Freethought Almanac

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October 28: Bill Gates

Bill Gates (1955)

Bill Gates

It was on this date, October 28, 1955, that the entrepreneur who became chairman and CEO of Microsoft Corporation, the world's largest software firm, Bill Gates, was born in Seattle, Washington. Born William Henry Gates III, Bill Gates was an exceptional student. After co-founding Microsoft with friend Paul Allen, Gates used quasi-legal maneuvers and shrewd judgements about the computer industry to make himself, according to Forbes magazine, the wealthiest man in the world. His success was hardly due to the quality of his products, but in part due to shutting out competition.

After his marriage to Melinda French in 1994, the couple created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable organization. Perhaps a public relations move, the Foundation has contributed generously to minority college scholarships, AIDS prevention, and other worthy causes.

In a November 1995 interview on PBS with David Frost, Gates was asked if he believed in the Sermon on the Mount. "I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis," he said.

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. ... 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.

In a cover story for the January 13, 1996 issue of Time magazine, Gates was asked if there isn't something divine about the human soul. Gates replied tonelessly, "I don't have any evidence on that. ... I don't have any evidence of that." He later added, "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

Originally published October 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer




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