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April 4, 2003

Forum provides outlet for positive discussion of several, varied religions

By Vivian Vakili
Contributing Writer
April 4, 2003

By Kanrad Rykaczewski / STUDENT PUBLICATIONS

The Worldview Forum, held last Thursday in the Student Services Building, served to gather students to discuss their views on several different religions. Representatives of each religious organization were in attendance.

Anais Nin once wrote, "When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow."

Indeed, the first step to growing is increasing one's knowledge. This mantra is not only recognized, but also heavily practiced at a place such as the Georgia Institute of Technology. There is no doubt as to the technical expertise of students at this school, but what about knowledge of the metaphysical, the theoretical? How versed are Tech students when it comes to religion?

It seems as though many people simply adopt the religion of their family, or view religion as a ritual or a label. As most religions offer rather concrete views on the meaning of life and the fate of the soul after death, does it not seem a bit ludicrous that so many people blindly accept this label?

It seems even more ridiculous when we consider that college hunting is a more rigorous process to most people than hunting for a religious ideology.

How important is religion, though?

Even if one decides not to participate in something, it is nonetheless a good idea to know about it. Religion is a perfect example of this.

Some of the longest, bloodiest wars in history have been fought on behalf of religion, and in the name of religion. Whether this religious motive is right or not, it does warrant some sort of investigation into ideologies. Religion can perhaps be considered one of the most potent elements of society; the Worldview Forum, held a week ago Thursday, attempted to increase student awareness of various religious beliefs.

The Worldview Forum was sponsored by the Campus Crusade for Christ and held in the Student Services building. Over 100 people were in attendance.

The program was split into several different portions.

The first portion consisted of panelist speeches delivered by representatives from the Hindu, Jewish, Baha'i, Christian, Muslim, and Atheist organizations.

Each representative had been sent a letter prior to the event asking that each speech give an educational explanation between eight and ten minutes long to explain the religion's central beliefs and tenets, and what distinguishes it from other faiths.

In addition, the speakers were asked to explain what tangible difference involvement in the particular religion made in the student's life, and how each person's beliefs were relevant to his or her life.

All of the speeches were delivered with passion, and each had subtle spiritual links. All were also quite objective in nature, and served the purpose of effectively laying out the main points of the religion and clearing up common misconceptions associated with each.

Following these panelist speeches, audience members handed in questions for the panelists.

The Atheist representative was asked about the origins of evil, since he had said that the origins of good did not come from some higher power. It was answered that both good and evil could basically be attributed to human nature.

The Muslim representative was asked why Muslim societies oppressed women. The representative answered that it this was a common misconception of Arabic cultures; he argued that just because the women wear a veil, it does not mean that they are oppressed.

One question posed to every representative except the Baha'i representative was about what the other representatives thought of the Baha'i faith.

All of the representatives responded positively and favorably. As the Baha'i representative had explained the Baha'i idea of Progressive Revelation, which basically means that all religions share a common spiritual belief, but social laws are updated as society progresses socially, the representative was asked if the Baha'is believed there would be another prophet after Baha'u'llah, their prophet-founder. It was answered "yes," that society will eventually progress to another point when social laws will need to be updated.

Following the panel discussions, people broke into smaller groups to further discuss respective religions. The individual discussion groups were characterized by many inquiries, a good exchange of information, and an overall vibe of fellowship.

©Copyright 2003, Technique (GA Tech., GA, USA)

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