Oprah Winfrey suggests atheists must believe in God if they experience awe and wonder

Winfrey told her Soul to Soul guest Diana Nyad she could not be an atheist if she believed in the 'awe and the wonder' of the universe

Daisy Wyatt
Wednesday 16 October 2013 19:14
Comments
Oprah: 'I’m an atheist who’s in awe'
Oprah: 'I’m an atheist who’s in awe'

Oprah Winfrey has caused a stir among atheists by suggesting that non-believers cannot experience “awe” and “wonder”.

In an interview with American swimmer Diana Nyad on her show Soul to Soul, Winfrey questioned her guest about whether she could claim she was an “atheist in awe”.

Winfrey asked Nyad: “You told our producers you’re not a God person, but you’re deeply in awe?”

Nyad replied: “Yeah, I’m not a God person. I’m an atheist", prompting Winfrey to question: “But you’re in awe?”

Nyad said: “I don’t understand why anyone would find a contradiction in that.

"I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist and weep at the beauty of this universe, and be moved by all of humanity.

"So to me, my definition of God is humanity, and is the love of humanity.”

Winfrey, who has spoken about her Christian faith on television before, replied by telling Nyad that her beliefs did not fit with traditional atheism.

“Well I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder, and the mystery, then that is what God is. That is what God is. It’s not the bearded guy in the sky,” she said.

Nyad continued: “It’s not bearded, but there is an inference with God that there is a presence, that there is either a creator or an overseer. I don’t criticise anybody because we will never know, we will never know until our last breath.

“Just for me, I’m an atheist who’s in awe”.

Continuing to press the point, Winfrey said: “So do you consider yourself a spiritual person, even as an atheist?”

Nyad replied: “I do, I don’t think there’s any contradictions in those terms. I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching being who created all of this and sees over it.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

“But there’s spirituality because we human beings, we animals, we plants and maybe even the ocean and the stars, we all live with something that is cherished and we feel the treasure of it.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in