On Dover beach in the 1860s the English poet Matthew Arnold saw in the receding tide at dusk an image of the "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the Sea of Faith. Twenty years later Nietzsche was proclaiming the death of God as an event that had ...
taken place long before, but was still unrealized. The modern crisis of belief has deep roots. Don Cupitt shows how the rise in our science-based, democractic industrial society, of historical criticism and of knowledge of other religions has over the centuries slowly eroded the traditional framework of doctrinal belief--leaving us, as it seems to many, free, alone, and disoriented. But there is another story, for Cupitt also shows a line of creative thinkers, from Pascal to Wittgenstein, responding to each new challenge as it has arisen. A new understanding of religion is emerging which Cupitt calls non-realist, for it is without dogma. Instead, Christianity is seen as a way, a spiritual path, and an ethic. Religion becomes more like an art, for it is a function of our primal capacity to generate stories, symbols, and meanings to live by.