The Story of God - Season One

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 17, 2017

The Story of God - Season One

Season One of the National Geographic Channel's "The Story of God" is now available on DVD for home viewing. With Morgan Freeman serving as the series host-narrator, these six episodes have a gentle, warm, and thoughtful guide.

In much the same way that Carl Sagan made his groundbreaking PBS series "Cosmos" very much "A Personal Voyage" -- that was the subtitle of the original "Cosmos" -- Freeman ties elements of his own life story to the six episodes of Season One, talking about his origins in Mississippi and various ways in which the themes of the episodes resonate with him personally. The season looks at big questions like the identity and nature of God, the origin and development of faith traditions, the role that faith plays in human history, and various major religions around the world. Central, also, are the questions of cosmic creation -- is it due to The Big Bang? Or did a divine being will the universe into existence? -- and the question of human mortality: What, if anything, lies beyond this life?

Along the way, the show goes to places you'd expect -- Jerusalem, Cairo, India, New York -- as well as places you might be surprised have any bearing on the questions at hand, such as the Australian desert, Mayan ruins in Central America, archaeological digs in remote locations in the Middle East.

Faiths of every sort get their due. Aside from Christianity, Freeman looks into Muslim beliefs, the Hindu pantheon, and Judaism; he even hears about Buddhism and -- to a lesser degree -- science. (Though actual scientists are in short supply, he does speak with an expert in probability and the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences.) The scientific and technological passages often feel like little more than asides -- could we achieve immortality through the creation of android bodies? Do scientists take the idea of the soul seriously? -- but whomever he speaks with, be it a practitioner of a kind of numerological astrology, a cultural interpreter at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Buddhist holy men, or archaeologists in the field, Freeman is attentive, curious, open-minded, and personable. You get the sense he's honestly interested and taking everything he hears to heart, and that allows the viewer to participate in the show in a similar way.

You won't hear the word "evolution" here, but neither are you hectored with Biblical literalism. "The Story of God" turns out to be a story in the sense that it's filled with insight, drama, and surprises, and isn't simply an exercise in dogma. These six episodes are presented on two DVDs. There are no special features - but if you like what you see here, Season Two is now being aired on Nat Geo.

"The Story of God - Season One"



Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.