Varadaraja V. Raman

American physicist

Varadaraja V. Raman (born May 28, 1932, in Calcutta, India) is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has authored numerous books, more than 300 book reviews and scores of articles on science and religion. He is an active member of organizations devoted to building understanding between science and the humanities. In 2005 he was elected Senior Fellow of the Metanexus Institute on Science and Religion. In 2006 he was the recipient of the Raja Rao Award which honors and recognizes writers who have made an outstanding contributions to the literature of the South Asian Diaspora.


  • Bookish academics need to remember that when it comes to analyzing works regarded as sacred by vast numbers of people, sound scholarship is like the firmness of bones, while appreciation and sensitivity are like flesh and blood. Without the latter, the former is merely an ugly skeleton: morbid and monstrous, lifeless and lamentable. With the latter, scholarship becomes robust and living.
    • Quoted in Pratap Kumar, "A Survey of New Approaches to the Study of Religion in India," in New Approaches to the Study of Religion, Peter Antes, Armin W. Geertz, and Randi R. Warne, editors, 2004, p. 132.

Truth and Tension in Science and Religion

Beech River Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9793778-6-0</ref>
  • science and religion are intrinsically interconnected both being expressions of the human spirit.
    • page 10
  • the technical work of scientists is blind to nationalities, they overlap and mingle like sounds from different instruments in an orchestra to create and constitute the grand symphony that science is.
    • page 13
  • condemning religions as a whole would be like wanting to destroy a garden because weeds have disfigured it.
    • page 54
  • When one is involved in the discovery and discernment of the marvelous law and symmetries that shape the phenomenal world, one cannot but be struck by the silent and unfathomable intelligence that seems to pervade the Cosmos.
    • page 142
  • What debaters in ivory towers often fail to realize is that when it comes to achieving well-defined goals, both theism and atheism can work.
  • The fact is, when we are born, we are neither theists nor atheists, but ignoro-theists.
    • page 157
  • We are creatures, not only of the mind, but of feelings and emotions as well. Indeed, feelings and emotions are more fundamental to our being than pure logic and reasoning.
    • page 166
  • Religions are like lofty peaks rising high above the surrounding plains of our physical being, merging, as it were, into the distant domain of heaven itself, beckoning the human spirit with grandeur.
    • page 171
  • The spiritual quest is the expression of the deepest longing to connect with the Whole.
    • page 172
  • The person of faith, in ritual or worship, while reciting a prayer, singing a psalm, and invoking a mantra, feels deep within a communion that, like the philosopher’s stone of alchemy, transforms the lead and copper of animal existence into the silver and gold of divine delight.
    • page 176
  • The religious approach to spirituality is like delighting in a gourmet meal; the scientific approach is like studying recipes or chemically analyzing the ingredients of the menu.
    • page 181
  • Of all the wondrous elements in our vast and complex universe, there is perhaps nothing more intriguing, than consciousness.
    • page 182
  • If we do not wonder about origins and ends at least once during life’s journey, we are but biochemical blobs that devour matter and energy for a time-span, sport and make noise, and then go into eternal extinction.
    • page 194
  • Mysteries, to most scientists, are meta-stable states of non-understanding, often like darkness before dawn. Like the morning dew, they evaporate away by the light of new knowledge, causing an euphoric eureka.
    • page 194
  • all the light and beauty, all the grandeur and majesty of the universe are unraveled only in the tiny retinas of human beings.
    • page 199
  • The aesthetic dimensions of science, like that of great classical music, are evident to the aficionado.
    • page 299
  • It has been said that science is proof without certainty, where as religion is certainty without proof.
    • page 305
  • If a and b yield C, but C is not equal to a+b, then we have emergence.
    • page 313


  • Modern science rests on a universality that transcends ethnic, racial, and religious frameworks.
  • Ultimately, we all become photographs.
  • When the poet said that for him poetry was not a purpose, but a passion, he was also expressing the feelings of the true scientist to his own field.
  • While we have footprints on the sands of time, there is no trace of things yet to come.
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