Sociologist Peter Berger writes, “The religious impulse, the quest for meaning that transcends the restricted space of empirical existence in this world, has been a perennial feature of humanity.” Now Kant has given this religious conviction a completely modern and rational foundation. It is of the highest importance to recognize that Kant’s ideas, while they confirm core elements of religious thought, are entirely secular. Kant has arrived at them on the basis of reason alone. He does not employ any religious vocabulary, nor does he rely on any kind of faith. But in showing the limits of reason, Kant said, he did “make room for faith.”
Kant is our Virgil, taking us as far as reason can go. From here onward we need a different guide, but Kant has helped to clear the way for us to proceed. Kant’s accomplishment was to unmask the intellectual pretension of the Enlightenment: that reason and science are the only routes to reality and truth. This illusion is very much with us today, making Kant’s thought, for all its intellectual demands on us, supremely relevant. So the “brights” can do their strutting, but Kant has shown them as intellectually naked. And so, thanks to Kant, the tables have been turned. The atheist is now revealed as dogmatic and arrogant, and the religious believer emerges as modest and reasonable. While the atheist arrogantly persists in the delusion that his reason is fully capable of figuring outall that there is, the religious believer lives in tbe humble acknowledgment ofthe limits of human knowledge, knowing that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and minds can ever apprehend.