Morgan Freeman has held many roles in the span of his legendary career, but the most memorable of them all, at least to my generation of viewers, is his role in the 2003 movie, “Bruce Almighty.” Freeman played the role of God in the movie and guided Bruce (Jim Carrey) through his various endeavors with his newly endowed supernatural powers. He has come to be associated with having a certain knowledge of, or interest in, the divine and because of this, Freeman was chosen to travel the world filming a new National Geographic show called “The Story of God.” In the above linked video, Morgan and the producer of the show, Lori McCreary, sit down with the hosts of the Today Show to discuss what they’ve learned about the various religions of the world in their journeys. They both share their revelations on the notion that all religions of the world basically have the same origin and/or the same general beliefs, just manifested in different ways. The example that Lori gives is her visit to a place of worship in Istanbul where she realized that the paintings on the walls of the building closely resembled those of Christian or Catholic faiths, although it was a synagogue and then a mosque previous to becoming a museum. Despite the fact that it was a church before any of its other uses, she was surprised at he fact that the paintings were not covered up as the building changed its uses. She describes that the tour guide, who was a Muslim man, educated her that the representations of the divine represented on the walls of the building were sacred to all the religions that had taken up residence in the space. She then recalls feeling “embarrassed” of her ignorance and recognized that most other people are probably just as unaware of the “commonality” that the various religions of the world possess.
Max Müller shared a similar view of the origin of religion, positing that most religions of the world came from a common ancestor. His idea of “book religions” being the beacon on which religious studies scholars should latch on to in order to study the subject runs parallel to what Freeman and McCreary learned abroad. As the Muslim tour guide told McCreary on her visit to the museum and as Müller described in his second Lecture, religions such as Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, and Christianity all hold the same values and symbols sacred in their faiths. People like Jesus and symbols like crosses all hold some sort of significance in the afore-mentioned religions. Both Morgan Freeman and Max Müller seek to discover the similarities of the world’s various religions and do it in an objective, scientific way. In Freeman’s case, he travels the world, talking to people who follow various faiths and draws an understanding based on the information he compiles. Müller, on the other hand, compared the evolution of religion to the evolution of language of the human race. Which is more effective? I would say there’s no real answer for that question. Both, however, are inventive and revolutionary for their time.
Here is the link for the youtube video: