Friday, April 22, 2016

Cupitt vs Schall revisited

The video of the American college students now has over a million views on Youtube. If you remember, the video shows students from the University of Washington telling a white male interviewer that they would accept his claim to be seven years old, or Chinese, or female.

The video has been posted to a number of sites and has attracted many hundreds of negative comments, many mocking the students' views. But few of the comments have really identified the underlying problem, namely that the students are only expressing the logic of the liberal belief system they have been brought up with.

I wrote a post as far back as 2006, contrasting the views of two religious ministers, Don Cupitt and Father James Schall. Cupitt claims that we as humans are "outsideless" - that there is nothing of inherent value outside the individual. Cupitt's beliefs are described this way:
Realism is now understood by Cupitt as, 'spiritual slavery', nothing more than an imposition and restriction onto the world of free-choice and free-values. Morality is synonymous with freedom; the freedom to grow into an autonomous person. There is no longer any fixed truth by which one must align and judge oneself. We are free (and must be freed) to be who we want to be.

The key thought here is this: "There is no longer any fixed truth by which one must align and judge oneself." Traditionalists like myself do believe that there are standards external to the individual (that transcend the individual) that the individual orients himself to and attempts to measure up to. We believe, for instance, that masculinity is not just socially constructed but has a real essence that a man can either more or less successfully attempt to embody and that connects an individual man to a higher, transcendent good. It is an objective measure of how we fulfil our given nature; of how we embody a significant and meaningful good; and of how we fulfil our higher purposes in life. It would make little sense for a traditionalist man to decide to take on a female identity - this would not be thought of as "liberation" but as a disordered orientation.

One of the problems with the liberal modernist view is that whilst it expands choice it does so at the cost of making what we choose purely subjective and therefore less meaningful. Here, for instance, is a statement from the website of Don Cupitt's church:
Truths are made within human culture and language. Ideas, beliefs, faiths: we made them up ... So SoF proclaims its mission: "To explore and promote religious faith as a human creation." In this sense, Sea of Faith is humanist."

Its members ... know their religious practices and "truths," like everyone else's, are socially constructed, made by human communities ...

Father James Schall has answered the Cupitt position eloquently:
The initial choice that each of us has to make in life is whether we think the world and ourselves already exist with some intelligible content to define what we are or whether there is nothing there but what we put there...The trouble with being so absolutely free that nothing is presupposed, however, is that what is finally put there is also only ourselves.

Which brings me to something I have been thinking about lately. The issue under consideration is what brought the West to adopt liberal modernist beliefs. One angle I haven't considered much before is the way that God was conceived of in the Christian West. In pagan societies, the deities might act wilfully and arbitrarily - therefore, they might have to be propitiated with sacrifices. I have read as well that in Islam something is made good because it is the will of Allah that it be so - so again, what matters is the will of the deity. But in the medieval West there was not a deity ruling wilfully over a chaotic universe, but rather a divine order, i.e. reality was divinely ordered, even to the point that a hierarchy of beings might be identified.

The concept gives much spiritual depth to man's existence and it is also likely to stimulate man's efforts to use his reason to understand the reality he inhabits. But it has its weak points as well - it has to withstand evidence that the material world is not designed in as straightforward a way as might be imagined (e.g. consider the setbacks to Christian belief through the discovery of the fossil records).

Liberal modernity might be, in part, a reaction to a loss of belief in the existence of a divine order. Here, for instance, is how one Cupitt sympathiser describes his outlook:
Religion ... becomes like art. Christians are artists, creators of truths. We give up the notion of a divinely ordained hierarchical universe that we just slot into. We have always created ethics.

Instead of God the creator, it is now Man the creator. Instead of a universe in which moral values have a real existence, moral values instead are made up by humans.

I'm not sure that this is a key aspect of what has happened, but it's something worth considering.


  1. Mark,
    I found an exceptionally helpful book in the area of human fossils and the truth of the Bible. It is called "Bones of Contention" by Marvin Lubenow and neatly skewers and exposes many 'truths' of evolution that we accept as being scientifically sound but which are, in fact, reflections of humanist thought processes rather than fact. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  2. "Instead of God the creator, it is now Man the creator. Instead of a universe in which moral values have a real existence, moral values instead are made up by humans. "

    That essentially sums up the matter. The first Psalm of the Bible which is they key to all the other psalms states that there are only 2 ways to live and only 2 possible futures. One with God, and one without him. The Psalm contrasts these 2 ways to live, the way of the righteous (with God) and the way of the wicked (without God).

    We now live in the way of the wicked which started in earnest as the emergent and eventually prevailing ideology with the Enlightenment. Man's reason was exalted and proposed as the final definer of truth and morality. The supernatural was denied and with it the divine moral order and truth.

    The Reformation divided and weakened Christendom and then Charles Darwin expounded the pseudo science of evolution. The Christian truth of man created in the image and likeness of God to exist in Communion with God ad obedience to God was cast aside. Thenceforth humans were told they were descended from monkeys, and accordingly started to behave like animals.

    This concept of the evolution of species has become dominant although it is scientifically nonsense. If one believes in evolution it is then logical that Humans are being evolved on a continuous basis from test tubes, stem cells, cloning, transgenderism etc into a dehumanised robotic state. Food is adulterated by GMO, nature is destroyed.

    The liberal way is thus the way of the wicked, the deniers of truth, the path of Satan. Humanity lives in a false reality.The "freedom to define who we are" is the denial of the supernatural and the created order in favour of man's desire to self create and evolve by creating new species of humans - sexual deviants, laboratory created humans, mixed race humans and with it comes the cures of new diseases- massive rates of cancer and psychiatric disorder.

    The question that evolutionists do not ask is why no further monkeys and baboons have embarked on the path of evolving into humans.

  3. The Arab invasion of Europe is a social fact that the Pope is in favor of. That's one fact among many similar facts that give whites an interest in a right to define themselves, and in so doing overturn an allegedly divine order.

    First, simply, that order is killing us. If the wolves are flooding in among the sheep and the shepherd says, "this is good!" the sheep are doomed.

    Second, if your identity is "white," you have no rights, especially no collective rights as whites, such as the right to a community that will achieve the long-term perpetuation of your own kind, though families that are not blended out. So the right to define yourself as what you choose, and not what you were born, is potentially the right for white people to define themselves (at least individually) out of a cursed and doomed category.

    People don't have that in the front of their minds, but I think they do have it in the back of their minds (and rightly so) that agreeing to have their identities fixed and agreeing to have no autonomy within a total system might be bad for them, when the identity-definers and the system-definers show insufficient loyalty to them.

    People may object to apparently exaggerated or foolish uses of the right to self-define, but if you want people to give up the principle itself, you should address the insecurity, the helplessness, and the resignation to betrayal from above that you are demanding of people.

    The (weak and partial) right to define oneself is not much of a defense. And as it has negative consequences it is far from ideal defense. But it is a defense, as opposed to complete mental surrender and collective suicide.

    1. To answer this I have to restate the general argument.

      At the heart of liberal autonomy theory is...nothingness. There is nothing of intrinsic value to be defended. What creates value is the act of individual choice. It is the freedom of choice that has value, not what is chosen.

      And so someone raised on liberal autonomy will not be fired up to resist the powers that be. Why would they? What do they have to defend when they do not believe that any ends have meaning?

      Worse still, if what matters is that I am self-determined (rather than what I determine myself to be), then predetermined identity will appear to me to be a negative constraint - a prison. My ethny, my race, my biological sex - all of these things I don't get to choose for myself, and so in the liberal system they are hindrances to my freedom.

      What matters morally to someone raised on liberal autonomy theory is that we accept others similarly self-defining. If we don't do this we are thought to be non-inclusive, bigoted, discriminatory and so on.

      In this system too our dignity, indeed our existence, as humans depends on our ability to self-determine our lives and therefore if some are thought to be more privileged than others in key indicators of education, income, career and so on, then it is believed that some are occupying a status that prevents others from being treated as fully human. White males have been presented as being systemically privileged and therefore "whiteness" and "masculinity" have been thought of by the left as being artificial categories created for the purposes of oppression.

      The key point in resistance is not to continue to support liberal first principles but to reject them. That is the truly revolutionary moment. We can reassert that some things have an objective value. Manhood. Virtue. Love of kith and kin. We can assert that there are proper ends to a man's life.

      Rejecting liberal autonomy theory does not mean we cease to think or that we blindly follow authority. In fact it gives us anchor points with which to judge those entrusted with leadership in society.

      If the establishment is run along the lines of liberal autonomy theory, then I do not think that telling people that liberal autonomy theory is wrong will send a message that they should passively support the establishment. Hopefully it sends the message that people cannot rely on the establishment to work in their own interests, as that establishment is following a hostile political ideology.

  4. "There is no longer any fixed truth by which one must align and judge oneself."

    How can the statement above be true?