Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don Cupitt interview


Interesting interview with Don Cupitt - who is a "non-realist" about God. "God doesn't exist apart from our faith in him".

I wonder what Rev Sam and others think?

I am considering asking Cupitt to participate in a CFI event.

Interview is here - thanks to philosophybites and Nigel Warburton.

Cupitt's classic book is The Sea of Faith.

6 comments:

Sam Norton said...

I linked to this myself, with some brief comments, here.

David B. Ellis said...


a "non-realist" about God. "God doesn't exist apart from our faith in him".


Am I missing some subtlety of his position or isn't being a nonrealist about God the same as being an atheist?

I've read a few interviews with Cupitt and I liked much of what he said I just don't understand why he's unwilling to call himself an atheist---which he seems pretty clearly to be.

Kosh3 said...

He seems to be an anti-realist about scientific findings too, or so I tend to infer from his talk of truth as 'negotiated' and ever changing, temporary.

Paul P. Mealing said...

This is so similar to my own view: I will comment on it when I have more time - have to rush now.

Thanks Stephen, for the link.

Regards, Paul

Paul P. Mealing said...

In the intro, he touches on a number of things, including, I believe, issues with the zeitgeist, as Dawkins did, and how the world changes. His reference to how this affects science, I found a bit Kantian, though Stephen may disagree, in that we project our ideas onto our scientific interpretations. I tend to disagree with this, in that the universe ultimately dictates to us, which is why theories change. Even Newton’s theories are still ‘SUPERB’ to quote Penrose (his capitalisation); it’s just that developments in theory and technology have demonstrated that they are limited in application and I believe that applies to all scientific theories. Science always reveals more mysteries by answering existing ones, and, in that regard, I agree with Cupitt when he implies that scientific truths are always contingent.

I also agree with him that God is dependent on humans rather than the other way round, and I have been arguing that for a long time. The ‘evolution’ of God, in this sense, is possibly best captured by Karen Armstrong in The History of God – one of the best books on religion I’ve read. He talks about God being an ideal, whereas I think it’s a personal ideal. It has always been obvious to me that everyone’s idea of God is different, amongst believers, though Cupitt actually falls short of saying that. It was obvious to me from an early age that God is an internal experience, and even Augustine makes that allusion in some of his discourse. I still think one can believe that without being an atheist. It’s just a question of what you think God is? I think it’s something very personal, that can’t be explained, and, yes, it could be a projection as Feuerbach once said. I also agree, as I’ve contended many times, that it’s not important whether you believe in a god or not, but that you be governed in your actions and attitudes, by their direct and indirect impact on humanity, or your 'belief in life', as Cupitt puts it.

I also thought that the interviewer(s) (Edmonds or Warburton or both?) asked really good questions.

Regards, Paul.

Nigel Warburton 'virtual philosopher' said...

Dear Paul,

The interviewer was me (Nigel Warburton). David Edmonds does the introductions. I'm glad you liked the questions!

Best wishes,
Nigel