Tyson never used the word “atheist” in his response — no surprise there — but his explanation of why he didn’t accept the traditional idea of a Higher Power was excellent.
The more I look at the universe, the less convinced I am that there is something benevolent going on…
… I look at disasters that afflict Earth, and life on Earth: volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, disease, pestilence, congenital birth defects. You look at this list of ways that life is made miserable on Earth by natural causes, and I just ask, “How do you deal with that?”
So philosophers rose up and said, “If there is a God, God is either not all powerful or not all good.”
I have no problems if, as we probe the origins of things, we bump into the Bearded Man. If that shows up, we good to go! Okay? Not a problem.
There’s just no evidence of it.
And this is why religions are called “faiths” collectively. Because you believe something in the absence of evidence. That’s what it is! That’s why it’s called “faith”! Otherwise we would call all religions “evidence,” but we don’t, for exactly that reason.
Comedian Stephen Fry once gave a similar answer that I thought was more to the point. He explained why he didn’t just not believe in God, but why he wouldn’t want to believe in God.
Still, if Tyson’s response helps nudge people away from faith, more power to him.
(Thanks to Larry for the link)