Sunday, December 14, 2008

Non-realism of God - Philosophy Bites review

Here is a short review of one of the last interviews on Philosophy Bites. I'll write down what thoughts were provoked on my end and let this be an encouragement for you to find out what it does to you. Even if the subject, God, doesn't speak to you that much. Believe me, he doesn't speak too much to me either. Pun intended.

The podcast featured theologian Don Cupitt touching upon his approach to God, in which God doesn't need to exist, or more accurately, I suppose, is non-real. God doesn't have to be real, like the real world. His point is that with a non-real God, there is still point for god in our ideas; in theology and even in religion. If I understood him correctly there is no point in arguing as vehemently as some people do that God exists in reality, that sort of diverts the attention to what is truly important in religion. His ideas, he argues, are not atheism, certainly not in the modern sense, as this is an ideological stream against religion in general and to god existing in ideas as well.

What I liked particularly, even if I may have taken it completely wrong, is the idea that for all the tradition of religion it is not essential that God exists. It is a point I have been putting forward in my own fumbling way for several decades, drawing on literature and arguing that a figure such as Meursault in Albert Camus's L'etranger, is a meaningful person and of importance in our tradition even if he is not real. The same goes for God, where all the stories about the deities are just as formative and meaningful and culturally true, even if the deity doesn't have a real existence. Trying to maintain the real existence and entering debate about that issue is a kind of naturalistic fallacy, like arguing that the word dog and the actual dog are one and the same phenomenon. I am afraid, I have taken this very crudely and ignorantly in my own fashion, yet it goes to show how thought-provoking and inspiring Cupitt's argument is.

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