Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Reaching God Through Reason

I'm doing a devotion journal ("Following God: The Book of Ephesians" by Eddie Rasnake - it's amazing! Highly recommended) at the moment. The following excerpt is from the devotion I read this morning. I thought it was so excellent I wanted to share it with you. :) Enjoy!

The philosopher Immanuel Kant is perhaps most famous for his treatise, A Critique of Pure Reason. In this book, Kant attempts to define the limits of what mankind can know with confidence. Although I don't agree with all of his conclusions, I think he brings out some interesting points about mankind. One of his main points is that we human beings are phenomenal creatures- we understand and interpret the world around us via phenomena that we can grasp through our five senses. Therefore, Kant argues, we can only really know what we can experience with the five senses; sight, smell, taste touch, and hearing. Kant calls the realm of mankind the "phenomenal realm." In the phenomenal realm, according to Kant, things can be revealed to us only as they appear to our five senses. Kant teaches in his treatise that mankind cannot reach beyond this realm because he believed that our senses- the link to how things appear - form the boundary of our ability to reason. Thus Kant concludes that it is impossible for man to really know that God exists. God by His very nature, the philosopher argues, is a part of a higher realm than man. He is part of what Kant calls the "noumenal realm," a dimension where things appear as they actually are - ultimate reality. To Kant, the "noumenal realm" is a level to which we human beings cannot transcend. It is too high for us. It exceeds the limits of our ability to reason only through the senses.

While I don't agree with Immanuel Kant's conclusion that it is impossible for mankind to know that God exists, there are some things that I really like about his logic. First, he ascribes to the concept of God, and he ascribes to God a very high and noble place. He doesn't attempt to bring God down to the level of man. A true God whom man could fully grasp and understand with his mind through reason would be no greater than man himself. Second, I think Kant is correct in recognizing the limits of what man can grasp on his own via the confines of his faculties. Man indeed is a creature whose mind is mostly restricted to the phenomena he can grasp with the five senses.

There is only one problem with Kant's conclusion. He leaves out one all-important possibility. What if God reaches down from the "noumenal realm" and reveals Himself to man in "phenomenal" ways? Man may not be able to reach God through reason, but God can reach man through revelation. That is, in fact, what God has done. He knows the limits of what man's mind can grasp. Therefore, God became a man so that mankind could understand Him. John 1:18 tells us, "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." Literally, Jesus has "exegeted" God, or He has revealed God in ways mankind could understand. You see, God is knowable, but only because He chooses to make Himself known.

Do you do a devotional journal or some sort of study tool for your quiet time?
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  1. I'm doing the same devotional as you... I actully had that particular devotional a few days ago. :)

    1. Haha we must be about the same place! :) I wrote this about a week ago. :P Are you enjoying it?

    2. I'm on Lesson 7, day 2. How about you? Yes, I'm really enjoying it. It's great.


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