How God Works

By PRX

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Description

While religion and science often seem at odds, there’s one thing they can agree on: people who take part in spiritual practices tend to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. The big question is: Why? In the “How God Works” podcast, professor Dave DeSteno takes us on a journey to find out – one that combines cutting edge neuroscience with ancient wisdom.

He’ll speak to leading scientists, spiritual teachers, and religious leaders to explore what we can learn from faith practices ranging from meditation and prayer to psychedelics and fire-walking. He’ll look at how we can adapt and use spiritual practices in our own lives, whatever our beliefs -- including none at all.

By working across boundaries that usually divide people – science versus religion, one faith versus another – we’ll find new ways to make life better for everyone.


Episode Date
Transcendence: Why Chemicals Need Rituals
26:27

For centuries, Central and South American cultures have used psychedelics to induce mystical states. And while in the US they’ve mostly been used as recreational drugs, interest in their power to offer a rapid route to transcendence has recently been growing. But in our haste to use these chemicals to alter, and perhaps even heal, the mind, we might be losing sight that with speed comes risk. Join Dave as he talks with author Michael Pollan and researcher David Yaden about the nature of self-transcendent experiences, the science of how psychedelics can bring them on, and the dangers of disregarding centuries of shamanic knowledge about how to use them wisely.

Nov 28, 2021
Gratitude: Why Every Day Should Be Thanksgiving
31:08

Most people think gratitude is an emotion about the past. But in reality, it’s all about the future. Science shows it makes people more honest, more generous, and more patient. It strengthens their relationships and improves their well being. You can think of it as a multivitamin for the soul. But, like a vitamin, you need it more than once a year to get the benefits. And that’s why many religions provide ways to embrace it daily. Join Dave and his guests, author Diana Butler Bass and Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman as they explore ways to make everyday feel more like Thanksgiving.

Nov 14, 2021
Contemplating Death: A Secret for Happiness
35:14

COVID-19 has led to what’s being called The Great Resignation. People are leaving their jobs in record numbers, many to find more meaning in life or to spend more time with family and friends. As it turns out, realizing that death might not be as far off as it usually seems just might have something to do with that. Join Dave and his guests, psychologist Laura Carstensen and Catholic priest James Martin, as they talk about why thinking about death can be a useful exercise for improving your life at any time, not just in the midst of a pandemic.

Oct 31, 2021
Meditation: A Key to Kindness?
37:34

We all value kindness. But showing it isn’t always easy. Buddhists recognized this problem long ago and developed what may be the world’s first and best tool for cultivating compassion: meditation. While most people in the West see meditation as a technique to reduce stress and anxiety, that’s only part of the story. Join Dave and his guests Buddhist Lama Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche, meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg, and psychologist Paul Condon to learn more about how and why meditation is a key to kindness.

Oct 17, 2021
Religion's Toolbox
35:02

Research shows that spiritual practices tend to make people happier and healthier. The question is: Why? Join Dave and his guests, Casper ter Kuile from the Sacred Design Lab and Katelyn Long from the Harvard Human Flourishing Program, as they explore how “God” works in our daily lives, and what that means for people’s well-being as more and more leave traditional faiths behind.

Oct 03, 2021
Season 1 Trailer
01:45

Coming October 3 from PRX Productions.

Sep 26, 2021