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Good Old Bill

Entry 1152, on 2010-02-01 at 23:00:25 (Rating 3, News)

There have been a few occasions in the past where I have been critical of Bill Gates, mostly because of his role leading Microsoft, a company which I think has stopped the computer industry from progressing and held back innovation for many years. On the other hand I do believe in giving credit where credit's due and I must agree that Bill's contributions to worthy causes (through his charitable organisation) have been substantial.

His latest contribution (at least the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's latest) is for $10 billion over the next 10 years to research new vaccines and use them in the world's poorest countries. That's a fairly substantial sum and one which has been put towards a very worthwhile project. Despite the claims of the anti-vaccination movement there is no doubt that vaccination is generally a very positive intervention and one which can potentially avoid more disease and suffering than just about anything else.

So I think this contribution is important for several reasons. First, just by donating $10 billion, which would not have been available otherwise, the research and medical program can proceed. Second, it was a good move to choose a positive, long-term target for the funding. Third, I appreciate him showing that non-religious charities can do as much or more than those based around religions. Fourth, by countering (more by implication than specifically) the people who oppose vaccination he reduces their effectiveness. And finally, by setting an example other people with excessive wealth might follow him.

So well done Bill, now could you do the world another big favour and tell Microsoft to stop making that awful (so-called) word processor, Word? We all hate it. Thanks for that!

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Comment 2 (2602) by OJB on 2010-02-11 at 12:00:44: (view earlier comments)

I'm not jealous because I have Word on my computer, I just never use it. But I do have to spend a lot of time fixing its problems for my clients, explaining to people how its arcane features work (and why some don't) and constantly patching its security flaws.

I didn't spin the Gates contribution as anti-religious, I just wanted to use it as an example of how religion isn't necessary to be generous or moral, as some of my religious opponents (not you) have suggested.

I do think that non-religious charities are superior to religious ones for several reasons. The religious ones often include a certain amount of proselytising, for example. Atheists don't tend to do that sort of thing. And let's not get started on the child abuse associated with some churches!

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Comment 3 (2603) by SBFL on 2010-02-14 at 22:13:38:

Well it it clear to me that you did spin in such a way (as per comment 1), and that is consistent with your well documented hang-ups. As usual you skew your meaning when challenged. Also, I wouldn't assume that non-religious charities are run by atheists.

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Comment 4 (2605) by OJB on 2010-02-15 at 08:39:08:

In the original post I said this "I appreciate him showing that non-religious charities can do as much or more than those based around religions", then I said "use it as an example of how religion isn't necessary to be generous or moral". I can't see a lot of inconsistency there. And neither seems unreasonable.

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Comment 5 (2607) by SBFL on 2010-02-16 at 10:22:21:

I have no idea what your point is with comment 4. Well done on the obfuscation though.

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Comment 6 (2609) by OJB on 2010-02-16 at 13:52:27:

The point is that the whole thing wasn't really meant as an anti-religion attack (although I concede I have been known to do that on occasion!) but more as a pro-atheism defence. A (false) claim some Christians use against atheists is that they aren't as moral and don't contribute to charity (because they don't have a church to act as a mechanism to do that). This example shows religion isn't necessary. That's all I was meaning in this case.

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