Each religion makes scores of purportedly factual assertions about everything from the creation of the universe to the afterlife. But on what grounds can believers presume to know that these assertions are true? The reasons they give are various, but the ultimate justification for most religious people’s beliefs is a simple one: we believe what we believe because our holy scriptures say so. But how, then, do we know that our holy scriptures are factually accurate? Because the scriptures themselves say so. Theologians specialize in weaving elaborate webs of verbiage to avoid saying anything quite so bluntly, but this gem of circular reasoning really is the epistemological bottom line on which all 'faith' is grounded. In the words of Pope John Paul II: 'By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals.' It goes without saying that this begs the question of whether the texts at issue really were authored or inspired by God, and on what grounds one knows this. 'Faith' is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. 'Faith' is the pseudo-justification that some people trot out when they want to make claims without the necessary evidence.But of course we never apply these lax standards of evidence to the claims made in the other fellow’s holy scriptures: when it comes to religions other than one’s own, religious people are as rational as everyone else. Only our own religion, whatever it may be, seems to merit some special dispensation from the general standards of evidence.And here, it seems to me, is the crux of the conflict between religion and science. Not the religious rejection of specific scientific theories (be it heliocentrism in the 17th century or evolutionary biology today); over time most religions do find some way to make peace with well-established science. Rather, the scientific worldview and the religious worldview come into conflict over a far more fundamental question: namely, what constitutes evidence.Science relies on publicly reproducible sense experience (that is, experiments and observations) combined with rational reflection on those empirical observations. Religious people acknowledge the validity of that method, but then claim to be in the possession of additional methods for obtaining reliable knowledge of factual matters — methods that go beyond the mere assessment of empirical evidence — such as intuition, revelation, or the reliance on sacred texts. But the trouble is this: What good reason do we have to believe that such methods work, in the sense of steering us systematically (even if not invariably) towards true beliefs rather than towards false ones? At least in the domains where we have been able to test these methods — astronomy, geology and history, for instance — they have not proven terribly reliable. Why should we expect them to work any better when we apply them to problems that are even more difficult, such as the fundamental nature of the universe?Last but not least, these non-empirical methods suffer from an insuperable logical problem: What should we do when different people’s intuitions or revelations conflict? How can we know which of the many purportedly sacred texts — whose assertions frequently contradict one another — are in fact sacred?

~ Alan Sokal

What is gained by the transcendence of the object is the identifiability of the object in a plurality of acts and the identifiability of what is thought by several individuals. This identifiability is not restricted to ideal objects, which are generated according to a definite operational law and are therefore producible by everyone out of the same material of intuition which is given prior to any particular sense-experience. The identifiability obtains in precisely the same way for objects of myth and folklore, of belief and artistic fantasy. Goethe’s Faust, Apollo, and Little Red Riding Hood can be identified by several individuals and are the objects of common, universally valid statements. Indeed, exact identity of the nature of the object in question and evidential knowledge of this identity can occur *only* in the case of ideal objects. Our certainty that we all think the same number 3 in the strictest identity of its nature is much more evident than that we all think the same real object, a tree, for instance. In the case of real objects we can actually prove that it is impossible for the momentary content in which the object is represented and thought to be exactly the same in a plurality of acts and for many individuals. The only other contribution made by the fact of the consciousness of transcendence, so long overlooked in recent philosophy, to the problem of reality is this: the acts in which this consciousness is present can bring the givenness of reality, of which we shall speak later, into “objective” form, and can therefore elevate that which is given in this way as real to the status of a real “object.” But with this, the contribution of the consciousness of transcendence to the problem of reality is at an end. Although N. Hartmann made the same point with respect to Paul Linke’s otherwise shrewd and pertinent comments on his doctrine of reality, still we should emphasize that the transcendence of the object does not *exclude* the reality of the object, not even of the *same* object in the strict sense of “same.” ―from_Idealism and Realism_

~ Max Scheler

*There is only one God*. Whatever exists is *ipso facto* individual; to be one it needs no extra property and calling it one merely denies that it is divided. Simple things are neither divided nor divisible; composite things do not exist when their parts are divided. So existence stands or falls with individuality, and things guard their unity as they do their existence. But what is simply speaking one can yet in certain respects be many: an individual thing, essentially undivided, can have many non-essential properties; and a single whole, actually undivided, can have potentially many parts.Only when one is used to count with does it presuppose in what it counts some extra property over and above existence, namely, quantity. The one we count with contrasts with the many it counts in the way a unity of measurement contrasts with what it measures; but the individual unity common to everything that exists contrasts with plurality simply by lacking it, as undividedness does division. A plurality is however *a* plurality: though simply speaking many, inasmuch as it exists, it is, incidentally, one. A continuum is homogeneous: its parts share the form of the whole (every bit of water is water); but a plurality is heterogeneous: its parts lack the form of the whole (no part of the house is a house). The parts of a plurality are unities and non-plural, though they compose the plurality not as non-plural but as existing; just as the parts of a house compose the house as material, not as not houses. Whereas we define plurality in terms of unity (many things are divided things to each of which is ascribed unity), we define unity in terms of division. For division precedes unity in our minds even if it doesn’t really do so, since we conceive simple things by denying compositeness of them, defining a point, for example, as lacking dimension. Division arises in the mind simply by negating existence. So the first thing we conceive is the existent, then―seeing that this existent is not that existent―we conceive division, thirdly unity, and fourthly plurality.There is only one God. Firstly, God and his nature are identical: to be God is to be this individual God. In the same way, if to be a man was to be Socrates there would only be one man, just as there was only one Socrates. Moreover, God’s perfection is unlimited, so what could differentiate one God from another? Any extra perfection in one would be lacking in the other and that would make him imperfect. And finally, the world is one, and plurality can only produce unity incidentally insofar as it too is somehow one: the primary and non-incidental source of unity in the universe must himself be one. The one we count with measures only material things, not God: like all objects of mathematics, though defined without reference to matter, it can exist only in matter. But the unity of individuality common to everything that exists is a metaphysical property applying both to non-material things and to God. But what in God is a perfection has to be conceived by us, with our way of understanding things, as a lack: that is why we talk of God as lacking a body, lacking limits and lacking division.

~ Thomas Aquinas

It will be seen how there can be the idea of a special science, the *critique of pure reason* as it may be called. For reason is the faculty which supplies the *principles* of *a priori* knowledge. Pure reason therefore is that which contains the principles of knowing something entirely *a priori*. An *organon* of pure reason would be the sum total of the principles by which all pure *a priori* knowledge can be acquired and actually established. Exhaustive application of such an organon would give us a system of pure reason. But as this would be a difficult task, and as at present it is still doubtful whether indeed an expansion of our knowledge is possible here at all, we may regard a science that merely judges pure reason, its sources and limits, as the *propaedeutic* to the system of pure reason. In general, it would have to be called only a *critique*, not a *doctrine* of pure reason. Its utility, in regard to speculation, would only be negative, for it would serve only to purge rather than to expand our reason, and, which after all is a considerable gain, would guard reason against errors. I call all knowledge *transcendental* which deals not so much with objects as with our manner of knowing objects insofar as this manner is to be possible *a priori*. A system of such concepts would be called *transcendental philosophy*. But this is still, as a beginning, too great an undertaking. For since such a science must contain completely both analytic and synthetic *a priori* knowledge, it is, as far as our present purpose is concerned, much too comprehensive. We will be satisfied to carry the analysis only so far as is indispensably necessary in order to understand in their whole range the principles of *a priori* synthesis, with which alone we are concerned. This investigation, which properly speaking should be called only a transcendental critique but not a doctrine, is all we are dealing with at present. It is not meant to expand our knowledge but only to correct it, and to become the touchstone of the value, or lack of value, of all *a priori* knowledge. Such a critique is therefore the preparation, as far as possible, for a new organon, or, if this should turn out not to be possible, for a canon at least, according to which, thereafter, the complete system of a philosophy of pure reason, whether it serve as an expansion or merely as a limitation of its knowledge, may be carried out both analytically and synthetically. That such a system is possible, indeed that it need not be so comprehensive as to cut us off from the hope of completing it, may already be gathered from the fact that it would have to deal not with the nature of things, which is inexhaustible, but with the understanding which makes judgments about the nature of things, and with this understanding again only as far as its *a priori* knowledge is concerned. The supply of this *a priori* knowledge cannot be hidden from us, as we need not look for it outside the understanding, and we may suppose this supply to prove sufficiently small for us to record completely, judge as to its value or lack of value and appraise correctly. Still less ought we to expect here a critique of books and systems of pure reason, but only the critique of the faculty of pure reason itself. Only once we are in possession of this critique do we have a reliable touchstone for estimating the philosophical value of old and new works on this subject. Otherwise, an unqualified historian and judge does nothing but pass judgments upon the groundless assertions of others by means of his own, which are equally groundless.

~ Immanuel Kant

It is precisely because the principle of the transcendence of the object is completely independent of the existential status of the objects themselves and, thus, independent of the question whether they are produced by us or subsist on their own―whether they are fictions or real beings―that the fact of the consciousness of transcendence is not even remotely qualified to solve the problem of reality. This has been misunderstood equally by W. Freytag, Edith Landmann, P. Linke, and even by Husserl himself. Indeed, people have wanted to speak of an intentional realism (E. Landmann) in contrast to Critical Realism and to all other forms of realism. N. Hartmann was quite correct in emphasizing, in opposition to this, that the projection [*Hinausragen*] of the intentional object beyond the content of consciousness and its act cannot make the least contribution to solving the problem of realism. If something is an intentional object, we cannot recognize from this fact alone, whether it is real or not. If the perceived cherry, the conceived triangle, a friend’s visit anticipated in a dream, Little Red Riding Hood, a freely planned project, or a felt value, have entirely different characteristics and predicates than do the mental processes and the actual contents in which these objects appear, then the distinction between intentional and mental holds equally of both the real and the irreal. *Thus, the problem of what is real is not touched by the fact of the transcendence of the object*, and *percipi est esse*, in Berkeley’s psychologistic sense, is laid to rest. This also frustrates attempts, such as Hume’s in his *Treatise*, to derive being-an-object in general―an object as distinguished from an idea―from a psychogenetic process in which the very ideas through which this psychogenetic process is supposed to be accomplished are themselves reified [*verdinglicht*].―from_Idealism and Realism_

~ Max Scheler