As I’ve documented repeatedly, since Rupert Murdoch took over National Geographic, the magazine and its spinoffs have become increasingly oriented toward religion—and in a friendly way. Last summer Morgan Freeman hosted a National Geographic series called “The Story of God”; here are its six episodes.
Now, according to PuffHo, there’s a second season in the offing, with the first episode airing tomorrow (there will be three). The website for the new season is here, and you can watch two clips here). PuffHo‘s blurb notes that—for crying out loud—it’s going to be about theology (my emphasis):
The first season aired in the spring of 2016 and became National Geographic’s most-watched series of all time. On Monday, Season 2 will premiere with Freeman exploring a fresh set of theological questions.
“We’re dealing with esoterica here, things that are more internal than external. So there are always going to be more questions,” Freeman told The Huffington Post on Wednesday. “It’s one of those situations where the more you delve into it the deeper it gets.” [JAC: sort of like a cesspool.]
The second season features just three episodes exploring three fundamental religious themes. The first episode explores the concept of the “chosen one” ― people who have been singled out throughout history for purportedly having direct access to the divine. Next, the show explores “heaven and hell,” with a look at how people’s beliefs about the afterlife influence their actions in this life. The final episode dives into the age-old question of whether there’s “proof of God,” and the subtle ways people of faith find look for it.
Do you think the last episode will also deal with the “age-old” issue of the evidence against gods, or the lack of evidence for anything divine? I’m betting against it.
Now I’m not going to watch this show, for I don’t have cable; and even if I did, I wouldn’t watch it anyway. But my prediction is that it will involve heavy osculation of the rump of faith.
Now why is Freeman doing this? What are his own beliefs? PuffHo, in an earlier article connected with the first season, first implied that he’s an atheist, but then backpedaled (my emphasis):
Morgan Freeman has played God on the big screen, but in real life he sees the Almighty as an invention of the human mind.
It might seem curious, then, for the 78-year-old actor to star in a National Geographic Channel show all about God and religion. But “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman,” which airs its season finale on Sunday, isn’t so much a celebration of God as it is an exploration of human beings’ unending search for the divine, Freeman says.
. . . “Life is more about what you believe than almost anything else. That’s why God still exists,” he said.
What he should have said is “that’s why the IDEA of God still exists,” but of course he’s walking a fine line here, trying to pretend that the human construction of God is itself evidence for God—something likely to be lost on the viewers.
People spend their lives searching for God, he continued, when true divinity may be in front of us all along. In Hebrew, Freeman recounted, the word for God is derived from the verb “to be,” making it translate roughly as “I am.” He used this example to explain his own beliefs on the subject.
“God is in all things — a sunset, a bloom, a rose,” he said. “The ultimate answer to the question of God’s existence is ‘God is.’”
Well, if you’re a pantheist, as Freeman seems to be in the last sentence, then you can say “God is” if you see God as a rose, a sunset, or even a pancake. But that’s cheating, for Freeman—and National Geographic—know full well that this series will be seen as a vindication of religious belief and of God’s existence. That, of course, explains why it’s been so popular. It also explains the popularity of books like Proof of Heaven and Heaven is for Real.
What a great shame that National Geographic, which used to educate people about the real world we live in, is now trying to deceive people about a numinous world that doesn’t exist.