Origins of all three of the world's major religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam - will be explored and "explained" in the second season of The Story of God, a National Geographic special hosted and narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. Season 2 premiered on Monday.
"I've found that God is pretty universal wherever we go. It's like -- how do I say this -- lots of us have different approaches to the same idea. There is heaven and hell. There is God. And there is a way to realize them. That's universal. You find commonality in that sense everywhere," Freeman told National Geographic about his quest.
Freeman is natural to this role, reports WRN, because he has an innate warmth that draws people to him. The show's quest for interfaith includes understanding and connectivity through the lens of the world's major religions, science, anthropology and archaeology. This season, he travels to Minnesota, London and Thailand.
In the second season of The Story of God, Freeman makes a bold claim. He said all three major religions of the globe, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, drew their tenets from one each other and another more ancient religion - Zoroastrianism.
Considered to be one of the oldest faiths in human history, Zoroastrianism is the ancient, pre-Islamic religion of Persia (modern-day Iran). It survives there in isolated areas, reports Religion Facts, but primarily exists in India.
Founded by Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century BCE, Zoroastrianism contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. Descendants of Zoroastrian Persian immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees. In India the religion is called Parsiism. Today, there are an estimated 200,000 people who follow this religion.
In an interview, Freeman clarified the beliefs and principles that he believes the three religions imported from Zoroastrianism. He also told the interviewer how religion has impacted his personal life. He recalled the faith acquired during his life journeys. The 79-year-old actor admitted that although he gained knowledge, Zoroastrianism has impacted him the most. He also said the three tenets of this religion are the good thoughts, good deeds and good words. He said that he, and almost all religious people, strive for that. Put in such a perspective, believers of the three major religions are believers of Zoroastrianism.
According to Zoroastrianism, there is only one supreme, universal and transcendent God, the Ahura Mazda or "Wise Lord."
The initial three episodes made for the second season will be about a number of themes, "The Chosen One," "Heaven and Hell" and the "Proof of God."
On a personal level, Freeman confirms his views of God and religion haven't changed after doing the first season of this documentary. "I've been talking to people about what they think and they feel and how they've experienced God and religion. But I have not been tempted to join anything new or change my way of thinking. I think I'm like everybody else. I'm set."
"One of the things we love most about doing this series is finding the interconnected threads all humans share across different cultures, faiths and ideologies when it comes to seeking understanding of life's great mysteries," said Freeman. "I hope this series continues to not just entertain and inform, but also to open dialogue that will allow us to understand our neighbors both here in the U.S. and around the world."
The Story of God Heaven and Hell episode airs Monday, Jan. 23. Proof of God episode airs Monday, Jan. 30.