Oprah Winfrey insults atheists by claiming one must believe in God to experience “the awe and the wonder and the mystery” of the world.
The following is an excerpt from that conversation:
DIANA NYAD: I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity, all the billions of people who lived before us, who have loved and hurt and suffered. To me, my definition of God is humanity and is the love of humanity.
OPRAH: 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.
For Oprah to tell Nyad that she is not an atheist is patronizing and condescending.
While Oprah may be well intentioned, her inability to accept the fact that an atheist experiences awe and wonder at the natural world is a familiar form of soft bigotry that atheists and other freethinkers must endure on a regular basis. It is the same sort of simple minded reasoning that goes into the often made claim that “atheism is a religion.” It seems that some simply lack the intellectual ability to comprehend that many are good without god, good without religion.
Ultimately, Oprah’s claim that atheists don’t experience awe and wonder at the world is an ignorant insult that denigrates the experience of atheists and other freethinkers.
Contrary to Oprah’s patronizing and condescending claim, one need not embrace superstition or the supernatural in order to experience awe and wonder at the natural world. In fact, an atheist might argue that religious superstition and belief in the supernatural only masks an honest appreciation of “the awe and the wonder and the mystery” of the world.