The man famous for his godly voice and portraying God in “Bruce Almighty” doesn’t believe in God — at least in the traditional way.
Morgan Freeman believes that man invented God. But that doesn’t mean he is an atheist.
“My opinion does not question the existence of God, merely how we arrived at the existence of God,” Freeman said.
Even though man invented God, Freeman feels, God is still God. This God just exists in the mind rather than out in the universe as the creator of all life.
Despite his nontraditional beliefs, Freeman has been traveling the world to learn about different religions for his new six-part National Geographic series, “The Story of God,” premiering April 3.
“Why does almost everybody in the world have a God belief, however it’s manifested, and why? It’s a universal reality,” Freeman said in a February interview at the National Geographic offices in downtown Washington.
In the show, Freeman visits the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to discuss the existence of a messiah and travels the Ganges River in India to discuss Hindu understandings of life, death and rebirth. He takes viewers into Egyptian tombs and Aztec ruins.
Even though Freeman questions God’s origins, he doesn’t approach other religions with skepticism. “I’m not there to question the authenticity of their belief or faith, merely to learn from them,” Freeman said.
“There’s a presupposition that God exists in our series,” added executive producer Lori McCreary, who accompanied Freeman at the interview.
Freeman and McCreary were particularly taken with Kinaalda, the Navajo coming-of-age ritual. Navajo girls around the ages of 12 to 14 (depending on when menstruation begins) go through the four-day rite that involves living austere lives, running toward the east every morning and grinding corn for cakes in the evening. The ritual ends with a public ceremony of dance and song.
“It’s emotionally and physically demanding,” said McCreary, who was so moved by the ritual that she is still brought to tears whenever she views the footage.
Freeman also examines the ways science and religion can coexist — like when he talks with BINA48, a cyber consciousness that could be the future of life after physical death.
“One day a robot-like clone of a person’s mind might be created,” Freeman narrates in the premiere. “But would it really be them?”
McCreary, who is also chief executive and co-founder with Freeman of the production company Revelations Entertainment, often talks about religion with her niece and nephew because of what they see about religion on TV and in the news.
Most of the time religion is used as “window dressing” or the public reason for political conflicts and that leads to “misrepresentations and distortions,” said James Younger, another executive producer of the show.
Revealing “truth,” which is part of the Revelations Entertainment mission, does not mean pronouncing who is right and who is wrong. McCreary, Younger and Freeman want to challenge the “tyranny of certainty” and the “arrogance” that comes with it.
McCreary wants “The Story of God” to look at religion deeper, beyond the “small bits and pieces” we get “in a sound bite world.”
“Hopefully the veil will be lifted and we’ll be able to see each other in a new light,” McCreary said.
And Freeman does more than just listen to others in “The Story of God.” Occasionally he reflects on his own spiritual experiences. In the premiere, for instance Freeman shares about seeing a light while passing out once.
“What I perceived was the tiniest beam of light that, to me, was the final form of life,” Freeman said. “It just occurred to me, holy cow there it is. There is the light that everyone talks about.”