Seminar on “Origin of Life and Evolution”

 Ajoy Roy 

Published on March 03, 2007

A half a day-long seminar on “Origin of Life and Evolution” was successfully held today, March 3, 2007 at the auditorium of the faculty of business studies at 4.00 p.m. that continued till 7 p.m. The seminar, organized by Shiksa Andolan Mancha, was largely attended by an audience consisting teachers, students and other professional people that filled up the entire auditorium. Among the audience were present Professor Akmal Hosain, Engnr. Harun ar Rashid, Engnr. Abdul Wahid Mazumder, Engnr. Kausar Ahmed, Journalist Moulana Hosain Ali, Architect Shafiuddin Ahmed, Advocate Zakia Ahmed, Professor Abidur Reza, Professor Farida Majid, Professor Nasim Khalilur Rahman, ICTP, currently a visiting scientist at DU, and many distinguished guests including a large number of university teachers.

The seminar presided over by Professor Ajoy Roy, was addressed by Botanist and a leading researcher in Evolution Prof. M. Akhteruzzaman, Anthropologist Professor HKS Arefin, Environmentalist-botanist Mr. Dwijen Sharma, Chemist Professor Shahidul Islam and Science World’s executive editor Mr. Asif.

At the beginning, Mr. Saifur Rahman Tapan, Assistant secretary of Shiksa Andolan Mancha welcomed the guests and the speakers. President of the Seminar narrated very briefly under what background the seminar is being held – (i) observance of Darwin’s day and (ii) publication of two books by three of MM and Shiksa Andolan Mancha’s members namely Avijit Roy & Farid Ahmed and Bonna Ahmed, almost coinciding the August day of Darwin’s birth day. Keeping these factors in mind Shiksa Andolan Mancha selected the theme of the seminar. The two books are:

1. Mahabiswe Pran and Budhimattar Khonje (Life in Universe and in search of intelligence in it) – Avijit Roy and Farid Ahmed
2. Bibartaner Path Dhore (Following the path of evolution) – Bonna Ahmed

Abosar, Dhaka, published both the books. On behalf of Abosar an official read out a written statement by Mr. Alamgir Rahman.

All the speakers from their own point of view spoke on the theme introducing the two published books on the relevance of the theme of the seminar. Professor Arefin described Darwin’s theory of evolution as most scientific even it was in many respects was incomplete. But the later scientists have brought the theory of evolution to almost perfection. In this respect he recommended Bonna’s book a must read one for common readers, who want to have some idea about evolution. He pointed out that evolution theory is not only applicable to Biological sciences but is equally applicable to dynamics of social mobility. About the book on Mahabiswe Pran etc. he said that he has been much benefited by reading the book although many of subtle things he does not understand because of his inadequate knowledge in sciences.

Professor Shahidul Islam mostly dealt with subject of origin of life in earth, the subject matter of the book written by Avijit Roy and Farid Ahmed. He tried to highlight the book not only because of the interesting theme but the way the authors systematically presented the matters in a very lucid language. According most interesting part of the book was the chapters dealing with extra terrestrial origin of life and possible existence civilization.

Mr. Dwijen Sharma deplored that evolution theory is not taught in schools and colleges in Bangladesh anymore. Even at the University level in the biological sciences it is not taught with due emphasis. Often it is treated as pseudoscience lacking in scientific proofs (sic). With honorable few exceptions, this is a clear indication how the university teachers have become unscientific. These also reflect their lack of knowledge and understanding with the recent development of Biosciences. He also deplored that although his books on plants and environment were highly appreciated by many readers, he is yet to receive any comments or queries on the books related with evolution and Darwinism. He feels encouraged to see two excellent books on origin of life and another on evolution being written by three authors belonging to new generation. He appealed to the audience to read these two books before criticizing Evolution of species and origin and evolution of life from inorganic matter according to laws of Physical sciences.

Professor Akhteruzzaman also lamented that his Bengali book on theory of evolution (Bibartanbidya) not been attracted much attention, even among his professional colleagues or students, not to speak of general readers. He spoke at length what we meant by species, genus, family etc and on the real meaning of modern Evolution. He stressed that Darwin had proposed the evolutionary theory of origin of species- what has been later termed as Darwinism. He stressed that Darwinism and Evolution are not synonymous. Modern Evolution deals with not only with origin of different species in the light of modern scientific discoveries and development but also with the origin and evolution of life. It deals with the development of life from simplest unit to complex ones and finally the descent of man on the earth. In this connection he welcomed the publication of two books by three young authors, although none of them are bioscientists.

Mr. Asif also suggested that two books should be widely read, especially by the young ones. This would help them to be open-minded.

The President, professor Ajoy Roy rounded up the discussion and answered queries and questions from the floor. (Professor Roy’s concluding speech in Bangla has been posted as separate file:

http://www.mukto-mona.com/project/2007books/seminar_address.pdf

).

The seminar was then followed by a film show : “Becoming Human”

From the reactions and comments of the gathering one can judge that it was grand success.

Report in Newspapers:



Similar report was also published in Daily Shamokal on 18th March, 2007
http://www.shamokal.com/details.php?nid=55253

                                                                  ________

Prof. Ajoy K. Roy--a reputed scientist and human rights activist from Bangladesh--is the member of Mukto-Mona advisory board. He writes from Dhaka.