New York, USA — Do bacteria require light?” Tashi, one of my best students, wants to know. He sits there in Dharamsala, India, like his Buddhist monk colleagues, cross-legged on the floor in maroon robes, six hours a day learning science from a tall white Jewish guy from North Carolina.
Religion often has a hard time of it, especially among academics, and especially among scientists. Of course academics have no problem studying religion and raising big money to establish endowed chairs, centers, and institutes devoted to just that. But when actually being religious or even discussing personal beliefs or spirituality at all, is rare and, if anything, discouraged. To me this is an odd and disturbing social conundrum: let’s take our best thinkers and idea-people, theorizers, and policy developers and eradicate any discussion of personal belief, religion, or spirituality from their official discourse. Brilliant.