ReligionSkepticism

Making the World a Better Place

Skeptics are not cynics and the godless are not immoral baby eating monsters but face it, a lot of people believe Skeptilove Pendant by Surly Amythat to be the case. I for one have been told many times that we need religious organizations because they do charitable acts for the community that no one else does. It is the churchgoers who feed the poor and build the houses for the homeless. Without the generous, selfless contributions of the god-fearing section of society the world would deteriorate into flaming pile of poop.

I myself know a lot of skeptics, atheists and other wonderful people whom although they don’t necessarily go to church; they do wonderful things to help out the community and those less fortunate. In fact, many of the skeptics I know are outspoken skeptics because they want to help protect the public from being taken advantage of by false and dangerous claims. I know some atheists who foster and adopt stray dogs and some who make sandwiches for the poor. I know a lot of wonderful, kind, caring, outspoken rational people who perform a lot of wonderful, thankless acts. They just don’t advertise their good deeds so much of what they do goes unnoticed. I also know a lot of skeptics who come up to me and ask, “I want to help but I don’t know what can I do to help out the skeptical movement. What can I do?” I now have the answer to that question and at the same time we now have a way to finally squash out the baby eating rumors as well. There is a way to shine a light on the many wonderful people in our group who do so much good and you can help. The solution my friends, is Skeptilove.

Skeptilove is a new organization set up by the lovely Ms. Alison Smith. Some of you may be familiar with Alison as she is the founder of the Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Society and a research assistant for the James Randi Educational Foundation. I asked Alison why she founded Skeptilove.

“SkeptiLove was formed as a response to religious believers who maintain that skeptics, humanists, agnostics, critical thinkers, and atheists can have no sense of ethics without guidance from a higher power. SkeptiLove strives to report on the kind acts of non-believers, and to rally the skeptical community to contribute to charitable works without the intervention of anything more than a desire to ease human suffering.

To get involved, visit skeptilove.com on a regular basis. There will be many opportunities to join fellow freethinkers in activities, or to organize your own and send in your story.

All You need is Love. (Pass it on.)”

I encourage you to get involved and to let Alison know about the random acts of kindness performed by you or Custom Surly-Ramics for Skeptiloveother freethinkers and skeptics in your neck of the woods.

My first small act was directly for Skeptilove. I thought it was such a lovely idea that I was inspired to create and to donate a bunch of Surly-Ramics necklaces for Alison to pass out to the people that she writes about.

There is always something wonderful waiting to happen and always a place where we can lend a hand and it is time to roll up our shirt sleeves and get to work. Forget about the rumors and forget about our reputation because the bottom line is that the world needs us, skeptics and non-skeptics alike. We need to take care of each other. So let’s get to work.

What will you do?

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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26 Comments

  1. There are studies that indicate that “conservatives” give a larger portion of their annual income to charity than do “liberals”. I’ve heard it argued that this is because “liberals” expect the government to take care of the needy whereas “conservatives” prefer these things to be handled by private charity.

    I don’t know if the studies where broken down further to determine how religious beliefs correlated with charitable giving. After all, I am sure there are plenty of conservative atheists and liberal believers.

    Personally I think one of the biggest services that the skeptical community performs for the greater society is to help expose all the frauds and quacks out there who are preying on the public. Regardless of whether they believe in God or not, I suspect that anyone who is armed with critical thinking skills and knowledge of the scientific method is less likely to get ripped off or misled by one of these predators.

    Good luck with Skeptilove.

    /BCT

  2. Love all the work you do Amy, keep it up.

    As I’ve said before, I think the nonreligious movements will only succeed when they replace the traditionally religious institutions that are still good and useful (some types of charity, social gatherings, marriage, etc) with non-woo equivalents.

  3. @russellsugden:
    I’m a bit confused as to how doing good deeds and helping people out automatically equates to socialism. Maybe in this case we need a new term. I propose, “humanistic skepilism”.

    @freddyzchic:
    Thanks and if you want to help out do share your stories of good will with Alison over at Skeptilove.

  4. Good thoughts, Amy–and beautiful jewelry too. I think we skeptics/humanists/realists or whatever label we might want to brand ourselves with do good precisely because we realize we’re here for a limited time and aren’t focused on gaining some sort of points for an imaginary afterlife. As Dawkins wrote “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. . . . In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. ” So while we’re here, let’s do some good. And you’re right–it ain’t socialism. If anything, it’s an element of secular humanism.

  5. @Amy: What drove the nail in the coffin of religion in european countries was the widespread introduction (by various degrees) of the Welfare State after the second world war.

    In the UK, historically, the church provided welfare and education and essentially was seen as neccessary. After 1945 and the Atlee government church attendences have fallen year on year (not so much of late, but that’s due to the fact that it’s now down to less than 1million regulars, the absolute core).

    The introduction of the welfare state has resulted in the situation (the mirror image of american) in that the poorer you are the LESS likely you are to be a believer. Put simply, unlike america, the poor don’t need the church so they don’t go.

    (Of course other forms of woo are move prevalent than in the US, Tarot, Astrology, Monarchism etc.)

    Rather than set up alternative “churches”, which is a kind of bribery soup-kitchens-for-parroting-skeptisism, (the speed with which church attendence fell away in the UK implies participents were playing along without actually believing) you’d be better off in american, fighting for the development of a just weflare state

  6. Of course thats not to say it’d be pointless to support secular charities, but organising decent Union representation in your work place for example, would be a better long term alternative to specifically skeptical charities.

    What would you do, have someone reading Carl Sagan outloud to a room full of homeless people eating soup? ;-)

  7. The two main principals of my parenting style and self guiding prinicples have always been this : 1) always try to do your very best and 2) do unto others as you would want them to do unto you ( the Golden Rule ). The first is about effort, a job truly well done, the intrinsic joy in really doing one’s best and the likely reward with such an effort , especially if it’s combined with perseverence ( a necessary 1a adjunctive). Furthermore, the golden rule has nothing to do with religion, but it has everything to do with kindness and fairness. Good deed doing should not be controversial and it need not have anything to do with socialism. Do your best, as an individual to do good deeds and if given your circumstance, time allowance, etc, that good deed is small and infrequent, then so what. This stuff does add up. Why should this be controversial?

  8. Here’s what I do:
    I’m a veterinarian at the ASPCA. We have a public veterinary hospital where we treat animals based on their owners’ ability to pay. We also treat the shelter animals and animals confiscated under the cruelty laws. Many (most?) of my co-workers are non-believers. We’ve had many a cynical discussion about people “blessing” us.

  9. @russellsugden:

    Close.

    But in private charity, I get to decide where my time and money goes.

    In socialism, the state decides for me.

    As I am skeptical of the state–it’s basically an inefficient agent for coercive wealth redistribution–I would prefer to choose where my time and money goes.

    I donate animal charities and I’ve personally rescued/TNR’d about 70 cats. Any thoughts as to how many skeptics tend toward animal charities?

    I basically hate people. But that being said, I also volunteer once a week at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and teach for free at a YMCA. And whenever a friend asks for an AIDS Run donation or a friend’s kid is selling candy bars to raise money for something, I’ll usually chip in. (Does buying Girl Scout cookies count as charity? :)

  10. I’m temporarily out of it for a sabbatical (read as “burned out”), but I’m involved in Sheltie Rescue and helping other breed rescues (many here already know that). I was also a Union steward for several years and paid the price for it. (It tends to make you a target for management.)

    I also commit “random acts of kindness and wanton acts of beauty” whenever the urge and opportunity strikes…They can take the form of cash, effort, time, merchandise…whatever is needed at the time. “Pay it forward” is a rule with me.

    I also helped arrange for a former airline employer to ship a few thousand pounds of donated pet supplies to New Orleans after Katrina once I heard that there was a desperate shortage of basics like pet food, cat litter, leashes/collars, etc. (Damn! Cat litter is heavy! Cut deeply into our payload allowance.)

    @halincoh: I recently decided that a minor modification is needed to the Golden Rule, so I “do to others as they would have me do unto them.” What I may want isn’t the issue – it’s what the other person needs. (Not original – I think it came from the Dalai Lama).

    @Glo-Orb: I bow to you for your work for the animals. I can only wish to be that helpful to them.

  11. @QuestionAuthority:
    Aw shucks.
    It’s not as selfless as it sounds. Vet medicine is a second career for me and I love my job!
    And as far as vet clinics… I see shit at the ASPCA that you would never see anywhere else. It’s never a dull moment.
    The only comparison I can draw is that it must be similar to the experience of an MD working in a busy urban ER. Anything can walk (or be carried) through that door.

  12. @Glow-Orb: Oh, I’d believe it. I volunteered for rescue in SW MO, the center of puppy mill Hell. I’ve seen shit that I still have nightmares over. The Lancaster PA area is another puppy mill hotspot…Some of the Amish seem to have lost their hearts… :-(

    I thought about vet school, but since I’m in my 50’s already, I don’t think I’d have enough time to build up a practice before I was forced to retire. I talked this over with my vets in MO. They both told me to expect about 8 years of school – 16 years at half-time.

    Where’s all that life-extension technology that Asimov and Clarke promised me??? ;-)

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