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Morgan Freeman on Religion, Science, and the Story of God

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he Story of God with Morgan Freeman both approachable and scholarly. The six-episode series, premiering April 3 on National Geographic Channel, shows Freeman’s quest to understand how the world’s many shapes and layers of religion are interwoven, and how universal questions about human existence unite us all.The Story of God visits nearly 20 cities in seven countries across five continents, exploring 5,000 years of human history to ask questions such as, “Why are we here? Why does evil happen? What happens when we die?” Freeman sings the call to prayer at a mosque in Cairo, pays a visit to the Western Wall, takes meditation lessons from the Buddhist leader of the oldest line of reincarnating Lamas, and discusses Galileo at the Papal Academy of Sciences.

And what does he discover? To him, God represents that unknowable piece of the “why are we here?” puzzle every person on Earth has contemplated, whether it be through religion, philosophy, or science.

“Everywhere, even on the smallest island, people have some concept of God, because we have to have answers,” Freeman says. “Humans, no matter where you find them, endeavor to answer the unanswerable, to come to grips with the unknowable.”

“We hope to shed light on how religious beliefs are global and share so much similarity,” Freeman says. “How you manifest your beliefs, what rituals you go through, who you talk to while you’re going through these rituals—we’re all aiming in the same direction. We’re all aiming at perfection.”

“We want to show people that faith practices that they think of as alien and foreign have elements in them that they will recognize in their own belief systems, and that includes science,” Younger says.

Freeman speaks with neurologists, academics, anthropologists, and even a robot whose creators believe that artificial intelligence may offer humans an eternal afterlife via cerebral download.

Further linking science and God, another episode features a physician who conducts brain scans of monks, nuns, and other religious practitioners as they pray, assessing the potential presence of God in a spiritually engaged mind. Freeman himself undergoes the scan while meditating.

“One of the things that we found really fascinating is that both scientists and people of faith are asking the same questions, just from different perspectives,” McCreary says. “But we ultimately all come to the same conclusion at a certain point, which is that there’s a part [of existence] we can’t understand. People of faith might say, ‘That’s where God lives.’ People of science say, ‘We haven’t gone far enough to figure that out yet,’ but either way, it’s the unanswerable.”

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