And the dimple on the baby’s chin and the dew on the rose


Oh, please. Oprah.

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.

No it is not. Being blown away by a sunset or a starry night or a sunset seen from the beach on a starry night is not what “God” is. Don’t bullshit us. Don’t move the goalposts. Don’t pretend the word “God” doesn’t mean what most people take it to mean but instead means a really good hazelnut gelato. Don’t conscript everyone into God’s army by pretending everything is god. Just don’t.

Comments

  1. Claire Ramsey says

    Oprah is just so damn silly. It’s insulting that she (and so many other people) are so stubbornly ignorant and unimaginative. Everything pretty that smells good is not god. Every beam of sunlight through a cloud is not god (despite the fact that our grandmother told us that it was. That just made it more scary).

  2. Andrew B. says

    The only thing that matter to some people is that you believe in “something” that you call god. What that something is just doesn’t matter. These people have a god fetish.

  3. thephilosophicalprimate says

    Also, Oprah is a tremendous religious bigot. Seriously. What else can you call someone who automatically classes “atheists” as some sort of benighted, emotionally stunted sub-humans who cannot feel any sense of awe or wonder? That is some grade ‘A’ othering, right there.

    Oprah can just piss right the fuck off!

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    … her beliefs did not fit with traditional atheism.

    Please, Ms Winfrey, celebsplain traditional atheism for us!

  5. Cassidy McJones says

    Don’t bullshit us. Don’t move the goalposts. Don’t pretend the word “God” doesn’t mean what most people take it to mean but instead means a really good hazelnut gelato..

    This. Exactly. Women aren’t being denied autonomy over their own bodies in much of the US because of that fantastic gelato. Education and science standards aren’t being systematically attacked and dismantled because of All Mighty Gelato.

    Not surprising this is coming from one of the biggest pushers of “The Secret” crap from awhile back.

  6. Bjarte Foshaug says

    @Andrew B #2

    The only thing that matter to some people is that you believe in “something” that you call god. What that something is just doesn’t matter.

    Exactly. I commented on something similar here. Many believers seem to think that if they can just get the word “God” to refer to something that exists, then “theism” is vindicated and all their beliefs are justified.

    If you basically define “God” as “whatever exists”, it follows trivially that something called “God” exists, but then a sentence like “God exists” is nothing more than an empty tautology (“Whatever exists exists”) and tells us nothing at all about the existence of any kind of supernatural intelligence. One common attempt at having it both ways goes something like this:

    1. Define “God” as “life, the universe and everything”.
    2. Argue that God” = life, the universe and everything and life, the universe and everything exists, therefore God exists.
    3. Argue that since you have just proven the existence of “God”, the supernatural, intelligent creator of the Bible exists.
    4. If atheists object to your argument, accuse them of strawmanning and arguing against life, the universe and everything.

  7. says

    @Bjarte Foshaug #7

    The word “God” exists. Therefore God exists. Checkmate, atheists.

    I recently ate gelato on the grounds of a medieval cathedral. Now *that* was godly. Ave gelato!

  8. says

    Experience ‘awe’? Hrm…

    I find Oprah and all like her who try to pull this kind of rhetorical sleight of hand pretty awful (and kinda wish nasty manipulators like her who get rich in part off others’ gullibility would go play in traffic). That count for anything?

    (/X-ray emitting black holes, the synchrotron radiation coming off the Crab nebula, the fact that the rocks just across the river from me are about a billion years old and the roots of a mountain range that was probably once the largest this globe has ever seen, on the other hand, I might give awesome.)

  9. says

    She implies a lot with this response. It’s a bit like, “You’re much to nice a person to be an atheist.” or “But, you’re not drinking blood and killing people. How can you be an atheist.”

  10. johnthedrunkard says

    No one seems to have thought of exemplifying Winfrey’s silliness by saying that it is ‘mighty white of her’ not to be mugging passers-by or drawing welfare while tap-dancing and eating watermelon.

  11. says

    I find Oprah and all like her who try to pull this kind of rhetorical sleight of hand pretty awful

    For one thing, their ham-fisted approach eliminates any possible success with attempted sleight of hand

  12. Dave Ricks says

    Chris Stedman wrote this response yesterday that I found from a link on CNN’s front page today. I appreciate this very much, for Stedman stepping up to the mainstream media, and CNN linking his response to their front page. Like Greta Christina wrote, this is a long game.

  13. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Oprah pre-judging somebody based soley on her own prejudices? Is there a handbag-shaped elephant in the room?

  14. shari says

    I’d forgotten O pushed ‘the Secret’ – thanks for that reminder – another reason i dislike her views and her agenda.

    And thank you for the hazelnut gelato reference. I am one of those who believe it Could bring about…..world peace (until we all start fighting for the last of it ;-)

  15. zibble says

    She says that if you believe in awe, she doesn’t consider you an atheist. I’m surprised no one’s made the obvious response; if you worship “awe” and “wonder” and “mystery” instead of the Lord Jesus Christ, I don’t consider you a Christian.

  16. tuibguy says

    Well, it is just not nice to tell someone else who they are or who they are not. “I don’t consider you an atheist…” fro whatever reason is a lot patronizing and demeaning and takes away Nyad’s agency.

    Of course, Christians are practiced at this because they like to decide who is, or who is not, a “real Christian.”

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