Welcome to the website of this research project on the work of the Cambridge philosopher and theologian, Don Cupitt (1934-). Drawing on materials from an extensive archive of Cupitt’s life and work, the project aims to evaluate Cupitt’s intellectual significance and continuing relevance for contemporary philosophy of religion, theology and religious studies, popular spirituality and religious belief.
Here, you will find information about Cupitt’s life and work, materials relating to his ground-breaking BBC TV series, The Sea of Faith (1984) and its subsequent impact. There are links to the unique archive of materials on Don Cupitt and the Sea of Faith Network at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden. You will also be able to find information about new publications and public events to mark the 40th anniversary of the TV series in 2024.
Cupitt’s thought, then and now, offers an alternative path for contemporary academic and church-related theology by articulating a radical and progressive philosophy which is capable of addressing contemporary questions of faith, scepticism and post-secular spirituality.
Cupitt’s Philosophy of Non-Realism
In his work, Don Cupitt has argued that talk of God in transcendent and metaphysical terms belongs to an intellectual epoch that has long since passed. Realist doctrines of God have little or no credibility for a society shaped by contemporary scientific thought and the linguistic turn in philosophy — in other words, a fully materialist and embodied society which rejects notions of transcendence.
Cupitt did not argue, however, that Christianity should be discarded as intellectually outdated and outmoded. Rather he suggests it needs to develop and adapt to these contemporary norms by developing in a non-realist direction. His work is, in part, an exploration of the implications for spirituality of a non-realist theology that proposes that religions, including Christianity, are fully embodied in the sense of being human constructs contributing to human well-being.
For Cupitt, such a spirituality is far from reductionist, to be experienced as a loss of metaphysics and transcendence, but rather it is liberating, invigorating and relevant and appropriate to contemporary society.