Respecting atheists… for now…

May 9, 2008 at 7:50 am | Posted in The God Delusion | Leave a comment
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It’s pretty hard to keep up with the clergy; one day we’re doomed to eternal damnation, the next they’re singing kum ba ya.

Here’s what Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor told his flock about us unwashed heathens atheists:

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.

Well it’s nice to know he doesn’t think we’re all baby-burning satanists bent on turning Cathedrals into casinos. Bravo, Cormac, for that very Christian act of understanding…

…Except, when writing about ‘atheistic secularism’ just 6 weeks ago, he was singing a rather different, less concilliatory tune:

It is not its attacks on religion that gives me pause for thought, but its vision of what is human. It says that this is all we are, this is it! We have no significant purpose; we’re merely chance products of material processes.

I believe we do have a purpose; that we are made for greater things. Atheistic secularism ultimately diminishes us; it kills the human spirit under the pretence of liberating it. Our democracy is too precious and costly a gift to be narrated by this version of the secular alone. I want to keep alive the church’s vision of humanity which is part of the truth it carries. It belongs not just to Catholics or to Christians but to us all. (emphasis mine)

Now, it’s still early in the morning and I’m low on caffeine, so just run this by me again: ‘Atheistic secularism kills the human spirit’, but Christians should still treat atheists with ‘great esteem’?

Well, it’s a novel way of loving thy neighbour.


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