Tue 29 Mar 2016, 09:16
Who is God? Where did we come from? Why does evil happen? What happens when we die? Every human being on earth has asked themselves these questions at some point, and most likely each person has found a different answer. This spring, National Geographic Channel and Revelation Entertainment’s epic series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, produced by Freeman, Lori McCreary and James Younger, will take viewers on a trip around the world to explore different cultures and religions on the ultimate quest to uncover the meaning of life, God and all these big questions in between.
Premiering 3 April at 20:05 on DStv Channel 181, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman seeks to understand how religion has evolved throughout the course of civilisation, and in turn how religion has shaped the evolution of society. Although in our current geopolitical landscape, religion is often seen as something that divides, the series illuminates the remarkable similarities among different faiths, even those that seem to be in staunch contrast. This is a quest for God: to shed light on the questions that have puzzled, terrified and inspired mankind, not to mention Freeman himself.
“Over the past few months, I’ve travelled to nearly 20 cities in seven different countries on a personal journey to find answers to the big mysteries of faith,” said Freeman. “I’ve sung the call to prayer at a mosque in Cairo, taken meditation lessons from the Buddhist leader of the oldest line of reincarnating Lamas, discussed Galileo with the head of the Papal Academy of Sciences and explored the first instructions for the afterlife rendered in hieroglyphs inside the pyramids. In some places I found answers, and others led to more questions. The constant through it all is that we’re all looking to be part of something bigger than us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we certainly are.”
Each episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman is centred on a different big question about the divine:
- Creation – Are there similarities among the religious creation stories from around the world? How do they compare with the scientific theory of the creation of the cosmos and the dawn of civilisation?
- Who is God? – How has the perception of God evolved over human history? Is God just an idea, and if so, can we find evidence of a divine presence in our brains?
- Evil – What is the root of evil and how has our idea of it evolved over the millennia? Is the devil real? The birth of religion may be inextricably tied to the need to control evil.
- Miracles – Are miracles real? For many believers, miracles are the foundation of their faith. Others regard miracles as merely unlikely events on which our brains impose divine meaning. Belief in miracles, however we define them, could be what gives us hope and drives us to turn possibility into reality.
- End of Days – Violent upheaval and fiery judgment fill popular imagination, but was the lore of apocalypse born out of the strife that plagued the Middle East two millennia ago? The true religious meaning of the apocalypse may not be a global war, but an inner revelation.
- Resurrection – How have beliefs in the afterlife developed, and how has our reaction to the afterlife changed the way we live this life? Now that science is making such rapid advances, we may soon be confronted with digital resurrection. What will that do to our beliefs?
To explore each of these topics, host and narrator Freeman went on the ground to some of humanity’s greatest religious sites, including Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, India’s Bodhi Tree, Mayan temples in Guatemala and the pyramids of Egypt. He travelled with archaeologists to uncover the long-lost religions of our ancestors, such as those at the 7500 BC Neolithic settlement Çatalhöyük in Turkey. He immersed himself in religious experiences and rituals all around the world, and became a test subject in scientific labs to examine how the frontiers of neuroscience are intersecting the traditional domain of religion.
“As we put this series together, we sought answers to some of mankind’s biggest questions, but in the end what surprised us most was to find how personal those answers were for each of us,” said executive producers Lori McCreary and James Younger. “There is no wrong answer when it comes to God or what you believe, and we hope The Story of God will help open an interfaith dialogue about ideas and values that we all share, not that we disagree on.”
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman is produced by Revelations Entertainment for National Geographic Channel. For Revelations Entertainment, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and James Younger are executive producers. For National Geographic Channel, Michael J Miller is executive producer; Kevin Mohs is vice president, production and development; Alan Eyres is senior vice president, programming and development; and Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production.