Descartes’ Argument for the existence of God
Rene Descartes, known as the father of modern philosophy, was a French thinker who used doubt as a basis for much of his philosophy. To start, he wondered what would actually give him any reason to doubt all of his beliefs. From this, Descartes concluded that an evil demon was tricking him into thinking that all of his beliefs were true when they were not. Even those beliefs that he thought secure could be doubted to the point that he questions whether anything is real. Thus, Descartes set out to prove that this demon does not exist. To do this, he removed all beliefs that he previously had, assuming them all false. In other words, he denied his entire existence and the existence of everything else in order to start with a blank slate. After much thought he concluded that there was only one belief that he can undoubtedly be certain of, and that was that he was thinking. This belief was undisputable because to doubt that one is thinking would be to think. From here, Descartes concluded that he must also exist, because thoughts must come from a source. After more thought and touching upon different subjects, Descartes arrived at the concept of a perfect being, God. Because God is a perfect being, he is all power, all knowing, and all good. However, Descartes questioned whether such a being exists, noting that he himself is not a perfect being and that he is capable of making mistakes. This led Descartes to affirm that because he is imperfect, he could not have conceived of perfection himself, since perfection can only come from perfection. This was how Descartes proved that God exists, because God must be the source of this concept. Lastly, because God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good, Descartes believed that he would not allow the existence of an evil demon that deceived him into doubting a world that is not real.
Seeing a philosopher’s trail of thought written on paper was very unique and also easy to follow. While I agree with his statement about existence “I think, therefore I am,” I am not quite sure about whether I can agree with him about his statements on the “evil demon.” As we have read with Augustine, the existence of an all powerful, all knowing, and all good God does not discount the reality of evil in this world. Just because God is perfect does not mean that imperfections exist. Moreover, I see weaknesses in Descartes’ arguments. For example, he claims that any idea or concept (ie. God) that is not from him cannot be from him. However, he also states that he can perceive size and shape, but there is no proof that he actually has size or shape. Why then did he not initially cancel out the concept of God too?