Friday, 23 January 2015

Kant On God: Does God Exist?

Another one in the philosophers on God series, if you missed the last one then click here for Aristotle's intriguing take on God.

Kant, to put it shortly, rationalised that God must exist, he put this rationality down to how morality effects the average human being, and used this idea to explain how without justice for one's actions in life, there must exist an afterlife of some sort where justice is redeemed. This is a surprisingly simple concept but Kant came up with the idea very uniquely and this post will try to analyse the flaws and benefits of this way of thinking.

Firstly, it is perhaps short-sighted to say that Kant believed God to exist, as his moral argument is more of a reason to believe that an afterlife exists, but more importantly, an afterlife that is based on justice of what decisions you have made in your Earthly form. So where I have said previously that the rationality of Kant is to say that God must exist, this in fact refers to God as a judgement or dependable afterlife.

The basis of the Kant on God argument resides within morality, the argument being that we make moral decisions because it is rational to do so, and the only way for those decisions to be rational is if they lead to ultimate consequences and implications.If we look more specifically at giving to charity as an example we see that, on a personal level, we feel as though we ought to give to charity. If we ought to do something then that is the perfect reason within itself to do something, such as giving to charity, this making moral decisions rational decisions. Furthermore, when confronted with a decision to make, the moral reason for making that decision will always be the more important of a basis on which to make that decision, therefore moral decisions are completely rational.

Moving on from this, it is possible to surmise that when having to choose between a morally correct outcome and a morally bereft outcome which benefits us more, we will still, in most cases choose what is morally correct. If there were no consequences for choosing the immoral path, which benefits us more, then we would rationally pick the immoral choice ahead of the moral decision - this being the fundamental principle behind Kantian logic.

It is plain to see that justice for making moral decisions does not lie in this lifetime; bad people do well and good people will sometimes do badly, therefore the logical and most rational conclusion is that justice is done after we die, by God or in another life. Kant used this argument to suggest that the most logical religion is the Christian ideology of being judged by God; placed in hell or in heaven. The whole idea is that we have a reason to do good things and we naturally move towards them, in other words we know the difference between right or wrong. However, because there are no obvious consequences in this life, therefore these must be atoned by something else after our time.

The problem with the Kant on God argument is that it does not address social implications. I think it is fair to say that we make a lot of our decisions based on what is socially acceptable, and it is also fair to say that what is socially acceptable has changed dramatically over the years, for example gay marriage, sex out of wedlock and divorce are all common themes within our current cultural narrative in the Western world, however this does not mean that those decisions are morally wrong - far from it.

This means that what is right or wrong changes based on what is correct within present society, and is not down to a fundamental or ultimate moral compass that exists ubiquitously throughout the world, therefore the idea of judgement is not one that would really make sense, unless the Bible were correct. If it were then the reckoning is coming! - but hasn't yet...

The idea also fails to address bad decisions that do have consequences within this life, for example, someone who serves jail time for murdering someone, in our lifetime, pays for their sins, so what effect would that have on any ultimate judgement? The concept Kant has put forwards is complex in many ways but it is impossible to address all of these points from the human perspective in my opinion. If you'd like to know more about Kant then here's a great website for you to read up on him - Kant Philosophy

So what do you think about this theory? Do you think Kant makes sense here? Have I overlooked something? Let's talk about it, I would love to discuss this topic because I'm a massive fan of Kant, so let's have it out! :) Comment below.

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