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Secularism is a defining characteristic of the "Modern: world. So why is there such an increase in religious belief? On this archived segment of To the Point and with two major religions celebrating holidays, we look at faith in America and other parts of the world. Also, a former Marine remembers celebrating Christmas in Afghanistan, and how religion evolved, beginning thousands of years ago with instincts shared with non-human primates.

This archived edition of To the Point was pre-empted by special holiday programming.

Sonya Geis
Karen Radziner

Making News Christmas in Afghanistan 7 MIN, 31 SEC

It's Christmas in Afghanistan for the 1st Battalion 6th Marines. As the first troops in President Obama's Afghanistan surge, they left home in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina a little over a week ago. Victor Manzano spent a lot of holidays in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He's now home in Los Angeles.

Victor Manzano, former Infantryman, US Marine Corps

Main Topic Religion in the 'Modern' World 34 MIN, 29 SEC

Ever since the Enlightenment, deep thinkers have claimed that modernity would drive out religion, probably by the end of the 20th Century. In April, a Newsweek magazine cover announced "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," while God Is Back, published that same week, is subtitled How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World. The contrast illustrates the worldwide tension between secularism in modern political life and the growing prevalence of religious belief. Free-market thinking has some people shopping between denominations. Some traditionalists threatened by the secular world go to extremes. This evergreen program, originally aired in April, is especially interesting on Christmas Day. Do religions compete for believers? Which one is likely to win? Why is Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda such a "Modern" phenomenon?

Adrian Wooldridge, The Economist (@adwooldridge)
Luis Lugo, Director, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara (@juergensmeyer)

God Is Back

Adrian Wooldridge and John Michlethwait

Reporter's Notebook The Faith Instinct 8 MIN, 40 SEC

faith_instinct.jpgReligion and science are often at odds, especially when it comes to evolution. A new book argues that religion itself evolved, having gotten its start at least 50,000 years ago in response to two main threats, one from inside the other from outside early human societies. That's according to The Faith Instinct by New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade.

Nicholas Wade, New York Times

The Faith Instinct

Nicholas Wade


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