that True Parents themselves have always attended each ICUS (Mother attended even when Father was in Danbury). Certainly Father feels a common bond with those scholars who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of the truthful understanding of this universe and who also desire to alleviate the suffering of humankind.
Dr. Michael Papagiannis of Boston University discusses "Life and Intelligence in the Universe -- A Cosmic Perspective" in Committee I.
I want to share with you the closing of Dr. Gerholm's plenary address, "Beyond Science." Involved in ICUS for 15 years, he expresses in a striking way something of what participants come to understand through their experiences over the years with this conference.
Our founder, Rev. Moon, is a man of religion. His concern is not about matters in science but beyond, on the transcendental side. On such issues I have nothing to offer. Religiously speaking I am an innocent child, curious and open-minded. But I know that my ignorance does not bother Rev. Moon. Rightly or wrongly he believes that as more and more scientists find themselves pushed to the limit of science, they will find that the key to transcending this limit is to regard that, behind all material and life phenomena, there is a purposeful motive working in accordance with God's purpose of creation.
In this spirit, let me close by quoting a most wonderful passage from one of my favorite authors, the American anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley. It seems to me that somehow it has a direct bearing on what I have tried to convey tonight. But please, you must listen carefully. There is a very special twist to it that I don't want you to miss:
Yet whenever I see a frog's eye low in the water warily ogling the shoreward landscape, I always think inconsequentially of those twiddling mechanical eyes that mankind manipulates nightly from a thousand observatories.
Someday, with a telescopic lens an acre in extent, we are going to see something not to our liking, some looming shape outside there across the great pond of space. Whenever I catch a frog's eye, I am aware of this, but I do not find it depressing. I stand quite still and try hard not to move or to lift a hand since it would only frighten him. And standing thus it finally comes to me that this is the most enormous extension of vision of which life is capable: the projection of itself into other lives. This is the lonely, magnificent power of humanity. It is, far more than any spatial adventure, du supreme epitome of the reaching out.
The ICUS, like all of True Parents' projects, offers God yet another way to help His children develop the power to unify -- through a heart that can reach out to embrace and understand all other beings.
The scholars mingle among themselves during a coffee break.
The Cosmological Problem: The Origin and Fate of the Universe
The Anthropic Principle as a Unifying Approach to the Universe
Gravitational Antennas and the Search for Gravitational Radiation
Life and Intelligence in the Universe -- A Cosmic Perspective
Technology and the Good Life
Allocating Health Care Resources and the Problem of the Value of Life
What Prevents Life from being Worthwhile? -- An Examination of Some Changing Views on Human Life and Suffering
Three Views of Death and Their Implications for Life
Truth, Nonviolence, and Ecumenism in Gandhian Thought
The Buddha's Conceptions of Reality and Morality
Unification Thought and a New Basis for Society
The Philosophical Multidimensionality of Confucianism
Biology, Economics, and Bioeconomics
The Law and Economic Approach
The Economics of Conflict
The Economic Approach to International Relations
The World Food Situation -- Glut and Starvation
Nutrients, Cognition, and Human Behavior
The Chinese Experience in Transforming Nutrition
And They Ate and Drank and Rejoiced Before the Lord
An Initial Study of the Qi in Chinese Painting and the Secret of
The Indian View of Nature
The Interaction of Spirit and Matter and the Qi Function
Buddhist View of Nature and Qi
The Mystical Way to Unity
The God-Concept and the Creed
The Good Life: What It is and How to Achieve it
The Role of Women
During ICUS XVI, Victoria Clevenger interviewed three of the participating scholars: Dr. Tor Ragnar Gerholm, conference vice-chairman; Dr. Paul Badham, organizing chairman for Committee II: The Value of Human Life; and Dr. Kenneth Mellanby, presenter of a paper in Committee II entitled "The Place of the Human Race in the Natural Order" and conference chairman of three previous ICUS meetings. Here are some excerpts from those interviews.
Question: What motivated you to first get involved in ICUS?
Dr. Gerholm: I was always interested in transdisciplinary studies. I felt an urge to study beyond my narrow profession, which is physics. I first got an opportunity to participate in ICUS in Japan, 15 years ago.
There, within a few days, I learned more than I could have in a whole year of reading, because I could interact with other scientists and ask questions I wouldn't even have thought of, had I not met these people. For instance, I met the only surviving student of Pavlov, who was 90 and was the head of the Pavlovian Institute in New York. We spent a whole night speaking about his life -- it was an extraordinary experience.
Over the years I have become more interested in Unification Thought, because that is what inspires ICUS.
Now that I'm more involved in the planning of ICUS, it is important to know what Rev. Moon wants us to do. At first it was just a personal pleasure to be at the conferences, but over the years we realized that ICUS is not just for pleasure. We are supposed to accomplish something for the larger purpose and contribute in some way. I try to do as much as I can.
Question: What is your impression of Rev. Moon? Were you surprised?
Dr. Gerholm: He must surprise everybody. He combines so many extreme opposites in one person. When you look at him, he seems to have almost no difficulty at all being an engineer and a minister, getting involved with the scientific community, and starting a newspaper. Everything seems to come to him very easily, but of course it doesn't really. Yet he never seems to be under strain. One would expect him to be sort of like a harassed executive running around, but he is very relaxed. It is a very interesting phenomenon.
Question: Why are you not bothered by the controversy?
Dr. Gerholm: I have read Unification theology and have met so many of Rev. Moon's associates, including Rev. Moon himself, who is a wonderful man. I don't care what the negative people think, since I know they are wrong. If someone stands up for what he believes in, he wins respect. Society is looking for leadership, so those who can, should stand up.
Question: How did you get involved with ICUS?
Dr. Badham: My first book on Christian beliefs about life after death had a chapter devoted to the issue of mind / brain identity. Sir John Eccles, a Nobel Prize winner in physiology, had read my book and invited me to the Los Angeles ICUS as part of his committee on the question of mind / brain identity.
Question: Did you have any misgivings?
Dr. Badham: No, because in 1979 I wasn't aware of any negative publicity about the Unification Church, and it helped to be invited to join a group led by the man who is the leading specialist in his field and whose work I greatly admired. Of course, once the sponsorship of ICUS had been brought to my attention, I did become aware of hostile press coverage. I indicated I'd like to know more, so I was invited to attend a conference devoted to Unification Thought.
Although I was fairly critical of the theology, I was very impressed by the people. I could see that I was talking to highly intelligent people who could make a good rational case for what they believed in, so I realized the kinds of things the press was saying just weren't true. I had never had the opportunity to dialogue with so many people working in the area of dualism and mind/brain identity. I met and discussed this issue with people who were actually in the top of their field. I learned a tremendous amount.
Question: As chairman of Committee II, could you explain what the responsibility of a committee chairman is?
Dr. Badham: What is important is that one should try to have in mind a potential book from the word go. Unity of theme is important for a good book, thus also for a good conference. Take a subject that matters -- medical ethics and what makes life worth living, for example -- and look at the different perspectives and relevant disciplines that pertain to that subject. Then invite various experts to come to a preliminary meeting. Give them an overview of what you have in mind, and ask them each to write a paper on a particular area.
Then, having gotten the initial acceptance, have a pre-ICUS meeting, where paper writers can give brief accounts of what they intend to say. They can change and modify their papers in light of how they see the whole thing fitting together. It's a tremendous educational experience, and very exciting. I hope the books that will arise from the committee I headed will bring this excitement out to the whole world.
Question: You were able to attend the VIP dinner on Friday night -- what was your impression of Rev. Moon?
Dr. Badham: At our VIP meeting, Rev. Moon agreed to answer our questions about issues that puzzled us, how to organize the conference, what ICUS's future plans were -- all of which was very helpful. Because we were meeting in a relatively small group, we had a perspective on Sun Myung Moon as a person that was different from what you get seeing him on a platform seriously delivering a prepared speech. He was relaxed, laughing, enthusiastic. I very much enjoyed it. One thing that came out strongly was how often his very ambitious plans have been deemed impossible by his advisors. But he always overrides such advice and his plans have always worked!
Question: Has your concept about God been affected by your experience with the Unification movement?
Dr. Badham: I have developed a deeper realization that God is at work in all the religious traditions of the world. On one level, I always believed that; but now my abstract theory has been overwhelmingly verified and deepened by encounters with people and by attending worship services with others -- for example, through my attendance at the Assembly of the World's Religions in 1985. Certainly there is a very obvious authenticity about your own Unification worship service.
I will be one of the lecturers on the next ACUMI tour of Korea and Japan and will talk about the interfaith experiences I've had in connection with your movement. I want to say how valuable it is to have met people from different religious traditions -- for example, Buddhists. One can get a wrong impression if one's search is confined only to sacred texts. This experience has permanently shaped my study of religion.
Question: What have been the highlights of your experience at ICUS?
Dr. Badham: At one ICUS conference we had a social event to attend, and some of us hired a car. With me was a Syrian Arab and an Israeli professor from Jerusalem. They commented that under no other circumstances would they have gone off for the day together. But here they were together and indeed becoming friends. That kind of thing really makes one aware that personal contact is a dynamic force, that you can't keep stereotyped images of the wickedness of people of other nationalities when you meet and get to know them.
I think the inter-religious, international, interdisciplinary mode of discussion at ICUS is the best thing going. This approach is the best way toward solving the problems of the world. I find immense benefit in this process. I always leave every ICUS conference with some idea of what I would like to teach or write differently.
A great number of academics from many countries have had their lives influenced by this experience. This will affect the way people teach and live 100 years from now. One can already see the effects. I think it will have a very beneficial impact on society.
Question: How did you come to be involved in ICUS?
Dr. Mellanby: I first heard about ICUS in 1973, when I was approached by Lord Adrian to attend the third ICUS in London. He was chairman that year. I didn't know what it was all about, but I thought if Lord Adrian, who was a very great man, was enthusiastic about it, it must be a good thing. At that time there was a lot of controversy about Rev. Moon, and the moment my name appeared as an attendee, a lot of ill-wishers to the church approached me who didn't want me to attend.
First I looked into the question of the independence of the scientific work, and I found there was no sinister influence; the scientific side was absolutely above-board. I also knew that I couldn't continue to be involved if what the papers said about the church was correct. So I looked into that area too and found absolutely no reason not to attend.
I had to make sure that the majority of the points that Rev. Moon was accused of were not true. Then I had to discover what motivated the people who were attacking. I think it was partly politics, partly misapplied religion, and partly general misunderstanding. The man who was the spearhead of the persecution in England used to write to every ICUS participant and tell them not to attend (telephoning me once at midnight); he was completely fanatical. But now he has seen the light, so to speak. He's not a supporter but has stopped what he used to do. It still annoys me that most of the information printed today is at least 5 or 10 years old. I've written several articles about the Unification Church to counter the attack from scientific circles.
Question: What made you want to stay involved?
Dr. Mellanby: I stayed involved because this was a unique conference, the only one I knew of that brought together people from completely different disciplines and nationalities. I believe that Rev. Moon has a great vision. He believes that because of the divisions in science, scientists are not making the contribution to world problems that they should be and that these conferences can bring them together to help them better serve mankind.
Impressive to me is the way in which a considerable number of people for whom I have a great respect are obviously striving for the success of ICUS. The fact that we haven't completely succeeded in living up to Rev. Moon's ideals is our fault and not his. He has made a great contribution himself, and we should be striving very hard to live up to his vision.
The Unification Church has a theology that I can respect but not follow. I belong to a different church. One thing I admire is that although members of the Unification Church have passionate beliefs, they are remarkably sympathetic to other beliefs. I can respect that and particularly the people who belong.
Since the third ICUS I have missed only one conference so far. I even had the privilege of visiting Rev. Moon in prison. That was a remarkable experience. It was a very great wrong that he was imprisoned at all, and I sent correspondence to a number of people about that. He accepted this situation and was a model prisoner. One had the impression that while he wasn't exactly running the prison, his personality was such that he was clearly respected by the other inmates and prison staff. He meticulously carried out everything he had to do as a prisoner.
Rev. Moon is a man of enormous energy. ICUS would be a full-time job for anyone, and although he has given so much of his time and energy to it, ICUS is only a tiny part of his total contribution.
Question: In the future, how do you think this project and Rev. Moon himself will be remembered?
Dr. Mellanby: Those of us who have had the privilege of meeting Rev. Moon have formed an extremely high opinion of him and of his contribution. Regarding the scientific work, I think it will increase. I think ICUS has had more influence than people realize. We have quite a community of people who have attended one or more conferences. Many people are disappointed that they can't always be invited; far more want to come than can. I hope that opportunities for being published in the new International Journal on the Unity of the Sciences will continue to mobilize the good will of such people.
Question: What has touched you most deeply in all these years?
Dr. Mellanby: The thing I've been most impressed with is the wonderful contact I've had with the young members of your church who are helping with the conference. My wife and I have been very moved to meet so many dedicated people -- man of whom we've developed a very close friendship with.
Question: Do you feel your concept about God has changed over the years through this experience?
Dr. Mellanby: I'm a Unitarian. I think I could honestly say that my contact here has made me a better member of my own church, which I believe is Rev. Moon's idea. On a number of occasions I've invited Unification Church members to come to my own church.
Question: What have you gained personally from ICUS?
Dr. Mellanby: I think my understanding of world problems has been greatly widened. I hope that my association with the many other scientists who attend has made me a better scientist and a better person. It certainly has been a fascinating experience.