by Josh Parikh
Christians commonly talk about the importance of prayer in decision making. The idea of ‘calling’ – such as in one’s career – is commonly seen as something discerned through private prayer. This seems to be in tension with effective altruism as classically defined: “the use of high-quality evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to help others as much as possible” (Centre for Effective Altruism).
So how should Christians who want to affirm both the significance of prayer and the moral imperative of reason and evidence in decision making respond? Continue reading “How should Christian effective altruists use prayer in decision-making?”
by David Lawrence
In everyday life, most people demonstrate what moral philosophers call ‘partiality’ towards particular individuals. This means behaving as though one there are special obligations to those who are near and dear, such as family, friends and immediate neighbours, over others. Continue reading “A Christian effective altruist approach to partiality”
by Alex Rattee
The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19 are two of the clearest texts for those exploring a Christian model of stewardship. They are particularly relevant for those interested in the compatibility of Christianity and effective altruism because they seem to provide evidence for a maximising mindset when it comes to stewarding resources. Continue reading “The Parable of the Talents”
by Joe Tulloch
In this blog post I argue that Christians ought not to donate to their local church, or at least that such donations are not substitutes for usual donations to effective charities.
The reason for this conclusion is pretty simple: given the sheer amount of churches and evangelistic enterprises in the world, the chance that giving to your own particular church will have the greatest positive impact is virtually zero. The goal of giving to your local church, whatever it might be – spreading the Gospel, fostering a Christian community, etc – will almost always be more effectively achieved by another means. Continue reading “Should Christian EAs give money to their local church?”
by Alex Rattee
In a previous blog post I presented two arguments for why we should be hesitant about concluding that the life of Jesus counts against the validity of effective altruism. These were: (1) that Jesus may have been optimising over many different values and (2) that Jesus may have been optimising over the long-run, rather than short-run. These explanations give us reason to think that although Jesus might, at first glance, appear to be taking ineffective decisions, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Jesus was not following the principles of effectiveness. Continue reading “Was Jesus an Effective Altruist? (Part. 2)”
by Josh Pairkh
The best way to change the world is often by picking the right job and doing it well. This is true for many of the most effective people in history, whether the philanthropy of Bill Gates, William Wilberforce’s political campaigning, or Alan Turing laying the foundations for modern computing. Biblically, we see Paul making tents to fund his evangelism, Esther using her royal position to save the Jewish people, and Nehemiah’s place as cupbearer to the King allowing his restoration of Jerusalem. It is also true that many people alive today have a disproportionate ability to improve the world through their career, whether in today’s unparalleled wealth distribution or through the opportunity to make progress by researching the big issues facing humanity – such as climate change. This means that many more of us can change the world beyond those lucky enough to be in positions of extraordinary influence.
Continue reading “Using our careers wisely”
by Josh Parikh
A common criticism of effective altruism is that it is too “cold and calculating”. Part of this comes from its emphasis on reason and evidence when making moral decisions. This is sometimes seen as downplaying important values such as empathy and care; or separately, as a failure to trust in God’s control, by trying to work out how to do more good, rather than leaving all the results to God.
This criticism of effective altruism is understandable, but ultimately unfair. Continue reading “Is effective altruism too cold and calculating?”