Friday, May 15, 2009

Cardinal says Atheists Aren't Human

Listen to Cardinal Cormack Murphy claim atheists are not totally human if they leave out the transcendant:

"It is a diminshment of what it is to be human, in the sense I believe humanity is directed, [because?] made by god, I think if you leave that out, you're not fully human"

Yet it is we atheists who are supposedly so arrogant because we challenge such gibberish, and dehumanizing gibberish at that. The comments at Youtube say it all:

Dglas - "The cardinal is a dinosaur gronking plaintively at the changing weather. It's all done but the bleating. You are the past, cardinal, a dysfunctional past worthy of being remembered only as a lesson in how things can go terribly awry."

Zariabyron - "people bitch about dawkins and hitchens and all but they never claimed that theists arent human"

Superwolf76 - "As if using terms like ''the transcendent" mean anything anymore. It helps nothing. Transcend from what? Transcend to what? Transcend nature? Transcend evil? Transcend the temporal? Transcend shopping at cheesy strip malls? Transcend religion?"

CosmosLoyal - "An elderly sex starved man in a frock who believes in virgin births, reversals in the laws of physics and celestial homo sapiens creating the Universe thinks I am not fully human? Yet more nonsense from the worlds largest paedophile ring."

And there are some there that aren't at all nice as well.


alex said...

If the atheist's understanding of the expression "not fully human" is not the same as the cardinal's understanding of that same expression, then the bitterness must be put on hold until they reach a common understanding of what that means. Isn't rule number one of a debate to define your terms?

ScienceAvenger said...

The point is that the definition the Cardinal is putting forth is highly offensive and idiotic, as well as completely baseless from any evidenciary perspective (ie he's making shit up). Were he to have referred to just about any other group he'd be rightly condemned as a bigot. Just think of how it'd sound if he had defined "human" as "being of recent European ancestry". I suppose you'd tell an African man that he needs to put his bitterness on hold until he and the Bishop reach a common understanding of the terms? Please.

Bigots are as bigots do, and the Bishop may now count himself among them.

Ronaldo said...

His words may have been hasty and offensive*, but it wasn't baseless /from his perspective/. This is tricky ground. His perspective, i.e. that people have souls, no matter how objectionable we might find that, is nevertheless shared by most Americans, most of them nice people. Can he prove that we have souls? I doubt it, but I'm not sure that's what matters.

* I, too, was also somewhat offended when I read "you're not fully human" on your post. However, I was less offended when I listened to the bishop speak. Something about the way he stressed the word "fully" (as opposed to "human," which is the way I read your post.) I'm not defending his position, it's just that I didn't see him as saying that atheists were subhuman (as Zariabyron suggests.)

Luke said...

The Cardinal is speaking in the vernacular of his church. If you go to and search on "fully human" you will get an interesting variety of results that show how some longer phrases collapsed over time to "fully human". Also, if you look at some of his lectures, like this one it is clear that he routinely uses the term "fully" in the sense of fulfillment, abundance, clarity, or intensity. His error was that he used this jargon out of context, where it would be misinterpreted. That does not make him a bigot.

Take someone whose religion prohibits any sort of music or representational art. Wouldn't you say they were missing out on something? Or a child whose family does not believe in anything more than the most minimal education. Would you not say that child was being denied the opportunity to experience life to the fullest? So would I, and yet there are communities such as the Amish, which I honor and respect. Disagree with the Cardinal, fine, but respectfully. You think he is missing something too.

I would like to hear the interviewer's response. A good interviewer would ask for clarification and help the Cardinal gently extricate his foot from his mouth. There aren't many of those around, though, and controversy helps ratings.

I had a question as to whether transcendence implies theism or is the exclusive province of religion. However, when I looked up the term, to work out what the Cardinal meant by it, I realized that I don't have the background to properly frame the question, and perhaps not to understand the answers.

ScienceAvenger said...

Ronaldo, no one's words are baseless from their perspective, since it is from their perspective that the words flow in the first place. That makes it trivially common, not tricky, ground.

What is typically meant when someone from the reality-based community says something is baseless is that it has no basis in objectively observable evidence and/or logic. IOW, in common parlance, being able to prove what one asserts, especially when it comes to being highly critical of others, is most certainly what matters. How common a view is, even among nice people, is relevant in the political, not scientific or philosophical sphere.

Luke, my response to you is similar. While I grant that his statements look a lot less offensive when one considers the broader context, it's still the baselessness of what he is saying that makes it so vile. Your examples of art and education only carry weight because you've got the goods. Say the same thing about, believing in astrology, or denying the holocaust, and you come across looking as bad as the Bishop.

Is not bigotry what it is precisely because it isn't true, or at least, can't provide a rational basis for believing it? Why is it not bigoted to say blacks in America are less formally educated than whites on average, but it is bigoted to say blacks are genetically stupid and violent? Is not because, and only because, one has a scientific basis and the other doesn't?

Perspectives don't change reality, and the reality is that the Bishop's actions and comments are indistinguishable from those of someone making derisive shit up about a group of people. What other word is there for that than "bigot"?

alex said...

Pretend you were to ask the cardinal, "Let's pretend that for a thirty minute period, you forgot that humanity was made by God. Would you consider yourself fully human?"

I bet the cardinal would respond "no."

alex said...

Pretend further you were to ask the cardinal, "Let's pretend that for a thirty minute period, you forgot that humanity was made by God. Would you consider yourself human?"

I bet the cardinal would respond, "who the #^%@* said anything about not being human?!"

OK, he might leave out the symbols.

ScienceAvenger said...

Four pretends and two bets eh Alex? I find it revealing, though not surprising, that you are so much more interested in what the Cardinal might say in hypothetical situations instead of what he actually said in an actual situation. Speculation over facts is poor epistemology.

Geremia said...

Thank you for actually quoting what the cardinal said since the YouTube video seems to be down.

I, being a Catholic physicist, find all this talk among Catholics about needing to be Catholic to be more human very heterodox and even heretical, for we believe every human is created in God's image (cf. Gen. 1:27); there is no gradation of humanness. This Cardinal Cormack Murphy is likely caught up in the modern heresy of "Modernism" (although from my perspective I interpret him merely saying that God is responsible for any humans' being human). Chief amongst the errors of Modernism is for Catholics to deny anything supernatural, which, incidentally, atheist materialists do deny. Catholics also believe God created humans for a supernatural end, so what would it matter to an atheist materialist had this cardinal instead said something like: "'re not fully saintly"? Of course you likely wouldn't be insulted at all.

Catholics fallen to the heresy of Modernism also, for the most part, detest the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been, in my opinion, the greatest scientist-theologian ever to live; he laid the foundations upon which much modern science developed. He also wrote—in an extremely logical, syllogistic manner—about the relationship of and differences between faith and reason, and he is firmly on the side of scientists in modern questions like the Protestants' flawed "Intelligent Design theory." The Catholic Church, not some of its flawed human constituents, has never opposed true science.