Joan Osborne posed a great question in 1995 with her Grammy-nominated pop song, “One of Us”. If God had a face, what would it look like? Both young and old have had this conversation, but what is the general thought on the subject?
Thanks to a group of psychologists at the University of North Caroline we might have the answer we’ve been searching for.
According to the study the researchers found that most people consistently view God as an old, white bearded caucasian man.
However, the team of psychologist brought together a group of 511 Americans- 330 men, 181 women, 26% black, 74%caucasian. They had the group look through hundreds of pictures of faces to find what they thought God looked like. The majority chose a younger, clean shaven version of the Almighty Father.
“The face of the modern American God appeared kinder and more approachable than the God of the Sistine Chapel, perhaps reflecting different cultural concerns of the 16th century versus today.”
But still with a white face and male…
“People tend to believe in a God that looks like them,” Professor Kurt Gray, the study’s senior author, told NBC News. “And most of the people who took part were male and white.”
Even more surprising was that most women saw God as a man and most blacks viewed God as white.
“I think it’s because for millennia Christians have been led to think of God as male and white,” Gray said. “It’s changing a little now, but the church hierarchies are still mostly male and mostly white. In the Catholic Church, for example, the Pope is male and the priests are still only male.”
This fact was hard to believe too, politics also played a role in people’s perception of the Almighty.
Conservatives were more likely to see God as white and powerful. Liberals saw God as younger and loving.
“Past research shows that conservatives are more motivated than liberals to live in a well-ordered society, one that would be best regulated by a powerful God. On the other hand, liberals are more motivated to live in a tolerant society, which would be better regulated by a loving God.”
When you are a believer you think of God as a divine being not as a person.
What do you believe? Is God a young white man? Maybe you think of God as a elderly black woman as portrayed in The Stand, by Stephen King. No matter, it’s just great that you are even thinking about God in this world today. Keep pursuing him.