This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Helping Haiti because it makes us feel good

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.
Continue reading



Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the...

- - BBC News Comments

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader

Robert F. Worth - New York Times Comments

A great article about Jerry DeWitt and the growing presence of atheist communities

Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins

Chip Rowe - Playboy Comments

Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins

Atheists On Religion, Science, And...

- - YouTube - townsquare Comments

Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, leads this week's panel on 'The Point' to discuss these issues and more with Michael Shermer (Publisher - Skeptic Magazine), Sean Carroll (Theoretical Physicist - Caltech), and Edward Falzon (author of 'Being Gay Is Disgusting').

Atheists find a new venue for the...

Kimberly Winston - Washington Post Comments

Last weekend, the Atheist Film Festival showed more than a dozen films about separation of church and state, freedom of religion (and no religion), the conflict between science and religion in public schools.

Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God...

- - eBay auction Comments

Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God Letter" Handwritten Shortly Before His Death



The Invisible Burka: Why women need...

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)

Santorum, Satan and the Fate of the...

R. Elisabeth Cornwell -... 58 Comments

Santorum, Satan and the Fate of the Freeworld

Quarterback sneak

R. Elisabeth Cornwell - On Faith -... 42 Comments



Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment