I read this interview: “Morgan Freeman about his journey to becoming a ‘believer’ in God”. Quotes and comments.
McCreary: ... We spoke to a man at the Pontifical Academy of Science who said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life: The Big Bang is the scientific explanation of creation, and the Bible is the theological explanation of creation. That, to me, helped really reconcile those two sides.
While you could argue that both scientists and theologians are looking for the truth, how does that reconcile the two approaches? The stories in the bible are at best allegorical, but if you’re not satisfied with that and press for facts, the bible is provably wrong. Scientists on the other hand don’t claim to have all the answers, but at least the best scientific theories correspond to observable facts and even allow for predictions. In other words, the bible does not map onto reality, while scientific theories do. How do you reconcile that?
Freeman: ....somewhere down the line, early on, I got to this place where I became a believer. It’s just that the nature of belief has shifted as I’ve moved through life. That’s all.
He became a believer... How? Why? And in what?
So, for you, it’s about the journey. Freeman: Absolutely.
What does that mean? First I believed in Jesus but now I think reincarnation is more attractive? Let’s pick the supernatural story that best serves my present mood?
McCreary: I suppose it’s along the lines of what I was saying: That, even though we might answer the questions differently in terms of what happens when we die, ultimately we’re all coming around to the same answer: That we want to be one with God.
Speak for yourself. First, I wouldn’t even know how to choose from all the gods available for worship. Second, what does that mean, “being one with god”? I’m pretty sure that’s not an Abrahamic god. Or Shiva. Buddha maybe. Or do you mean “cosmos” when you say “god”? In that case you better say: “I want to feel one with the cosmos” - that is much clearer. If that’s what you want, ask Sam Harris for a pill (shortest route) or learn to meditate (longer route). (Neither method guaranties success though.)
McCreary: ... Where did we come from? We came from nothing, and we all became who we are. Whether that “nothing” was the clouds or the Big Bang or God grabbing everything and throwing it into the universe, they’re all very similar and they don’t necessarily negate each other as answers.
Those are similar only if you want to express something like: “Gee, the universe is really mysterious, and it is almost incomprehensible that I am alive!” If you want more comprehensive, truthful information relevant to this topic, you might want to learn about evolutionary science. Or compare your genes with those of your parents. As for the universe, ultimate answers are probably not within our reach, but cosmology is certainly very interesting. More awe: we are made of stardust! Not that you would know that if you read the bible, or any religious scripture.
Freeman: I didn’t know of God until I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I didn’t grow up in the church as a little boy; I think I went to church once when I was, like, six and a half years old. That was it. Not until around 10 did I start wondering, What is it? Why is it? Where is it? I started seriously reading at around age 8, and I think when you start reading, these questions just sort of appear because, in much of literature, God exists. So, the question then becomes, Okay, who is that? and How does that -- meaning God -- related to me?
Finally something interesting. For a lot of people this development is completely the reverse. They are told that god exists as a child. They start reading and wondering: how does that make sense? End up as unbelievers, because not only does a god not make sense, but depending on how you define god, either as an entity it is completely irrelevant (outside of time and space, the idea of a first mover, etc.) or it is provably untrue (prayer does not work, scriptures are wrong, souls are in conflict with established science, as a theory for the universe it leads to predictions that are all wrong, etc.).
Apparently Freeman happened to read very different books than I did. Another possibility is that as a child he was unconsciously seeking out god in the things he wanted to read (confirmation bias is a bitch!). But why would he do that? It turns out, some people are psychologically inclined to embrace supernatural beliefs. Scientists even have a test for it. Dawkins failed the test. This means of course that it’s a completely subjective reality which Freeman inhabits. Perhaps something like synaesthesia. Play a note on the piano and cannot but see the color blue.
Freeman: ... As you grow up, you learn gradually how God relates to you. God is the benevolent provider, God is the wrathful father of humanity, God is the glue that holds all things together.
How do you know that?
It does remind me of Harari’s “stories” - we need to believe in a story to trancend our little ingroup and work together. In the past those stories were religious. Maybe that’s what Freeman is getting at?
In the final episode, airing on Sunday, May 8, you say, “To believe in miracles is to believe that there’s more to life than meets the eye” and that, “We should believe in miracles because they give us hope.” Can you elaborate on how you came that conclusion?
Freeman: After hearing from the people that we talked to about miracles, anyone would come to that same conclusion, if you’re as thoughtful and deep as I am. [Laughs]
Ouch, I’m not “thoughtful and deep” enough. That hurts!
In the final analysis, it’s ultimately about hope. We believe in miracles because without them, there is no hope. There’s not enough hope without them. We say [in everyday life], “I’m hoping for a miracle.” As in, for example, “I’m hoping that Stephen Curry can make this three-point jumper.” [Laughs]
Reality is too harsh. I can’t live with it. Let’s hope that I have an eternal soul and that it somehow gets me into heaven. Belief as a psychological defense mechanism. Or is it the power of positive thinking?