One area in which the religious claim a superiority to atheists is in the performance of good deeds and charitable works. They really seem to think they have this one licked.

I get very annoyed at this claim for two reasons:

1. An act of charity is self-serving for a religious person in that a reward is anticipated from whatever sky-daddy is involved, be it virgins, raisins, favoured celestial seating arrangements or the like. (Actually I think virgins are only doled out in return for unspeakably heinous acts of violence.)
2. Religious acts of charity, especially in the provision of health or education to the underprivileged, are used as a kind of license to evangelize.

I am aware of the arguments of Dawkins et al regarding the origin of kindness to strangers so perhaps point 1 above is a bit weak - maybe all charity is self-serving to an extent, be it religiously motivated or not.

I don't really want to explore the science of charity here, but I am interested in learning what people in this community are already doing for other people, other animals, or the environment. Don't think of it as boasting, think of it as nudging the god-botherers off their high horse. If you want to put in a word for the charity you're involved in, go ahead.

I'll kick-off by saying that I'm involved in a program to improve hearing in Aboriginal and Torres-Strait islander kids in remote Australia. I'm sure you're aware that these people are shamefully underprivileged in this country. The aim is to improve school performance and educational prospects, reduce incarceration and help break the cycle of poverty in these communities. I'm not a major player in this and I could certainly do more than I do. I'm sure there are many of you doing significant work out there and I would love to hear from you.

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Comment by Sassilass on August 16, 2009 at 10:59am
I do pet therapy at a local hospital with my dog. We visit patients and try to cheer them up-so many people in the hospital are quite lonely. I figured if I were a patient in the hospital, I'd miss my animals. I don't do as much as I could, but I have kept it up for 4 years with 3 different dogs.
Comment by Aric on August 16, 2009 at 9:39pm
I painted a school in Costa Rica and I was supposed to volunteer with sea turtles but the person who was supposed to arrange it didn't so unfortunately I didn't get to do that, but I did pick up a lot of trash on the beach.


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