Billions of people continue to place their faith in a god, or gods, in the spirits or in some form of divinity. Many others adhere to alternative beliefs outside the major faith traditions, while for others science and secular modernity provide the basis for a meaningful life.
The new Chambers Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions includes more than 3,200 entries ranging from Catholicism to sharia law, doomsday cults to eco-paganism, and yogic flying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It looks at what followers of the world's major religions believe, at the origins of these faiths, and at how belief shapes our daily lives. It examines what happens when ancient faiths and the modern world collide, as in stem cell research or the teaching of creationism in schools.
This fascinating book is an essential reference for anyone with an interest in today's world.
Mark Vernon is writer and author of several books including After Atheism (2007), The Philosophy of Friendship (2005) and Wellbeing (2008). He has degrees in physics and theology, and a PhD in philosophy and is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck College, London. He also writes for newspapers including the Guardian, TLS and Financial Times, and began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England.
One of the things that makes people suspicious of people of other faiths is lack of knowledge and understanding. This is a quick and accurate way of finding out more, and it should make people feel closer to others of different backgrounds.
Baroness Neuberger DBE