This grant will support 2 years of continued production of the PRX podcast "How God Works," written and hosted by David DeSteno.
In How God Works, DeSteno leads listeners on an adventure of discovery (and for many, self-discovery) to reveal how religious practices help people meet the challenges of life. In each episode, he'll focus on spiritually-inspired practices and recommendations that have been used for centuries to address specific problems (e.g., grief, character building, forgiveness, transcendence). What make How God Works unique, though, is that DeSteno approaches each issue through the eyes of a scientist, interweaving psychology, neuroscience and other disciplines with interviews of religious thinkers, to illuminate not only the scientific reasons each of these practices work, but also if, how, and when they can be adapted to help anyone, regardless of their faith (or lack of faith).
The podcast remains agnostic about the question of whether God exists, as that's not something science can answer. Instead, it focuses on the practices that move minds and bodies for the better. For believers, the podcast offers an opportunity to see the divine’s influence in shaping how the mind functions. For agnostics or atheists, the podcast provides a window into how long-standing, culturally-transmitted practices evolved to nudge human nature toward its better angels and a more harmonious life. In either case, How God Works offers practical insight for listeners at whatever point on the path of life or belief they find themselves.
The podcast's final goal is to foster respectful conversations between scientists and religious leaders, and in so doing, to nudge larger society to see them as complementary. The first season has been a success, already surpassing the audience size targeted by the grant supporting its first year of production.