What does God look like?
The classical image is of a bearded, older white man with a temper.
But researchers at the University of North Carolina say the Renaissance era impression no longer applies in modern times.
But the modern view may also prove surprising.
Three researchers conducted extensive surveys across a diverse demographic sample to get an idea of how people visualize God today.
The result: “In contrast to historical depictions, Americans generally see God as young, Caucasian, and loving, but perceptions vary by believers’ political ideology and physical appearance,” the researchers write in the journal PLOS ONE.
How do politics color people’s perceptions of God?
“Liberals see God as relatively more feminine, more African American, and more loving than conservatives, who see God as older, more intelligent, and more powerful,” the researchers note.
.The study also found all participants see God as similar to themselves in attractiveness, age and, to a lesser extent, race.
These differences are consistent with past research showing that people’s views of God are shaped by their group-based motivations and cognitive biases. Our results also speak to the broad scope of religious differences: even people of the same nationality and the same faith appear to think differently about God’s appearance.
The study authors also note that their research focused only on American Christians and reflect only their views. The work does not necessarily represent the entire American population as a whole.
You can read and download the complete study here.