Helping Haiti because it makes us feel good
By R. ELISABETH CORNWELL - THE WASHINGTON POST
Added: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Whenever natural disasters strike, there follows an outpouring of humanity. We have a deeply evolved psychological need to help people who are suffering, especially when heart-rending images enter our home. The tear-streaked face of an orphaned child, or the look of desperation in a father's eyes as he searches through rubble for his family touch our hearts. We are shaped by Darwinian natural selection to be empathetic.
Most people never think about the reasons such behaviors have arisen in humans. In fact, there is often such a simplistic view of Darwin's theory that many people argue such generosity toward others, especially strangers, is impossible.
That's where the religious apologists step in. Atheism, many claim, is just too 'selfish' a world-view to do good.
The real facts, however, are very different. All humans, independent of their religious identity, fall along the normal bell curve of generosity, kindness, and caring. Some are generous, some are not, and it has little to do with whether or not they are religious. But whereas religious people often give through their churches, when atheists commit acts of kindness they usually don't identify themselves as such. This omission feeds the myth that atheists are not involved with the community because they have no god to tell them what to do: no divine instruction manual to feed them the meaning of 'good'.
Over the past week, I've witnessed an incredible outpouring of atheist generosity. On Jan. 16, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) along with a dozen other secular organizations and bloggers formed Non-Believers Giving Aid (NBGA), a permanent fund set up to assist secular disaster relief organizations. In the case of Haiti: Doctors without Borders and the International Red Cross.
Tracy McVeigh, - The Guardian Comments
Melinda and Bill Gates visit a village near Patna in the Indian state of Bihar. Photograph: Aftab Alam Siddiqui/AP
Richard Dawkins - - Comments
Freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, secular humanists – whatever name non-believers go under, they are not America’s most popular minority.
Foundation Beyond Belief - Light the... Comments
The Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's evening walk and fundraising event to pay tribute and bring hope to people battling cancer. The Stiefel family has pledged to match the first $500,000 donated!
- - Science Daily 59 Comments
New research suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.
Leo Igwe - Sahara Reporters 29 Comments
A billboard proclaims "That witch must die."
Seth Andrews - YouTube -... 19 Comments
Doing Good...Without God - They have raised $11K of their $30k goal - please watch the video and consider contributing
MORE BY R. ELISABETH CORNWELL
R. Elisabeth Cornwell - The... 18 Comments
Why women need secularism
Gale Walldorff holds a historic sign of a woman saying "Don't tell me what to do," during the "Walk in My Shoes, Hear Our Voice" Protest Monday, March 12, 2012 at the state Capitol in Atlanta. The rally Monday comes after the Senate last week passed measures banning abortion coverage under state employees' health care plans and exempting religious health care providers from having to cover birth control. (Jason Getz - AP)
R. Elisabeth Cornwell -... 58 Comments
Santorum, Satan and the Fate of the Freeworld