You’d probably receive roughly 100 different answers if you asked 100 random folks what God looks like. However, if you explicitly polled American Christians and then compiled their responses, you’d presumably end up with a visage that looks quite similar to Tesla founder and wannabe mole man Elon Musk.
This perplexing news comes from a recent article published in the PLoS ONE journal. Five hundred and eleven American Christians were asked by psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which face they thought looked the most like God in order to learn more about their religious prejudices. Each participant saw 300 face combinations created by superimposing random noise over a base face that represented a statistically typical American.
The researchers then assembled the holiest photographs, resulting in a face that 400 survey respondents rated as “more manly, Caucasian, handsome, clever, and loving” than God’s “anti-face,” an aggregation of the pictures the sample of Christians did not choose. It also occurred to look very similar to Elon Musk—who, to be fair, the article never mentions by name—but, c’mon.
Conservatives were more likely to perceive Elon Musk as a “more manly and older Elon Musk, while liberals were more likely to image an “African American and more loving” Musk. Men and women both viewed God as an equally masculine Elon Musk, with older participants seeing an older Elon Musk and attractive participants seeing a hotter Elon Musk.
The researchers came to the conclusion that their sample seemed “to have stable representations of God’s face that contained distinguishable physical aspects (such as masculinity, youthfulness, and Whiteness) and psychological attributes (such as lovingness)” and that the participants’ perspectives mirrored “their political views and their own personal appearance.”
In a news release, senior author Kurt Gray remarked, “People’s predisposition to believe in a God who looks like them is consistent with an egocentric bias.” “Individuals frequently project their views and characteristics onto others, and our research demonstrates that people believe in a God that not only thinks like them but also looks like them.” It seems that there is a version of them that dates Grimes, loves Rick and Morty, and goes by the name Elon Musk.