If you don't believe what I believe, you aren't fully human


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In contrast, I think it is quite a human characteristic to vest one's fantasies with the air of transcendent importance, as religious believers do.

As an atheist, I am not insulted by this. I believe that he stated poorly what he intended to say; which is not that we are less "human" intellectually or on an evolutionary scale closer to non-human animals, but more that we are not in his view "self-actualized."

Of course, I leave off the idea that he is making the mistake that the word "secularist" is a synonym for "atheist." But that is a common mistake among those who wish for a return to the days when "The Chorch" ruled the throne. (And this is also rather odd for an Irish-Catholic in the U.K. who may or may not remember history all that well.)

He is speaking pure rubbish, of course, but I am not insulted. I am happily a human. (Not yet the man I aspire to be, but I don't think that taking on his sort of "transcendence" will repair that.)

Wow, what a close minded imbecile, it's only SCIENCE that shows our real 'human' origin and gives a sense of wonderment, not religion. The same powerful brain that created imaginary Gods also found DNA, built computers & put a man on the moon. What has religion done, nothing but slow progress.

That's a lot of guff coming from a fat man in an ugly dress. So he'd have no problem with rounding them all up and sticking them in labor camps, since they don't qualify as humans and are not subject to the same basic freedoms?
Note to the Vatican: your crap is getting old is being increasingly recognized as irrelevant.

By Mike in Ontario, NY (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

The post title is a bit oversimplified. There are actually (IMHO) three stages to the process of dehumanization:

1) If you don't believe as I do, then you must not have heard The Truth.
2) If you have heard The Truth and don't believe as I do, you must not have understood (been able to understand) The Truth.
3) If you understand The Truth and still don't believe as I do, you're (not really human)|(evil)|(...)

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

What a moron.

"Not fully human".....once you can tell that lie to yourself, you can justify anything.....persecution, execution, torture......

Catholicism (like all religions) is nasty, vicious and evil.

By Paul Hands (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has some need to speak. So atheists aren't fully human eh? Well he'd better figure out what those child abusing paedophiles in the catholic church are before he arrogantly passes judgement on those who aren't gullible enought to be taken advantage of by the silly priests of a cockamamey religion.

By Harcourt Fenton Mudd (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

There must be some pride for us non-humans...

Afterall it's far cooler to be a cyborg :)

If Cormac Murphy-O'Connor thinks that to be human I have to think like he does, then I, for one, am quite happy not being human. I think I would prefer to be regarded as an anthropoid ape like our host.

Well the first part, "If you don't believe 'human' includes what I believe 'human' includes, you're leaving something important out" is worth considering.

The closing line can be taken two ways. The first is that "If you leave this out of consideration, you're not going to be able live up to your full potential as a human being." Which might be OK, if that was the only way it could be taken. It isn't. The second sense is that "If you don't believe this, you are merely a soulless homonculus and not a (True Scotsman⢠Brand) Real Human." Which is this sense that both the offended Atheists will get up in arms about (with comparisons to the Nazi classification of Jews as sub-human, with the diplomatic implications for one of the Vatican's repeatedly re-canned can-of-worms), and that the violent fringe of Christians will take as a call to arms. And that deserves a rap on the knuckles with a meter stick.

Since the quote is apparently from a longer interview, I'd prefer to see a full transcript before petitioning the Vatican for an official reprimand (on the lines of "No matter how far fallen, we are all God's children and within the reach of his saving grace"). However, I think a request for an apology and a reprimand are likely in order.

@ D. C. Sessions (#5)

Reminds me of Martin Luther's attitude towards the Jews. He accepted them as long as he thought that they could be converted, but when he came to the realisation that they couldn't, he became increasingly dismissive of them, and finally saw them as not worthy to share the same continent as him (cf. On the Jews and Their Lies).

If he is what qualifies as "fully human," boy, am I happy to be something other than that.

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is a poor excuse of a human being. He is ignorant AND stupid. Is he one of the best to represent Christianity? No wonder people are leaving religion behind in droves.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

He's sounding far to much like another catholic who said similar things about people he didn't like about 70 or so years ago and we know what that lead to.

Being British I've heard far to much from this ignorant, lying, bigotted bully over the last few years. He has been allowed far to much influence in the UK, far out of proportion with the following of his faith. At least we shouldn't be hearing much more from him as he's supposed to be retiring.

I'd recommend listenning to The Who's song A Man In A Purple Dress. Aimed at the churh of england bishop's in the House of Lords, but still relevant to this nasty little arse.

By Gold Dragon (not verified) on 14 May 2009 #permalink

Being Irish catlicker pompous git, he got it back to front: the religious stop their intellectual development because they think they have found all the answers from that trite little book of theirs.

Presume this one is a pedophile as per normal for his creed.

"Not fully human"

That's the sort of thinking that justified slavery in the United States well into the 19th century. That's what the Catholic Church wants to return to?

Maybe there's an upside to this - if I'm not fully human, does that lower my tax burden?

Here's what I believe, Cormack, baby. I believe that a man who wears dresses and has taken a vow of celibacy is not totally male.

Oh, I'm also a Jedi...

I'd like to hear the rest of the clip. It stops rather abruptly, and I'm a little concerned here that maybe there is more to what he was saying that might help clarify and put into the context the statement he made.

By Aaron Clausen (not verified) on 15 May 2009 #permalink

Interesting. This means that even when i am fully human (i'm catholic) neither of my parents are. No wonder why there is so many people angry with the church. What was he thinking? That maybe people would think: oh no! I wanna be human!! I'm going to church right now!

Eh, just another guy in a funny hat telling the delud ... er, faithful, to line up alphabetically according to height or they're going to hell.

By mediajackal (not verified) on 15 May 2009 #permalink

So because I don't waste my time "searching for the transcendant" I'm somehow less than human? Because I don't look for hidden meanings behind every rainfall, blooming flower, or earthquake I qualify as subhuman? Because I don't believe in suprnatural explanations I'm less of a person? Because I choose not to stroke my ego trying to convince myself that the universe was created just for humanity, I am somehow some sort of sub-species?

This man does not have room to talk.

We're not puny humans like the Cardinal. We're gods!

Well, there is actuall a way for someone to believe the same way as you do and still not be human. They could believe the same thing as you and be a witch! Which ties in nicely with a story I heard of a population on a pacific island that before becoming enlightened by christian missionaries were very fond of eating human flesh. They've stopped eating human flesh now, but they do on occassion run across a witch, and according to their scriptural practices, they must not suffer one to live. So they kill these witches and eat them. I can't be sure but since the islanders say that the witches look just like their neighbors, they must taste the same. Praise be!

This is a powerful argument. We should believe in the existence of god because that what 'everyone is made for'. There's not a hint of circularity here.

You were recently saying that we ought to be respectful of believers, John. But the right response to this kind of remark just *is* name-calling.

Neil, I do not think one should be respectful of believers qua believers. There's nothing about pure belief that is worthwhile. I think one should be respectful of persons, and so I would not attempt to muzzle the Cardinal. But he's an idiot, pure and simple, presenting the kind of Catholicism that justified kidnapping baptised Jewish infants back in the day. First define a category that only you believe and then treat others on the basis of that category as if it were natural. I fully agree that blowing raspberries at the Cardinal is justified (which is why I did it here).

I'd rather be a member of the tribe of the "subhuman as defined by Cardinal asshat" than a member of an organized pedophilia ring disguising as a religious organisation.
So fuck you very much,Mr Cardinal.

Thanks for that. I stopped listening around the time he said that Turkey (the world's first fully secular state) could not be accepted in the EU by British because they are overly Muslim. He is the very worst of Catholic revanchism.

No problem, it was worth learning another new word! Happens every time!

Here is a maladjusted old slobbering fool telling people who do not believe the rubbish he believes that we are not fully human...hang on....this guy is not allowed to have a normal healthy relationship with another human being, not allowed to have sex with another human being, not even allowed to have a bloody good wank now and then. And he says we are not fully human. What a deluded and dangerous old cunt.

By Bob Russell (not verified) on 15 May 2009 #permalink

This monster forfeited his right to comment on such matters after decades of hiding thousands child molestation and rape cases and protecting the perps.

Just so you don't feel left out John :), here is what I posted over on Pharyngula:

Not fully human and proud of it, at least if him and his church's lies about condoms and the protecting of raping priests are examples of what it is to be human.

Oh and for those of you defending him or thinking we have misinterpreted what he means, I suggest you look for other musings by him about atheists and the danger he thinks they represent to society. Living in the UK I suffer his offensive prattling far too often.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 15 May 2009 #permalink

Neil, I do not think one should be respectful of believers qua believers. There's nothing about pure belief that is worthwhile. I think one should be respectful of persons, and so I would not attempt to muzzle the Cardinal.

Coincidentally, on Thoughts in a Haystack, John Pieret raised the question of how respectful we should be of religious belief under the heading Political Scholars. I agree with both him and Simon Blackburn.

By Ian Spedding, FCD (not verified) on 16 May 2009 #permalink

I don't know about thousands, but this is pretty disgusting:

Apparently, His Grace feels more compassion for men who sexually abuse children than for unbelievers. I would say that limits any obligation of respect for him and his beliefs to that of common courtesy.

By Ian Spedding, FCD (not verified) on 16 May 2009 #permalink

John Wilkins, editor of Catholic weekly The Tablet, says the image of the church has been tarnished "appallingly" by paedophile priests around the world.

I didn't know that you had a day job John!

This is, unfortunately, not far from what a fair segment of the religious believe. While most of them wouldn't go as far as claiming non-Believers aren't fully human, they do believe they are inherently broken, that they are somehow less than Believers.

So, all who believe in an Elephant god or a corn husk god, or Apollo, or faeries, are "complete" human beings, even if at most 1 (and probably none) is the correct god(s). But, if you do make that assumption that all gods are fraudulent, somehow you are both incomplete and have no grasp of the transcendent. thanks for figuring it all out and damning me to irrelevance. now, for his part, hes going to have to explain to me how child molesting and the shielding of serial child molesters aids in the striving for the transcendent.

One of several avatars.

Unfortunately my only avatar is a third rate copy of Tom Jones who did what he did for Maria on the way to Amarillo; a source of great embarrassment throughout my life.