Universe and creed by Stanley L. Jaki

By Stanley L. Jaki

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Although He was the one in whom the Father created all, our Lord in speaking about "heaven and earth" did not ask his listeners to part with their physical world-view. Nor did he have to strengthen their conviction that there was such a totality. In that respect there was no difference between Jews and Gentiles. Nobody in classical Greece took seriously Democritus' flights of fancy about innumerable worlds. Anyone with elementary attention to logic could see the inanity of the idea of atoms of all possible sizes, that, in order to complete the Democritean farce of logic, included atoms of infinite size.

Its laboriousness could only indicate that Kant's real aims were very different. He wanted the kind of freedom for man which was freedom from all truly transcendental constraint. In order to achieve this he had to turn the universe into a mere idea, however regulative. The author of the article on "world" admits at most that "Kant saw correctly that the world as he had conceived it was on an entirely different plane, in cognition, from a phenomenon in nature, that it could not therefore be grasped like the latter in terms of categories but could only be envisaged as an 'Idea'.

52 The fact was that the totality Kant talked about was not matter at all. To say, as the author of that article did, that "for Kant the world in itself only means the objectivated Page 35 counterpart and source of sensible impressions in our knowledge," 53 is double-talk. It is such because the world in itself, like any Kantian noumenon, could not be known; it could not even be talked about, as objected to Kant by some of his perceptive students. 54 If one cannot believe Kant even on that score, then the effort to shore up faith with a recourse to his straightening out the faculty of reason becomes an obviously crooked enterprise.

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