For some strange reason, I still get blindsided by Oprah’s choice to remain ignorant despite the fact that she promotes the likes of “The Secret” and Deepak Chakra. In some cases ignorance actually is a choice and in an interview with endurance swimmer and atheist Diana Nyad, Oprah made that choice.
In the interview Oprah attempts to re-define atheists as people who are incapable of experiencing awe or wonder. After Nyad states flat out that she is an atheist and that she can stand on a beach with religious believers and feel a similar sense of awe and wonder at the universe, Oprah told her that she isn’t an atheist because God is awe and wonder. In other words, religious believers have the monopoly on awe and wonder and so if someone experiences these things, they are by definition God-believers.
This is of course bullshit and Oprah should have known that. After all, it wasn’t like Nyad’s atheism came up spontaneously in the conversation. She had told this to Oprah’s producers prior to the show. Oprah and her producers had some time to actually look into this issue. They could have done a quick Google search on “atheism and awe” or “atheism and spirituality” and maybe even have stumbled upon my Huffington Post article on the subject or the post I wrote right here earlier this year.
Perhaps they might have heard of people like Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Julia Sweeney, Lawrence Krauss or any number of atheists who talk about this subject all over the media and the internet. But that Google search never happened. Even though Oprah knew that this topic was going to come up (since she purposely brought it up in the first place), she did zero research and instead tried to redefine atheism to not include anything that might be considered positive.
Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t think Oprah hates atheists or that she did what she did out of malice. She isn’t Glenn Beck or Laura Ingraham or anything. Oprah probably didn’t have the agenda to smear all atheists when she started the interview. In fact, I suspect that she is quite shocked that so many people are even talking about this.
We are talking about this and we need to make sure that Oprah talks about this again. Oprah is by far the most powerful single name in media, but the world is changing and media is now reacting to new media. When it comes to new media, atheists rule! We are the sleeping giant and Oprah just woke us up. Now, we have to back that up with evidence so please contact Oprah via her website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and all other social media outlets and let her know we expect an apology.
Here is the interview in case you haven’t seen it and have no idea what I am taking about:
- Why Oprah’s Anti-Atheist Bias Hurts So Much (psychologytoday.com)
- Oprah tells atheist swimmer Diana Nyad that atheists don’t believe in ‘awe’ and ‘wonder’ (secularnewsdaily.com)
- Oprah Winfrey suggests Atheists must believe in God if they experience awe and wonder (independent.co.uk)
- Oprah: You Can’t Be an Atheist If You ‘Believe in the Awe and Wonder’ of the World (mediaite.com)
- Oprah Tries To Tell An Atheist What To Think. The Atheist Responds Like A Christian. Or Any Human. (upworthy.com)
- Oprah Winfrey’s Awkward Conversation with Marathon Swimmer Diana Nyad, an ‘Atheist Who’s in Awe’ (patheos.com)
- Review: ‘Deconverted’ by Seth Andrews (examiner.com)