In the book Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene’ Descartes states many theories and makes many points on a numerous amount of things. In “Meditation One: Concerning Those Things That Can Be Called Into Doubt”, I struggled with what Descartes was actually saying in terms of God, did he believe in His existence or didn’t he? However, by “Meditation Three: Concerning God, That He Exists”, I realized where Descartes stood religiously. I agree with Descartes when he doubts the existence of God in the first two meditations because by the third he has found his own way and proof that God does exist and to believe in Him.
Descartes has many things that he considers to be reasonable to doubt. Throughout Descartes’ life he has had a long standing opinion that there is a God who is able to do anything who has actually created Descartes himself. He has believed in God’s existence and God’s creations his whole life. However, in Meditation I he is trying to clear his mind of what he believes in, and consider others beliefs that contradict his. He finds himself questioning, “How do I know he did not bring it about that there is no Earth at all? No Heavens?” (page 463 Kindle). He acknowledges that he judges others sometimes for their mistakes when they feel they have all the knowledge. Descartes views this is a deception on God’s part. Descartes argues that since God is said to be supremely good, why would he deceive us? Since God did not create me to be deceived all of the time, why would he allow me to be deceived on any occasion? An argument Descartes makes on the doubt that God exists, is that some people view God as only good and that if He really did exist, no evil things would ever happen.
Descartes tries not to oppose the opinions of others in this first meditation. He wants to imagine that he came to be what he was by fate, chance, or a connected chain of events, or some other way besides God creating him. Since being deceived or even making a mistake is seen as an imperfection, he says that the less powerful they see the creator of who we exist, the more probable it will be that we are so imperfect that we are always deceived. Descartes argues that it is not enough to make these observations and that we must take steps in our lives to remind ourselves of what we believe in and keep them in our memories. We need to take them exactly as what they are, although sometimes we may doubt them, so that it is more consonant to believe them rather than to deny them. This takes Descartes into his first meditation; he forces himself to believe that his creator is not a supremely good God, the source of truth, but rather an evil genius who is powerful, intelligent, and clever. He looks at this evil genius as though he has spent Descartes’ entire life in an attempt to deceive him.
He knocks out his seemingly obvious beliefs of heaven, air, earth, colors, shapes, sounds, and all other external things as nothing but hoaxes of his dreams, things that are not real and that do not exist. All of these things he now doubts. He sees himself now as having no hands, eyes, flesh, blood, any senses; they are just false beliefs that he possesses these things. Even though it is no longer in his power that he knows anything true, it is within his power to take care decisively, to withhold his assent to what is false, although more powerful, however clever and smart this evil genius may be, to have any effect on him. Descartes decides to put aside all of his doubts, as though he has discovered all of his doubts to be false, and decides to stay on this course until he knows something for certain, or in fact that he discovers for certain that nothing is certain.
In “Meditation III: Concerning God, That He Exists”, Descartes closes his eyes, stops his ears, turns away his senses from their objects and begins endeavoring a more intimate knowledge of his self. He clarifies that he is a thinking thing, that he doubts, affirms, denies, knows few objects, and is also ignorant of many things. He recognizes that he is able to love, hate, and perceive. Descartes says that he cannot be certain of anything without knowing if God exists and if he can deceive.
The idea of God is that he is infinite, independent, all powerful and all knowing, the creator of absolutely everything on this Earth, the creator of the earth, the universe, everything. All of these things are so great that the more carefully Descartes looks studies and considers them, the less persuaded he feels that the idea of them owes its origin to his self alone. This makes him come to his conclusion that God absolutely exists. Descartes feels he had to come from God, because if he came from his self, then he would have no doubts or desires or even thoughts of deception. There is no reason that he should continue to exist every day, or even minute, unless there is a higher power, a stronger force, that preserves him, which would be God.
There are many reasons for me, which are different than Descartes reasons that God does in fact exist. Although science has made many breakthroughs trying to doubt God and His existence and all that He has made, they have not necessarily been able to prove he does not exist. The whole entire belief of God relies solely on faith. To have faith is to believe in something that you may not necessarily be able to see. To doubt the existence of God at all, goes against everything that He stands for (even though we all may have doubt in His existence at some point in our lives). Explaining that God exists is nearly impossible, it is something we are taught to believe at a young age (depending on how you were raised of course), without really being explained why or how.
Everyone on this earth has their own personal experiences or beliefs about God, and those who believe in God have found Him in their own unique ways. Sometimes to truly believe in something, we have to doubt it at first and take a journey to find our own personal reasons to believe in it, just as Descartes did. Descartes struggled with an explanation of deceit and mistakes. He did not understand why God would allow those things to happen when he is supposed to represent only honesty and good in the world. An explanation that he did not refer to is the devil. The bible explains to us that God is good and the Devil is bad. From personal experiences, I used to struggle with why God would allow such horrible things to happen, why did he let my friends die in car crashes, why does death even exist at all?
However, later in life, I discovered that the bad does not necessarily come from God, but it comes from the devil. We are to do our best to avoid hateful acts and to overcome evil, which are works of the devil. God is our creator and our reason for being, but we also have a responsibility and choice of life. He has created a world for us that we have taken advantage of and that has managed to unfortunately gain many evil acts and people. We are supposed to live by the bible, if we do not then God’s plan and course is taken astray.
Although He ultimately controls everything, He also allows us to make our own decisions, choose our own paths, learn from our mistakes, and suffer the consequences of those mistakes. It is in our control to determine where we want to go in our lives and where we want to end up in our afterlife. After all, for those of us who believe in God, our being here on earth is only to prepare us for our after life, which hopefully will someday take us to Heaven.