Atheists Less Than Human?

Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor, on a recent radio interview, made the comment that he thinks atheists are less than human:

What I think that the Cardinal is trying to say, badly, is that atheists haven’t embraced the fullness of their own humanity. It doesn’t make them less than human; on the contrary, they are as much human as any Christian. In some cases maybe even more so. But there is, and until they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, always will be something missing from their soul.

However, saying it in the way that he did, the Cardinal has effectively shut off dialogue with the atheist community, and has crippled the Roman Catholic Church’s ability to reach atheists.


About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on May 17, 2009, in Roman Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. “What I think that the Cardinal is trying to say, badly, is that atheists haven’t embraced the fullness of their own humanity.”

    Well, that’s the way the interviewer phrased the question, but its not how he answered it. The interviewer quotes him or perhaps paraphrases him as having said that secularists have “an impoverished understanding of what it is to be human” which doesn’t sound anywhere near as bad as saying that they aren’t human, but then in his answer he says that there is something “not totally human” about secularists and then at the end he says that if you don’t believe in God then “you are not fully human.” The interviewer gave him a chance to put his statement a more positive way, and he flatly rejected it. Saying that atheists and secularists have “an impoverished understanding of what it is to be human” was clearly not what he really meant, because he labors to prove that in his mind they not only have an “impoverished understanding of what it is to be human” but they also simply “are not fully human” and there is something “not totally human” about them.

    He’s clearly not too bright. He might actually be kind of setting the stage for a new Inquisition or something. Maybe Rome is tired of having to play nice and is getting ready to burn some atheists at the stake. Who knows?

    But what is interesting to me is that if this guy thinks that someone is not human, and that Christ died for all humanity, the logical consequence would be that Christ didn’t die for them. I doubt this guy is logical enough to see how that follows, but it does follow from his statement more or less. On this point, therefore, he is almost a Calvinist. You don’t believe that Jesus died for these atheists either, so couldn’t you join him in proclaiming them to be subhuman?

  2. The pious, long robed one is yet another example of the devastation of religious thinking. We are spirit beings, not mortal (if anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death, John 8:51), our true ancestry is of a spiritual lineage, parentage, hence we are spirit too…some of us need a revelation so we can cease judging by the realm of appearances and live from the true, eternal, spirit realm where truth resides.

    No duality, one reality, living “above the line”.

    • You don’t seem very consistent on this point John. You at times tow the traditional Augustinian and Calvinistic line that we are incapable of being righteous even by the definitions set forth by Ezekiel (ch. 18) and Jesus Himself (Lk 15:7) [i.e. repentance, as also in the parable of the prodigal son], and yet at the same time you proclaim this weird notion that we are only righteous we are spirits and because you say there is no duality in us. So which is it, John? Are we totally incapable of righteousness or are we totally righteous? Or, as the Bible says, are we capable of both, as in Ezekiel 18 and Luke 15:7, and so on? And therefore, we must repent of our sins to become righteous? Someone says “repenting cannot make you righteous.” Yet Peter (an apostle of Jesus Christ, and a real one, unlike such an objector) says “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I know no protestant will admit (even with this verse in their face) that baptism is essential to having your sins forgiven, but will you also deny that repentance is necessary when it stares you in the face so intently? “Nay, but justification is by faith alone.” Peter disagrees, clearly, as does Jesus when he says “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17) and when he sent out the twelve instructing them to preach “that men should repent,” (Mark 6:12) or again in Mat 9:13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:32 when he says “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Even Paul whom you think taught justification by faith alone says in Romans 2:4 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” and in Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” and again in 1st Cor 6:9 “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers–none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” So says Paul, but we are beat over the head daily by Protestant pastors who say that ALL these people will inherit heaven, if they simply believe!

      • It’s impossible to carry on an enlightened dialogue about the deeper things of the spirit led life as long as you place your own opinion’s about the apostle Paul above Christ’s.

      • Not for any or all of his sins that are past shall a man be condemned; not for the worst of them need he dread remaining unforgiven. The sin he dwells in, the sin he will not come out of, that is the sole ruin of the man.

        A man is in bondage to that which is less than himself.

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