Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Darwin and Kant's Views on God

Megan Loveless- Section 4
Darwin and Kant’s Views on God
Is the whole subject of God too profound for human intellect? Charles Darwin would say it is. Darwin discovered evolution, but says that does not constitute his views on God. Darwin was agnostic although Christians thought of him as the Anti-Christ because his discoveries proved teachings of the Bible to be wrong. Darwin still believed that there was a possibility. Evolution could also be thought of as discovering a new law of nature that was designed by God.
Darwin states:
“...But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice... I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of NewtonLet each man hope and believe what he can.”
Darwin goes as far as to say that humans understand God as much as dogs would understand Isaac Newton. He says that humans should try to understand, at least, but the whole belief of being agnostic is that we can’t know for sure. He most likely was questionable on his religious views because he did not want to criticize anyone’s beliefs.

Immanuel Kant would also agree with Darwin, but with different concepts. Kant constantly tried to understand reality. He says we “can’t know the noumenal world of things in themselves, but we can know the phenomenal world of appearances as presented by our mental spectacles. Noumenal means a thing in itself or as it truly is. Phenomenal means a thing as it appears to the observer. So what Kant is saying in this quote is that humans can only know what we see and could not know it as it truly is. Therefore, there is no way we could truly comprehend a God because we can only know what we see. Kant thought that we can’t ever have a complete picture of the way things are. This leads us to believe that we cannot fathom if there is a God. However, Kant actually did believe in God although this theory would lead us to think otherwise. He thought it was part of the “common human understanding.” His defense for the existence of God was that “morality is a rational enterprise, morality is only a rational enterprise only if goodness is rewarded and evil punished, goodness is rewarded and evil is punished only if there is a God; therefore, there is a God.”

Although both philosophers had different beliefs on religion, both would most likely answer similarly to the question: is the whole subject of God too profound for human intellect? Both say that we can not know, whether it be from our minds not understanding or being able to view the noumenal world.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comparison. Kant said part of his goal as a philosopher was to circumscribe reason, so as to make room for faith. Darwin had no interest in destroying faith, so long as it did not impede biological science. Each wanted to extend human understanding without subverting the imagination.

    But, "morality is only a rational enterprise only if goodness is rewarded and evil punished" seems strained. Goodness is its own reward, insofar as we recognize it as such.