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This has been doing the rounds today and has been reported in several places. HuffPo reports:

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has eschewed his atheist beliefs and now asserts that “religion is very important.”

Zuckerberg, whose Facebook profile once identified him as an atheist, revealed his change of heart on his social media network after he wished everyone on Dec. 25 a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah” from “Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” referring to his wife, daughter and dog. When a commenter asked him, “Aren’t you an atheist?” he responded: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”

He didn’t provide details about his faith. The title of his holiday greeting on Facebook was “celebrating Christmas.”

He and wife Priscilla Chan met with Pope Francis at the Vatican last summer and discussed how to bring communication technology to the world’s poor. Zuckerberg said at the time that he was impressed with the pope’s compassion.

“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 posted. “It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.”

This is all rather nebulous as if he has not actually done anything but recognise the importance of religion, perhaps to appeal to his religious consumers. However, a Facebook conversation revealed this:

Screen Shot 01-01-17 at 09.21 PM

So here he says he is not an atheist, explicitly, but without really revealing what he IS. With an increasing interest in Buddhism (his wife is Buddhist), it is most likely some affiliation with the Eastern worldview that would allow him to maintain a “religious worldview” whilst also not really pissing off atheists. In other words, a canny PR move. The Daily Mail, for example, love it. Because they included capitals in their headline. However, this Daily Mail commenter seems to have it right:

He doesn’t know what he believes–nor do we know what he believes. He does know that declaring himself an atheist would be bad for business and so he wallows with this prepared response to mollify his superstitious world customers.

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...