Oprah Winfrey and guest Diana Nyad couldn’t seem to settle on a proper understanding of the concept of “atheism” during their talk on OWN’s “Super Soul Sunday.”
Nyad, a long distance swimmer and an atheist, seemed to be somewhat “spiritual” despite not observing an organized religion or even believing in God. Still, she admitted to having a genuine sense of “wonder” and “awe” about the universe, and said she couldn’t help but feel spiritually moved at times.
“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 have lived before us, who have loved and hurt. So to me, my definition of God is humanity and is the love of humanity.”
But to Oprah, even if there’s just a hint of spirituality there, one can’t claim to be an atheist.
“Well, I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery that that is what God is. That is what God is. It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”
Nyad somewhat diplomatically shot back:
“It’s not bearded but I guess there is inference with God that there is presence, there is a — either a creator or an overseer. I don’t criticize anybody. Because you know what? The definition of life is, we will never know.”
It only gets slightly more confusing from there.
“I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching being who created all of this and sees over it,” Nyad said. “But there’s spirituality because we human beings, and we animals, and maybe even we plants, but certainly the ocean and the moon and the stars, we all live with something that is cherished and we feel the treasure of it.”
Winfrey finally agreed. “Well, I believe that and feel that so deeply. It’s why every time I enter my yard or leave, I say, ‘Hello trees!'”
Of course, we can’t give Oprah Winfrey and guest Diana Nyad too hard a time. This is daytime TV. Watch the two go back and forth about atheism below, and then watch a superior theological debate below that: