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

How God Works… for Animals?

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May 13, 202436min 46sec

When it comes to how we treat other animals, humanity’s track record is spotty at best. Has it always been that way? And how do the beliefs we hold about animals shape how we treat them? Are they really as different from us as Western culture has long suggested?

Join Dave as he speaks with anthropologist Dave Aftandilian about how different religious traditions may play a role in influencing the way people relate to other animals, and with biologist turned wildlife filmmaker and writer Tom Mustill about what the latest advances in science are revealing about animals’ internal lives.


Dave Aftandilian is founding Director of the Human-Animal Relationships program at Texas Christian University, and the lead editor of the recently published Animals and Religion. Find out about his other publications and activities here. The storytellers Dave mentions during the episode are Mary Ulmer Chiltoskey and Basil Johnston. And the audio of Koyukon people talking about animals and hunting is from the excellent documentary series Make Prayers to the Raven, available on YouTube.

Tom Mustill is the author of How To Speak Whale: The Power and Wonder of Speaking To Animals. Find out more about his other work, including several films and a podcast, on his website. Thanks again to Tom for sharing his recordings of whale song with us for this episode.

For listeners interested in reading more about animal welfare, we recommend checking out Vox writer Kenny Torrella’s work. If you’re wondering where to donate to help reduce animal suffering, start here.

Also, here are two recent New York Times articles on topics related to this episode: