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Religion and God

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The existence of God has been a question since the idea of God was conceived Descartes tries to prove God's existence, and to show that there is without a doubt something external to ones own existence. He is looking for a definite certainty, a foundation for which he can base all of his beliefs and know that they are true. Descartes' overall project is to find a definite certainty on which he can base all his knowledge and beliefs.

Descartes attacks the principles that support everything he believes with his Method of Doubt. The Method of Doubt is Descartes' method of fundamental questioning in which he doubts everything that there is the slightest reason to doubt. Think about it like this. Almost everything you believe to be true comes from the senses or through the senses. However, the senses are sometimes deceptive. Since the senses are not completely trustworthy, it is irrational to place complete trust in them. However, it is no small leap of faith to presume that everything our senses tell us is false. In fact, it seems almost absurd to say such a thing. Nevertheless, as Descartes points out, we have dreams regularly and in these dreams, everything we experience is a figment of our imagination, or at least not real in the physical sense. So, it is reasonable to doubt everything our senses tell us, for the time being. Now, using similar logic, we can say that everything we have learned from physics, astronomy, medicine, and other such fields are all doubtful. Descartes even believed we could say that such simple, logical statements as 2+3 = 5 or a square has 4 sides could be conceived to be false. "Since I judge that others sometimes make mistakes in matters that they believe they know most perfectly, may I not, in like fashion, be deceived every time I add two and three or count the sides of a square..." We are now at the point where we are doubting everything - the world around us, that we have a body, and anything else that we could possibly believe.

Perhaps I even doubt that I exist myself. In doing this, I am in the act of doubting. How can I doubt something if I do not exist? Similarly, maybe I am deceived into thinking I do not exist by some other entity. Then I must exist for it is I who is being deceived. This is the basic premise of Descartes' famous "Cogito Ergo Sum" - "I think therefore I am." Here Descartes is not saying anything about what we are here, just that we are. Next, his goal is to find out exactly what he is. Well, Descartes states, if I exist, for how long do I exist? I exist for as long as I think, and if I cease to think, then I shall also cease to exist. Therefore, I am nothing but a thinking thing - that is, a thing that "doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses." Although saying he is all of these things is indeed a bold statement. Descartes feels that in his attempt to prove that he exists he has done all of those things, therefore they must be a part of what he is.

Decartes goes on to prove the existence of God. He begins this by stating that nothing can be created from nothing, and that the less perfect can not create something more perfect or better than itself. He explains that he knows he is not perfect because he doubts, and knowing is more perfect than doubting. From that he determines that within him lies this idea of a perfect being, and that he is incapable of coming to such an idea by himself. If there is an idea in our minds that we didn't create, something else created it. He saw nothing in nature that would qualify as superior in the sense that he had stated, so he determined that the only other logical answer was



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