"The Story of God"
Morgan Freeman and National Geographic are on an international journey to answer the big questions about God and the nature of religious experience.
The Story of God, airing on the National Geographic Channel, seemed a perfect opportunity for Patheos writers to offer their own stories and ideas about the divine and its relation to existence. As Freeman explores topics such as death, the apocalypse, creation, evil, and heaven and hell, we come along for the ride—providing a collection of reflections and commentary as we evaluate some of the greatest mysteries of life.
Behind "The Story of God"
In an interview, star and producer of “The Story of God,” Morgan Freeman, as well as producers Lori McCreary James Younger, weigh in on the singular purpose of their work.
Season 2: Proof of God
Proof of God is found in the multitude of ways people of various cultures and traditions seek and find evidence of the divine.
Turning points in history often coincide with turning points in our religious journeys.
The more we explore the universe and the deeper we go down the rabbit hole of science, the more in awe we tend to be of how intricate this universe is.
The show points to a beautiful but sometimes frustrating aspect of the religious experience: It’s incredibly, intensely personal. It can be really difficult for “outsiders” to understand.
The “still small voice” that the Bible mentions is the divinity within that Hinduism seeks.
The third and final episode may be the most controversial. It introduces viewers to people who claim to have experienced the Divine “up close and personal.”
Can we actually prove God? Does the very existence of God demand faith?
Season 2: Heaven and Hell
Perhaps what suits us best is to find heaven on earth – especially since belief in heaven and hell as absolutes is not as definitive as it used to be.
Farouk A. Peru
The concepts of heaven and hell in the Quran can refer to conditions in the present life as well as to the hereafter.
What is heaven? What is hell? And how do they impact how we live right now?
It’s one thing to intellectually discuss heaven and hell in Sunday School; it’s another to picture it as a reality.
Freeman travels to the jungles of Cambodia to a place called Angkor Wat (City of Temples), the large religious monument in the world.
Season 2: The Chosen Ones
This episode left me with a healthy tension that allowed me to explore and deepen my own faith.
When we find our purpose—when we discover what we were chosen for—most of us know it. We feel it in our marrow.
Asking questions, investigating the unknown, and becoming familiar to what is different or unique about people in the world opens doors. You can never go wrong by learning more.
It's not that there's nothing special about us. It's that God chose to call every Christian to something special. Maybe if we realized that, we wouldn't be so angry.
Finding the new incarnations of dead teachers is important in Tibetan Buddhism. But some Buddhist sects reject the idea of reincarnation entirely.
Farouk A. Peru
In Quranist Islam, the Prophet is seen as an ordinary person and not the chosen one.
Every one of us has a duty to raise our souls to a higher place. Without that, the rest of life is meaningless.
Does God really only choose men? Or does society only choose to see the men that God has chosen, and not the women?
Season 1: The Power of Miracles
"The real miracle is realizing that you're connected to everything around you."
Miracles, by their very nature, are difficult to buy into. But I believe in them all the same.
When you grow up in a culture that downplays miracles, you probably won't see many.
Season 1: Why Does Evil Exist?
American culture is obsessed by evil at present, seeking to destroying evildoers, throw out illegal immigrants, execute killers, and get revenge.
We have a hard time relating to Superman because we know we're not him. We turn to the antiheroes because we recognize the brokenness inside.
We're flawed creatures living in a flawed world, and while none of us are wholly evil, none of us are entirely good, either.
For Hindus, the cycle of birth and rebirth encompasses all of reality. There is no original starting point for evil—nor is there anything in the universe which is absolutely good or absolutely evil.
Season 1: Creation
Creation stories, mythologies about origins, give us a fixed point, a steady place from which to stand, an identity in a world of flux.
What is essential is our wonder and gratitude that we are here at all. On this, science and religions are in agreement.
Perhaps creation created itself, perhaps it didn't. Perhaps God knows. Eh, maybe not.
Even if science can someday definitively answer the what and where and how of creation, only religion dares touch the why.
One of the hardest things to admit is "I don't know." But that's where I stand on the creation/evolution question.
I know he didn't mean to, but last night, Morgan Freeman tripped over one of my major pet peeves. Not once, but a dozen times.
In trying to link the scientific story of the Big Bang to stories of creation, including Genesis, Morgan Freeman misses the point of prose vs. poetry.
There is no single scripture that starts with "In the Beginning," that one can liken to the Book of Genesis that Christians have.
Season 1: Who Is God?
The drama of apocalyptic terror switches into a peaceful meditation on God.
On my travels around the world, I keep coming across new facets on the divine diamond. Here are some places where I've seen God.
Like the rocking of the ocean, like the thrumming of peepers in spring evenings, the question "Who is God?" is a bass note rhythm in the midst of life.
Like the rocking of the ocean, like the thrumming of peepers in spring evenings, the question Who Is God? is a bass note rhythm in the midst of life.
It is this ancient, inclusive and inherent pluralism of Hinduism that gives me the answer to "Who is God?"
As fascinating as the question is, what we know about God isn't nearly as important as our belief that He knows us.
The nature of God gets a cursory examination in an episode that gives short shrift to Christianity.
Season 1: Apocalypse
I think most evangelicals go through a Rapture obsession.
A pastor, an imam, and a rabbi talk together about the Apocalypse, the End of Days.
People are fascinated by the end of the world. But why?
Farouk A. Peru
The apocalypse is a lot deeper and a lot closer than we think. It is a momentous event of destruction and renewal.
Perhaps, the idea of global destruction with a wrathful and frightening end time has no meaning when each of us realizes that God is the Self.
I'm still working at understanding darkness, and especially, endings. There is so much pain in loss, especially when cultures, cities, dreams, die.
It's one of religion's thorniest concepts. And it's found in cultures throughout the world.
Season 1: Beyond Death
Islam also believes in achieving eternal peace not only in this life but also the life after death.
Brian K. Pennington
Religious literacy is a massive national problem in the U.S. If National Geographic can enlist the "Voice of God" to make tiny inroads, maybe I should cut them a break.
The series is beautiful, like a lustrous film version of an issue of the glossy National Geographic magazine.
Freeman has set himself a world-wide journey of discovery—asking questions and listening to the personal answers that each religion has to offer.
It's a question raised, brilliantly, by Morgan Freeman in the first episode of his National Geographic documentary, The Story of God.
On the heels of Holy Week, National Geographic presents The Story of God, an ambitious, expansive six-part series hosted by Morgan Freeman.