From US presidents holding Bible Studies in the Oval office, the massacre of Muslims in Buddhist Myanmar or the complex negotiation of Sunni and Shia alliances in the Middle East, religion currently dominates world affairs.
Meanwhile the number of people who don't follow a particular faith, but consider themselves 'spiritual', continues to increase.
Some scientists and anthropologists now think that religious feeling might be hard-wired into our DNA, a fundamental aspect of what makes us human. Graham Ward argues that the study of theology and religion, as a single academic discipline, plays a vital role in helping us to understand politics, world affairs, and the nature of humanity itself.
Religions can be used to justify inhumane actions, but religion also feeds dreams, inspires hopes, and shapes aspirations.
By invoking a sense of wonder about the natural world, religion can promote scientific discoveries, and by focusing on shared experiences, religion helps bind societies together. Because religion is rooted in the imagination itself, its study involves staring into the profundities of who we are.
Religion will not go away, so it needs to be understood.
That's why the study of it matters.