Diana Nyad recently made history with a swim from Cuba to Key West, Fla., this summer, but in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on “Super Soul Sunday”, the topic went from swimming to Nyad’s views on faith and religion. This is when the interview turned into Mother Oprah, politely, disagreeing with Nyad’s assertion that she’s an atheist. Winfrey didn’t understand how Nyad could claim she was an atheist after saying “not a God person, but a person deeply in awe.”
“I don’t understand why anyone would find a contradiction in that,” Nyad said. “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 and suffered. So to me, my definition of God is humanity and is the love of humanity.” In complete disagreement with Nyad, Oprah went on to explain how she’s wrong about her atheism. “Well, I don’t call you an atheist then,” she said. “I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, that is what God is. That is what God is. It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”
Although Nyad stated she doesn’t believe in God, she does believe she’s spiritual. “I do. I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching Being who created all of this and sees over it. 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.”
The conversation between Nyad and Winfrey proves that two people with complete opposite beliefs or non-beliefs can discuss them in a civil manner. But I do wonder if maybe Nyad didn’t realize appearing on a show with “Soul” in its name could possibly bring up the question of religion.