Kant says in his lectures on the philosophy of religion, as well as in the published Religion itself, that the “minimum of theology” or “minimum of cognition in religion” is the Belief that God’s existence is really possible. It is important for Kant that such a commitment is all that is required as part of our duty, but it also seems like a fairly low bar for counting as religious. It is supposed to be accompanied, however, by a sophisticated complex of other attitudes, desires, and affections-including (on my reading) deep moral hope for the existence of God, the consummation of creation, and even extramundane assistance-that would not fit well within a baldly atheistic framework. One of the reasons for resisting the way previous thinkers have slipped between hope and expectation, then, is just for the sake of conceptual tidiness-clearly there are two different concepts here and it is good to keep them distinct. A more important reason, however, is that doing so makes conceptual room for the Kantian idea that an authentic moral-religious life can be based entirely in pessimistic, non-expectant, but still tenaciously lived hope.
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