280 episodes

Series exploring the place and nature of faith in today's world

Beyond Belief BBC

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.4 • 88 Ratings

Series exploring the place and nature of faith in today's world

    Scotland and the Union

    Scotland and the Union

    There has been a ‘Great Britain’ for over 300 years but the union is now under threat. Part of what has held Scotland and England together is the fact that they have shared a monarch since 1603. But whilst the Queen holds the title 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England', she not not the Supreme Governor of the Church of Scotland. The two nations have different ecclesiastical arrangements. Anglicanism in Scotland is not very prominent whilst - until recently - the Presbyterian Church of Scotland dominated the religious landscape. Numbers in the Scottish Catholic Church have been maintained by immigration from Ireland and, more recently, from Eastern Europe but it too is in decline; whilst black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are growing in size and influence. Has the change in the religious landscape in Scotland had any influence on the move for political independence? And why do the religious bodies appear so reluctant to take a public stance in the debate about Scotland and the union?

    Ernie Rea is joined by a panel which is split equally between pro and anti-union sentiments. Murdo Fraser is a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament and a Patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship; the Rev Scott Rennie is a Church of Scotland Minister in Aberdeen and a member of the Lib Dems; both are pro union. Angela Haggerty is a Catholic journalist and commentator and shares a pro independence position with Graham Campbell an SNP councillor on Glasgow City Council and a Rastafarian.

    • 28 min
    What do the Taliban believe?

    What do the Taliban believe?

    It’s a month since Afghanistan entered a new era under the 'Taliban 2.0'. Foreign forces have gone and the eyes of the world are fixed on how they will govern their ‘Islamic Emirate’.

    Many of those who remember life under the Taliban the first time around in the 1990s are not hopeful. They describe an oppressive regime, justified Islamically through an extremely narrow interpretation of sharia law. Women couldn’t work, girls couldn’t go to school; there was a strict dress code for men and women; music, TV and cinema were banned. There were brutal punishments for those who stepped out of line. Ethnic and religious minorities were targeted and killed.

    Mobeen Azhar and guests explore what the Taliban believe, how they have justified their actions theologically and whether any of those core beliefs are likely to change.

    Contributors:
    Dr Sayed Hassan Akhlaq - Afghan-Iranian philosopher at Coppin State University in Baltimore, who has specialised in Islamic theology;
    Dr Haroun Rahimi - Assistant Professor of Law at the American University of Afghanistan;
    John Mohammed Butt - Islamic scholar and graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband in India;
    Dr Weeda Mehran - lecturer at the Department of Politics at the University of Exeter, who grew up in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

    Producer: Dan Tierney
    Editor: Helen Grady.

    • 27 min
    Ganesha

    Ganesha

    Ganesh or Ganesha - also known as Ganpati - is one of the best known Hindu Gods. Easily identified by his elephant head, pot belly and four arms, Ganesha has many fine attributes and is revered as the remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings.

    As Hindus prepare to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi (the birth of Lord Ganesha), Mobeen Azhar is joined by Hindu monk Swamini Supriyananda, Dr David Frawley (Founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies) and by Dr Raj Balkaran (Teacher and Consultant at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies). They discuss why Ganesha is so important and the appeal he has outside the Hindu faith.

    Mobeen also talks to Game of Thrones actor Lena Headey about why she has a tattoo of Ganesha on her right shoulder.

    Producer: Helen Lee
    Editor: Helen Grady


    This episode of Beyond Belief contains a short audio excerpt from an episode of The Simpsons entitled 'The Two Mrs Nahasapeemapetilons' (Season 9, Episode 7). It was written by Richard Appel and broadcast by the Fox Broadcasting Company.

    • 27 min
    The College of Cardinals

    The College of Cardinals

    For over 1000 years, the College of Cardinals has been responsible for electing the Pope. The Papal Conclave is always conducted in private and very little was known about how its members actually make their final choice for the role of Pontiff. But in recent years, the secrets of the Conclave have begun to leak out and public interest in its inner workings has been piqued by bestselling authors Dan Brown and Robert Harris who have featured the College of Cardinals in novels read by millions. Ernie Rea takes a look at the College of Cardinals. How influential are they outside the Vatican, what do they do in Conclave and how can a Pope influence the choice of his successor by deciding who should become a cardinal.

    Producer: Helen Lee
    Assistant Producer: Julian Paszkiewicz

    • 28 min
    Harry Potter

    Harry Potter

    Some Christian voices have suggested that the Harry Potter stories about witchcraft, magic and mythical beasts provide a gateway into satanic practices. But JK Rowling completely disagrees and she was glad that readers were unaware of her Christian faith at the time the books were first published because they might then have guessed the ending of the final book. To discuss the Christian allegory and religious themes in the Harry Potter books, Ernie Rea is joined by Dr Beatrice Groves (Research Fellow and Tutor in English at Trinity College, Oxford), Vanessa Zoltan (co-host of the podcast 'Harry Potter and the Sacred Text') and by author and lecturer John Granger who has been described by Time Magazine as “The Dean of Harry Potter Scholars”.

    Producer: Helen Lee
    Assistant Producer: Barnaby Gordon
    Editor: Helen Grady

    • 27 min
    The Monarch as Defender of the Faith

    The Monarch as Defender of the Faith

    The Queen holds two titles that date right back to Henry VIII: 'Defender of the Faith’ and ‘Supreme Governor of the Church of England'. The coronation is always held within the context of a religious service and there is no doubt that the Queen has a deep Christian faith but how relevant is her role as Defender of the Faith in a Britain where membership of the Church of England is in decline and minority ethnic religious groups are growing?

    To discuss these issues, Ernie Rea is joined by Martin Palmer who was Prince Philip’s Religious Advisor on the environment; Rabbi Julia Neuberger - a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords; Dr Jasjit Singh - an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science at the University of Leeds; and Dr Daniel Loss from Harvard University - an historian of modern Britain.

    Producer: Helen Lee
    Assistant Producer: Barnaby Gordon
    Editor: Helen Grady

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
88 Ratings

88 Ratings

Old and slow ,

What Happened to this Podcast? No updates since March...

I really enjoyed this podcast and the contrasting perspectives it offers to different topics. I am very sad that no new podcasts have been posted since March? Has it come to an end?

Puzzlexes ,

Science vs Theology

A good example why theologians shouldn’t be counted on to provide any reliable conclusions. The fact that faith seems based upon personal experience completely ignores the fact (as demonstrated by the scientific method) that human experience is often unreliable. So to make conclusions based upon experience is more irrational than hypothesizing some potential material “cause” that can be confirmed via a rigorous, peer reviewed and consensual agreement upon physical evidence. And the realization that the scientific method proposes no ultimate explanation of everything. Thus theologians are in effect “jumping to conclusions” without any rational basis.

Jack_McCoy ,

A Great Listen

Great panel discussion show that tackles big ideas and how they relate to religion. A refreshing refutation to the notion that religion is necessarily bland and unyielding; on this show religion becomes a vibrant, fascinating topic that is intertwined profoundly with culture and the human experience.

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