Actually I don’t mean that atheists should tithe at all, I mean that humanists should donate a reasonable proportion of their income to charities, but it wasn’t as catchy.
An atheist, is strictly speaking, a person who doesn’t have a belief in God. This statement implies that atheism says nothing about morality or how one should live one’s life. However, many atheists would also consider themselves humanists. Humanists basically believe that humans are on our own in the world and that we need to make the best of it. This means that humanists specifically rule out appeals to deities of any kind. This is why I really mean that humanists should be doing something.
Tithing is the practice of giving 10% of your income and/or wealth to the church – it is implicit that this is the church that you belong to. Its therefore unlikely that atheists or humanists are going to think that this is a good idea at all; because they’re not, as a group, big believers in churches (or other places of religion). However, the practice of tithing was partially used to support the good works of the church to the poor and 10% is a reasonably large quantity, one that should certainly make a difference. So that’s why I used the word tithe.
There is a general reason why everyone should give some of their wealth or income away, regardless of their position on God(s). That is that quite simply, it’s a nice thing to do.
For those people in the world who have consider themselves members of a religion with a scripture inspired by God (or Gods), there is a second reason. God said so. If you look in your scripture I’ll put money on you finding it there, although perhaps not in those exact words. The rest of this post isn’t aimed at you, – although you are more than welcome to read and comment on it – so if you don’t agree, please consider that first.
But what if you are an atheist (humanist), do you have any compelling reasons to give money away?
Well, if you are a humanist, this existence is all of the life and experience you are going to get. It also means that:
- Nothing is going to improve the lives of the poor and suffering, if nobody, anywhere does anything about it.
- Nobody is going to save the environment if some humans don’t do it.
- People are going to die early from disease and accidents unless some people do something. And when they die, that’s it.
Christian Aid has the slogan “We believe in life before death”, humanists would add “and that’s all the life we get”. So it should be more important to humanists than to anyone else, to extend everyone’s life and quality of life.
There is a general rule in life that if nothing is going to get done unless somebody does something about it, you’d better start doing it yourself or nobody will. So, humanists should be donating serious amounts of money. Starting today (yesterday if you have a time machine). Just as the religious are exhorted to act on their beliefs, so should the humanists. And part of that means putting your money where your mouth is.
If you truly believe that there is no one but us to turn to, then act as if no one else can help us with our problems and start contributing to the solutions by giving money (and lots of it).