Once identified as atheist, Mark Zuckerberg says 'I believe religion is very important'
Posted January 13
Mark Zuckerberg just gave atheism a thumbs down.
It started when the founder of Facebook posted a cheerful message on Christmas Day, saying that he, his wife, child and dog were all celebrating the holiday together.
“Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” he wrote.
One commenter asked Zuckerberg whether or not he was atheist, given that he had previously identified as one. He wrote back, “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”
That’s all he said on the matter, not delving deeper into how he and his wife view religion.
Though Zuckerberg and his wife have often been upfront on their moral values, Zuckerberg has long been viewed as an atheist, according to The Washington Post. But the Zuckerberg family may have changed its tune.
“Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have publicly discussed their moral values frequently — including in a lengthy letter when their daughter was born a year ago, in which they pledged to donate 99 percent of their Facebook stock, which at about $45 billion at the time was one of the largest philanthropic commitments ever,” according to the Post.
Zuckerberg met with Pope Francis back in August of this year. According to the Christian Post, the meeting with the pope had a tremendous effect on Zuckerberg. He posted on Facebook about it shortly afterword, saying that Pope Francis’ tenderness allowed him to communicate with people from all walks of faith.
"Priscilla and I had the honor of meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he's found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.
Zuckerberg's charitable commitment, no matter what line of faith he’s from, was really Christian, according to The Week.
“Even if Zuckerberg has never read a line in the New Testament, never heard any of the countless stories of saints who gave all their money to the poor, this action remains one which is only thinkable in a cultural context that has been historically shaped by Christianity,” according to The Week.
This presented an issue for some Christians, according to The Week, because many felt this was an atheist doing Christian work.
“On the one hand, it seems that because so much of our moral and conceptual grammar is shared with the secular world, more fruitful dialogue is possible,” according to The Week. “On the other, the reality seems to be more that the secular world feels that not only has Christianity been tried and failed, the modern doesn't need it, since (apparently) it can articulate a conceptual grammar of love with no metaphysical underpinnings.”
Back in 2015, the Facebook founder created a reading list — called A Year in Books — in which he hoped Facebook users would join him on a journey of reading a book every two weeks. One of those books included "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James, a book full of lectures on the religious experience, according to Business Insider.
Zuckerberg said he wanted to read more about religion after reading the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.”
"When I read 'Sapiens,' I found the chapter on the evolution of the role of religion in human life most interesting and something I wanted to go deeper on," Zuckerberg wrote.