The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Atheist donates over $5 million to Catholic schools

Amazing but true:

Retired hedge fund titan Robert W. Wilson lost his faith in God years ago, yet he believes in Catholic schools and gave $5.6 million to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York this summer.

data.jpgIt’s the latest of many gifts from Wilson to the city’s Catholic hierarchy and educators, this one aimed at funding the Catholic Alumni Partnership, a program he founded that helps elementary schools track down their 750,000 alumni and recruit them as donors.


“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” said Wilson, 83, in a phone interview, referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

Wilson, a Detroit native, said he began questioning the existence of God after enrolling in Amherst College in Massachusetts to study economics.

“Religious people say you couldn’t have our surrounding environment without the Creator, but then who created the Creator?” Wilson said.

He made his fortune as a growth-stock investor at his firm, Wilson Associates, taking $15,000 in 1949 and turning it into $225 million by 1986 when he retired at age 60.

He stopped investing after retirement and entrusted his wealth among a dozen money managers. He then started giving money to conservation causes such as the World Monuments Fund, Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Wilson said he has donated more than $550 million to charity and wants to give away 70 percent of his wealth before he dies.


Wilson began making donations to the New York archdiocese in 1997 with a gift of $10,000, and he continued at that level for several years. Then Susan George, executive director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, asked him to consider giving more money to the schools. Wilson responded in 2007 with a $22.5 million gift to the archdiocese’s Cardinal’s Scholarship Program. He later saw a need for a better alumni support network.

There’s much more here.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

Praise God!
2 Cor. 10:11-12
Whether he knows it or not, his generosity gives God glory. May his heart also be open to God’s immense personal love, mercy and peace.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

Excellent. Tends to prove that even those who don’t “believe” are loving and caring people also. Never a bad thing to give money to those who provide (from my experience) a very good education, and doing it with compassion and caring for their students….Catholic schools.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

“Religious people say you couldn’t have our surrounding environment without the Creator, but then who created the Creator?”
*sigh* This question has been asked to answered through the millenniums. If only these people (who really and honestly ask themselves these questions and need answers, just like this guys seems to) would just research this they will find answers. Don’t just dismiss it out-of-hand as “that can’t have an answer so God ca’t exist”. For example, the Kalam Cosmological Argument has a perfect answer for this – read William Lane Craig – he’s got great works dealing with this. But read any Christian apologist and you will be surprised at the answers you’ll get.
Also, think about this – atheists have to believe that the universe is eternal and infinite (otherwise, it must have been created right? and thus required “God” to create it, but they don’t believe God exists so it can’t have been created). Why is THAT OK to believe (that the universe is eternal and infinite) but yet they refuse to believe that (if he exists) GOD IS ETERNAL AND INFINITE (and thus not created)! It takes the same amount of faith to believe either – either the universe always is, was and will ever be – or GOD always is, was and will ever be! Where is the disconnect for atheists? Why is it rational to believe the former but not rational to believe the later?
BTW: there are many arguments AGAINST the universe being eternal and infinite – thus “something or someone” HAD to create it and hence God exists – again, read William Lane Craig as an example of a guy who has great answers to these questions.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

“John” correctly points out that it is _not_ really more logical to believe that ‘the universe’ had no beginning ‘but that’s okay’, while finding that God being eternal is ‘less scientific’. Either concept is beyond the human mind, as also would be the only alternative: that ‘something began where before nothing had existed’.
However, Wilson’s objection to belief in God does point out that we who think God exists (or probably exists) sometimes too easily take refuge in ignorance of how certain things can come to be through natural forces. The human eye is one example (cited even by Darwin as a hard case), and others include ‘an environment suitable for humans’. I am a big fan of science, and can easily see scientifically explicable processes causing these things to evolve. That doesn’t mean that God doewsn’t exist, but people who are taught that these things mean the contrary case: that god exists, are often in danger of rejecting the idea that God exists when they find clear explanations for how the eye came to be, or for how human beings happen to find themselves in an environment that is suitable for them. Mr. Wilson is obviously someone who keeps the greatest commandment, to ‘love one another’, and perhaps, beyond the money for schools, he is doing us another service by reminding us not to use these weak arguments.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm

GMBurns – excellent point. Someone basing their belief in the existence of God SOLELY on reasoning of “since science can’t explain this – creation must be the answer” – you are on shifting sand philosophically because as soon as “science” begins to explain the things you once thought inexplicable, you then begin to question the whole basis for your belief.
However, that said, I think the “argument from design” otherwise known as the teleological argument (which is different than the cosmological argument – again, there are MANY arguments for the existence of God :-) has some very strong points that aren’t easily dismissed. (but again, its not the ONLY reason, at least for MY believe in the existence of God). The fine tuning argument of the universe is one that just seems so wildly beyond anything evolution can answer that it is very strong evidence in my opinion (its more than evolution’s answer to “did we come from apes or not?” – e.g. how exactly did the force of gravity tune itself so perfectly at the Big Bang? A minute variation in the force of gravity and quite literally we would not be here – and this is true for many of the universal constants we know of today in Physics)
Again, to people like Mr. Robert Wilson who have legitimate questions and are honestly seeking answers to their doubts, don’t lose faith just because you don’t know an answer to a question (or think there are no answers) – seek and you will find. Read the many, many works of Christian philosophers and apologetic authors – William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, Lee Strobel, N.T. Wright and many others and you at least get answers. You will be amazed at the wealth of information and the number and strength of the many arguments made – it then becomes up to you to decide what to believe.

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Deacon Dana Garry

posted August 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Dear Robert Wilson:
who created the creator…I AM

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