Harvard’s Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein was featured on Speaking of Faith, a show from American Public Media, this weekend.
The website says Greg “is passionate about articulating an atheist identity that is not driven by a stance against religion but by positive ethical beliefs and actions.”
Some of the transcript with host Krista Tippett:
Mr. Epstein: Well, Krista, the most important thing that I can say about this issue is that I am in fact a believer, but I’m not a believer in the traditional sense. Humanists, we don’t believe in God. I’m an atheist; that’s what I don’t believe in, and humanism is what I do believe in.
Ms. Tippett: Right.
Mr. Epstein: And it’s simply that to me what’s much more important is what I do believe in. And —
Ms. Tippett: Right. I guess what I’m saying is you wouldn’t define yourself in terms of what you don’t believe in.
Mr. Epstein: Sure. No. But, I mean, I also — one thing, though, is that, you know, for some people, and I think one of the reasons why we run into problems around this subject is that for a long time in this country the word “atheism” has been treated as some kind of dirty word.
Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm.
Mr. Epstein: And that, you know, it’s really, to me, it’s not morally acceptable that more people than any other group, you know, say that they wouldn’t vote for an atheist — a qualified atheist who was running for president, that this is not morally good or acceptable that people say that. And I think that we need people of all sides of the religious, of all parts of the religious spectrum, to speak out against that and to say, ‘Listen, you know, we in this country don’t have religious tests for public office and we don’t have religious tests for who’s a good person.’ And I’m not interested in talking about this sort of old canard that you can’t be good without God. That’s an issue of prejudice if you feel that way. But what I am interested in talking about is what does it mean to be good without God? And that’s — that to me is what humanism is all about. That’s why I define myself primarily as a humanist.
It’s a long in-depth interview about various aspects of Humanism — the kind you rarely see in the mainstream media. While the overall ideas of Humanism are discussed and are well worth noting, a few other parts stood out to me:
What was (thankfully) not mentioned: The whole “fundamentalist atheist” controversy. (That is so 2007.)
The rundown of the show is amazing. It’s like a little mini-history of Humanism.
Hell, the entire web page dedicated to the show has a litany of great resources.
You can download the entire episode here (MP3).