Science and technology allow people to multiply their productivity much faster than those who do not have the same knowledge. And now the difference between what one person produces in the richest and the poorer countries in the world is 390 to 1. And with the IT and genetics revolutions, the difference will soon be 1,000 to 1.
And this is why the great empires of the twenty-first century are and will remain “The Empires of The Mind”. Societies that turn their back on technologies and stop building Empires of The Mind will perish!
We accept the fate of societies that fails to build Empires of the Mind, what is the fate of societies that turn their backs to build Empires of the Heart? In today’s troubled world we need more than technology. It is my belief that technology on its own will not save the day. A new word has gained currency in recent years - re-engineering. We need to re-engineer the global community. If we tackle the root causes of injustice and deprivation we will create a better life for all. We need to renew our faith in that Great Engineer – the Creator of the Universe, our Lord God.
I believe that our universe itself was designed and executed by a great engineering intelligence. Chet Raymo, an astronomer calculated the odds of our universe resulting: If all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the Earth were possible universes and only one of those grains of sand were a universe that allowed for the existence of intelligent life, then that one grain of sand is the universe we inhabit. Therefore life on this earth is a miracle and our gathering here today is even more miraculous for me.
While we celebrate the advances of technology, unfortunately technology also played a part in 911 and the terrorist aftermath. Globalisation has made it possible for a handful of fanatics to hold the world to ransom and technology gives them more advanced weapons.
Chesterton observed: The Greeks, the great guides and pioneers of pagan antiquity, started out with the idea of something splendidly obvious and direct; the idea that if man walked straight ahead on the high road of reason and nature, he could come to no harm or flippantly put, he has to simply follow his nose. The truth is when he follows his nose, he manages somehow to put his nose out of joint, or even to cut off his nose to spite his face.
It is no surprise that in today’s troubled world, Yancey observed that technology repeats the cycle of Adam and Eve, Prometheus, Icarus and Pandora. We master the atom and nearly obliterate ourselves. We learn the secrets of life only to develop techniques to destroy the unborn and the aging. We unlock the genetic code and open a Pandora’s box of ethics. We harvest rain forests and create floods, harness internal combustion and melt the icecaps. We link the world on an Internet only to find that the most downloaded items are pornographic. Every advance seems to induce a greater fall.
As a Christian, I believe I am a mere steward of God’s wealth. Whilst He writes the scripts we are His potential powerful pencils. We must therefore not only harness the mind, we must also harness our hearts to re-engineer the world of man and bring it back to sanity and productive endeavour. Let us not suffer from spiritual amnesia. Let us build together a lasting world full of goodness, an everlasting Empire of the Minds with Heart.
May I congratulate the graduates here today and wish you well in your chosen careers. I hope it will be as rewarding for you as it has been for me. My only advice is to keep your enthusiasm alive and your faith intact. Once again I thank you for honouring me and I give my Lord Jesus all the glory.
May God bless all of you in your future endeavours. Thank you very much.
SPEECH BY TAN SRI (DR) FRANCIS YEOH
ON THE CONFERMENT OF HON. DEGREE DOCTOR OF ENGINEERING
BY THE KINGSTON UNIVERSITY
12 FEBRUARY 2004