When man dies where does he go? This is a question humanity has been pondering over since the beginning of time. Deep within humanity’s being mankind as the ability of reason. Reason explains that this world is not the end of everything. Man cannot fathom the concept of ceasing to exist. Therefore over the years countless people have come up with ideas to life after death. Christianity calls it salvation. Buddhism calls it enlightenment. But no matter what the name is, it all deals with what follows death. Mankind desires to know how to be well-pleasing before God. Immanuel Kant attempts to tackle this question in his book, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. Kant wants to take faith and emotion out of the picture and use pure logic to determine how a person is “saved.” Certainly if a Creator produced mankind with reason this question can be answered through reason only; Kant certainly thinks so.
The purpose of humanity is defined in the Creator. Man needs to be able to satisfy the God through either one’s own abilities or through God’s mercy. The question then lies in the making of man: Is man already satisfactory to God, or is there some sort of journey to be taken for man to become pure before God? Did the Creator make humans just to live on earth and then die one day to reside with Him in Paradise? Are humans dependent on God or is freewill the main exercise? In reality do people need to be saved at all? Kant answers these questions within the form of other ideas of evil and doctrine.
Does mankind already have favor in God’s eyes? Since God is good and pure would man not also have to be good and pure to be a delight to God? If pleasing God requires one to be perfect, how does one become perfect? For anyone can look around where there are other humans and notice that perfection is nowhere to be found. Kant agrees with the Christian doctrine that God is flawless, and even quotes the verse found in Romans stating, “We all fall short of the glory of God.” Kant knows that humanity is not perfect, but is mankind evil? According to Kant God created mankind for good; not necessarily that man is good. “He is created for good and the original predisposition in man is good; not that, thereby, he is already actually good” (Kant 40). The previous statement could be taken in many ways. But perhaps what Kant is saying here is that man is to become good to the best of man’s ability in this life. God’s plan is for man to pursue good.
Kant establishes in Book I that man has a tendency towards evil. Kant explains, “Man is evil, can mean only, He is conscious of the moral law but has nevertheless adopted into his maxim the deviation therefrom” (27). Therefore man knows right from wrong and at times intentionally chooses wrong. Through reason man can establish what is good and what is bad; consequently man has no excuse when choosing evil. So if humans know what is the correct thing to do, why is not the right thing always the first choice?...