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.
Have you ever heard a voice, seen an image, or felt a presence around you that you couldn’t explain? If you have, you’re not alone. More people than you might think report having these kinds of experiences. For some, it can be easy to write these off as tricks of the mind. But for others, especially the religious and spiritually-inclined, these events are often transformative and can profoundly alter the way they feel about their faith.
So how is it that gods come to feel real to people? What do these experiences do for those who have them? And why, sometimes, does it feel like the supernatural world is connecting with us out of the blue?
Tanya Luhrmann is an anthropologist at Stanford University. Find out more about her book, How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others, on her website, where you'll also find links to her other writing and media appearances.
Michael Ferguson is a neuroscientist at Harvard University. Find out more about his research and teaching through his website.
Reverend Liz Milner is ordained in the Episcopal Church. She works with prison inmates in northern California.