This is a response to Page Ten of Debate Two, in which Lynn defends the power of the bible by quoting Kant. By Crinis Villa.

Kant was a Lutheran; Kant was a great German intellect of the Enlightenment, living in the years 1724 through 1804; And lastly, Kant, like any philospher, had an agenda.
Kant originally started his prominent role as the philosopher he is now known for being with the Critique of Pure Reason, an objection to another great philosopher, David Hume. (One of my personal favourites). Hume's philosophical expoundings essentially destroyed philosophy, science, and religion in one fell swoop (it's a nifty work of philosophy, but not required reading).

Kant felt morally obligated to restore science, philosophy, and religion to their former prominence. He is generally considered successful, but the consequence of his system was, interestingly, in strange accordance with the destructive force of David Hume.

Kant concluded, like Hume, that we can never know a priori, (i.e. independent of observation) concepts such as God, justice, immortality, or freedom, since all these ideas overreach the capability for human knowledge.

Nevertheless, without such inspirational concepts, many humans would lose their enthusiasm for life. If one could not believe that the human soul is free and that ultimately justice will triumph, then one might (in fact for Kant, very likely) lose the motivation required for functioning day to day. Therefore, according to Kant, one has the right to believe (which is not to say the right to claim to know), that God, soul, immortality, and freedom exist as practical necessities. For Kant, note that practical equals moral.

Notice the equation 'practical=moral'. If this is really the case, then Kant has also stated that he has some claim to what defines moral behaviour, which for Kant are absolutes. Moral laws must be applied universally; Kant calls this the CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE. It states that a person should "act in such a way that it is possible for one to will that the maxim of one's action should become a universal law." Kant gives the example of someone who borrows money, promises to repay it, but has no intention of doing so. If this were a universal law -- that is, if everyone behaved this way -- promises would be meaningless, and no one would lend money to anyone.

Take careful note now: a) the categorical imperative defines 'universal law.' b) Kant has, as one critic put it, "kicked God out the front door in order to let him in through the back door."

Are the Ten Commandments universal law? You bet your bottom dollar they are! (Check 'em out, lie, steal, murder, covet they neighbors wife, etc, are all forbidden because they would make poor universal laws).

Kant arrived, not through divine commandment, but through reason, at what many Christians believe to be the most important lessons in the Bible Also note that the Golden Rule passes the test for universal law, unless you enjoy S&M (or especially if you enjoy S&M!)

Kant was an Enlightenment thinker because he made no appeal to anything other than reason when creating his philosophy. He was a Lutheran because his philosophy further justified his religious upbringing. Lutherans know that their relationship with God is one of faith, and that should not lie, steal, or murder.

Is it any wonder, then, that Kant goes on record as defending the Bible fervently, in such an absolute manner?
The existence of the Bible as a book for the people is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.
Would belittling the Bible fail the categorical imperative? Yes. Would promoting the Bible pass the categorical imperative? Yes, especially if you are Kant.

While Kant never says so, there is no room in his system, for other religions or doctrines (his is a universe of absolute moral codes, conveniently Lutheran in nature).

Lastly, it is important to note why his philosophy is so absolute, with little influence outside the German philosophical tradition. Kant was born, raised, educated, taught, wrote, and died all in the same town. He never married. In fact, his neighbours used to set their clocks by when Kant took his daily walks (a bit of an uptight fellow).

Kant's philosophy is beautiful, complete, and systematic, but it lacks one important characteristic: Worldliness. (Talk about failing to think outside the box.) To recognise Kant as a defender of the Bible and of Christianity is also to accept that we are weak as human beings without faith in the divine and that the Bible itself cannot claim to know anything about universal truth. The bible itself, if it is to be defended at all, must be defended by faith alone.

To recognise Kant as a philosopher is to acknowledge that there is a fundamental limit to human understanding, and that acts of morality require a perspective other than self-interest, perhaps revealing something essential about the nature of ethics.


Palmer, Donald, Looking at Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter, 1994, 2nd Edition

Paul J.,Philosophers and Philosophy

Home -Submit Your Work -Contact Me -Further Reading -Boudoir

Hosting by WebRing.