Harvard University, originally founded with a mission to educate clergymen in order to minister to New England’s early Puritan colonists, has a new chief chaplain. His name is Greg Epstein – and he is an atheist.
Epstein, author of Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, has been the university’s humanist chaplain since 2005 before being unanimously elected by his fellow campus chaplains as the university chaplains organization’s new president.
The 44-year-old, who was raised in a Jewish household, has been described as a “godfather to the [humanist] movement”, a secular, values-based philosophy that focuses on people’s relationships with each other instead of with God.
As Harvard University’s new chief chaplain, Epstein will coordinate activities of over 40 chaplains from more than 20 different religious, spiritual and ethical traditions.
“I want to support students and the university community together around the fact that it’s been an extraordinarily trying time and almost anybody could be expected to have lost a little faith in humanity in recent years,” he told the Guardian on Friday.
“We have a lot that divides us theologically but we have a tremendous amount in common when it comes to our shared desires … to support the human beings in our community as they try to live lives of meaning and purpose in a world that can sometimes threaten to rob us of [those senses], regardless of our beliefs,” he added.