Logo for How God Works: The Science Behind Spirituality

How God Works: The Science Behind Spirituality

PRX

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 How God Works, professor Dave DeSteno takes us on a journey to find out how spirituality impacts our minds and bodies, as well as the world in which we live.

He speaks to leading scientists and philosophers, religious thinkers, and thought leaders to explore what we can learn from the world’s faith traditions to help us meet some of life’s biggest challenges. Along the way, he’ll look at how we can adapt and use spiritual practices in our own lives, whatever our beliefs, including none at all.

It’s by working across the boundaries that usually divide us – science versus religion, one faith versus another – that we’ll find new ways to make life better for everyone.

David DeSteno

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 How God Works, professor Dave DeSteno takes us on a journey to find out how spirituality impacts our minds and bodies, as well as the world in which we live.

He speaks to leading scientists and philosophers, religious thinkers, and thought leaders to explore what we can learn from the world’s faith traditions to help us meet some of life’s biggest challenges. Along the way, he’ll look at how we can adapt and use spiritual practices in our own lives, whatever our beliefs, including none at all.

It’s by working across the boundaries that usually divide us – science versus religion, one faith versus another – that we’ll find new ways to make life better for everyone.

David DeSteno

Tiny Religions

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April 15, 202437min 44sec

Ever heard of the Bartonian Metaphysical Society? How about the Druze? If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t. On this episode, we ask: What’s it like to be a member of a tiny religion in a world dominated by “Big God”?

From the early days of new religious movements to the precarious old age of ancient faiths, join Dave as we explore the unique experiences, joys and challenges of being one of the few rather than one of the many. We'll talk to sociologist Susan Jean Palmer about what religions are like when they're brand new, how they're born, and what it takes for them to grow. And we’ll talk to Zoroastrian Studies researcher Nazneen Engineer about the challenges of population decline and the enduring cultural legacy of her faith as its numbers dwindle.

Susan Jean Palmer is the author of eleven book-length sociological studies of new religious movements, including Aliens Adored: Rael’s New Religion, Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers and Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religious Communities. Find out more about her work here and learn about her research on children raised in minority religions here.

Nazneen Engineer was the first Postdoctoral Researcher at the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies based at SOAS, University of London. Find out more about her work here, and learn about the survey of Zoroastrians she managed, Gen Z and Beyond: A Survey for Every Generation, here.