Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Famous Atheists: Warren Buffett

This is a bit of a surprise for me. I'm quite familiar with Warren Buffett, having read The Warren Buffett Way and The Warren Buffett Portfolio, and many other books and articles about him. I'm quite familiar with his investing style, having applied it in my own portfolio with some success. That is all finance, but I've never really wondered what Warren's take is on religion, so I decided to google it up and found this. Says there, Warren is also an atheist!

For those who don't know, Warren Buffett is the legendary chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and with a personal net worth of over $40 billion, has been the 2nd richest man in the world for the past decade or so. His company owns Coca Cola, Gillette, Geico, American Express, See's Candy and many other wonderful businesses. Recently, he's made headlines when he announced that he would donate the bulk of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, making it the single biggest gift in philantrophic history.

Despite not knowing any religion, Warren has lived a fulfilling life. He's always said that he is extremely lucky to be born at the right place and the right time and to be doing what he loves doing most: investing. According to him, he's 'wired to allocate capital'. Throughout his life, by applying his simple yet profound wisdom in investing, he's famously turned a $100 investment into what it is today. Yet by all accounts, Warren lives a simple life. He lives in a modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, drives his own car, enjoys simple meals and drinks Coke. The only difference, according to him is that he travels in a private jet. Clearly Warren is not slave to his wealth unlike so many rich men who are in fact, poorer than him.

What I admire most about Warren is his wisdom. His advice in business and in life are often so simple and logical yet few are able to follow them. I learned through him that you basically need to know your principles in life, and stick to them no matter what. As long as you have a good reason for doing what you're doing or believing what you believe it, it basically doesn't matter what anyone else says. In terms of what those principles are for me personally, a lot of them also come from him. Warren Buffett is truly someone whom I aspire to be like, not so much in terms of net worth, but as a person. He is a truly unique individual who has touched the lives of millions. Millions more in Africa and India who will benefit from his generosity, will be positively affected but they'll probably not know who he is since he refused to become a trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates' foundation. This shows that he is sincere in his gift to humanity.

Honestly, I'm not that surprised to learn that Warren is an atheist. I cannot imagine him being anything else but an atheist. But I know fundamentalist Christians will say that Warren will not enter heaven because he does not believe in Jesus Christ. I'd say, if I were a Christian and I have a ticket to heaven, I'd willingly give it to him.

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