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Which group of people would be more likely to help those in need... theists, agnostics or atheists? Why?

As background to the question above I’m currently doing some research into how people’s theistic beliefs influences their views on things like philanthropy, wealth creation and living responsibly. Would be fascinated to hear your honest views on this question.

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By stillsy3
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Simply an honorable person so no category you have in your poll fits.


As an Atheist I am as helpful and generous as I possibly can be to people I know in need. Been this way all my life. I've always seen things as they really are. I don't believe some unknown being is able to appear to help.


None of the groups you mentioned are more or less likely to help those in need. Empathy and compassion are the traits that cause an individual to seek to help others, not an individual's religious beliefs or lack thereof.

icolan Level 7 Mar 3, 2019

I don’t accept the premise. Agnostics and atheists are not always (or even usually) two different things. The terms answer two different questions. Agnostic describes what I claim to know and and atheist describes what I believe.

I also don’t think there’s a significant enough correlation between beliefs and behavior to say which group is more likely to be generous with their time and effort. There are proactive, kind Christians and there are lazy, shithead atheists and vice versa, plus every degree in between. Depends on who you mean by those in need, as a lot of it depends on circumstance, location and individual descrimination. We all make judgement calls to determine who needs and deserves our help and who can go fuck themselves. Neither your beliefs nor your lack thereof will make you a better person. Your behavior does.


Theists will help by telling you to pray to Jesus for help.

Agnostics might want to help but they're just not sure.

Atheists will help because they know there's no one else.


As with most things, there is not one answer. There are generous, loving people in all three categories, just as there are greedy assholes in all categories. Without research which might be difficult to find, given that most charitable organizations don't ask, nor do they care, what you believe in when you send them money, actual numbers could be hard to come by. Given that hundreds of theist charitable organizations exist for every secular one, it makes it even harder to trace the beliefs of those who donate. I have read of non believers being turned away when they tried to volunteer to work for church related charitable organizations. But my guess these are a aberration rather than a norm.


The answer is 'decent, caring and compassionate people' who exist in all three of the above categories.

As do complete bastards.

ToakReon Level 7 Mar 4, 2019

We all can.?❤


Depends on what you call help. Theists generally give money to the church and call that helping. Many theists, atheists and agnostics will work with religion based and secular non-profit organizations. Personally, I will help individuals but won't give a penny to any non-profit.


Atheists believes in facts and reality and know if they don't help someone in need chances are others will rely on faith and prayer then they won't get help.


I'd say atheists, simply because there's a difference between trying to help and actually helping.

In Portugal, there have been more than a few stories of theists trying to help people in poverty, abusive relationships or other hard situations and ending up making things worse by convincing the victim to pray the problem away instead of helping them fix it.

While atheists don't have the threat of "be good or go to hell", they have empathy and motivation to help their fellow humans and this is much easier to do when your mind is focused on solving the problem instead of praying for the solution to show up.

Do theists try to help others more than atheists? I'm not sure, but atheists generally get better results where I come from.

On a side note, I didn't mention agnostics because they can be agnostic atheist or agnostic theist, which makes this argument a lot more about semantics.

kasmian Level 7 Mar 4, 2019

I'm going to be a pain, but we need to define 'people in need'. Certainly theists give away a lot of cash. Lots of it has nothing to do with people in need though.


thiests only because it serves their own purpose to recruit and get their heaven ticket, they are so fanatical about it they sacrifice their whole houshold to do so. athiests and agnostics are probably more interested in environmental issues. context is everything


Agnostics and Atheists I would say fall in the same category on this kind of question. At least IMO. Theists it depends on who was needing help. They would be more likely to jump on it if it was a church or family member, or someone/thing that they would be praised for helping. IME, non-theists are much more likely to help without the need for qualifiers.


It’s probably more related to character and personality Type.


Atheists in my view. As we don't need a dangling treat to do good. We just do it because it's the right and human thing to do.


I have known good folks from all three categories and I have known bad folks from all three categories.

Sticks48 Level 9 Mar 3, 2019

Define help , define need , and define people for me .

Whatever has two legs and two arms is not always " people " in my book. I have 0 help / sympathy / empathy for child molestors , religious or atheists . 0 tolerance for abusers of any type , racists , homophobics , and anyone who exploits the weak / sick / desperate .

Anyone's beliefs and opinions on the matter of religions / gods, will not affect my decision or urge to " help " them .
However , I don't go to their churches to look for people in need . Stupidity irritates me . Hypocrisy as well .

Will I feed a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew who lost his house and his job ? Yeah , y not . Will I feed anyone who sides w criminal for the humanity beliefs even by silence and acceptance ? Yeah , most likely . He / she will probably have some of my $ , or time , or words , or whatever . But will never have my respect and meaningful friendship .

Pralina1 Level 8 Mar 7, 2019

I'm more likely to help another HUMAN BEING. When somebody needs help religious beliefs, color or creed should not matter.


If you are Atheist then the consequences of doing nothing are absolute. If you are a theist, then there is almost always a loophole that makes doing nothing okay, although you would have to be heartless to still do nothing.


I think the better question would be who would help those in need without preconditions. I do not think any of these groups have a monopoly on people who would help or who would not. One thing I have always found interesting though is the fact that Churches and similar organizations are the first place many go to when talking about helping the less fortunate. Instead of taking the meat and potatoes morality of such faiths and applying it to our secular world we seem to use them as an excuse for NOT enshrining helping the less fortunate without all sorts of conditions and bureaucratic bull shit. You want to reduce the power of churches? Enshrine the ideals of secular morality as law. I find that most of the people I know who are ground floor Christians are far more willing to help people they do not know then non-believers. While I do not like the conversion aspect of their help in some cases I do like their specific willingness to help. And feel one of the great failing of secular thought is its seeming inability to embrace the simplest of moral ideals such as help those in need without all sorts of needless paperwork and such. Not to mention our governments willingness to cut at social services before anything else.

Quarm Level 6 Mar 5, 2019

Atheists, because I believe their thinking is clear. Clarity of thought reduces gray areas and helps them make clear choices. Theists would give their money to church because they are not free thinkers. They do what they are told (in the name of God) and tend to depend on an unknown power to help them and solve their problems. When did you hear a theist organization or a church give money to a Muslim cause in the U.S. or Middle East? If at all, it is rare.

There are many instances of inter-faith outreach. Some that come quickly to mind was the Muslims providing aid and support to the Jewish people after the attack in Pittsburgh and several Christian churches coming to aid and rebuild a Mosque in Florida after it was fire bombed a few years ago.

@Barnie2years Agree there are many instances but these are still exceptions to the rule I think.


Honestly, for me it shouldn't matter what your religious background is. It should come from being a good and decent person.

ajr715 Level 6 Mar 5, 2019

I can't vote because the premise is false from the start. I've witnessed a++holes in each group and I've witnessed people who have gone above and beyond to be kind, generous and charitable. It's the person and not always the group they most associate with - if you're a negative prick, you're going to find something that mirrors your world-views in the group you decide to associate with. The reverse is true for people who tend to be more positive.


In my opinion the question has zero to do with my opinion and wholly depends on the individual. also, not to throw a wrench into your science, and i am wildly guessing here but, i think that a lot of agnostics and atheists were raised to be theists. which part of their present charitable nature was formed while being taught religious charitable values?

larsatrg Level 5 Mar 4, 2019
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