The Story of God, the National Geographic Channel with Morgan Freeman aired its third episode of the series on Sunday, entitled, "Who is God?" Freeman once again travels the world in an attempt to understand the religious beliefs of different people, and to find the similarities and differences in the beliefs, both past and present.
Morgan opens this episode in the Mississippi delta, home of the Blues. He speaks to the music transporting him to another time and place, that it is a religious experience. "Moses saw God in a bush. Buddha found enlightenment under a tree. Mohammed experienced Allah on a mountain. Is there some universal concept of God that all religions share? Or is God fundamentally different to people of different faiths?" This episode is an exploration about who God is, how believers around the world see the divine, and how the identity of God has changed over the millennia.
He travels to India to see how Hindus see and connect to their gods. He experiences a Hindu prayer ritual dedicated to the goddess , Lalita, who they believe gives them power to fight demons. He is told that on the surface, it looks like Hinduism is a belief in many gods, but behind it all is a single, divine energy.
Freeman wonders where the belief in a single god may have first begun. He suggests that it perhaps begun in Stonehenge, and talks to archeologists who are studying the monument and things buried there that suggest the single worship of the sun.
He flies to Egypt and searches with an Egyptologist to study Akhenaten, who tried to establish a monotheistic belief and worship the sun. Akhenaten's son, Tutankhamun, changed it back to the polytheistic beliefs when he came into rule.
In Jerusalem, he dialogues with a Jewish philosopher, they speak about Abraham, and the start of the belief in one God- which started in Judaism, and branched to Islam and Christianity. He goes back to Cairo to find out if there are differences in the Muslim's belief in God(or Allah). He observes that the prayer is like a conversation with a person.
In Shiprock, New Mexico he observes a Navajo ceremony where a young girl is transitioning to womanhood, where by the end, she will be joined with the Navajo deity, Changing Woman. A special clip about this story can be viewed here.
He brings science into his search by looking at how the brain reacts to spiritual experiences. Freeman allows himself to be injected with radioactive dye and after he meditates on God(or his beliefs about God), his brain is scanned, and the frontal lobe lights up, as the scientist explains happens to everyone who is thinking about God. He did say that they tested an atheist who was good at meditation, though, and that he didn't have the activity that others who had a belief in God had.
Freeman also goes to Joel Osteen's megachurch and asks him who God is. Osteen tells him, "I believe God is our Father, the Creator, somebody that gives us purpose and destiny. Sometimes it's hard for people to say, 'How can I believe in something I can't see?' But it's what you choose to believe, though faith."
Freeman told Osteen that he made God feel "personal, approachable, and helpful" to him, and watched the worship service with wonder. Although he grew up with a Christian background, he has said that he stopped going to church when he was 13.
Morgan Freeman wrapped up his experience telling the audience that there is a little bit of God in each of us, according to his belief.
The 1st episode of the season, 'Beyond Death' can be viewed for free on the National Geographic Channel's website. The other two episodes require participation of local cable provider. There are also other clips and articles related to the series on the site.
Tune in for next week's episode, which will explore "Creation."