Kiva Atheists' Million-Dollar Milestone

I’ve written in the past about Kiva, the microcredit site that fights poverty by funding economic entrepreneurs in the developing world, and about how the largest lender community on the site is made up of atheists (and I’m happy to be one of them).

Well, we’ve reached a new milestone. As you can see from Kiva’s community page, the atheist team has just passed the $1 million mark in total dollars loaned, becoming the first team on Kiva to do so. Kiva’s official blog has commemorated the occasion with a very nice post, First Kiva Team to Reach $1 Million! As of this writing, the Christian team is a distant second, with a little over $600,000 raised.

It’s important to bear in mind what this does and doesn’t prove. It doesn’t show that atheists are morally superior to Christians, or any other religious group. I doubt that any single number or result could accurately measure as broad and sweeping a conclusion as that. What it does show, however, is that atheists don’t lack generosity, compassion, or concern for the welfare of others. Contrary to those who insultingly and ignorantly claim that atheism leads only to misanthropy and selfishness, there is ample evidence that atheists care about making this a better and more just world – as well we should, since we believe it’s the only one we have. We don’t yet have the infrastructure and the institutions that make religious charity efforts highly visible and organized, but on an individual level, I firmly believe we have as much concern for the human condition as anyone else.

Although I’m very pleased by this accomplishment, we should keep it in perspective. $1 million is nothing to dismiss lightly, but far more is needed to make a meaningful difference in world poverty rates. In terms of alleviating global poverty, this is only a small achievement – a drop of human kindness in a sea of need. Granted, the atheist Kiva group has been around for only a little more than a year; arguably, we’re just getting started. And no one should expect that atheists and freethinkers will solve this problem all on our own. Truly ending poverty will be a massive effort that will require effort from every sector of human society. But even the longest journey has to begin somewhere, and this is as good a starting point as any. Let’s do what we can to see that we get to $2 million even more quickly!

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  • Sarah Braasch

    That is fab!! Congrats Kiva Atheists.

  • valhar2000

    We should also take this opportunity to congratulate the Christian group, since 600000$ is certainly nothing to scoff at.

  • Johan

    This is indeed a great achievement! I think it’s fair to assume that the geographical teams contain some atheists (and also religious people of course) as well.

    I hope it makes an actual difference. Ultimately, I think it’s the structures and politics of the poor countries that are the root of the problem, and that’s what must be corrected.

    The real world proves that natural resources are neither necessary or a guarantee that a country will be prosperous. Japan doesn’t have much natural resources, and yet is a well-developed country. Congo on the other hand has a lot of natural resources, yet is a country devastated by wars and poverty.

  • Ebonmuse

    FYI, there’s also a blog for the atheist Kiva team with a post about this milestone.

  • Alex Weaver

    Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute something to the next million… :/

  • John Nernoff

    Is it just me, but I think “world poverty” is too many people chasing a limited amount of goods and services. The Republicans steadfastly denied funds for birth control, family planning and even the mention of the word abortion. Has this changed? What about the burgeoning overpopulation? Why is this so seldom mentioned. Is there something holy and sacred about human life? I don’t get it.