The results showed that these U.S. Christians tended to view God as young, Caucasian and loving. However, liberals saw God as more feminine, more African-American and more loving than conservatives did. Meanwhile, conservatives, picked faces that were perceived as older, more intelligent and more powerful, the researchers said.
Historically, God, like beauty, is perceived differently depending on the eye of the beholder. The Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament) says, "You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." However, artists from Michelangelo to Monty Python have portrayed God as an old, wise and white-bearded Caucasian man, the researchers noted.
The new study shows that today's U.S. Christians don't always perceive God as this august-looking being. Rather, the people in the study, who were an average age of 47 years old, tended to envision God as they see themselves, the study found. For instance, younger people selected a younger-looking God and people who called themselves physically attractive chose a more physically attractive God, the researchers found. Moreover, African-Americans selected faces that looked more African-American than Caucasians did.
"People's tendency to believe in a God that looks like them is consistent with an egocentric bias," study senior researcher Kurt Gray, an associate professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in the statement.