Saturday, 17 May 2008

Am I Normal? - Spirituality (BBC2)

The third episode of BBC2's four-part "Am I Normal?" series was broadcast on 28 April, entitled "Spirituality."

From the Radio Times listing:
Britain is statistically a more secular nation than ever before, but while some have lost faith with traditional organised religion, many of us still foster some belief in spiritual or supernatural forces. But is there any way that empirical science can validate or debunk issues of pure faith? Here, psychologist Dr Tanya Byron explores the scientific analysis of religious phenomena such as faith healing and speaking in tongues.
The presenter interviews political commentator Matthew Parris (an atheist) and journalist Jeremy Vine (a Christian), amongst others. She visits a Carmelite convent to talk to the Mother Superior and to one of the youngest nuns, and also watches a DVD of faith-healing by Benny Hinn. There's discussion of the phenomenon of "hearing voices" and a bizarre encounter with a psychologist who claims to release spirits trapped in the wrong body.

Although it's now too late for this hour-long programme to be available on the BBC iPlayer, it can be streamed in six parts from YouTube:

Part 1/6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qidh2aC2yIo


Part 2/6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQIRZte5AQk
Part 3/6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OFVGHms9dE
Part 4/6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVUFfEu2YHg
Part 5/6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbvJxZfoE_Y
Part 6/6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxT3V7VdNXE

This was a fairly dispassionate view of various (though not all) forms of "spirituality", and I'm glad we're getting more of these kinds of programmes now. But are we actually getting more sceptical assessments now, or could it be that I'm simply more on the look-out for such programmes than I was previously?
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