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Revealing Religion

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BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Revealing religion was broadcast on Thursday, 20th March 2008 and Sunday 23rd March and repeated on Sunday 16th November 2008 at 21.30 GMT.

Easter weekend is one of the great affirmations of faith in the Christian year. To believers, the death and resurrection of Christ is, according to traditional doctrine, the belief that defines their religious experience.

To non-believers, ideas like resurrection are the kind of proposition that makes religious faith impossible.

But for believers and non-believers alike there has been intense interest and much new research in recent years into what exactly religious faith means to people.

Shaping the world?

It shows why faith seems to come naturally to so many communities and cultures - a challenge to many assumptions about the onward march of secular life.

Religion is clearly a major influence in the shaping of the world. Yet how does belief actually relate to the way in which life is lived, how does it affect thought and action?

Baroness Shirley Williams
Baroness Williams says that religion is an "anchor"

Are the sacred texts and doctrines of world religions the best guides to how religion is really believed and understood, or is there a new way of understanding its role in relation to individuals and societies?

In Analysis Andrew Brown explores this research, and talks to leading figures pursuing new understandings of religion and its application to daily life.

They include anthropologist Scott Atran, whose fieldwork has ranged from South America to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, the veteran British politician and prominent Catholic Shirley Williams, philosopher and atheist Antony Grayling, Justin Barrett, psychologist, Christian, and author of Why Would Anyone Believe In God and historian of religion Margaret Spufford, who gives an extraordinary personal account of the role of faith at moments of the greatest human despair.

Presenter: Andrew Brown
Producer: Chris Bowlby
Editor: Hugh Levinson

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