Not Fully Human

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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A Hermit

Not Fully Human

Post by A Hermit » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:44 pm

In an interview on the BBC a couple of years ago Cormac Murphy O`Connor, a Cadinal of the Catholic Church, said this:
I think what I said was true, of course whether a person is atheist or any other...there is in fact, in my view, something not totally human, if they leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone was made for, which is, uh, a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God. Now if you say that has no place, then I feel that it is a diminishment of what it is to be a human, because to be human in the sense I believe humanity is directed because made by God, I think if you leave that out then you are not fully human.
A sentiment which Metacrock defended at the time, and which was echoed recently in this forum:
sgttomas wrote: What distinguishes a believer from a non-believer? It is about consciousness. I have every faculty at my disposal that you can also make a claim to, but after we have established compatible qualities of our being human there is still one thing left over: I am aware of God. You might dismiss this by any number of means, but none of them have any consequence on the fact-of-the-matter. Neither would it matter for a blind person to bring any manner of arguments about the non-reality of sight.

That you lack an essential human quality is what sets you and I apart.
So as an atheist I'd like to know; just how much less then human than am I? And what are the possible implications of my alleged subhumanity?

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mdsimpson92
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:57 am

I may have an answer from their perspective, I think it may have teleological tinge to it. Still disagree with it. But I will give an answer later, I am currently tutoring some chinese students in English so back in a few hours.
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:06 am

I think at least from the Catholic priest he is taking a view like Aristotle or Aquinas, being teleological. Given that God has given us a function. One of these would be to serve or connect to the divine or transcendent. The priest assumes that most if not all atheists would deny the transcendant is cutting themselves off from what they would consider a necessary human function or trait, and thus is in part failing to be "fully human." This is just a guess in my part of what they are talking about.

Personally, I would respectfully disagree, there are atheists that attach to the mystical, you notice that I keep bringing up Schopenhauer as an example, some versions of Buddhism (because they are all over the map on belief) also does this are atheists but still deal in the "mystical" or "transcendant." I would heavily disagree with what that would be but then that is why we ask questions and debate in the first place. On another note, this maybe a part of Tolstoys influence or the East Orthodox influence, but in that tradition human kind has a semi-divine nature in it. Kane we haved recently spoken about this before about the implications of this and it tendency towards a form of universal reconciliation.
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:46 am

I siad at the time taht Hermit and other atheists were taking the comment out of context and not paying attention Catholic theology. they also as I recall mis quoted it. They really were laying it on thick trying to cash in on the "o poor us, we are so oppressed."

All the atheists propaganda outlets like Dawkin's institute interpreted it the way Hermit he's just following their lead. I think what he really meant was they are turning off their full humanity by not seeking God. Not that they are not human but that they shut down aspects of humanity that define us as human. Of course that's a distinction they don't want to undersatnd because it gives me more to whine about if they don't.

I cannot find a real copy of his original statement. I have ten thousand atheists on their sties saying 'He says we not human" but they don't quote him, they don't quote original and they don't have a film of hte original. The original has been excluded form the internet.
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:51 am

Metacrock wrote:I siad at the time taht Hermit and other atheists were taking the comment out of context and not paying attention Catholic theology. they also as I recall mis quoted it. They really were laying it on thick trying to cash in on the "o poor us, we are so oppressed."

All the atheists propaganda outlets like Dawkin's institute interpreted it the way Hermit he's just following their lead. I think what he really meant was they are turning off their full humanity by not seeking God. Not that they are not human but that they shut down aspects of humanity that define us as human. Of course that's a distinction they don't want to undersatnd because it gives me more to whine about if they don't.
I hope I was at least presenting it correctly, am I right that it is a matter of fufilling a function? I know only a relative amount of Aquinas, and more about Aristotle, and they both had an emphasis on teleology and function.
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:57 am

Read something about O'connor he sounds like a totally different guy than this one misquote make him seem. He says have "deep respect" for atheists.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7390941.stm

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor (Diocesan handout pic)
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor urges deeper understanding between believers and non-believers

The Archbishop of Westminster has urged Christians to treat atheists and agnostics with "deep esteem".

Believers may be partly responsible for the decline in faith by losing sense of the mystery and treating God as a "fact in the world", he said in a lecture.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor called for more understanding and appreciation between believers and non-believers.

But the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales said that Britain must not become "a God-free zone".

The cardinal's lecture at Westminster Cathedral comes after a spate of public clashes over issues such as stem-cell research, gay adoption and faith schools.

Mystery of God

He expressed concern about the increasing unpopularity of the Christian voice in public life, saying: "Our life together in Britain cannot be a God-free zone and we must not allow Britain to become a world devoid of religious faith and its powerful contribution to the common good."

Later, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme why he thought it was dangerous to be governed by reason alone.

He said saying that "supposedly faithless societies" ruled only by reason were like those created by Hitler and Stalin, ripe for "terror and oppression".


Proper talk about God is always difficult, always tentative.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor

Last year, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor complained of a "new secularist intolerance of religion" and the state's "increasing acceptance" of anti-religious views.

To stem this tide, he said Christians must understand they have something in common with those who do not believe.

God is not a "fact in the world" as though God could be treated as "one thing among other things to be empirically investigated" and affirmed or denied on the "basis of observation", said Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.

"If Christians really believed in the mystery of God, we would realise that proper talk about God is always difficult, always tentative.

"I want to encourage people of faith to regard those without faith with deep esteem because the hidden God is active in their lives as well as in the lives of those who believe."

There's absolutely no reason to take seriously someone who says, 'I believe it because I believe it'.
Richard Dawkins, scientist

'Imaginary friend'

But Richard Dawkins, scientist, staunch atheist and author of books including The God Delusion, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the cardinal's comments carried no weight.

Referring to God as an "imaginary friend", Mr Dawkins said: "When talking to a politician you would demand proof for what they say, but suddenly when talking to a clergyman you don't have to provide evidence.

"There's absolutely no reason to take seriously someone who says, 'I believe it because I believe it.'

"God either exists or he doesn't. It's a matter of the truth."

Speaking later on Radio 4, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor answered those criticisms. He said: "I think there are a number of people in this country who would like to marginalise religion.

"They would much prefer not to see religion as neutral, but to neutralise it.

"And there are unbelievers who construct their own God in order to demolish him."

Of claims that faith has no basis in reason, he replied: "To believe in God is not unreasonable."

one thing I find is they have taken the original off the internet because it violated Youtube's terms of service. In other words, rather than reading it critically they just said "It must hate speech becuase someone got offended by it."

except now we can't prove what he really said.
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by A Hermit » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:42 am

Metacrock wrote:Read something about O'connor he sounds like a totally different guy than this one misquote make him seem. He says have "deep respect" for atheists.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7390941.stm

One thing I find is they have taken the original off the internet because it violated Youtube's terms of service. In other words, rather than reading it critically they just said "It must hate speech becuase someone got offended by it."

except now we can't prove what he really said.
Yeah, it's too bad they took the video down; it actually sounds worse when you hear him saying it. And no, it wasn't taken out of context, that's his clarification of an answer to an earlier question about the rise of secularism.

And that article is a bit of a whitewash. Here's more from the good Cardinal...http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 334837.ece
From The Times
May 22, 2009
Archbishop of Westminster attacks atheism but says nothing on child abuse

The new and the departing Archbishops of Westminster launched a joint offensive yesterday against atheists and secular society.

At the installation of the Most Rev Vincent Nichols at Westminster Cathedral, his predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, described a lack of faith as “the greatest of evils” and blamed atheism for war and destruction, implying that it was a greater evil even than sin itself.
Now, I understand that the Cardinal is coming from a theological point of view, but I don't see how that makes his attitude any less offensive. He's judging me to be less of a human being than he is, and it is that kind of attitude, not "supposedly faithless societies ruled only by reason" that allows monsters like Hitler and Stalin to do what they do (and make people like Cardinal O`Connor himself capable of putting the reputation of his Church ahead of the needs of the victims of a sexual predator under his supervision...http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/840594.stm)

Like our friend Sgt. Thomas he's trying to privilege his belief by insisting that anyone who doesn't share it is "impaired" in some way. This is at best just a way to avoid dealing with the possibility that one's own beliefs may be mistaken. We don't have to deal with the beliefs of others if we can dismiss them as the product of a damaged or less than fully human person. At worst it becomes permission to treat those "impaired" and "less human" people like criminals or animals. http://www.secularism.org.uk/iranian-eh ... ll-be.html

It's one thing to say that you think someone is wrong, or mistaken or even deluded (though even that is a term I wouldn't generally use) and quite another to say that are actually lacking some essential human quality. The former is an observation about a belief, the latter is an assault on the dignity and respect that should be accorded to everyone as a matter of common human decency.

My attitude is nicely summed up by the quote in my signature line..."It is the human being who is sacred not beliefs or religion." As soon as we make any idea, be it a religious belief or a political dogma, more important than simple human needs...that's when we risk losing something of our humanity.
Last edited by A Hermit on Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:17 am

Hmm I guess you don't need my fumblings in the dark. Though I hope it makes sense. Even if it is wrong I am curious whether you think it makes sense.
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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by A Hermit » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:48 am

mdsimpson92 wrote:Hmm I guess you don't need my fumblings in the dark. Though I hope it makes sense. Even if it is wrong I am curious whether you think it makes sense.
It makes sense, but is no less offensive for it. Whether you backload the statement with a lot of word salad about teleology and cutting ones self off from a necessary function (kind of an amusing criticism coming from a celibate priest when you think about it... 8-) ) the plain implication of the statement is unavoidable. To the Cardinal (and our friend the Sargent) an unbeliever like me is an inferior kind of human being.

If any powerful public figure were to come out and declare that Christians or Jews or Muslims were "not fully human" they would be immediately (and rightly) denounced and apologies and resignations would be demanded loudly from all quarters. But for some reason one can say the same thing about atheists and it's not supposed to be offensive.

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Re: Not Fully Human

Post by KR Wordgazer » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:56 pm

I certainly don't agree with saying atheists are in any sense less than fully human.

I do want to look at this, though, in terms of another, less volatile topic. I believe that the humanities-- music, art, story, etc-- are an essential part of the human experience. If a person says to me, "I don't care for music myself, but I appreciate that other people find joy in it," that's one thing. If a person says about the humanities something similar to what Dawkins says about religion-- something that amounts to, "I don't care for music myself, and I also think anyone who does find joy in it is deliberately and childishly self-deluded" [which is what the term "Imaginary Friend" definitely implies, and there's no getting around that], then I would say that the person who believed this was coldly dismissing his fellow-humans as well as cutting himself off, through misunderstanding and prejudice, from something that contributes to the essential human experience.

I would not ask that this person try to force himself to like music if he simply did not and could not get into it. I would not say that he was less than human. But I would ask that he recognize that music is part of the human experience, understand that others find meaning it in that he himself cannot find, and that he allow them their enjoyment without disparaging them or dismissing it as something silly and useless.
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