Diana Nyad, swam to Cuba fame (atheist) squares up w/ Oprah on atheism!?!?!? 2013!

Frank Furedi:

Oprah is wrong. Atheists can experience wonder and awe

Those who believe in God do not have a monopoly over possession of that magnificent sense of the sublime


In one sense Oprah Winfrey was absolutely right when she lectured the humanist swimmer Diana Nyad about the inconsistency of the outlook of atheism with a sense of awe. For Oprah, a woman of faith, the sense of wonder and awe are inextricably intertwined with religion and God.

Indeed since the emergence of the Judeo-Christian tradition, awe is the mandatory reaction that the true believer is required to have towards God. From this perspective the sense awe and wonder is bounded and regulated through the medium of religious doctrine. In contrast, those of us who believe that it was not God but humans who are the real creators are unlikely to stand in awe of this allegedly omnipotent figure.

Although in the 21st century the term awe and awesome are used colloquially to connote amazement and admiration historically these words communicated feelings of powerlessness, fear and dread. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us, that awe means ‘immediate and active fear; terror, dread’. The OED explains that from its original reference to the Divine Being it has acquired a variety of different meanings, such as ‘dread mingled with veneration’ and ‘reverential or respectful fear’. All these meanings signal one important idea which that ‘fearing’ and ‘dreading’ are inherently positive attributes to be encouraged.

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Oprah needs to get over herself.  I can't count the number of times I've seen one of the blue herons we have around here in leisurely flight or an F-16 at full chat, zipping across the presentation area at the Cleveland Air Show and felt awe at the beauty and seeming impossibility of winged flight.  At the same time, I fully understand the principles which allow flight to happen.  These two are in no ways at odds with each other or with my atheism.

The concept of god has no monopoly on awe, amazement or wonder ... never has.

I have the same sense of awe every cloudless, moonlit night as I look up at the brightness of the moon.  I am always amazed that humans, using science and math, built a machine, flew up there and walked on the surface.  Amazing! 

I didn't know Oprah was a believer in god.  She left me with the feeling that she thought she was god and we'd better listen to her or else.

I went to the Grand Canyon last May.  The power of river erosion and tectonic plate activity was just, just, er, ah, awesome!

Craig, I found thoroughly awesome two walking trips down into and up out of the GC and an oar-powered raft trip down the Colorado River through the GC.

Also awesome?

Hiking in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. Listening to Beethoven, Stravinsky and more. Thinking about science. Being in better than average health. And of course doing sex.

Yes!" ‘fearing’ and ‘dreading’ are inherently positive attributes to be encouraged" by believers and exactly why belief in the supernatural is so unhealthy and unproductive. It tends to stop critical thinking, exploration, experimentation, imagine, investigation, and research. It impedes progress, causes one to resist new ideas, and reduces capacity for innovation. 

Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson: A fascinatingly disturbing thought

Are we intelligent enough to figure out solutions to our problems and conflicts? I really do wonder!

What I do know: I do not have evidence to convince me any god exists, and I feel wonder and awe at the universe and all that it contains. 

Are we intelligent enough to figure out solutions to our problems and conflicts? I really do wonder!

We can, I think ... if we can get past religious indoctrination and the fear inculcated with it.

In ancient times a cave with 2 entrances had one entrance collapse killing 3 people. That entrance was never used again, and everyone knew that the deceased had made god angry. There was amazement and awe.

Today we have the same feelings and connect them with god because DNA proves gods existence. Way before that the proof was fingerprints. Before that it was the fact that we are here. Look at me. Look at this dog.

You can enjoy a sunset or a rainbow, be in awe, and not know a damned thing about god!

Awe does NOT necessarily include fear.  It CAN include fear or dread but doesn't have to. 


an overwhelming feeling of reverence, fear, etc., produced by that which is sublime, extremely powerful, or the like

Now according to the REAL definition of awe - which is probably what Oprah meant - do you think atheism interferes with awe? 

It would interfere with awe of God for sure.  But I don't think atheism precludes awe in other circumstances.  I am in awe of many things. 

Awe is a common thing if one has a sense of wonder about ... life, death, progress, diversity, reality. All I have to do is walk in my garden any day of the year, I am struck at how full of wonder it is. Many organisms work hard for me, I am not even aware of them; they probably are not aware of me. I don't even know they exist, but I can see the result of their efforts.

God has absolutely nothing to do with any of the processes that occur daily in my garden. Absurd notions of this higher power can be reframed as nature doing what nature does, through natural processes.

This is not anything new or revelatory about Oprah.  She has been a long time advocate of wishy-washy, New Age, Spiritual crap and pseudoscience mumbo-jumbo.

With that said, I do have a certain degree of respect for her for all that she has overcome from her childhood and all that she has worked for and achieved.  She really is the epitome of the classic "success story," but I certainly don't worship at her altar.  

I lost confidence in Oprah years ago when she started giving away expensive things, like cars. Who benefited by these gifts? Did the people who received them benefit; I don't know, but I thought it was a cheap trick to get an audience. Getting stuff means a lot to some people; was their life changed? Probably, temporarily! I would much rather she uses her money as she did in setting up a girls school in Africa, or teaching people to think, or fund some research project such as cancer research. No! that wouldn't bring in an audience! Well, she lost me as an audience being so preoccupied with things.




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