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What inspired one of the world’s great pioneering global investors to devote his wealth to unlocking the mysteries of the universe and human nature? Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation and granddaughter of its founder, explored such questions and more in a wide-ranging interview on Beyond Belief, a weekly online show that features guests of diverse backgrounds exploring their views on spiritual and intellectual questions. Beyond Belief is produced by Aish, a Jewish community and content-focused organization. Host Rabbi Adam Jacobs interviewed Dill in a forty-five-minute conversation that covered the Foundation’s origins and the vision of Sir John Templeton, the variety of concepts and programs supported by the Foundation, and the importance of asking open-minded questions in research across all disciplines.

Humility As an Engine of Progress

The interview begins with discussion of the Foundation’s origin and Sir John Templeton’s core beliefs. Dill characterizes her grandfather’s mission as, “A philanthropic vision that’s really focused on asking open-minded questions or pursuing open-minded inquiry about the biggest questions facing all of us – who are we? Why are we here? How is the universe constructed? And what does that mean for my life as an individual?” She goes on to explain how Sir John’s desire to learn more about the metaphysical realities of life inspired his interest in humble inquiry, which Dill describes as the open-minded pursuit of knowledge outside of one’s immediate discipline.

 When asked what funding opportunities she is most excited about today, Dill mentions intellectual humility. She defines the virtue as “recognizing that the information you have is limited and that you can learn from others,” — a concept that directly aligns with her grandfather’s humble approach. Intellectual humility is one of 12 strategic priorities where the Foundation allocates a portion of its funding. Some of the other priorities include religious cognition, cultural evolution, and the science of purpose.

 Finally, the conversation turns to the Templeton Prize, established by Sir John in 1972 to honor a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension. This year’s laureate is Dr. Jane Goodall, renowned scientist, conservationist, and activist. Dill praises Jane’s work for its remarkable fusion of science with spirituality, an attribute that is integral to much of the research funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Previous guests on the program have included Foundation grantees, including theoretical physicists Brian Greene and Carlo Rovelli, and neuroscientist Stuart Firestein.

 Still Curious?

Watch the full video here on asking open-minded questions.

Listen to Heather Templeton Dill’s recent podcast appearances on ‘Synergos Cultivate the Soul’ and ‘UBS On-Air Conversations’.