What does God look like? According to American Christians who participated in a psychology study published in the journal PLOS One, he looks pretty much like a youngish white dude. The actual mechanics of the study, which was conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are sort of complicated. You can read the whole study here, but basically, psychologists showed the participants hundreds of completely random face-pairs. The participants were then asked to choose the face from each pair that looked more like God to them. And the result was nothing like the sage, ancient, bearded white man who’s generally depicted in art and pop culture. Well, except for the white skin part.
Interestingly, the study showed that people’s ideas about what God might look like were a reflection of their own political biases. So that means liberals saw a softer, “more African American” God, while conservatives saw an older and more austere one. The only aspect that remained unchanged among liberal, conservative, male, and female participants was that they all saw God as a man, for which we have the patriarchy to thank.
So there’s God, who looks like to me just like a regular ol’ white guy, fairly nondescript. One who might have a beer opener on the bottom of his flip-flops and an acoustic guitar sitting by just ready for him to jam out. The kind of guy who might invite you over to try his homebrew or ask you to be on his podcast.
In a press release, Professor Kurt Gray, a psychology professor and the senior author of the study, said, “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.”
So just like God supposedly created us in his own image, it turns out we create him in ours, too.