God On My Mind

Episodes

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New research suggests that many people with learning difficulties want their lives to have a spiritual dimension - something that gives them a sense of meaning and value.

People with mental health problems often express similar needs.

Kati Whitaker meets people from both groups who have found their own answers, in or outside traditional religion.

She asks why the spiritual aspect of care is so often overlooked by health care professionals, and explores the limitations and pitfalls.

01Evolution

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Matthew Taylor discovers what the latest scientific research can tell us about the human need for religion.

We are programmed by our genes to believe in supernatural powers and to obey moral codes.

Is this because it gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage? Iranians, Scandinavians, Papuans, chimpanzees, twins and wedding rings offer some startling answers.

Did a belief in supernatural powers give our ancestors an evolutionary advantage?

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Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, discovers what the latest scientific research can tell us about the human need for religion.

Part 2: Neurology

Almost half the population claim to have felt the presence of a power beyond themselves.

But what happens in the brain during religious experiences? If magnetism can produce visions, then what price mysticism and meditation? What's the difference between sainthood and schizophrenia? And why are many believers convinced that God speaks to them in their dreams?

Producer: Peter Everett.

What happens in the brain during religious experiences?