KANT: ATHEIST OR
BELIEVER IN GOD?
Some sources assert
that Kant attacked and weakened the classical proofs on God's existence.
That, of course, is a view many do not share. Nevertheless, it must be
pointed out that, in spite of what he may have perceived as weaknesses in
some of the "classic" proofs, he remained a strong believer in God
throughout his life.
"The world depends on a supreme
being, but the things in the world all mutually depend on one another. Taken
together they constitute a complete whole."
(Kant, 1978, 22)
"The sum total of all possible
knowledge of God is not possible for a human being, not even through a true
revelation. But it is one of the worthiest inquiries to see how far our
reason can go in the knowledge of God."
"But if we ask who has so firmly
established the laws of nature and who has limited its operations, then we
will come to God as the supreme cause of the entirety of reason and nature."
"Our knowledge is only a shadow in
comparison with the greatness of God, and our powers are far transcended by
"That the world created by God is
the best all possible worlds, is clear for the following reason. If a better
world than the one willed by God were possible, then a will better than the
divine will would also have to be possible. For indisputably that divine
will is better which chooses what is better. But if a better will is
possible, then so this being who could express this better will. And
therefore this being would be more perfect and better than God. But this is
a contradiction; for God is 'omnitudo realitatis."
"God created the world for his
honor's sake because it is only through the obedience to his holy laws that
God can be honored. For what does it mean to honor God? What, if not to
serve him? But how can He be served? Certainly by trying to entice his favor
by rendering him all sorts of praise. For such praise is best only a means
for preparing our hearts to a good disposition. Instead, the service of God
consists simply and solely in following his will and observing his holy laws
"God's omnipresence is not local,
but virtual. That is, God's power operates constantly and everywhere in all
"God is the only ruler of the
world. He governs as a monarch, but not as a despot; for He wills to have
his commands observed out of love, and not out of servile fear. Like a
father, he orders what is good for us, and does not command out of mere
arbitrariness, like a tyrant. God even demands of us that we reflect on the
reason for his commandments, and he insists on our observing them because he
wants first to make us worthy of happiness and then participate in it. God'
s will is benevolence, and his purpose is what is best. If God commands
something for which we cannot see the reason, then this is because of the
limitation of our knowledge, and not because of the nature of the
commandment itself. God carries out his rulership of the world alone. For He
surveys everything with one glance. And certainly he may often use wholly
incomprehensible means to carry out His benevolent
I. Lectures on Philosophical Theology. Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 1978.