|Hegel's Thoughts on Religion
Hegel writes, "Supposedly the chief design and accomplishment of the Christian religion is to better man morally and make him more pleasing to God." But added to this basic definition he adds the problem of which has "burgeoned into the most shocking profusion of repressive institutions and ways of deluding mankind: oral confession, excommunication, penance, and a whole array of disgraceful monuments to human self-abasement." What reason finds valuable in religion is "the great principle that duty and virtue are self-sufficient"; but this becomes clouded when anything more "than the merest association with the idea of God" is invoked.
"Religion's proper task is to strengthen, by means of the idea of God as moral lawgiver, what impels us to act ethically and to enhance the satisfaction we derive from performing what our practical reason demands, specifically with regard to the ultimate end that reason posits: the highest good."
Hegel also adds that belief in "the historical person of Christ" is a matter of empirical testimony rather than "any requirement of practical reason." He says sarcastically that taking such matters on faith "is far easier than cultivating the habit of thinking for ourselves." He describes belief in Jesus as "faith in a personified ideal." This is typical of Enlightenment thought, against which Hegel had yet to rebel.
Hegel writes, "that the aim and essence of all true religion, our religion included, is human morality, and that all the more detailed doctrines of Christianity have their worth and their sanctity appraised according to their close or distant connection with that aim." He praises Jesus for advocating a religion of morality that would fulfill human freedom. He says that, "a reason-derived knowledge of God is the highest problem of philosophy."
We must concede that the Infinite cannot be deduced from the finite and that any "proof of the existence of God is nothing but the description of that act of rising up to the infinite."
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