Is this the face of God? Scientists reveal e-fit of 'youthful and feminine' Lord based on responses of hundreds of Christians
News

Is this the face of God? Scientists reveal e-fit of 'youthful and feminine' Lord based on responses of hundreds of Christians

The Lord must have the best moisturiser in the universe.

A team of scientists at the University of North Carolina have created an e-fit of God based on what American Christians think he looks like - and there's no long white beard in sight.

Participants in the study were shown hundreds of random faces in twos and told to choose the one that appeared more like their idea of God from each pair.

By combining all of the selected faces, researchers were able to create a composite image that reflected the average 'face of God' imagined by each person.

Surprisingly, the composite face diverged significantly from the traditional image of an elderly, white-bearded God as depicted by everyone from Michelangelo to Monty Python.

Advertisement

Instead, the scientists found that Christians imagined God as more feminine, youthful and less Caucasian than popular culture suggests.

Biases

People's perceptions of God also tended to rely partly on their political affiliation.

Liberals tended to see God as more feminine, younger, and more loving than conservatives - while conservatives tended to see God as more Caucasian and more powerful than liberals.

"These biases might have stemmed from the type of societies that liberals and conservatives want," said Joshua Conrad Jackson, the study's lead author.

"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."

Advertisement

Demographics

The survey of 511 people also found that personal demographic characteristics affected perceptions of God.

African Americans believed in a God that looked more African American than Caucasian, younger people believed in a fresher-faced God, and people who reported being more physically attractive also believed in a more physically attractive God.

Interestingly however, gender had a much lesser effect - with men and women believing in an equally masculine-looking God.

"People's tendency to believe in a God that looks like them is consistent with an egocentric bias," said co-author Professor Kurt Gray.

"People often project their beliefs and traits onto others, and our study shows that God's appearance is no different—people believe in a God who not only thinks like them, but also looks like them."