- (Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse/Files)
Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, revealed in a recent interview that his family goes to a Catholic church and that religious morality inspires a lot of his charity work. He also shared his personal thoughts on God and the biggest issues facing the world today.
"The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important. We've raised our kids in a religious way; they've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I've been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that's kind of a religious belief. I mean, it's at least a moral belief," Gates says in an interview with Rolling Stone in the March 27 issue of the magazine.
When asked if he believed in God, he responded, "I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don't know."
At the same time, he said he agrees with "people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths."
"Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill," he said. "But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there's no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]."
According to Forbes' 2014 list of billionaires, the Microsoft founder regained his spot as the richest man in the world, with his wealth reportedly reaching $76 billion.
The tech innovator has stepped down from his position as Microsoft chairman to concentrate more on his philanthropy, however. In 2000, he founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization ranked as one of the most generous ones in the world.
The foundation has donated money and started programs for various causes around the world. It has a Global Health Division aimed at advancing science and technology to save lives in developing countries, a Global Developments programs on agriculture, water and sanitation, financial services for the poor, and education programs in the U.S., to name a few.
He expressed optimism that polio, which his foundation focuses on the most, will be eradicated, and that there will essentially be no poor countries by 2035, as he pointed to Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia as success stories.
As for his biggest fears in the next 50 years, he said that the world needs to do more to address climate change, counter large-scale terrorism and address global health concerns.
"I understand how every healthy child, every new road, puts a country on a better path, but instability and war will arise from time to time, and I'm not an expert on how you get out of those things," he said.
"I wish there was an invention or advance to fix that. So there'll be some really bad things that'll happen in the next 50 or 100 years, but hopefully none of them on the scale of, say, a million people that you didn't expect to die from a pandemic, or nuclear or bioterrorism."
In the wide-ranging interview, Gates also denounced the immigration laws in the U.S. as "really, really bad," and called the late Steve Jobs a genius.