Faith, technology and sciences as vehicles of development
My address has underscored the relevance of faith in the context of the related ideas of fact and fiction. In the process, it accepts faith as given. After all, faith and society have always been linked since the birth of human civilisation. Religion has made enormous contributions to the growth of civilisation. In Nigeria, we should tap into the advantages of faith and avoid inter-religious conflicts. As a measure of historicity, in earlier times, religion supplied many ideas to trigger innovations in architecture, philosophy, politics, and organisation of communities and nations.
Religion, for a very long time, precipitated the popularity of science and scientific engagements because of the unending promise that the latter was projected to hold in human activities. Each of these two synergies, religion and science which were born from the continuous probing of the environment, answered different questions raised by human curiosity. For the unseen life of humankind, religion provided a solace and succour that prompted continued hope with which people navigated the puzzling environment.
As we have seen in the success of Babcock, their faith energised the community to promote science and technology so that Nigeria can grow to become modern. Babcock is not afraid of the pursuit of science and technology. The Babcock ideas do not wage wars against science, technology, and medicine. The Bible supports faith, technology and science. It is, for example, in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 12 verse 11, that we gather that, “those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense”.
Babcock believes that its students must work hard and acquire knowledge. We now use cars as opposed to donkeys, we use phones to break the sturdy wall of communication, we use washing machines as an alternative to manual washings; all these technologies being the products of scientific discovery. The interdependency of science, religion and survival is coded into the counsel of Paul in his letter to the religious folks in Thessalonica that “He that does not work does not deserve to eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Babcock continues to unleash our capacities for modernity. This modernity is not negotiable, but it can be achieved through a combined effort of faith, fact, and fiction. Nigeria must become successful by every contemporary definition: humanly, materially, economically, technologically, intellectually and morally.
Babcock is an open society, welcoming to people of different religions, ethnicity, class and gender. This shows that the University is not afraid of bringing down our wall of intolerance in order to accommodate people and ideas that bring progress and advance the purpose of the general importance of humanity, preservation of African culture, economic and political development. In the alternative, in what ways do we project that our society will ever grow up to the level of contending honourably with emerging civilisations if we shut out a level ground for science? Candidly, are we happy with the way we are progressing in the community of nations? Nigeria still uses Julius Berger for their infrastructural assignment, the Africa Union structure was erected by China, rail lines are built by international companies, amidst the number of African talents that are already numbed by parochial engineering. It is, indeed, my unyielding suggestion that the great nation of Nigeria must combine faith with science and technology.
The three would make a combinatorial force capable of catapulting our society to an enviable position. When our scientific engagements begin to unearth curious discoveries that may strain our commonsense, there and then faith is usually needed to drive us back into a normalcy which follows the moral compass of our society. Looking at the envious records that faith-based institutions are making especially, we cannot but concede to the fact that, rather than weaken our zeal to move forward, faith can in fact anchor our journey towards scientific inquiry. A school, which is committed to making holistic education, both academic and spiritual, proves itself worthy of its salt when we consider the crop of academic products that the country and the world harvest from it annually.
Youth behaviour must undergo a revolution to embrace faith and fiction because it engenders creativity. Every developed society has forever been known to stand on the shoulder of its youth. The vibrancy, the zeal, and the commitment shown by this demography is directly proportional to the stage of the growth of such society. If it is understood that many ideas are deposited into the brains of every thinking mind which requires youthfulness to achieve however, we would not be making a wrong conclusion that Babcock is building a new generation of graduates that will lead us to progress. I urge Babcock students to be part of the solution to the country’s problems. The world is fraught with unending puzzles waiting to be unraveled and solved. Thus, as I challenge every one of you to make use of the materials available, such as a willing school environment like this, to arm yourself and make drastic changes in our narratives, not only to shame the leaders with lame contributions to the betterment of the society, but also to assert our presence in the right position we deserve.
We should, as a matter of fact, not be carried away by the frenzy of the media society, where curious attention is given to materialism without minding the process.
We should, as a matter of fact, not be carried away by the frenzy of the media society, where curious attention is given to materialism without minding the process. The African media is promoting the values of consumption. Sadly, the youth are falling for this by trying to indulge themselves in the morally bankrupt activities of cybercrime, constituting nuisance, and brewing violence amidst other moral delinquencies. With the fact that no worldly known influential being has made their name through cybercrimes staring at us in the face, the African mind should understand that embracing name-denting activities would do more harm than good. Thus, it should be seen as a model of emulation to intending tertiary institutions and its founders that we must strive to achieve a combination of sound spiritual youths and an academically eclectic demographic, who we believe would go on to preserve our rich cultural legacy, and would not stray in their journey towards contemporary development.
Keep to your faith: it is the source of your strength, keep to your fact: it is the source of your understanding, keep to your fiction: it is the source of your imagination and creativity, keep to your Babcock culture: it provides you with the knowledge to progress. Cherish that Babcock knowledge: it holds the key to unlocking your greatness.
An excerpt of the convocation lecture of Babcock University, by Prof. Toyin Falola, the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.