How donating in your will captures the best things about atheism

Donating in your will to effective charities supports the concept that right and wrong doesn’t come from gods, uses science to explain reality, encourages views based upon evidence and empowers individuals. It’s a combination of all the very best things about atheism.

The basis of morality...

Despite the claims of religious zealots, it’s fairly clear that most religious people don’t get their ethics from religion. Slavery, killing infidels and not mixing clothes of two threads isn’t the root of how we should live. Instead of basing ethics on a sense of purity and divine authority, evidence suggests atheists are more morally motivated by compassion; the concern for the misery and suffering of others. It’s worth knowing that perhaps the most compassionate act is donating to high impact charities. This is because not only do they present proven solutions but they can be thousands of times more effective than other charities. Given that people often donate greater than $25,000 via their wills to charities, it’s imperative that it go to the most effective ones.

But how do we know which are the most effective charities? The answer is science. Experiment, observe results, and update beliefs based on evidence. This method shows us that praying has no effect on the health of the person prayed for, but distributing long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets greatly improves lives. In fact, the current estimate is that a $3400 donation to the Against Malaria Foundation, a distributor of these anti-malarial bed nets, saves a life. Given the size of some gifts to charities in wills, you could save 10 people or more by donating to an effective charity in yours.

“A wise man… proportions his beliefs to the evidence.”

A core tenet of atheism is proportioning beliefs according to the evidence. Now ask yourself honestly—do you generally choose where to donate because of evidence or something else?  Donations should go to charities which have the greatest impact, not those who run the best fundraisers.

Now, one of religion’s central claims is that we must do “good’ in this world to be rewarded with a favourable afterlife. As there’s absolutely no evidence to support it, this outdated notion of the afterlife should be replaced with an understanding that what truly matters is what happens to others when we pass away. By donating to effective charities in your will you take an evidence-based view of charities and an evidence-based view of the afterlife.

This view of the afterlife means we shed fears of almighty punishments and move away from the influence of organized religion. It empowers individuals to really consider what life they think to be best. In today’s world many simply don’t have that chance- you can provide them with one. Your donation could be, for example, a direct cash transfer that’s more than a family's annual income. Or it could deworm thousands of children which restores health and is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase school attendance.

A Powerful Action

Donating to effective charities in your will reinforces that ethics are independent of gods, promotes the application of science and advocates for evidence-based views whilst also spreading freedoms. It’s a truly legendary legacy.

To make it as easy as possible for you to leave it, we at Charity Science have made a simple form that takes as little as 5 minutes to complete. After that you come out with a ready made will. And don’t worry if you’re not sure what to put in it; it’s easy to change and you can always come back to it later. So give it a shot here.

PS. If you have any questions feel free to email me at

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