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Skeptimedia is a commentary on mass media treatment of issues concerning science, the paranormal, and the supernatural.

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Cardinal Speaks Ex Asinum*

May 15, 2009. Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (b. 24 August 1932/brain dead for some time now), retired Roman Catholic cardinal has joined George Herbert Walker Bush in denouncing atheists. Bush, however, limited his inane comment to wondering whether we should be considered citizens or patriots. Cardinal Cormac asserts we're not fully human. Listen to the man, as he speaks ex asinum*:

Murphy-O'Connor must have fallen over the edge when he leaned back to kiss the Blarney stone. This backward-thinking prelate rose to become Apostolic Administrator of the See of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Sounds impressive until you remember that a Roman Catholic anything is not much to shake a stick at in a country that has a state religion called the Church of England.

Does it strike anyone as odd that someone who has taken a vow of celibacy and condemns contraception should pontificate on the subject of what it is to be a human being? This is a fellow who believes God is one being but three persons, and had himself killed to save the creatures he made who wouldn't obey him. This is a fellow who belongs to an organization whose biggest public relations issue of late has involved clergy who molest children and church leaders who protect the molesters. Check this out from the BBC:

Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor

Murphy-O'Connor found himself subject to public scrutiny regarding a priest in his diocese when he was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. During this time it was brought to his attention that a priest, Michael Hill, was a child sexual abuser. Instead of reporting Hill to the police, Murphy-O'Connor allegedly allowed the crime to be covered up and transferred Hill to Gatwick Airport chapel, where the cardinal believed he would not be able to molest children. In 1997, Hill was finally convicted as a child molester and jailed for sexually assaulting nine children. After three years in jail, Hill was given another five years for assaulting three other boys. In 2000, when O'Connor ascended to the status of Archbishop of Westminster, the case became known to the general public.*

What can you say about someone who thinks his full humanity depends on the grandeur of his delusions? May he rest in peace? Whoever said "hell is other people" must have met too many Murphy-O'Connors. The cardinal is as "old school" as they get. He not only thinks homosexuality is a sin, he thinks he eats the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus when he swallows the Eucharist.

On the other hand, just because he's a flawed human being doesn't mean his argument that atheists aren't fully human is a bad argument. After all, the cardinal gave proof. His evidence was the claim that to be fully human you have to have a sense of and be connected to transcendence. Okay. So, instead of piling on the ad hominems, we should just say that he's begging the question. He assumes what he should be proving, namely, that being connected to the transcendent is a necessary condition for being fully human. He asserts it without proof. By committing a logical fallacy, he proves he's human, fully human. But we still await the evidence that to be fully human one must be connected to the transcendent, which, as I understand that term, is completely non-human.

* From the donkey (as opposed to ex cathedra or from the chair), not from the rear end, which would be something like de rectum or more simply plenum de flatulentia).

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