Religion, violence, and a vision for 21st Century civilisation

March 1, 2017

Professor David Ford

The growing global problem of religion-related violence will be discussed in a lecture series at Murdoch University this month.

Murdoch University’s International Theologian for 2017, Professor David Ford, will explore the idea of how our world and societies can be healthily plural, living and working closely together despite differences.

“In this century, one of the challenges facing many societies and the international community is whether people and communities with deep and long term differences can avoid destructive division, conflict and violence and live well together,” Professor Ford said.

“Religion can shape the lives of individuals, groups, societies and civilisations, embodying their deepest and most comprehensive understandings, strongest commitments, hopes and desires.

“Religion is a deep powerful reality, in the midst of bewildering changes, which has been radically threatened and also deprived of much of the capacity to respond wisely to the changes and threats.”

Professor Ford said that universities have a major responsibility towards the religious dimensions of the 21st Century.

“In this lecture series I will examine how universities can be healthily plural places where wiser faith and wiser understanding of faith come together in such a way that capacity for wise response is increased both in religions and in the rest of society,” he said.

9 March – Religion-related Violence Today: An Emergent Response

Religion-related violence is a growing global problem for which none of the responses at present are adequate. Why is religion so dangerous now? How have responses been inadequate? What might be a better response in the interests of a more healthily plural world?

16 March – Depths, Differences, and Settlements: Religious Resources for Serving the Common Good

What resources do religions have for contributing to 21st Century civilisation in ways that are both true to themselves and also serve the common good of a healthily plural world? What might the contribution of universities be to this? How might they help our societies to be places of wiser faith and wiser understanding of faith?

23 March – Healthily Plural Civilization: The Murdoch Manifesto

What might the key elements be in a vision for 21st Century civilisation? Inspired partly by The Five Quintets, the forthcoming magnum opus of the poet Micheal O’Siadhail, a vision will be proposed, culminating in a manifesto addressed to universities, the religions, and society as a whole.

The series of three lectures will be held in the Kim Beazley Lecture Theatre, Murdoch University, at 6:30pm. For more information about the lecture or contacting Professor Gregory, please contact Professor Rowan Strong: / 08 9369 6470.


David F. Ford OBE is Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Selwyn College. Alongside continuing work on Christian theology and on inter-faith relations, Professor Ford’s current research includes work on the Gospel of John, theology, modernity and the arts, religion-related violence, contemporary worldviews and higher education.

He serves on numerous UK and international bodies, including the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership, launched in 2016; and Global Covenant Partners, which serves the Global Covenant of Religions, an international initiative in response to religion-related violence. Professor Ford was founding Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme, and a co-founder of the inter-faith practice of Scriptural Reasoning.

The Murdoch University International Theologian program began in 2008. It brings a major religious thinker to Perth for up to one month annually for a series of lectures and meetings. Previous Murdoch University International Theologians have included Professor Robert Frykenberg of Madison-Wisconsin University (2009), and Professor Barney Pityana, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Africa (2011).

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