We’re excited to present the 2012 Harvard Humanist of the Year Award to the founders of OKCupid this Sunday. Some of you have asked for more detail: why these guys, and this website? Here are some reasons behind our choice:
1) They’ve built the secular future. OkCupid is an online community in which around 10 million people have participated. The site founders have crunched the numbers on their interactions and found: mentioning your atheism makes it more likely to get a response when seeking a date– in fact, it’s one of the top 6 things you can do to get a positive response! In other words, here you have a huge community in which it is not only socially acceptable but desirable to be nonreligious. In fact, I suspect that on OkCupid today, just like in American society as a whole in the generations to come, being open about your atheism is actually a sign of trustworthiness and honesty. That’s a huge, welcome change. For more, see Friendly Atheist‘s coverage.
2) OkCupid is more Humanistic than other dating sites; it exemplifies open-mindedness, critical thinking, and a willingness to engage in conversation on any topic. On it, members ask one another thousands of questions, and are amazingly frank about their values– whether religious, political, sexual, or cultural. You answer as much as you want, as publicly or privately as you want.
Some have pointed out that not everyone on OkCupid is looking for marriage or a long-term relationship. That’s fine and healthy! Today’s young people spend longer than ever getting educated. They’re more mobile and free than ever before. What the site promotes is: take time to figure yourself out, because it will probably make you better prepared to create the lasting love you need. Recent statistics on the increase in age at marriage and the decrease in divorce, particularly among those who are well-educated, confirm the value of this approach.
3) They’re influential and open Humanists. Not only are the site’s founders–Christian Rudder, Chris Coyne, Max Krohn, and Sam Yagan– themselves atheists who hold Humanistic values, they’ve proudly listed themselves that way on the site for many years. We in turn are very proud of them. They’re young Harvard alums who’ve proven you can be extremely successful doing fascinating work that helps people, contributes to society, and allows you to be totally open and honest about who you are. Definitely award-worthy.
Join us on Sunday to congratulate them and have what I’m sure will be a fascinating conversation about love, community, religion/Humanism, and technology!