On Dover beach in the 1860s, Mathew Arnold found an image of the decline of religion, the "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the Sea of Faith. Twenty years later Nietzsche was proclaiming the death of God.
Neither was saying anything essentially novel. For centuries in science, in historical thinking and in philosophy, set in motion by thinkers such as Galileo, Descartes, Kent and Hegel, had been eroding cherished beliefs - in a moral world-order, in another world beyond this one, in the very possibility of absolute knowledge or exclusive truth. When traditional dogmas have been dissolved away, we find ourselves quite alone, with no resources but those we can muster from within ourselves.
But there is another story. In this important book, based on his BBC television series, Don Cupitt argues that over the same period a new tide has begun to flow; a profound mutation has been taking place as religion breaks free from the outworn supernatural beliefs that at present stifle it. He shows the change in process in a variety of thinkers, including Kierkegaard, Albert Schweitzer, Jung and Wittgenstein.
Accepting the twentieth-century`s bleak view of man`s place in the Universe, including the view that religion itself is simply human, Don Cupitt proposes that Christianity should now be practised without dogma, as a spiritual path, an ethic, and a way of giving meaning to life. It is a controversial idea, but Cupitt argues here that such a transformation is already under way.
Excellent pages, slight edge-wear.