Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Books: Belief is back: why the world is putting its faith in religion

By Neil MacGregor
‘There is no God,’ says Yuri Gagarin in this 1975 Soviet propaganda poster … The Road is Wider Without God/God Doesn’t Exist by Vladimir Menshikov Photograph: The State Museum of the History of Religion, St Petersburg, Russia
In the 1970s, most politicians in the US and western Europe, as in the USSR, broadly believed that scientific advance, material progress and growing prosperity would lead to the continuing retreat of faith from the public realm. All that has changed. Russia now defines itself loudly and proudly as Orthodox. Putin is ostentatiously devout. Even the KGB has its own church. The whole of the Middle East is caught up in murderous conflicts that are articulated and fought out in religious as much as economic terms. India, whose constitution enshrines the state’s equidistance from all religions, is convulsed by calls for the government to assert an explicitly Hindu identity, with grave consequences for the hundreds of millions of Indians who are Muslims, Christians or belong to other faiths. [More]

Living With the Gods by Neil MacGregor is published by Allen Lane (RRP £30). To buy a copy for £25.80 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.