Sam Simon, one of the creators of The Simpsons died yesterday from colorectal cancer at the age of 59.
Simon knew his disease would kill him at a young age so he vowed a long time ago to give away most of the hundreds of millions of dollars he had made, especially to causes supporting animal rights.
A profile of him in Vanity Fair last year explained his non-religious outlook on life:
“I’m an atheist, but there’s a thing called tithing that a lot of religions do. Ten percent was the minimum you were supposed to give to charity every year. And I always outdid that,” Sam explains.
“People say I’m trying to buy my way into heaven, which I don’t believe in. So that can’t be true,” Sam says. He paid for those atheist billboards that make news from time to time. Like the one by the Lincoln Tunnel, in New York, that read, IT’S A MYTH, on a picture of the stars over Bethlehem.
If anything, Simon’s life was a testament to how we should all make the most of our time on Earth. He knew there was no afterlife and that he couldn’t take anything with him into the grave, so he did everything in his power to change the world to his liking. Even without the enormous wealth that he had, we can all learn a lesson from that.
***Update***: American Atheists confirmed that Simon paid for the billboard and said this in a statement:
Sam Simon was a strong advocate of atheist activism. He was a life member of American Atheists and an ardent supporter of our billboard campaigns, as well as the 2012 Reason Rally. We were honored to call him our friend and we will remember him warmly.