Updated July 2019
Critical Idealism and Religion by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at criticalidealism.com.
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Critical Idealism and Religion
A virtue of Critical Idealism is that its starting point is the assertion of reason’s limits. Karl Barth’s assertion that Kant elevated human reason above God is absurd. On the contrary, both theoretical and practical reason necessarily presuppose God, and it is no accident that Kant referred to his work as philosophical theology.
Although reason is limited, religion is at the core of Critical Idealism not because of what we can’t do, which would require divine assistance in order for us to overcome our limits. Rather, religion is at the core of Critical Idealism because of what we can do. In other words, religion is not an answer to a problem. Religion consists of the conditions that constitute the extraordinary capacities of humanity to see things that are not there in phenomena and to initiate a sequence of events that nature could never accomplish on its own. In short, our very ability to understand the world (our theoretical reason) as well as our very ability to be autonomous, creative beings above, yet never separate from, nature (our practical reason) depend upon the givenness of a universe and of capacities that are inscrutable to us, yet absolutely necessary for us to experience, act, and create as we do. Such faith with respect to our not-knowing (that is, with respect to the limits upon which we depend) is constitutive of the human condition, and it is a far more profound faith than any faith with claims to know beyond reason. Critical Idealism is anchored in non-epistemic, but not epistemic faith.