SSQ/UIP Morocco Colloquium

Faith and Reason: Convergence and Complementarity

Université Al Akhawayn, Ifrane, Morocco

June 1- 3, 2002

Based in Ifrane, Morocco, Al Akhawayn is a university based on the American education system. It offers a graduate and undergraduate program in Business Administration, Humanities and Social Sciences and Science and Engineering. It also houses a Center of Environmental Issues and Regional Development well known as an Institute seeking to bridge between Morocco’s environment and its developmental needs. It is also known for its Institute of Economic Analysis and Prospective Studies, the Hillary Rodham Clinton Women Empowerment Center and the Azrou Center for Community Development.

This colloquium, organized at the University Al Akhawayn of Ifrane, on the theme of "Faith and Reason: common values between the scientific and religious undertakings" was the first such program to be held in the Muslim world. This colloquium underlined the important role Morocco is taking in the intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, as well as the promotion of values of tolerance and mutual comprehension. Common attitudes concerning the scientists’ and believers’ undertakings—values of honesty, humility, search for truth, sense of an interactive dialogue, exchange and sharing—were examined.

An innovative tool to bring cultures together

At a time in human history where the world’s cultures are increasingly in direct encounter, and with these encounters confronting diverse beliefs, the risk a “war of civilizations” has rarely been so important. Beyond the intrinsic value of exploring the interaction between science and religion, this program offered an important tool for cultural dialogue through the common language of Science. Through their shared language scientists from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Animist backgrounds debated in a more profound and fruitful way than could Rabbis, Priests or Imams alone without science as a vehicle of conversation.

An important stage in the renewal of the quest for meaning

For the public at large and even for certain specialists, science has often been associated with a certain “disenchantment with the world” in which both humankind and nature are seen in purely reductionistic terms. By raising questions of meaning within the heart of science, this SSQ dialogue helped bridge the apparent gulf between the “two cultures,” to explore the points of contact between modernity and tradition, and to counter anti-scientific or fanatical attitudes.

Conference Themes:

  • Cosmology and Astrophysics: what intersections are there between religious tradition and contemporary cosmology/astrophysics concerning the nature and origin of the universe?
  • Biological Sciences: what compatibilities—and what tensions—are there between evolutionary biology and notions of design in nature?
  • Matter and Reality: how do science and religion approach ontological questions concerning the ultimate nature of reality's foundations?
  • Science, Technology and Society: how are the world's religions responding—or reacting—to the rapid progress of science and technology at the beginning of the 21st century?
  • Convergence and Conflict: what are the moves toward rapprochement—and the stances of détente—between science and religion today?
  • Inquiry and Tradition: do science and religion share common values that counter obscurantism and dogmatism?

Speakers Included:

Imad Ad Din Ahmed
Anne Dambricourt
Rajaa Enaji
Carl Feit
Abdou Filali-Ansary
Bruno Guiderdoni
William Hurlbut
Muzaffar Iqbal
Idriss Khalil
Wajih Maazouzi
Thierry Magnin
Basarab Nicolescu
Pauline Rudd
Rabbi René Sirat
E.C. George Sudarshan
Ahmed Toufiq
Trinh Xuan Thuan
Graham Walker

The colloquium was organized around talks and debates during which specialists well versed in the field of science and religion, brought their questions and reflections to the presentations.

Speakers were selected by each partnering organization: the University Al Akhawayn, UNESCO, UIP and SSQ. Opening addresses were given by:

  • Rachid Benimokhtar Benabdellah, President of the Al Akhawayn University of Ifrane,
  • Mark Richardson, Co-investigator of the Science and the Spiritual Quest II program, and
  • Jean Staune, General Secretary of the Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris