A Christian effective altruist approach to partiality


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”

The Parable of the Talents


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”

Should Christian EAs give money to their local church?


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?”

Was Jesus an Effective Altruist? (Part. 2)

Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRuler (used)

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)”

Using our careers wisely


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”

Is effective altruism too cold and calculating?

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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?”

Should we sound a trumpet when we give to the poor?


by Jakub Synowiec

To many, effective altruism and Christianity seem to be at odds. For example, effective altruism might encourage people to make their charitable activity public, in order to encourage similar actions and ultimately more impact. This might seem morally questionable for many Christians. There is also a tradition within Christianity which supports the idea that giving in secret is the right approach. In this post, I will explore this tradition and, in the final part, present two answers to the “sounding a trumpet” critique. Continue reading “Should we sound a trumpet when we give to the poor?”

Was Jesus an Effective Altruist?

Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRuler (used)

by Alex Rattee

For Christians, Jesus is the ultimate example of the virtuous life and so it is appropriate for us to look to him when contemplating how to live morally. A natural question then for Christians interested in effective altruism is to ask whether the way Jesus lived provides evidence for or against the importance of applying the principles of effectiveness to how we think about doing good. Although Jesus spent much of his time doing good, it does seem at first glance that he did not attempt to be maximally effective in doing so and as a result we might think that we needn’t either. In a coming series of posts I will explore some reasons to be wary of this argument. In this first post I present two reasons to show that our initial impression of Jesus’s ineffectiveness may be misleading.

Continue reading “Was Jesus an Effective Altruist?”

Should I tithe?

Sweco-medicinal-garden-at-Novartis-1-1170x616by Dominic Roser

Is tithing a duty? Many Christians don’t think so. Rather, they view the tithe as a powerful guide to help us when we’re tempted to give much less than we ought. It points us in the right direction even if we’re unsure of what the ideal percentage to give actually is. Giving What We Can uses similar reasons to justify why they use 10% for their giving pledge.

In contrast, other Christians think that giving 10% is a genuine duty. Often, the flip-side of this view is the claim that there is no duty to give more than 10%. Furthermore, it often goes along with this belief that the tithe should go fully to one’s church. It’s these beliefs that I would like to challenge in this blogpost. If our giving is capped at 10% and if it goes fully to our church, then this contradicts ideas prevalent within the effective altruism movement of using a potentially much larger fraction of our income (say, 70%) to make the world a better place. Continue reading “Should I tithe?”

Christianity & Existential Risk


by David Wohlever Sánchez

Within Effective Altruism circles, many people share a concern for the future of humanity. Mitigation of so-called “existential risks” is a huge priority for some of our more risk-seeking individuals.

An existential risk, put simply, is some class of possible event that presents a risk of extinction to humanity.

Continue reading “Christianity & Existential Risk”