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Critically Evaluate Cupitt's Cultural Linguistic Approach To Religious Language

1708 words - 7 pages

Religion without doctrine, religion without creed, religion without belief in another, spiritual world we live in - that is what Cupitt is striving for since he denies the literal truth of virtually all the elements of religious creed: the afterlife, heaven and hell and the resurrection of Jesus Christ." are comments made by Julian Baggini after an interview with Cupitt. Cupitt is seen as "a man who wants to dispense with all religion's claim to truth, yet who sees something in religion that is worth preserving as religion supplies us with poetry and myths to live by and we need stories to live by because our existence is temporal and we always need to construct some kind of story of our lives and that story needs to have a religious quality." (TPM Online). On the other hand, Cupitt sees "the world before us is all there is. There is no God, no heaven, no mind and no language that exists outside our human biological sphere. In short, the world is `outsideless' and "is not a preparation for something better and as such we should live as if these were the last days" (Faithorg., U.K.). Against the backdrop of these Cupitt's claims, this essay seeks to critically evaluate the efficacy of his cultural-linguistic approach to religious language and to argue that his ever-changing position on religion, one, he says, should be without all doctrines, creeds and beliefs, only leaves his readers with the puzzle of why it should be called religion at all (Baggini, TPM Online).

Religion as Created by Language

This essay agrees with Malantschuk's belief that the spiritual crisis at the beginning of the twentieth century triggered off philosophers and theologians to seek enlightenment and assistance in Kierkegaard's dialectics of human existence which, inter alia, consisted of human freedom to make ethical choices (2003). It is this freedom or in Cupitt's words, autonomy, this essay argues, that the Western secular world including Cupitt has been trying to seek to achieve since the Enlightenment. Humans, Cupitt argues, "need a spirituality to direct their freedom and to make it fruitful so that human lives can gain something of the nothing-wasted integrity and completeness of a work of art", a spirituality our religious institutions seem least able to provide in the past (1980). Following the later Wittgenstein and recent French philosophy, Cupitt sees no reality as accessible apart from human construed and constructed reality (Spearritt, 1995). For Cupitt, there is no longer an `objective, ready-made, laid-on final Answer and ultimate Truth of things; no final analysis is possible since there are simply no essences, no Absolute. He does not regard transcended duality as the nature of the Real. For Cupitt, the universe is empty of essence of substance or meaning (Spearritt, 1995). There should be, he says, a complete farewell to metaphysics and to the idea that there is any sort of the second world behind or beyond this world. However,...

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