So, I came across an article written by Richard Dawkins. It is titled, “Atheists are the most generous—even without heavenly reward!” In this article, Dawkins seeks to ‘establish’ that atheists are more generous when it comes to donating money for charity. Given that it is written by Richard Dawkins, one must think he has arrived at this conclusion after vigorous reasoning and solid evidences. While making his case, he mentioned some ‘facts’. In these facts, he mentioned about Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, George Soros and Andrew Carnegie. At the time of reading this article, I was actually unaware of their religious inclinations. Out of curiosity, I searched through internet. I found that:
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are agnostics. (here)
Melinda Gates is Roman Catholic (here)
Andrew Carnegie was, in later part of his life, had strong religious inclinations. (here)
Of all examples mentioned by Dawkins, George Soros was truly an atheist.
One thing is clear. Dawkins was establishing that atheists are more generous. May be atheists are actually more generous. But how was he establishing this? By distorting the facts? By misleading readers? By cherry-picking the evidences?
Why couldn’t he simply state that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are agnostics rather than atheists? Why did he has to tell that Carnegie was atheist only while his youth and not in his later part of life? Why did he lie about Melinda Gates? Was he going too far to make his case?
Let us assume that Bill and Melinda Gates, Buffett, Carnegie were atheist. So how does this establish that atheists are actually more generous? Did all those guys donate money because they were atheists? Did being atheist actually play any role? If this is the case, Dawkins’ article failed to explain this. His argument goes like this: Once he saw ten guys driving Ferrari. After a while, he noticed nine out of ten guys were, um, wearing brown shoes. So he concluded that in general, you must wear brown shoes to drive Ferrari. Now you know what I mean by Dawkins’ arguments, if there was any.
What about John D Rockefeller? He too donated vast amount of money. And he was not atheist. I actually read somewhere that Indian monk Vivekananda inspired him to donate money. This story may well be wrong but that is not the point. What would Dawkins say about that? Azim Premji Hashmi has committed to donate more than 2 Billion dollars for charity. And he is Muslim. And I don’t think his being Muslim has anything to do with that. There may well be other such cases.
In his article, he also mentions the case of Kiva.org. He goes on to state:
The leading team on November 22, 2011, is “Atheists, Agnostics, Sceptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, and the Non-Religious.”
Here he was talking about the leading team of Kiva.org. Again, I didn’t know anything about Kiva.org.
So I again searched over internet for Kiva.org. In Wikipedia, it is mentioned that founders of Kiva.org were inspired by Mohammad Yunus who originally developed the concepts of microfinance and microcredit.
“Kiva was founded in October 2005 by Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley. The couple’s initial interest in microfinance was inspired by a 2003 lecture given by Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus at Stanford Business School.” (Source: Wikipedia)
I really don’t know if Flannery and Jackley are atheists. But I do know they were inspired by Mohammad Yunus for setting up Kiva.org and Mohammad Yunus is Muslim, not atheist. Again, if Dawkins thinks Kiva.org has something to do with its founder being atheists, I may well say development of microcredit and microfinance has something to do with its father being Muslim. No?
Dawkins goes on to say:
“I’m gleeful that the irreligious are the most altruistic because I was incessantly told the inverse by credo-worshipping commenters……”
Now you know he concluded out of nowhere that irreligious are the most altruistic. And he wants us to understand that irreligious are the most altruistic because they are irreligious. This is coming from the man who wants you to find and accept truth on the basis of hard reasoning and solid evidences. Irony? Indeed.
All his life, Dawkins have met a lot of stupid (read religious) people and perhaps he think he could conclude anything. After all, people are stupid anyway.
While reading his article, I felt he was kind of desperate and eager to prove superiority of atheism. It may well be superior. But Dawkins, through his article, did more damage than good.
As for me, well, I am stupid and smiling.