Bill Gates Finds Religion?

Today is a rare cross-post to both of my current blogs, but it is a topic that crosses borders.

I’ve long known that Bill Gates, billionaire, philanthropist and founder of the most famous computer company in the world, was on the “Top 24 list” of celebrity atheists.  However, until now, I actually never read the page on Bill Gates.  However, when you actually read the entry, it comes up as a rather poorly categorized article.  At best, he might be an agnostic, one who isn’t sure about the existence of a god but doesn’t claim to not believe in one either.

After a long and glowing intro, we finally come to the heart of the matter more than 75% down the first screenful of the page:

Gates was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits.

Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?

Gates: I don’t. I’m not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I’m a huge believer in. There’s a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact.

Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you’d say you don’t know?

Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don’t know if there’s a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

Just after, another interview was quoted where he said, “I don’t have any evidence on [something being ‘divine’ about the human soul].”  Not exactly what I would call a response like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens would give.

In one respect, the article is quite disappointing, if for no other reason than because it is outright misleading.

Still, even if I had known the specifics, I don’t think I would have been prepared for a title like “Bill Gates interview: I have no use for money. This is God’s work” appearing on The Telegraph.  However, as it becoming far too common with them, it seems that there is a bit of poetic license taken with that title.

“[Propaganda from Islamist groups that the polio vaccination is just a front for sterilizing Muslim women] not going to stop us succeeding,” says Gates. “It does force us to sit down with the Pakistan government to renew their commitments, see what they’re going to do in security and make changes to protect the women who are doing God’s work and getting out to these children and delivering the vaccine.”

Gates does not usually speak in religious terms, and has traditionally danced around the issue of God. His wife, a Roman Catholic, is less defensive on that topic but ploughs her own furrow, encouraging contraception when necessary, in contradiction to teaching from Rome.

That’s a little less shocking, attributing “God’s work” to others.  Still, it is interesting language from one who became sullen, crossed his arms and said, “I don’t have any evidence on that.”

Yet, The Telegraph seems to be going more and more for the sensational titles, and this is another low in a continuing trend.