Morgan Freeman’s latest TV Series, “The Story of God,” has left me in awe! A fascinating experiment on the show gave me much food for thought.
“Do you want to burn in hell?”
This is the question that I’m trying to avoid! That’s why I’m stating that this post does not show my personal religious views. However, having come across an interesting hypothesis, I think it is our duty to further explore it. Please don’t start a religion-science debate; this is not about hell (well maybe a bit) or genetics, or how you might reckon that we evolved from monkeys. However, I feel there is one important distinction that should be made here, for the sake of this argument. Religion must always involve a God or several Gods, but the concept of God does not necessarily need religion. Things should and must not be constrained by imaginary lines.
Religious Diversity in the World
Let’s take a look at statistics. I know, I know, this isn’t my favorite topic either, but nevertheless. Stats give us great insight sometimes! For example, in the West, the number of individuals unaffiliated to a particular religion has grown considerably in the past few years. On the left, you can see a study done by PEW on religious diversity of the U.S. population.
Looking at diversity on a global level, there is clearly an overwhelming majority of the world’s population that is religious. I think most people still believe in a concept of God, be it Energy, Chi, Karma, etc. The graph below gives a pretty good breakup of Religious views in the world.
The Experiment – FrankenGod
Now, with all those mambo-jumbo numbers in mind, we can see that most people believe in the all-seeing eye (I’m not talking about Sauron or the Illuminati). I’m referring to some sort of power that controls and just is. Before going any further, I have the experiment explained below by Jesse Bering.
The narrative created for Princess Alice fits perfectly as an analogy of God. Many of the attitudes and beliefs that drive our actions involve God in the same manner that these kids behave as and when Princess Alice is ‘present’. It’s as if we need God to exist. The creator needs to be an all-seeing entity that can enforce moral imperatives, such as “you shall not kill,” you shall not steal”. This is pretty obvious as people don’t really want to live in a world where they are prone to be killed or a victim to theft.
Maslow’s Pyramid and God
In fact, God also fits perfectly in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The notion of God affects all categories except physiological needs (unless we talk about destiny – but let’s not get too deep into this). Probably the category where we can see a direct connection is “safety”. Most of us need God in order to feel safe. And so, it could very well be that we have constructed our world as a panopticon with God at its very centre, as its warden.
Do you think the experiment holds any value in the real world? Or is it just something that works on children? What do you believe?