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Descartes: The Father Of Modern Philosophy On The Existence Of God

1137 words - 5 pages

Descartes' book Meditations is a work in which he attempts to achieve absolute certainty about three issues: the soul as "a thinking thing" distinct from or without a body, the belief that God exists, and the belief that the external world exists. I am interested in the impact that these ideas have on the question of a rational belief in God.Initially after reading portions of Descartes work, I am led to believe that thinkers build on what others have thought. Sometimes they criticize, deny, or accept a previous opinion. However, the trajectory that I see indicates a move in philosophy away from any philosophical anchor for religious belief (the medieval view: philosophy and theology are one). The new view claims that it is more reasonable to be a skeptic [3].To determine which of his beliefs could meet the above conditions, Descartes subjected them to a series of skeptical hypotheses. In order to acquire absolutely certainty in the issues at hand, Descartes first uses doubt as a foundation of truth on which to build his knowledge [1]. He rejects all of what he believes to be true or factual and instead chooses that if any belief can be doubted it is not certain. Descartes first gets rid of any information, knowledge, or truths that are based on his senses. His most powerful idea is that there is an evil genius trying to deceive him. This challenged not only the belief that the physical world exists, but also the belief in mathematics. He calls into question the validity of reason itself. Yet Descartes reasons that not even an evil genius deceives someone into believing falsely that he exists because doubt itself cannot be doubted. Therefore, the doubter must exist. His famous motto "cogito, ergo sum" stems from this line of thought. With this certainty Descartes expanded knowledge, step by step, to admit the existence of God as the first cause, and the reality of the physical world, which he held to be mechanical and entirely divorced from the mind [3].Among the elements of Descartes' skepticism is his examination of sense perception. The use of a telescope demonstrates that the naked eye can deceive and so the senses are untrustworthy as a source of certain knowledge. So, I too, must doubt my beliefs in material things or even that the physical world exists because they are based on sense perception, which he has shown to be deceptive [3].Descartes had rooted his entire philosophy on the absolute truth of the consciousness of thinking. Descartes realizes that he is a being that thinks, doubts, desires and questions many things. "I know that I exist". However, the notion that Descartes has of a God is the clearest and most distinct when compared to his other notions [1]. Descartes realizes that since he is a being that thinks, there must be a supreme being more perfect than himself to help him realize his imperfections. For example, how could he know what his are weaknesses, without a perfect more supreme being to compare himself to? Also, how...

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