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Whoa — they’re literally dehumanizing atheists

I didn’t realize how thoroughly the Catholic church regarded atheists as sub-humans, but Michael Nugent documents it all, straight from the hierarchy’s legion of mouths. It is literally a Catholic teaching that atheists are “not fully human”.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part One, The Profession of Faith, reads: (27) “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God;” and (44) “Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God.”

In 2012, Pope Benedict, in a letter to a Catholic meeting in Rimini, wrote that “every person is created so that he may enter into dialogue with the Infinite… To truly find himself and his identity, to live up to his being, man must turn and recognize that he is a creature, who is dependent on God.”

In 1998, Pope John Paul II, in an apostolic message delivered in Croatia, said that “A culture which rejects God cannot be considered fully human, because it excludes from its vision the One who has created man in his own image and likeness, has redeemed him through the work of Christ, and has consecrated him with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”

In 1995, Pope John Paul II, in a homily at Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, USA, said that when he was addressing the United Nations: “My task is not to speak in purely human terms about merely human values, but in spiritual terms about spiritual values, which are ultimately what make us fully human.”

In 1986, Pope John Paul II, in an Angelus statement in Adelaide, Australia, said that “Jesus did not come to lay burdens upon us. He came to teach us what it means to be fully happy and fully human.”

That’s just a small sampling. Fortunately, I don’t share their bigotry: I regard all Catholics as my fellow apes.

Comments

  1. grumpyoldfart says

    I must be a fair dinkum atheist. I live in Adelaide and didn’t even know the Pope had paid us a visit.

  2. jose says

    A bit uncharitable reading I would say. There’s a difference between not being fully human and not living a fully human life. Former is something you are, the latter has to do with how you live.

    For instance, the movie Danny the Dog. Jet Li there isn’t living a fully human life. Plenty of real life examples too. Slavery is alive and well in this day (human trafficking, exploitation). Slaves don’t live fully human lives as we understand the term.

    Catholics think our lack of connection to God is like being deprived of the basic dignity human beings should enjoy. They see us as philosophical cavemen, just babbling and roaming around pointlessly and doing nothing with any sense of purpose. We just participate in some social brownian motion and then die, and none of it makes a difference or counts for anything. That’s how they think their lives would be like without sky dad.

  3. Trebuchet says

    Not just atheists. I’m pretty sure the Poop probably regards Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Methodists as subhuman as well.

  4. stanton says

    And yet, the Pope considers it fine to propagate a culture that sexually abuses children, and protects those of its members who sexually abuse children from justice?

  5. geoffreybrent says

    Jose (#3), I’d be more inclined to agree with your charitable interpretation if we were talking about some other organisation.

    But the Vatican has been insisting for decades (at least) that “humanity” is a binary variable, with a one-minute-old zygote morally and metaphysically equivalent to any other stage of human development.

  6. pipenta says

    Ah, this may be why my very-catholic aunt won’t get off my back about praying stuff.

    She’s the older generation and I’m trying to be respectful. I’m trying to be polite. But she has been taking advantage of that and so help me, I fear I am going to BLOW.

  7. robster says

    Apart from the wine and crackers on Sunday morning (which is supposed to be the baby jesus anyway), how does one get a communion with God? He’s never done anything, is totally silent and invisible, plays no part in lives and is conspicuosly absent. It’s difficult to have a “relationship” when one party is err…non existant. These christan nutters must spend endless hours making up stuff that sort of sounds profound without actually meaning anything.

  8. DLC says

    In the latter days of my time as a Christian, I would sometimes ask the rhetorical question: “what would Jesus think of all the weird and sometimes evil things done in his name? would he, were he to come back, actually be angry at the Pope and his minions, as well as all the other charlatans who act like crooks in his name ?”
    The proper answer (I learned later) is that “there is no Jesus and he won’t be coming back, which makes all those men of the cloth look like either fools or charlatans who use fear of death to steal.”

  9. raven says

    No surprise.

    The RCC has been dehumanizing one group or another for 2,000 years.

    Western anti-semitism traces back to the bible, John and Matthew mostly. The first official antisemitic laws were passed…as soon as they had state power under Constantine in the 4th century.

    At various times it was the Jews, Cathars, Moslems, native peoples of other continents, and Eastern Orthodox.

    The most famous was…the Protestants. That was when the RCC discovered that subhumans could fight back and win. They’ve never gotten over it.

    As a former Protestant, I’m glad they could do at least one thing right. As a current subhuman, all I have to say to the Catholics and the Pope is…watch out, we aren’t pushovers either.

  10. Ichthyic says

    how does one get a communion with God?

    by lying to yourself that internalized communications involve a fictional deity.

    that simple.

  11. CSB says

    Okay, so atheists are inhuman.

    I was raised Catholic, went through Confirmation without taking a word of it seriously (for crying out loud, I gave my name as Reginald Barclay)…does that at least make me one of the Nephilim? Because that would actually be pretty cool.

  12. robro says

    raven @ 13 — That’s an interesting suggestion that Matthew has anti-semitic aspects. I was taught that Matthew is sort of the Jewish gospel. I would be interested to learn more if you have a link about it. Thanks.

  13. raven says

    @18

    Wikipedia Antisemitism and the New Testament:

    Gospel of MatthewMain article: Rejection of Jesus
    Although the Gospel of Matthew is considered to be the “most Jewish”[citation needed] of the Gospels, it contains one of the most anti-Jewish passages found in the New Testament. Probably located in Syrian Antioch, the Matthean community defined itself over and against the synagogue.[citation needed]

    Thus, the term “Jews” in the Gospel is applied to those who deny the resurrection and believe that the disciples stole Jesus’s corpse.[Matthew 28:13-15] Through Jesus, membership in the one people of God is extended to include the gentiles,[Matt 24:14][Matt 28:16-20] but they do not replace the Jews. [Matt 4:18-13:58] Both Jew and gentile participate in God’s plan for salvation.[9]

    As Matthew’s narrative marches toward the passion, the anti-Jewish rhetoric increases. In chapter 21, the parable of the vineyard is followed by the great “stone” text, an early christological midrash of Psalm 118:22-23: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.[Matt 21:42] Then, in chapters 23 and 24, three successive hostile pericopes are recorded. First, a series of “woes” are pronounced against the Pharisees:

    “you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets…You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?”
    — Matthew 23:31-33

    Matthew calls the Jews murderers of prophets, snakes, offspring of snakes and says they are all going to hell.

    Robro, you can look this up in seconds with Google and on Wikipedia. It’s not exactly a secret coming straight out of the bible, after all.

    John was also probably written by a Jewish xian and has some scathing anti-semitic passages as well. You can bet the xian bigots have been quoting them since the day they were written nearly 2,000 years ago.

  14. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    So, from the invertebratheist perspective, “Atheists are not human” is a respectable doctrine, but “Catholics are all too human” is too harsh and radical. Glad we cleared that up. >.>

  15. claremilner says

    I think you’ve missed an important point. Those quotes all refer to male atheists as sub-human. What about the female atheists? ;)
    (Yeah yeah I know – we’re lower than the lowest low thing.)

  16. TheBlackCat says

    @ Jose: I think you only read the first quote. That is the only one that said “fully human life”. The third, fourth, and fifth said “fully human”

  17. says

    jose

    A bit uncharitable reading I would say. There’s a difference between not being fully human and not living a fully human life. Former is something you are, the latter has to do with how you live.

    At least the last quote refers directly to what you are:

    “Jesus did not come to lay burdens upon us. He came to teach us what it means to be fully happy and fully human.”

    Well, one of the pope’s darling bishops Ackermann told everybody some years ago that the increase in sexual abuse and childhood abuse* is due to people not getting married. So, yes, he said that my back then respectful mature relationship with my back then boyfriend was the cause of child abuse.
    Probably because some catholic priest had to work off his frustration over that fact.

    *actually, it seems like it hasn’t. It’s only that people now give a fuck and it’s generally frowned upon to beat your kids with a belt.

  18. says

    I’m always surprised when people argue a vital part of being a human rests outside of the human condition. Especially when it rests outside of reality as we comprehend it. Just what good does that do?

  19. says

    Though I tend to think that this kind of rhetoric doesn’t so much as aspire us to the gods as it does limit the gods to us, attributing the human condition as if it were divine, and to the exclusion of those who don’t share that belief.

  20. Q.E.D says

    I was going to link to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-Oconnor saying that “atheists are not fully human” but after following half a dozen different links youtube states “this video has been removed because its content violated youtubes terms of service”

    I also used to easily find the article on the Guardian website but not any more.

    Is my Google Fu just weak today or has someone been trying to clean up their image?

  21. jose says

    Hi all,
    It’s true that I used the first quote to emphasize that difference. But the others should be understood in that light too – otherwise, we find inconsistencies like the fetus thing Alethea mentioned. “Fully human” as they understand it is something you can achieve by studying, praying, etc, in the sense that you can change (by adopting catholicism) and reach another level of enlightenment, spirituality or whatever they call it. It’s more or less what we would call “a fully realized life”.

    The point is they believe what differentiates humans from the rest of the animals is our ability to connect with God (the famous “spiritual dimension”), which we should encourage and pursue because it’s where dignity and meaning come from.

    I think telling atheists that they’re living a subhuman, meaningless life is insulting enough. No need to make it sound worse than that.

  22. kevinalexander says

    Well, I’m sure glad the pope cleared that up for me. I’ve always been under the misapprehension that to be fully human meant to think for yourself and not have a dog like dependence on a sexual deviant in a white silk dress.

    Maybe it’s the hat. I need a bigger hat.

  23. says

    “I conjure you, my brethren, remain true to the earth, and believe not those who speak unto you of superearthly hopes! Poisoners are they, whether they know it or not.
    […]
    [O]nce upon a time, did I also cast my fancy beyond man, like all backworldsmen. Beyond man, forsooth?
    Ah, yet brethren, that God whom I created was human work and human madness, like all the Gods!
    A man was he, and only a poor fragment of a man and ego. Out of mine own ashes and glow it came unto me, that phantom. And verily, it came not unto me from the beyond!” – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathustra)

  24. ah58 says

    Well, one of the pope’s darling bishops Ackermann told everybody some years ago that the increase in sexual abuse and childhood abuse* is due to people not getting married.

    Sounds like a good argument against celibate clergy to me.

  25. Q.E.D says

    Catholic: You atheists are soooo literal minded, all humans are created equal in the eyes of god, there are no “subhumans” in catholic teaching.

    Atheist: so what’s with all the “not fully human” language?

    Catholic: In our sophisticated Theology TM, human potential is only fully achieved by faith and union with God.

    Atheist: yeah, so problem is, I don’t have faith and don’t believe in anything supernatural including JC, his dad and ghost.

    Catholic: If you open your heart to Jesus, like me, you will achieve union with God and become fully human.

    Atheist: Right, so I’m not “subhuman” but I am not “fully human”.

    Catholic: Exactly, but all humans can become “fully human” through Christ.

    Atheist: Gotcha so I am human and you are “fully human”. What’s that Napolean said in Animal farm? Oh yeah “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

    Go fuck yourself.

  26. demonax says

    You miss the point. As St (sic)Thomas More held, atheists s and heretics should be burnt-something whilst Chancellor he took great pleasure in, even making jokes about it(The humanist side).
    De-humanising makes burning easier on the Catholic feelings-after all they are not like us they feel. Don’t think they won’t start again if they get the chance. They did in Croatia in 1943-last time they had total power with a nazi Croatian priest in charge.

  27. says

    It’s so much about trying to make distinctions and oppositions between humans and other animals (not limited to religions but central to many). This allows us to feel superior, to abuse and exploit nonhumans, and to feel superior while abusing and exploiting nonhumans. It also gives the churches more power via their claim to be the explainers of what we allegedly are and guides to becoming…er, what we allegedly are. “You’re not animals! To be fully human, your vocation, you have to work to be something other than [our ignorant, projecting, anemic idea of] animals!” They play on anxious humanity.*

    The sorts of statements you quote show how little they’ve accepted evolution. They pay lip service to it, but really they still hold that humans are a special creation, disdain much of what we actually are, and project several of our and nature’s qualities onto an imaginary entity.

    In related news, I’ve just started reading James Rachel’s Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism. The whole book is available free online. So far, so good!

    *I just made that up to denote the speciesist version of anxious masculinity.

  28. says

    There really is a difference, though between humans and other animals in the moral domain. Namely that we have organised moral domains that we can reflect and argue over, as well as utilise for mediating between conflicting self-interest (in other words, we can reflect and act that reflection on how we treat pigs, but that refe. I don’t get why people are so shocked at the idea of us being animals as being somehow antithetical to us having moral powers that other animals lack (Rick Warren’s tweet about teaching we are animals comes to mind), as it seems that no matter what we are cannot alone justify a moral concern.

  29. says

    God damn it, submitted while I was in the middle of editing a sentence.

    There really is a difference, though between humans and other animals in the moral domain. Namely that we have organised moral domains that we can reflect and argue over, as well as utilise for mediating between conflicting self-interest. I don’t get why people are so shocked at the idea of us being animals as being somehow antithetical to us having moral powers that other animals lack (Rick Warren’s tweet about teaching we are animals comes to mind), as it seems that no matter what we are cannot alone justify a moral concern.

  30. says

    I don’t believe that “spiritual values” are what make us fully human, but I do believe that our capacity to make shit up is one of the most significant aspects of our humanity… so, since “spirituality” is certainly some made-up shit, I can almost agree with him if I squint and look at it sideways.

  31. says

    There really is a difference, though between humans and other animals in the moral domain. Namely that we have organised moral domains that we can reflect and argue over, as well as utilise for mediating between conflicting self-interest.

    Hey, you could maybe read the book I linked to along with me and then later we can discuss the implications, if any, of that difference.

    :)

  32. raven says

    @31 QED

    Wikipedia:Cardinal Cormac ‘Atheism the greatest of evils.’
    However, in 2009, speaking after Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ installation, he said that a lack of faith is “the greatest of evils.” He blamed atheism for war and destruction, and implied it was a greater evil even than sin itself.[20][21] – ..

    Came right up on Google in a few seconds.

    Cardinal Cormac recently called atheism the greatest of evils.

    He also blamed atheism for war and destruction which is laughable. The xian churches have been floating in blood for 2,000 years and have the world’s record for dead bodies.

    Atheism is worse than sin itself whatever that means.

    Cardinal Cormac is also up to his pointy hat in the RCC child sex abuse scandals. Like many Catholic priests especially the leaders, Cormac is a twisted and not very bright old man.

  33. TheBlackCat says

    It’s true that I used the first quote to emphasize that difference. But the others should be understood in that light too – otherwise, we find inconsistencies like the fetus thing Alethea mentioned.

    I don’t agree with your logic here. Since when has Catholic dogma ever been consistent? Yeah, I agree that the other quotes don’t make much sense, but why do you expect them to?

    “Fully human” as they understand it is something you can achieve by studying, praying, etc, in the sense that you can change (by adopting catholicism) and reach another level of enlightenment, spirituality or whatever they call it. It’s more or less what we would call “a fully realized life”.

    You are doing the standard thing Christians do when faced with inconsistencies or immorality in the Bible: try to read between the lines to find a more appealing interpretation.

    If you are going to tell us that the plain reading of the quotes is wrong and that they actually meant something other than what they said, you need to provide some evidence backing that up. The fact that the quotes are distasteful or contradictory does not mean they are not exactly what the speakers intended, leaders of the Catholic church say distasteful and contradictory things all the time.

    I think telling atheists that they’re living a subhuman, meaningless life is insulting enough. No need to make it sound worse than that.

    Tell that to them, not us. They are the ones who said what they said, we are simply reading their statements.

  34. kevinalexander says

    Matthew @35
    ““Freely lives by his bond with god”? Did anyone else’s irony detector go off?”

    I try to turn my irony meter app off when I click on anything to do with religious apologetics. That spoing sound is so irritating.

    There must be a special catholic dictionary where the word ‘realized’ doesn’t mean made real but instead means to reject reality in favour of a figment of your imagination.

  35. Sastra says

    TheBlackCat #45 wrote:

    You are doing the standard thing Christians do when faced with inconsistencies or immorality in the Bible: try to read between the lines to find a more appealing interpretation.

    I thought he was just pointing out that yes, this is what Christians do. I have had more than one religious person (including several Catholics) explain to me that when their religion talks about “atheists” and the “denial of God” it’s using a metaphysical definition, not the common one. The metaphysical definitions rest on the stipulation that all virtue, love, reason, and meaning come from and belong to the domain of God and spirit. Therefore, an honest, honorable, good atheist is only an “atheist” to the world: to God, this person is a believer. “Denial of God” is code for evil. They’re not talking about rational and epistemic arguments against the existence of the supernatural. They’re talking the language of the Soul. Atheists can believe in God, even when they think they don’t.

    In other words, they don’t mean me. Or anybody I like. Or anything I like. So they can snarl away about godlessness and still play the game of Atheists-Shut-Up, it’s no big deal. We’re all coming together!

    Right. I call shenanigans. No, I don’t buy it. As well-intentioned as they may be, when push comes to shove they really DO mean what’s nasty: we’re not stupid and we note the constant practical drift away from the high land of ‘metaphysics.’ Besides, even were I to grant them their argument, they’re still using the rational position I hold to mean “evil.” Like hell I’m not going to think it has no negative implications.

    It’s not just the Catholics who play this “less than human” game. Every single religion does it every time they wax on about how 1.) important God is 2.) how important belief in God is and 3.) how important it is to live a “spiritual” life which recognizes and follows the implications from #1 and #2.

    My realization that none of those 3 points had any necessary connection to a Good Life Well Lived was one of the catalysts for my becoming an atheist. I hadn’t been a Catholic: I was a self-described Transcendentalist who had “transcended” man-made religions for spirituality. Same shit, different shovel.

  36. Gregory Greenwood says

    So, the ex-Hitler-Youth Pontiff of the moment leads a global organisation that holds as a core article of faith that we are subhuman…

    Oh no, nothing to be worried about there at all…

    Of course, with the rise of regional blasphemy laws, the European Union’s public statement of intent to take action to insure that all religions and prophets are accorded what they consider to be a proper level of ‘respect’, and the repeated attempts to use the UN to internationally criminalise blasphemy (bearing in mind that, by some definitions of the term, ‘denial of god’ is itself classed as blasphemy) we are seeing a concerted attempt to outlaw atheism the world over.

    So we may soon be criminals as well as subhumans in the world according to the likes of Pope Palpatine. I wonder when they have the first wave of purges scheduled for*?

    —————————————————————-

    * At the moment, this last part is a (rather dark and not particularly funny) joke. Unfortunately, that status is really rather tenuous. I am far from sure that, if we revisted this topic in ten years, it would still come off as quite so unlikely a scenario.

  37. eoleen says

    Hummmmmm…. I believe that murder is defined as the killing of a member of one’s own species…

    If we are not human, then we are not members of THEIR species…

    Therefore, it is perfectly legitimate for us (non-humans) to expunge those Catholic vermin from the face of the Earth.

    So there. Let them chew on that conundrum for a bit.

  38. says

    Hey, you could maybe read the book I linked to along with me and then later we can discuss the implications, if any, of that difference.

    :)

    I did bookmark it, so it’s on my ever growing “to read” list. I’ll try to get to it ASAP (got a certification exam in a few weeks, as well as doing an online course in evolution so I’m pretty flat out atm)

    Just to make a general distinction, humans can make arguments and take into consideration the relevant moral factors about the welfare and treatment of other animals, while other animals cannot do that with us. You’ll see people for ending the exploitation of pigs, but you won’t see pigs marching to that effect. Our abilities are what set us apart and in effect make us the custodians irrespective of how appalling we find that notion.

  39. says

    I did bookmark it, so it’s on my ever growing “to read” list. I’ll try to get to it ASAP (got a certification exam in a few weeks, as well as doing an online course in evolution so I’m pretty flat out atm)

    Good. I’m almost done. It’s a quick read.

    Just to make a general distinction, humans can make arguments and take into consideration the relevant moral factors about the welfare and treatment of other animals, while other animals cannot do that with us. You’ll see people for ending the exploitation of pigs, but you won’t see pigs marching to that effect.

    So what? Unless you’re arguing that the (in)ability to make moral arguments with language and participating in organized protests are decisive in determining whether pigs or any other beings have the right to be respected as “subjects of a life” and not exploited or abused, which I can’t imagine you are, this is not relevant.

    Darwin’s point (I’m learning), and mine, was that this searching for ever-evolving distinctions and bright lines rather than recognizing continuities and shared fundamental features is related to our wish to justify our treatment of nonhuman animals.* Whether a pig (or a human, for that matter) can argue about ethics is irrelevant to whether it suffers or has interests or rights to be treated with respect.

    Our abilities are what set us apart and in effect make us the custodians irrespective of how appalling we find that notion.

    People don’t find that notion appalling. They desperately want to believe that there’s some essence of humanness that justifies what otherwise appears plainly to be immoral treatment of nonhuman animals. Religions have provided versions, but there are secular ones as well. You’re doing it here.

    I do hope you look into this a little more.

    *It’s also related to justifications of other forms of domination like sexism and racism.

  40. Ichthyic says

    They desperately want to believe that there’s some essence of humanness that justifies what otherwise appears plainly to be immoral treatment of nonhuman animals.

    if there does not exist a distinction between how we determine morals, and how other animals do, then other animals must be placed on the same scale you just placed humans.

    which means that lions are acting immorally when they slaughter a zebra?

    I see where Kel is coming from, but I don’t understand where you are coming from.

  41. says

    if there does not exist a distinction between how we determine morals, and how other animals do, then other animals must be placed on the same scale you just placed humans.

    which means that lions are acting immorally when they slaughter a zebra?

    Oh, good grief. They should be placed on the same scale in terms of how we treat them. The ‘scale’ is about our actions and their morality. Any other animal’s process of “determining morals” is not relevant to that argument.

    I see where Kel is coming from, but I don’t understand where you are coming from.

    That’s because you’ve confused my comment about the irrelevance of that argument with a counterargument to it.

    At least maybe read that book. To start.

    [I haven’t quite finished. I hope he doesn’t say anything fatally stupid in the last chapter.]

  42. Ichthyic says

    The ‘scale’ is about our actions and their morality.

    define what “their morality” is then?

  43. says

    define what “their morality” is then?

    “Their morality” = the morality of our actions. I had a slight fear that this would be misconstrued, but optimistically gave it a shot. Alas.

  44. tardisblue says

    “You’d better close your eyes, my child for a moment, in order to be better in tune with the infinite…. We can’t do these things without reaching out into the infinite….”

    “every person is created so that he may enter into dialogue with the Infinite… ”

    It’s obvious who’s writing the Pope’s dialogue…

  45. Ichthyic says

    I had a slight fear that this would be misconstrued, but optimistically gave it a shot. Alas.

    I guess I’ll have to wait for the movie version.

  46. says

    So what? Unless you’re arguing that the (in)ability to make moral arguments with language and participating in organized protests are decisive in determining whether pigs or any other beings have the right to be respected as “subjects of a life” and not exploited or abused, which I can’t imagine you are, this is not relevant.

    That’s not what I said, I said that they weren’t equal. That is to say, a fundamental part of our morality is how it acts as an organising principle between individuals and societies. Other animals don’t have the capacity for that, thus cannot be held as being the same in terms of our moral obligations. We are different because we not only wield the power for our decisions to affect on other animals, but in the way that we treat the interests of other agents as relevant to our moral concerns sets us apart from the other animals.

    Whether a pig (or a human, for that matter) can argue about ethics is irrelevant to whether it suffers or has interests or rights to be treated with respect.

    The argument, at least what I’m raising, is not whether other animals can suffer (clearly they can), but whether that is a sufficient account of moral actions. My point is that our moral sense (not just the ability to reason about it, but how that reasoning affects on ours and the behaviours of others) puts us in a distinctly different moral category. I can appeal to whatever in you as a means to cooperation; you cannot do that (at least to the capacities that we can with each other) with other animals. Dogs make great companion animals for the lonely and elderly, yet would we say that the dogs have the ability to enter into that relationship as a human would? Animals who are used by agrarian societies are granted benefits of domestication including a food supply, protection from predators, and even perhaps mates. While the relationship between a farmer and their farmhand might be one of mutual self-interest, there’s a vast difference between the moral agreement of the farmer to the farmhand and the farmer to the oxen that pulls the plough.

    They desperately want to believe that there’s some essence of humanness that justifies what otherwise appears plainly to be immoral treatment of nonhuman animals. Religions have provided versions, but there are secular ones as well. You’re doing it here.

    I’m not trying to justify animal cruelty (I’m against that fwiw). What I am arguing, however, is that morality in humans and its uses encompasses far more than what it does to other animals. I actually find the approach you’re taking to be wrongheaded because of the IS/OUGHT distinction. It’s as nonsensical in trying to put any morality on the notion that our species is special in the eyes of God. It’s simply not morally relevant either way.

  47. says

    That’s not what I said, I said that they weren’t equal. That is to say, a fundamental part of our morality is how it acts as an organising principle between individuals and societies. Other animals don’t have the capacity for that, thus cannot be held as being the same in terms of our moral obligations.

    This is confused. No one’s talking about their moral obligations to us.

    We are different because we not only wield the power for our decisions to affect on other animals, but in the way that we treat the interests of other agents as relevant to our moral concerns sets us apart from the other animals.

    I repeat what I said above. This is verbiage.

    The argument, at least what I’m raising, is not whether other animals can suffer (clearly they can),

    Stop here and think about the implications of this, please.

    but whether that is a sufficient account of moral actions.

    This makes no sense. Once again, the question isn’t whether their suffering has implications for their moral decisions but whether it has implications for ours. This really isn’t that complicated.

    My point is that our moral sense (not just the ability to reason about it, but how that reasoning affects on ours and the behaviours of others) puts us in a distinctly different moral category.

    And my point is that it does not. The ability to reason about moral decisions on the part of those we act upon is irrelevant to our moral considerations concerning our acts. How our actions affect them is the moral question.*

    I can appeal to whatever in you as a means to cooperation; you cannot do that (at least to the capacities that we can with each other) with other animals. Dogs make great companion animals for the lonely and elderly, yet would we say that the dogs have the ability to enter into that relationship as a human would?

    I would say that dogs and other canines are very cooperative, social, playful animals amongst themselves and often with us. I would also say, again, that this is supremely irrelevant to our moral obligations to them. You are compelled to look for some clear, qualitative difference that makes us “human” and thus justifies our use of other animals for our purposes. It’s a pointless quest – even differences that exist don’t remotely justify this claim of dominion or custodianship.

    Animals who are used by agrarian societies are granted benefits of domestication including a food supply, protection from predators, and even perhaps mates. While the relationship between a farmer and their farmhand might be one of mutual self-interest, there’s a vast difference between the moral agreement of the farmer to the farmhand and the farmer to the oxen that pulls the plough.

    You have a lot of reading to do. (Note that similar arguments have been made about human slaves.) There is no contract between “farmers” and “oxen.” You’ve already acknowledged that oxen couldn’t enter such an agreement, so don’t now claim that they – or someone on behalf of their species for all time – has done so. That’s ridiculous.

    This collective bargaining nonsense is just another intellectual ploy to justify our abuse and exploitation of (individual) nonhuman animals. These are standard and silly arguments, as I suspect you know if you really consider the matter.

    I’m not trying to justify animal cruelty (I’m against that fwiw).

    Honestly, I don’t believe you. I recall your making jokes about eating a burger in response to animal rights arguments, and I’ve seen no evidence that your views have changed drastically since then.

    What I am arguing, however, is that morality in humans and its uses encompasses far more than what it does to other animals.

    Again, even to the extent that this is true, it’s irrelevant.

    I actually find the approach you’re taking to be wrongheaded because of the IS/OUGHT distinction. It’s as nonsensical in trying to put any morality on the notion that our species is special in the eyes of God. It’s simply not morally relevant either way.

    Confused.

    *How we understand them and ourselves in relation to them is also morally significant, as I’ve mentioned.

  48. says

    I actually find the approach you’re taking to be wrongheaded because of the IS/OUGHT distinction. It’s as nonsensical in trying to put any morality on the notion that our species is special in the eyes of God. It’s simply not morally relevant either way.

    This is just bizarre. The morality “put on us” is that we live in relationships with human and nonhuman beings living their lives whom we can help or harm, and we can recognize this. That’s morally relevant to our relationships with other humans and with nonhumans. It is the situation, and we ought to recognize it.

    Your notion is that our species is somehow special in a relevant way. That belief is wrong.

  49. says

    This is confused. No one’s talking about their moral obligations to us.

    My point is that a fundamental part of our morality is to each other. If two parties have the ability to have moral obligations to each other, it changes the moral dynamic.

    Stop here and think about the implications of this, please.

    I’m aware of these implications.

    Once again, the question isn’t whether their suffering has implications for their moral decisions but whether it has implications for ours. This really isn’t that complicated.

    What shouldn’t be complicated is that our moral decisions are relational; that relation is not there changes our moral framework.

    The ability to reason about moral decisions on the part of those we act upon is irrelevant to our moral considerations concerning our acts.

    Of course it is relevant. A large part of morality is the relational aspects of how actions affect different parties. If certain parties cannot be part of that process, then it changes the dynamics.

    This collective bargaining nonsense is just another intellectual ploy to justify our abuse and exploitation of (individual) nonhuman animals.

    I think you’ve misread me. My claim here is that there’s a difference between humans and other animals, and my use of dogs and oxen in this case were to the effect of highlighting the difference. I think you’re trying to read into me something I’m not saying.

    You have a lot of reading to do.

    Are you going to give me a reading list?

    This is what I don’t get, why isn’t it just that I’m coming at the topic from a different angle to you, rather than my position being an issue of ignorance (I have more reading to do), or out of desperation to justify atrocities? It’s interesting that while you’re willing to mischaracterise my position and accuse me of making arguments that I’m not, you’re not willing to grant my having any education on the topic. I just today finished reading a book on moral psychology, not that it’s particularly relevant. But it’s interesting to me that you’re quick to try to take away from the rationality of the conversation and describe disagreements as being in non-rational terms, while I’m trying to argue on the points of disagreements.

    Honestly, I don’t believe you.

    I don’t care. My character (however you perceive it) is simply not relevant to the arguments as I present them. I’ll continue to give money to a local animal welfare group and arguing for more humane treatment of animals irrespective of what you think of me.

    Confused.

    I see you like that word. It doesn’t do much than say to me that you’re not understanding what I’m saying. Especially as you’ve accused me of trying to make arguments I haven’t, as well as taking arguments that I am making and using them in a different way to make my position into something I’m not arguing for.

  50. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I think I have a notion of what’s going on.

    SC points out that what the RCC is doing here is their typical practice of finding differences that “justify” exploitation of other animals — whether atheists or nonhumans.

    Kel says there are differences in the capacity for moral contemplation. I’m going out on a limb here, because Kel has not said the following explicitly, but: maybe Kel thought that relevant because humans’ godlike capacity for moral judgment (Genesis 3:22, “Jehovah Elohim said, behold, the man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil”) is why the RCC’s god, who is all about the judging, is exceptionally interested in us.

    SC responds that this is not relevant to what she said, though. Interest in animals’ differing capacity for moral contemplation is orthogonal to “justifying” exploitation of this or that animal.

    Did I get it?

  51. says

    Your notion is that our species is somehow special in a relevant way. That belief is wrong.

    The fact that we can have morally relevant relationships is what makes our species special. If other species had this capacity (and some do to a limited extent, there’s a good case to be made for the great apes) then the focus could be away from the species and towards the particular abilities of the parties involved.

    I will point out that by my line of arguing, abilities that are morally relevant can be found in other animals. I’m not saying that humans are the only morally relevant species, but that humans have certain qualities in their cognition that make a difference to the moral equation. Other animals have certain qualities to varying and limited extents that are worthy of moral consideration too.

  52. strange gods before me ॐ says

    If someone wants to reply elsewhere they can, but this was a natural progression of the thread.

    If someone wants to reply here about other earlier topics in this thread, they also can.

  53. says

    My point is that a fundamental part of our morality is to each other. If two parties have the ability to have moral obligations to each other, it changes the moral dynamic.

    You keep using this vague language. Unless you’re arguing that someone’s inability to “have moral obligations” to you means you have none to them, you have no point here. Do you or don’t you think this is the basis for moral consideration?

    I’m aware of these implications.

    I don’t get that impression.

    What shouldn’t be complicated is that our moral decisions are relational; that relation is not there changes our moral framework.

    The relation is there. Nonhuman animals* exist. They are the subjects of lives. They live in the world with us. They have experiences. They suffer. Our actions affect them.

    This is the reality in which we form our moral framework. (Our psychological framework is based on this, too – our actions toward them affect us – but that’s for another time.)

    *(I hate talking about every nonhuman species as if it’s part of a single group.)

    Of course it is relevant. A large part of morality is the relational aspects of how actions affect different parties. If certain parties cannot be part of that process, then it changes the dynamics.

    What the hell? Our actions affect them whether or not they can debate the effects of their own actions. This is completely obvious. What are you talking about?

    Are you going to give me a reading list?

    I would be happy to.

    I don’t care. My character (however you perceive it) is simply not relevant to the arguments as I present them. I’ll continue to give money to a local animal welfare group and arguing for more humane treatment of animals irrespective of what you think of me.

    You’re the one who brought up your alleged opposition to animal cruelty, which shouldn’t be selective.

  54. says

    Kel, did I characterize your #41 accurately?

    “Kel thought that relevant because humans’ godlike capacity for moral judgment” this is very deceptive, as there is no sense in trying to tie our capacity for moral judgements and contemplation (which is very real) with anything remotely religious. I’d suggest that the relationship is backwards: God(s) care about our morality because we care about our morality. Isolate humans on an island and you’ll still have a keen interest in morality among those inhabitants. The moral relevance, however, isn’t in that capacity alone but how that capacity is used between agents.

  55. says

    Ing,

    What does it mean to be human?

    To be “fully human”?

    What are the moral implications of these distinctions?

    Why do you think people (especially but not limited to religious people) have been so keen to make these distinctions?

    Do you think notions of “fully human” have anything to do with patriarchy, racism, or conceptions of sanity?

    Do you think these questions are related to PZ’s post responding to the ideology of the RCC?

  56. strange gods before me ॐ says

    “Kel thought that relevant because humans’ godlike capacity for moral judgment” this is very deceptive

    No, buddy. I’m trying to imagine a reason why you thought your statement would have been relevant. That’s all:

    I’m going out on a limb here, because Kel has not said the following explicitly, but: maybe Kel thought that relevant because humans’ godlike capacity for moral judgment

    +++++

    The moral relevance, however, isn’t in that capacity alone but how that capacity is used between agents.

    I’m not talking about “moral relevance” (yet), I’m talking about conversational relevance. What you said in #41 was a tangent to anything SC said in #39. If you didn’t think it was relevant to the RCC’s interest in human moral capacities, as I proposed, then I can’t imagine why you thought anything you were saying in #41 was relevant to anything in this thread.

  57. says

    You keep using this vague language. Unless you’re arguing that someone’s inability to “have moral obligations” to you means you have none to them, you have no point here. Do you or don’t you think this is the basis for moral consideration?

    Again, I didn’t say this. You’re reading into me what I’m not saying then asking me to defend my caricatures. That we have moral obligations between two people is different to a moral obligation between a person and someone who cannot have a moral obligation back. The lack of capacitance limits that possible relationship.

    I don’t get that impression.

    Of course not, why would you?

    The relation is there.

    This missed the point badly. I’m not denying that our actions have an effect on other animals (how stupid do you take me for?) but that our dealings with other conscious agents lacks in our dealings with animals.

    What the hell? Our actions affect them whether or not they can debate the effects of their own actions. This is completely obvious. What are you talking about?

    Of course it’s completely obvious that our actions affect other animals. What I am talking about is the difference in humans as compared to other animals as far as the relevant moral concerns lie.

  58. strange gods before me ॐ says

    You’re reading into me what I’m not saying

    If you’re right about that, Kel, then it’s probably because you appear to have presented your #41 as a reply to #39, when, subject-wise, it was not.

  59. says

    If you didn’t think it was relevant to the RCC’s interest in human moral capacities, as I proposed, then I can’t imagine why you thought anything you were saying in #41 was relevant to anything in this thread.

    It was of interest to what SC said in #39:
    “It’s so much about trying to make distinctions and oppositions between humans and other animals”
    “*I just made that up to denote the speciesist version of anxious masculinity.”
    “The sorts of statements you quote show how little they’ve accepted evolution.”
    etc.

    Remember that in #41 I also pointed out that the notion of finding us as animals as being antithetical to morality was absurd: “I don’t get why people are so shocked at the idea of us being animals as being somehow antithetical to us having moral powers that other animals lack (Rick Warren’s tweet about teaching we are animals comes to mind), as it seems that no matter what we are cannot alone justify a moral concern.”

    My point is that acceptance of evolution isn’t going to dissolve all quantitative and qualitative differences between us and other species. Nor is it going to make for any morally useful argument.

  60. says

    Again, I didn’t say this. You’re reading into me what I’m not saying then asking me to defend my caricatures. That we have moral obligations between two people is different to a moral obligation between a person and someone who cannot have a moral obligation back. The lack of capacitance limits that possible relationship.

    How so? Accepting for the argument that it’s true that pigs can’t have a moral obligation to you, how does that affect your moral obligation to them? Specifically. Are you arguing that if pigs can’t argue about their treatment of us we’re therefore entitled to…what?

    Does the fact that pigs are the subjects of a life, with interests, who can suffer factor into your understanding of your moral obligation to them? If so, how?

    I’m not denying that our actions have an effect on other animals (how stupid do you take me for?) but that our dealings with other conscious agents lacks in our dealings with animals.

    What is the distinction you’re trying to make, and why is it so important to you to make it?

    (Actually, I take you for fairly stupid on this subject. We all are. It’s embarrassing, really, when you start to confront it.)

    Of course it’s completely obvious that our actions affect other animals. What I am talking about is the difference in humans as compared to other animals as far as the relevant moral concerns lie.

    I’m honestly not sure what you’re trying to say here. I feel like I’ve responded to this more than once.

  61. says

    It was of interest to what SC said in #39:
    “It’s so much about trying to make distinctions and oppositions between humans and other animals”

    Fascinating.

    I argued that this was about trying to make these distinctions in order to preserve and justify hierarchies, abuse, and exploitation, so you’ve…tried to make another distinction.

    “*I just made that up to denote the speciesist version of anxious masculinity.”

    You didn’t address this.

    “The sorts of statements you quote show how little they’ve accepted evolution.”

    Or this.

  62. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It was of interest to what SC said in #39:
    “It’s so much about trying to make distinctions and oppositions between humans and other animals”

    There’s a bit more to that thought, isn’t there.

    It’s so much about trying to make distinctions and oppositions between humans and other animals (not limited to religions but central to many). This allows us to feel superior, to abuse and exploit nonhumans, and to feel superior while abusing and exploiting nonhumans.

    See, if your response is not supposed to mean that you’ve identified a distinction which justifies exploiting nonhuman animals, then your response is not relevant to what SC said.

    This should have been clear to you from the beginning, but in case you didn’t understand, then it was clarified for you in #51:

    So what? Unless you’re arguing that the (in)ability to make moral arguments with language and participating in organized protests are decisive in determining whether pigs or any other beings have the right to be respected as “subjects of a life” and not exploited or abused, which I can’t imagine you are, this is not relevant.

    So, unless you’re proposing that the differences in capacities for moral contemplation justify exploiting nonhuman animals, whatever you’re saying about those differences is not relevant to what SC said.

    You’ve missed the point badly. Surely you don’t think SC is denying that there are differences between human and nonhuman animals’ capacities for moral contemplation, do you? (How stupid do you take her for?)

    And if you did take that erroneous reading of her, then #43 should have made you realize you’d misread her, since she explicitly acknowledges “that difference.”

    Since she explicitely acknowledged that difference, you’re giving the impression that you’re saying something more than “that difference exists” — you’re giving the impression that you think it’s relevant to SC’s #39, i.e. it justifies exploitation. And that, Kel, is why SC is reading you to be saying that it justifies exploitation, because otherwise you’re just saying over and over again that something exists which SC already explicitly acknowledged the existence of.

    My point is that acceptance of evolution isn’t going to dissolve all quantitative and qualitative differences between us and other species.

    Well of course. But this is orthogonal to what SC is saying; of course she isn’t saying it dissolves all differences. (She is saying the lack of acceptance of evolution is one among several — “not limited to religions but central to many” — barriers which prevent the understanding of nonhuman animals’ interests and humans’ appropriate responses to those interests.)

    Nor is it going to make for any morally useful argument.

    Perhaps you should read the book before you assert that. I haven’t read it, but I can think of one off the top of my head: evolutionary homology of pain receptors should strongly suggest to us that we should take nonhuman animals’ capacities for pain as seriously as we take humans’ capacity.

    Oh, and I remember there was another argument Dawkins mentioned over at Coyne’s … I’ll go dig it up shortly.

    +++++
    SC, you have a busy day tomorrow. ;)

    I’ll be up for several more hours.

  63. says

    Thanks, sg. Precisely.

    …(She is saying the lack of acceptance of evolution is one among several — “not limited to religions but central to many” — barriers which prevent the understanding of nonhuman animals’ interests and humans’ appropriate responses to those interests.)…

    Yes, this.

    SC, you have a busy day tomorrow. ;)

    I do, damnit! :) Fun, social busy, but I have to get up early.

    I’ll be up for several more hours.

    Fortunately!

  64. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Found it!

    Richard Dawkins
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Amid all the good-natured banter, the one thing I miss in these comments so far is any discussion of the cruelty of branding. As Jeremy Bentham famously said,’The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”‘ Of course we don’t know whether cows suffer as much as we would from being branded, but I can see no reason for confidence that natural selection would have failed to build into their nervous systems the same capacity to feel pain as we have. Indeed, since the role of pain is presumably to persuade the animal not to repeat the action that led up to it, one could make a case for an INVERSE correlation between ability to reason and ability to suffer. An animal that can reason its way out of repeating self-harm might have less need of painful reinforcement. Humans might actually have less need than cows for the neuronal apparatus of pain. Natural selection might have equipped cows with nervous systems that feel even more pain than we do.

  65. says

    How so? Accepting for the argument that it’s true that pigs can’t have a moral obligation to you, how does that affect your moral obligation to them?

    My moral obligation to them is limited because of their capacities in a way that’s different to my obligation to humans. This is the point I tried to highlight with the argument you took as a justification for exploitation. Our actions towards other animals can be taken with limited subjectivity in mind that (depending on the animals) as compared to the subjectivity of a decision. In other words, our moral obligations depend on the subject.

    Does the fact that pigs are the subjects of a life, with interests, who can suffer factor into your understanding of your moral obligation to them? If so, how?

    Yes. If pigs can suffer, then that’s an argument subjecting the pigs to cruel treatment. It’s a good argument against factory farming.

    What is the distinction you’re trying to make, and why is it so important to you to make it?

    The distinction I’m trying to make is trying to tease out what are the morally relevant factors in any given situation. To say that there’s no difference between humans and animals, therefore, would only serve to cloud the moral issue by oversimplification. It doesn’t isolate the morally relevant facts for any given action.

    As for why it’s so important for me, I honestly have no idea. My guess is that it seems to conflict with the Liberty/oppression moral foundation, which I’ve generally found is what causes me annoyance with others with whom I share most of my social values. But that’s speculation, naive introspection is notoriously unreliable.

    That it does make for such an argument is the whole point of the damn book.

    If that’s the case, then my present position is in opposition to that book. Like I said, I’ll give the book a read, but what revelatory insight do you think the book has?

  66. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Since you’re still being thoroughly irrelevant, I’ll charitably assume you didn’t refresh and read #86 before posting.

  67. says

    Surely you don’t think SC is denying that there are differences between human and nonhuman animals’ capacities for moral contemplation, do you?

    It’s not entirely clear what follows from saying there is no distinction between humans and animals if we are in fact making distinctions as to what are morally relevant considerations. If her point is my point, then there’s no disagreement!

    And that, Kel, is why SC is reading you to be saying that it justifies exploitation

    So “that difference” was meant to convey to me that SC meant that there are morally relevant differences despite saying multiple times that there aren’t morally relevant differences, yet that justifies SC reading me as arguing for something I didn’t say despite me many times highlighting that’s not what I’m saying?!

    Perhaps you should read the book before you assert that.

    Imagine if a creationist did this. They mentioned a particular book then any arguments against the creationist position were taken with “but have you read the book yet?” Honestly, that book whatever it contains (I’ve read the introduction, the argument is against a particular conception of morality I’m not in any way advocating), it shouldn’t mean that the conversation hinges on reading that book. Nevermind that in #39, SC says that she’s just started reading it herself. So I’m expected to have answers for a book that her argument is in no way predicated on (she begins her introduction with “In related news”) without any apparent necessity? Come on, SGBM, that’s just nonsense!

    And just to head off the obvious misinterpretation, I’m not comparing the content of this book to the content of a creationist book. I’m using the creationist example purely to illustrate why it is it’s stupid to say this hinges around reading a particular work.
    http://www.jesusandmo.net/2012/07/18/read/

    Since you’re still being thoroughly irrelevant, I’ll charitably assume you didn’t refresh and read #86 before posting.

    This is why I cringe when I see you entering a topic. Can you ever post without being a condescending dick?

  68. strange gods before me ॐ says

    This is why I cringe when I see you entering a topic. Can you ever post without being a condescending dick?

    I can. I tend not to after I’ve someone has claimed I’m being “very deceptive” and then not even acknowledged his error on that account.

    You want me to be pleasant to talk to? First consider my interest in being read charitably.

  69. says

    You tend not to regardless. Do you think I was going to be agree with an assessment of my position that implicitly encased my position in religious terminology? Of course not! At best it’s poisoning the well. No harm done to you, maybe, but it’s hard enough trying to get what I’m saying on here taken for what it is to begin with without having to worry about having more irrational nonsense loaded onto my position. You went out of your way to explain and excuse SC misreading me and my argument, yet your charity doesn’t extend to someone objecting to your use of loaded terminology as “deceptive”?! Yeah, right!

  70. Ichthyic says

    Kel, haven’t you learned yet that SGBM’s favorite game is to play posters off one another?

  71. says

    Kel, haven’t you learned yet that SGBM’s favorite game is to play posters off one another?

    It’s a game to him? I thought he just had a petulant streak.

    My general rule with SGBM is to ignore him. Unfortunately today I was reminded of why. Our existence on here works so much better in parallel.

  72. strange gods before me ॐ says

    You tend not to regardless.

    I dunno, I don’t think that’s true. Certainly you shouldn’t use your interpretation of this thread to support your general notion about me, since you did indeed fire the first shot. That skews the results.

    Do you think I was going to be agree with an assessment of my position that implicitly encased my position in religious terminology?

    Yes? I did think you might. If you go back and look at what I actually said, there was no need to agree with any religious statements. Try quoting me, it might help. I thought that maybe you were thinking of the RCC’s position, and thus your comment which would have been orthogonal to everything SC said might not have been entirely orthogonal to the original post.

    Of course not! At best it’s poisoning the well.

    No. At best it’s an attempt to understand why you were bringing up the capacity for moral contemplation. That is exactly what I was doing. Since I can see it wasn’t relevant to what SC was saying, I thought maybe it was intended relevant to the original post.

    No harm done to you, maybe, but it’s hard enough trying to get what I’m saying on here taken for what it is to begin with without having to worry about having more irrational nonsense loaded onto my position.

    If this is what you got out of it, I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. Honestly I don’t understand how I wasn’t clear, or how you got this reading, but whatever, I could always be three times as verbose and maybe that would have helped.

    You went out of your way to explain and excuse SC misreading me and my argument,

    Now, please stop for a moment here, and try to get out of your own head. As far as I can see, I don’t think SC has misread you. As far as I can see, the only miscommunication is perhaps a disagreement about what would constitute abuse, but you’re evidently trying to justify what you’d presumably both consider exploitation, as well as what SC would consider abuse and can reasonably argue constitutes abuse.

    I am trying to understand why you think your comments have been relevant to hers, and maybe later I will come to understand that, but at this time I don’t get it. I mean, I understand the things you are saying just fine in isolation, but I don’t understand how they constitute “an argument” with regard to what SC said prior.

    yet your charity doesn’t extend to someone objecting to your use of loaded terminology as “deceptive”?! Yeah, right!

    Chill, Kel. It’s plainly not charitable to call someone’s words deceptive when there’s other plausible explanations for them. I brought up the RCC’s position about humans as morally interesting to their god because this is a thread about the RCC. Now it’s somewhat ridiculous for you to claim that I’m being uncharitable by noting that you were uncharitable in your reading of me.

    +++++

    Kel, haven’t you learned yet that SGBM’s favorite game is to play posters off one another?

    This is not true, and it is not what I’m doing here, and in any case you are breaking the reset rule. You’re not supposed to pop up and snipe at me out of the blue like this. So please don’t.

    +++++

    It’s a game to him? I thought he just had a petulant streak.

    Your first impression was right. Ichthyic has a bit of a vendetta against me, and is therefore mischaracterizing me. I’m not playing anyone off against anyone here. I come into this discussion already agreeing with SC’s position generally, and seeing that you two were apparently talking at cross purposes somewhat, and wondering just where the apparent miscommunication was arising from.

    My general rule with SGBM is to ignore him. Unfortunately today I was reminded of why.

    Maybe you are digging a little too deep for a reason to be griping about my personality, considering that you fired the first shot and now you’re complaining when I’m irritable afterwards?

  73. David Marjanović says

    Do all apes have vestigial tails like we do?

    Well, yes.

    So, the ex-Hitler-Youth Pontiff of the moment leads a global organisation that holds as a core article of faith that we are subhuman…

    Oh no, nothing to be worried about there at all…

    *eyeroll* How often does it need to be repeated? It was required by law to join the Hitler Youth, and the law was enforced in the ways you can imagine. Ratzinger believes that “thou shalt obey God more than man” and classified Hitler as a man before the war was over. He’s a different kind of authoritarian.

    Kel, haven’t you learned yet that SGBM’s favorite game is to play posters off one another?

    I think you’re way overthinking this.

  74. David Marjanović says

    Disclaimer: comment 98 was posted while I was writing 99, and I didn’t refresh before posting.

  75. says

    This is not true, and it is not what I’m doing here, and in any case you are breaking the reset rule.

    Interesting that you didn’t call SC out on it…

    SC: “I recall your making jokes about eating a burger in response to animal rights arguments”

    considering that you fired the first shot and now you’re complaining when I’m irritable afterwards?

    My objection to your using religious terminology to describe my position was me firing the first shot? Hah!

  76. says

    Chill, Kel. It’s plainly not charitable to call someone’s words deceptive when there’s other plausible explanations for them. I brought up the RCC’s position about humans as morally interesting to their god because this is a thread about the RCC. Now it’s somewhat ridiculous for you to claim that I’m being uncharitable by noting that you were uncharitable in your reading of me.

    It’s no more charitable than saying a “fair” assessment of an atheist’s argument is that he’s advancing a Roman Catholic position – even when in that very point that atheist highlighted that it wasn’t a religious issue. That’s incredibly uncharitable, and the fact that you keep saying it’s a charitable reading is the reason I dread ever having to interact with you. You, and many others here, never give my arguments a charitable reading, and I’m left spending more time having to disassociate myself from caricatures people have of my position than argue for my actual position. I’d love to be able to talk about my actual positions and reason them through, but instead I have people willing to misrepresent me, talk up my ignorance, or some find some psychological bias that’s at play, and I’m left wondering just how it is I’m so deficient in basic communication skills. It’s bullshit, and you’re one of the perpetrators of such bullshit, so I wish you’d cut this innocence crap because I’ll believe in once you actually give me a charitable reading.

  77. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Interesting that you didn’t call SC out on it…

    SC: “I recall your making jokes about eating a burger in response to animal rights arguments”

    I don’t see how that’s an attack. That looks relevant to the subject.

    My objection to your using religious terminology to describe my position was me firing the first shot? Hah!

    ? Yes, definitely. I didn’t describe your position as a religious one.

    If you go back and look at what I actually said, there was no need to agree with any religious statements. Try quoting me, it might help. I thought that maybe you were thinking of the RCC’s position, and thus your comment which would have been orthogonal to everything SC said might not have been entirely orthogonal to the original post.

    At best it’s an attempt to understand why you were bringing up the capacity for moral contemplation. That is exactly what I was doing. Since I can see it wasn’t relevant to what SC was saying, I thought maybe it was intended relevant to the original post.

    I am trying to understand why you think your comments have been relevant to hers, and maybe later I will come to understand that, but at this time I don’t get it. I mean, I understand the things you are saying just fine in isolation, but I don’t understand how they constitute “an argument” with regard to what SC said prior.

    I brought up the RCC’s position about humans as morally interesting to their god because this is a thread about the RCC.

    I did not characterize your position as a religious one. I mentioned the RCC’s position, because I wondered if that was what you were referring to.

    It’s no more charitable than saying a “fair” assessment of an atheist’s argument is that he’s advancing a Roman Catholic position

    Well see, here’s your problem. I didn’t claim you were advancing a Roman Catholic position. I thought you were bringing up the RCC position as relevant to the original post.

  78. says

    That looks relevant to the subject.

    Reset – “Every time I start a new thread, pretend I asked you to look into a little red light, and poof, everything is reset. Treat each comment as an argument unto itself. Linking to old comments to demonstrate the perfidy of a commenter, rather than linking to evidence to refute the commenter’s claims, will be regarded as an abuse of the principle of charity.”

    If you go back and look at what I actually said, there was no need to agree with any religious statements.

    “I’m going out on a limb here”
    You were out on a limb in the most uncharitable way possible. I don’t care whether or not you think it was uncharitable, because I don’t think calling your use of RCC positions to describe what I’m saying is uncharitable to call deceptive.

    I did not characterize your position as a religious one.

    You may not think you did, but it did have that effect. You didn’t need to use the word “godlike” in there, my response was to the direct claim that humans are not somehow different from other animals when it comes to moral concerns, nothing to do with the Catholic. You might protest, but I’ll protest equally hard that deceptive was an apt word and in no way uncharitable. You shouldn’t have used the word “godlike” as that required an uncharitable reading of #41 to find “godlike” in there. And no matter how much you protest that you misread, that’s my point – you misread in a very uncharitable way. And no matter how much you defend the fact that you misread it, you fucking misread it. You were uncharitable to my position, whether or not it’s understandable, it’s still deceptive to claim that I was making any sort of “godlike” inference. If you didn’t misread my #41, I would not have said that your characterisation was deceptive. “Godlike” is not to be found in any charitable reading of #41, that’s to be found between your ears. You uncharitably read me, then you are complaining that I’m the one who responded to you uncharitably? Fuck off!

  79. says

    I’ll go back to ignoring you now, hopefully you can grant me that same courtesy. I think that would improve the overall happiness level of society – it’ll at least do that for me.

  80. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I’ll go back to ignoring you now, hopefully you can grant me that same courtesy.

    No, because it’s no courtesy to me for you to say all this nasty stuff about me and then expect me not to defend myself.

    But let me ask you to look at one more thing, before I do respond to all the nastiness:

    No harm done to you, maybe, but it’s hard enough trying to get what I’m saying on here taken for what it is to begin with without having to worry about having more irrational nonsense loaded onto my position.

    If this is what you got out of it, I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. Honestly I don’t understand how I wasn’t clear, or how you got this reading, but whatever, I could always be three times as verbose and maybe that would have helped.

    Does this mean nothing to you? I see that you took my initial comment very differently than I intended it. I’ve did nothing deceptive in this discussion, and I did nothing uncharitable in my initial comment, and I won’t accept those false characterizations — but I do see that I could have been clearer, I accept responsibility for that, and I apologize for it. Is all this nastiness, then, really warranted?

    Does it have to be this way?

    I object to the characterization of my comment as deceptive. You clearly don’t like the way it came off. Now that I understand your interpretation, I can see why it bothered you. I just think there are other ways of expressing your irritation without impugning my motives.

  81. says

    Does it have to be this way?

    Of course I would prefer if it didn’t have to be this way, I’d want to be able to discuss through these issues. But I don’t know if either of us can actually do it. I stopped posting in the Endless thread, and eventually on most of Pharyngula, because I was sick of a lot of the ways people would treat each other and the backpatting that would accompany the vile takedowns. And when it was reset, and you said you could only continue a topic I started on the thread to be deleted in the [Thunderdome] as opposed to somewhere where the basics of human dignity would be observed, I took it that you’re still the Strange Gods of old. Yes, this is me admitting to not resetting either, which is a personal problem, but I would prefer not to dwell on the negatives and instead look for more constructive avenues of conversation.

    I just think there are other ways of expressing your irritation without impugning my motives.

    I apologise for impugning your motives. I have no idea of what your actual motives were, but I’ll take it on face value that you didn’t mean to use loaded words as an attempt to ridicule a position that you oppose.

  82. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Thank you. I feel a weight lifted. (And as far as I know, I am the strange gods of old, but I’ve never been all asshole all the time.)

    I have no idea of what your actual motives were,

    Well the “godlike” thing, I mean that’s the RCC position. An important way we are like their god, in his image and all, is that we are aware of morality, where other animals are not. That word wasn’t necessary, I mean there’s other ways to express it, but I didn’t imagine it would be such a sticking point. But if you imagine my lens of “wait, is Kel referencing the RCC dogma?” then I don’t think it looks so weird.

    Anyway, it’s going to take me some time to go back to #91 at least and address everything, but thanks in the meantime.

  83. Ogvorbis: broken and cynical says

    Interesting that you didn’t call SC out on it…

    SC: “I recall your making jokes about eating a burger in response to animal rights arguments”

    Er, no, that was me (I think I was ‘Billy the Atheist’ at the time) who did that. I did get called out on it by a number of commenters. I apologized and pulled out of the conversation. And I have been more careful about my so-called humour since then.

  84. Gregory Greenwood says

    David Marjanović @ 99;

    *eyeroll* How often does it need to be repeated? It was required by law to join the Hitler Youth, and the law was enforced in the ways you can imagine. Ratzinger believes that “thou shalt obey God more than man” and classified Hitler as a man before the war was over. He’s a different kind of authoritarian.

    A fair point. Let’s just say that hearing so many prominent figures within the Catholic Church talk about the subhuman character of atheists is disturbing given the church’s own longstanding history of brutal and at times genocidal violence, and the innumerable tyrants and assorted other authoritarians who have used catholic doctrine to justify their own oppressive rule.

  85. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It’s not entirely clear what follows from saying there is no distinction between humans and animals

    So, this starts from a premise that is wrong. Nobody is saying there are no distinctions between nonhuman and human animals.

    if we are in fact making distinctions as to what are morally relevant considerations.

    What does “morally relevant distinction” mean here? It’s vague. The point was that your comments have not been conversationally relevant to SC’s #39, which was about people making distinctions for the purpose of abusing and exploiting atheists and other animals. So again, if you aren’t proposing that the differences in capacities for moral contemplation justify exploiting nonhuman animals, then whatever you’re saying about those differences is not relevant to what SC said.

    If her point is my point, then there’s no disagreement!

    You seem determined to disagree with something. It’s not clear is what, or why. In the absence of some other explanation from you of why you thought you were saying something relevant to #39, a reading that makes sense is that you thought you were providing something that justifies abusing exploiting nonhuman animals, since that is what #39 was about.

    So “that difference” was meant to convey to me that SC meant that there are morally relevant differences

    Again, what does “morally relevant differences” mean? What “that difference” was meant to convey to you is that SC is aware that “we have organised moral domains that we can reflect and argue over, as well as utilise for mediating between conflicting self-interest” while nonhuman animals evidently do not.

    Is that relevant to something? Yes. Is it about morality? Yes. So in some abstract sense it could be said to be a “morally relevant difference”. However, it is not relevant to anything that SC said in #39, which was a comment about how people invent supposedly “morally relevant differences” that are meant to justify abusing and exploiting nonhuman animals. It is not a “morally relevant difference” that was conversationally relevant to the comment you evidently replied to.

    yet that justifies SC reading me as arguing for something I didn’t say despite me many times highlighting that’s not what I’m saying?!

    It’s not clear what else your comments are supposed to mean, with regard to #39. If your comments aren’t meant to justify abuse or exploitation of nonhuman animals, then it just isn’t clear why you keep making those comments. They aren’t relevant to the comment you evidently were replying to. So what exactly do you expect her to think? She already made clear that your initial reply wasn’t relevant to what she said in #39 — «So what? Unless you’re arguing that the (in)ability to make moral arguments with language and participating in organized protests are decisive in determining whether pigs or any other beings have the right to be respected as “subjects of a life” and not exploited or abused, which I can’t imagine you are, this is not relevant.» — «You keep using this vague language. Unless you’re arguing that someone’s inability to “have moral obligations” to you means you have none to them, you have no point here.» — so why else do you keep making your vague replies? They just aren’t relevant. I understand a meaning to the words you’re saying in isolation, but I don’t understand why you’re saying those words here and apparently as replies.

    Imagine if a creationist did this. They mentioned a particular book then any arguments against the creationist position were taken with “but have you read the book yet?”

    What I’m imagining is if someone who wasn’t a creationist, and wasn’t discussing a topic which is based in lies like the creationist position is, mentioned a book which wasn’t about anything like creationism. And I’m imagining that someone else didn’t actually make any argument against the position proposed, but instead brought up an irrelevant point which relates to nothing yet said in the thread (“acceptance of evolution isn’t going to dissolve all quantitative and qualitative differences between us and other species”), and then asserted that the book could not contain the kinds of arguments which it is said to contain (“nor is it going to make for any morally useful argument”).

    Since the book isn’t about such a topic which has been widely investigated and rejected as based on lies, and since the premise is plausible — as this comment by Dawkins is evidently an argument which would fulfil the criteria mentioned, and as that comment was brought to my attention by SC some months ago — I find nothing wrong with saying that if you want to see those kinds of arguments being made you could read the book and see them. Their existence is not implausible, and indeed they do evidently exist, so your comparison is not apt.

    it shouldn’t mean that the conversation hinges on reading that book.

    I would think the conversation hinges on what’s actually been said in the conversation. Since #39 was about how people invent distinctions for the sake of justifying the abuse and exploitation of nonhuman animals, #43 was but a gentle way of trying to guide you onto the topic that was actually mentioned in #39.

    Nevermind that in #39, SC says that she’s just started reading it herself.

    Well, what? What is your point here?

    So I’m expected to have answers for a book

    Since your comments just weren’t conversationally relevant to what she was actually saying, which was about alleged distinctions which supposedly justify abuse and exploitation of nonhuman animals, I just don’t understand what you’re saying here. If you aren’t proposing that you have distinctions which justify abuse or exploitation of nonhuman animals, then no, you aren’t supposed to have answers for that book. But if you aren’t proposing that you have distinctions which justify abuse or exploitation of nonhuman animals, then it’s not clear why you’re replying. And so the attempt at #43 to guide you onto the topic which was mentioned.

    And just to head off the obvious misinterpretation, I’m not comparing the content of this book to the content of a creationist book. I’m using the creationist example purely to illustrate why it is it’s stupid to say this hinges around reading a particular work.

    The content actually does matter, though, so your comparison simply isn’t apt. If someone proposes something not implausible and not similarly investigated and discredited than creationism, then a similar indifference to reading the book first is not similarly warranted. That is, if your comment is supposed to even be a response to #39, which was about supposed differences which supposedly justify abuse and exploitation of atheists and nonhuman animals.

    Interesting that you didn’t call SC out on it…

    No, it’s not all that interesting that I didn’t give the same defensive response to a comment which was not aimed at me, and wasn’t evidently false like the comment aimed at me was, and wasn’t a plain case of character assassination like the comment aimed at me was, and wasn’t outrageously off-topic like the comment aimed at me was. The differences between the two comments are so striking that your comparison is really rather uninteresting. There remains this mystery of why you are making comments which are ostensibly a reply to #39, but which are not relevant to the subject of #39, which was a comment about people making up distinctions and oppositions which would ostensibly justify abuse and exploitation of other animals. SC, like me, was trying to figure out why you keep making these comments. I think her recollection was not an attack, and wasa relevant to the subject. And so, for all these reasons, I don’t respond similarly.

    As to the rest of the “uncharitable” and “godlike” and “deceptive” and so on, I guess it’s behind us, right, and not necessary to dispute again? All I wanted to say was that I was trying to think of some reason why you thought your initial comment was relevant, since it wasn’t conversationally relevant to what SC said, and since your comment was about human capacities for moral contemplation and the RCC’s interest is about human capacities for moral contemplation, I wondered if that was what you were referring to, as that would make it more understandable why you were bringing up human capacities — since such human capacities aren’t a justification of abuse or exploitation of other animals. That’s the only reason I brought it up. I do regret not making that much more clear in the beginning. I do hope my verbosity has finally made my motive explicable.

    +++++

    Er, no, that was me (I think I was ‘Billy the Atheist’ at the time) who did that. I did get called out on it by a number of commenters. I apologized and pulled out of the conversation. And I have been more careful about my so-called humour since then.

    Approximately 100% of meat eaters make such “jokes” at one time or another. I try not to pay attention. Since Kel didn’t dispute the recollection as such, only objected to bringing it up at all, it seems apparently accurate. Though I supposed Kel will say otherwise if I’ve misunderstood.

  86. Gregory Greenwood says

    David Marjanović @ 99;

    On further reflection, it occurs to me that Ratzinger’s membership of the Hitler Youth is relevant to this discussion in one regard – let us assume that Ratzinger was not a true believer in nazi ideology, and rather was forced to join the Hitler Youth. Let us further assume, for the sake of argument, that he was not neutral but actively opposed to the nazi ideology he was exposed to while a member – the fact remains that this is a man who lived through the nazi regime years. He saw first hand how dehumanising rhetoric can become eliminationist rhetoric, which can in turn become the rationale for genocide. And yet today this same man presides over a global church organisation that openly pontificates on the subhuman nature of atheists.

    The way I see it, there are three possibilities here:-

    1) Ratzinger simply doesn’t see any parallel between the dehumanisation of atheists and the rhetoric of fascists towards such groups as the Jews, which would seem to make him dangerously ignorant of history, doubly so as a man who weilds such vast – and wholly unjustified – influence on the world as Pope.

    2) He sees a parallel but thinks that it is all simply empty rhetoric and thus harmless – which makes him staggeringly (and, again, dangerously) naive, given the obvious propensity of fanatics to act on inflammatory rhetoric of this nature.

    3) Far more disturbingly, there is the possibility that he sees the parallel, but doesn’t see it as problematic because he views atheists as a group who are deserving of being the targets of such dehumanisation – that the nazis were not morally objectionable because they engaged in genocide, but because they engaged in genocide against the wrong groups, when they should have been going after unbelievers. That the problem was not the genocide itself, but one of improper targeting.

    At a bare minimum, Ratzinger has seen the evil of dehumanisation and what it can lead to firsthand, and yet he remains silent when it appears in the church of which he is head.

    This is a man who, at the very least, should know better.

  87. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Oh, I’ve probably still not been verbose enough.

    I wondered if that was what you were referring to, as that would make it more understandable why you were bringing up human capacities

    I.e. maybe you were bringing up the RCC’s position in a response to SC precisely because SC was referring to the RCC’s position, so you’d be somehow clarifying what the RCC claims to believe and/or why. It’s just that there was so much correspondence between those two things, and so little correspondence between your comment and a comment about the abuse and exploitation of atheists and other animals, that this possibility occurred to me. Between my ears indeed, but nothing else made any more sense.

  88. says

    Since Kel didn’t dispute the recollection as such, only objected to bringing it up at all, it seems apparently accurate.

    I didn’t dispute it because it didn’t seem relevant (I was accused of not caring about animal rights issues, and that was what I wanted to respond to). I had no recollection of any such incident, but since I don’t keep meticulous track of what I’ve said, I didn’t know whether I’ve said it one way or the other. In any case, being accused of lying on the issue is much more pressing than whether I made a hamburger joke.

    I don’t know how you come up with conclusions like this – it’s “apparently accurate” because I disputed the accusations on my character over whether or not something years ago was said?! That’s nonsense.

  89. says

    I’m going back to my position I was at last night. There can be no rapport between us. I’ll go back to avoiding you, and I would appreciate if you would do the same for me.

  90. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I didn’t dispute it because it didn’t seem relevant (I was accused of not caring about animal rights issues, and that was what I wanted to respond to). I had no recollection of any such incident, but since I don’t keep meticulous track of what I’ve said, I didn’t know whether I’ve said it one way or the other.

    Okay.

    I don’t know how you come up with conclusions like this – it’s “apparently accurate” because I disputed the accusations on my character over whether or not something years ago was said?!

    What? No. It was apparently accurate that you made jokes about eating a burger in response to animal rights arguments, because someone said they recalled you making jokes about eating a burger in response to animal rights arguments and you did not dispute that recollection.

    That is what was apparently accurate. It is still apparently accurate, since you still aren’t disputing it — it is, according to your awareness of yourself, something that you might do, though you don’t recall — and someone else recalls it. So the available indicators, so far as they point anywhere, point to it being apparently accurate.

    Just can’t fucking help yourself, can you SG?

    What is it that I can’t help? Ogvorbis suggested that SC’s recollection was probably about him rather than you because he has made such jokes. I respond that such jokes are not a rare occurrence; SC’s recollection is probably not wrong, rather that both you and Ogvorbis have made such jokes. I say this because if you thought you had not made such jokes then I would expect you’d say so.

    If you had now responded that no, you’re quite sure you’ve never made any such joke, that it’s just not consistent with your personality or something, then I’d have to say the indicators are conflicting. But you didn’t say that.

    Now, what is wrong with any of this?

    I’m going back to my position I was at last night. There can be no rapport between us.

    If that’s true, Kel, it’s because you’re overreacting. It is surprising that you’ve taken such offense at me responding to Ogvorbis to say that SC’s recollection was probably not wrong, especially considering that there’s no evidence to the contrary.

    I’ll go back to avoiding you, and I would appreciate if you would do the same for me.

    I will do what I always do, which is respond to whatever anyone says which I think merits a response (when I have time to do so).