Did You Know

Study Suggests What The Face Of God Looks Like, And It's Not How You Imagined

Big Think

Back in January, scientists revealed what Jesus looked like, and plenty of us were satisfied with the answer.

However, this discovery led to further questions on the appearance of other religious figures, including our creator, God himself.

But, we're not the only one who's piqued with curiosity.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have recently conducted a study on what God looks like, based on the opinion of 511 devote Christian Americans, and as it turns out, it's not an old man with a long, grey beard.

Participants were shown hundreds of "randomly varying face-pairs," where they had to chose which one they believed resembled the deity the most.

After researchers retrieved the results, they combined the selected faces, and merged them into one distinctive photo.

Interestingly enough, people's perceptions varied depending on their political views.

While liberals believe God as more feminine, younger, and less Caucasian, conservatives are adamant He has a strong-looking, Caucasian face.

The faces of God
What liberals believe God looks like (left) compared to the conservatives' opinion (right).JACKSON ET AL

"These biases might have stemmed from the type of societies that liberals and conservatives want," suggested Dr. 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," he added.

"On the other hand, liberals are more motivated to live in a tolerant society, which would be better regulated by a loving God."

However, there were other factors involved that influenced the participants's answers.

A significant portion of believers are under the impression God looks like themselves, which scientists describe as "egocentricity."

For example, younger individuals believe the Lord is as youthful as them, while more "attractive" individuals are under the impression He is beautiful as well.

The faces shown to participants
Participants were shown hundreds of pictures to base the appearance of God off of.JACKSON ET AL

In addition, people tended to pick faces that resembled their own race. For example, Caucasian individuals chose more light-skinned faces, while African Americans frequently chose those of darker skin.

"People's tendency to believe in a God that looks like them is consistent with an egocentric bias," said Kurt Gray, the study's senior author and a psychology professor at the College of Arts and Sciences.

"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," he added.

In conclusion, researchers stated individuals base the appearance of God based on their own needs.

"Our results suggest that there may not be a single answer for all believers, even within the same religion," the study read.

"When believers think about God, they perceive a divine mind who is suited to meet their needs and who looks like them," it continued.

"Even though American Christians express belief in a universal God, their perceptions of His face are not universally similar," it concluded.

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[H/T: Daily Mail, Express, Metro]


Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com