With its premiere last Sunday, viewers have now had a chance to watch host Morgan Freeman delve into some of the greatest mysteries of our time—but how did this epic show come life? We sat down with Executive Producer James Younger (Through the Wormhole, Stem Cell Universe with Stephen Hawking) to find out just how The Story of God really got its legs. Catch up on episode one of The Story of God, and tune in for episode two on Sunday, April 10 at 10/9c on the National Geographic Channel (Ch. 276).
What inspired you to create this series?
About 6 or 7 years ago, Lori McCreary (co-founder of Revelations Entertainment) and Morgan Freeman visited the Hagia Sofia in Turkey, and they saw mosaics of Jesus’ life on the walls. The Hagia Sofia was once a church, then a mosque and is now a museum, so they asked their tour guide “Why are the pictures of Jesus here? Had they been covered up when it was a mosque?” The tour guide said, “No, Jesus is part of the Islamic faith too.” That was the moment when Lori and Morgan realized just how little different faiths really know about one another. The inspiration for the creation of the show, came at a time when different faiths desperately need to understand where each other is coming from. What better time to do this series than now?
Were you drawn to this narrative from an analytical or a personal place? Perhaps both?
I think both. I wasn’t strongly religious as a kid, I grew up as part of the Church of England, but was not particularly devout. Then I became a scientist and I thought for a while that I didn’t need religion, because I had science. At some point as I got older, I realized that science isn’t going to answer all the questions that you have—that I had—about why I’m here. I also didn’t realize that faith is trying to answer those same questions. For me, The Story of God came from both a personal and analytical desire to understand how people all around the world, and across time have wrestled with the mysteries of why we’re here.
What are you most excited for viewers to discover as the series unfolds?
I hope people come away with an understanding that the various beliefs that exist around the world are less different than they appear. I hope that people who have their own faith will learn something new about other faiths—most people know so little about them. Do you know more than two things about Islam or Buddhism? Most people don’t. In learning more about other religions, we hope that people will find that they’re less different from their personal beliefs than they think!