The SSQ Program


“Science and the Spiritual Quest” served as a hub of expertise and activity at the intersection of science and spirituality from 1996 - 2003. SSQ benefited from the intellectual capital of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences as well as the academic reputations of the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California at Berkeley.

“Science and the Spiritual Quest” was one of the most successful programs ever conducted in the field of science and religion. In seven years, SSQ recruited more than 120 internationally, leading scientists into intensive dialogue on the connections between science and spirituality. SSQ involved over 11,000 people in 17 public events in nine countries on four continents, featuring nearly 300 speakers at these events. By conservative estimates, SSQ reached over 400 million people through media coverage. SSQ published groundbreaking volumes, and produced new video products. SSQ forged programmatic and financial partnerships with some 40 organizations and fostered numerous new efforts in science and religion around the globe.

The SSQ concept was created during a three-year initial grant phase (SSQ I, 1996-98). We worked with the assumption that approaching the science-religion discussion via the notion of a scientist’s spiritual quest would accomplish three goals: 1) help to bring major scientists into the discussion, 2) create common ground between working groups of scientists who shared a common research field such as physics and cosmology or genetics and evolutionary biology, and 3) lead to output (conferences, videos, and publications) that would be accessible and attractive to a broader audience. All our assumptions proved to be correct.

The next phase of the program, SSQII (1999-2003), took the concept worldwide with multiple workshops and conferences in the United States, France, Spain, India, Japan, Romania, the Vatican, Morocco, and Kazakhstan. The scope of the program’s success—in the level of scientific participants, number of events, number of attendees, media impressions, number and quality of partnerships, publications, and fundraising successes —far exceeded our expectations.

Accomplishments 1996 - 2003

SSQ past activities and results include the following:

Key scientific disciplines represented:

physics and applied physics, cosmology and astrophysics, biophysics and biochemistry, molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, neurosciences, cognitive sciences, computer science, information technology, ethology and primatology, ecology

Key religious traditions represented:

Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Shinto, indigenous animisms, neo-paganism, naturalism, agnosticism, atheism

Total number of private research workshops held: 16

Total number of scientists involved in research workshops: 122

Total public events held: 17 events held in 9 countries covering 4 continents

Total number of speakers involved in public events: 326

Total estimated public event attendance: 11,535

Total number of telecasts and webcasts: 3

Total number of video and multimedia products: 6

Publications by outside publishers: 4

Publications by SSQ and partners: 9

Estimated media impressions: 378 million

Program partners: 54

Partners and Funders

Science-Religion Organizations

Scientific Organizations

  • National Academy of Sciences, Kazakhstan
  • National Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS), India
  • Romanian Academy, Romania
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),

Cultural and Religious Organizations

  • Centre for Studies in Civilisations, India
  • Fundacion de las Tres Culturas del Mediterraneo, Spain
  • Global Academy, USA
  • Indian Council for Philosophical Research, India
  • Institut Francais de Bucarest, Romania
  • Institute of Oriental Studies of the Ministry of Education and Science, Kazakhstan
  • Kengal Hanumanthaiya Foundation, India
  • Memorial Church of Harvard University, USA
  • Pontifical Council for Culture, Vatican City
  • Romanian Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, Romania
  • The Art of Living Foundation, India

Academic Institutions

Publishing and Media Production Organizations

Grantmaking Organizations