• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Do Atheists Love as Well as Christians?

A self-avowed atheist correspondent challenged me on my last post for “Context,” the one that showed “Very Committed” Christians giving more to charity than does everyone else in Canada, even as the actual amounts of giving weren’t terribly impressive.

My correspondent understandably bristled at a possible problem in this comparison: “Is it fair to compare ‘very committed’ members of Cause X to the members in total of all other causes? Shouldn’t you compare the ‘very committed’ to the ‘very committed’?”

And, he continued, might it be the case that “joiners” just “join” things, “givers” just “give,” such that their behaviour is a function of personality type, not of the actual content of their ideologies, philosophies, or religions?

This question made immediate sense to me, and I’ve pursued it this past week. But I don’t know that my atheist friend is going to like what I’ve concluded.

The comparison of “very committed” Christians to everybody else does demonstrate what I wanted it to demonstrate, namely, that Christianity is not a parasite on the body politic. Serious Christians pull their weight (and more) in terms of social responsibility, as Christians don’t give only to their own causes, but to lots of secular ones as well. So far, so good.

My friend wondered, however, if I was also implying that Christians were more altruistic than atheists. Comparing the “cream of the crop” Christians with “run of the mill” people espousing “No Religion” seemed wrong. And he’s right.

[For the rest, please click HERE.]