The proof utilized by Descartes to show that God exists is quite complicated and unpredictable. It first starts with analysis of skeptical thoughts and then turns around to disapprove them.
The existence of God
Descartes first established the first truth principle through his theory of ideas. Here, he described ideas as representations of things that actually existed. Therefore even though the representations may not be truthful, this does not eliminate the fact that they are distinct. Descartes then goes on to classify these ideas by asserting that ideas can either be derived from other people, or they can be created in one’s own mind. Alternatively, they may be put there by God. The first two sources of ideas are unreliable representations of truth because one can presume that the external does not exist (the material world is debatable) and that one’s imagination was deceiving oneself.
Consequently, the only route to determining whether ideas are reliable is by examining the notion of God. If God really exists, then it should be possible to prove that this is so. One way is by using the source of the idea and the character of that idea. An infinite idea is nearer reality than a finite one. God’s character is thought to be the ultimate description of infinite and the source of that idea should also be infinite. Since these two correspond then God does actually exists (Desmond, 45).
Descartes justified the assumption that God is the ultimate by first starting with himself as a human being. He made the claim that he did exist; that all human beings are aware of this fact. Also, all human beings are imperfect so they could not have been responsible for creating themselves. Instead, another being is responsible for this. All other humans including one’s parents or one’s ancestors can be traced back to one ultimate and prefect being which in this case is God. There must have been one being that was not brought on by others and or one that existed by default and this was God.
This philosopher then goes on to add a few character traits to this ultimate being. In order for God to be perfect, then he must be devoid of any kind of flaws and this includes deception. Besides, an omnipotent being does not find it relevant to engage in lies. This means that the idea of doubting such a perfect being should be put away. In essence, Descartes was saying that human beings are thinkers- from their ideas. And that the fact that they were capable of doubting their existence or even thinking about it illustrated that they were real. He then traced this to a real God and therefore, using this kind for reasoning, Descartes was able to prove that God is real (Desmond, 82).
On the other hand, when one considers the concepts of the material world, true certainty can never really be reached when the senses are involved because everything eventually gets traced to the mind. For example he describes a piece of wax which is initially perceived by the senses when in solid state. However, when placed near a flame, all the characteristics of the wax alter although human beings still continue to identify it as wax. This is an indication that they employed the mind rather than the senses in order to make sense of the external world.
The existence of the world is therefore highly dependent on perceptions and these are highly unreliable. Furthermore, the senses are not willed by the human being; they are granted to the individual by an external party and this often leaves them open to debate. In essence, it is indeed possible to imagine ideas concerning the world, the sky and other similar elements of the external world. To this effect, this makes the external world an imperfect measure of existence. Because their being rely on a priori thinking, then in themselves, objects cannot represent ultimate reality. To Descartes, it is therefore easier to prove that God exists and the external world is unreliable because man is a thinking thing.
Why I do not agree with Descartes
First, Descartes utilizes the concept of God to prove that ideas are distinct. On the other hand, he goes ahead and illustrates that God exists because of the prevalence of the reality of ideas. To this effect, the latter individual uses circular reasoning to make his point (Desmond, 245).
Another reason why one can easily disagree with the assertions made by Descartes concerning the existence of God is the very principle behind it. Matters of God and his existence are based on the concept of faith. Indeed this is what makes religion unique because it is not based on evidence and proof; it is founded on the belief in things that have not yet been established. At one point in my life, I was going through a really difficult time. One of my closest family members had been admitted to hospital for over six weeks. She had trouble moving her leg and had been told by doctors and other medical practitioners that she would not recover.
However, with time, she started telling other people that she would one day walk because she believed that God was real and that he was listening to her everyday prayer. One day, we simply walked in her room and found her limping around. She explained to us that it was her faith in God that caused this miracle. Even though I did not have her degree of faith, I found that in matters of God, this concept played a crucial role. Furthermore, God’s existence should be at the very centre of one’s life. However, as it can be seen from Descartes arguments, God was utilized as a way of creating a philosophical argument. Therefore, I do not agree with Descartes based on the way he handled this subject of God.
The controversies in Descartes proof of the existence of God and the lack of proof for the external world stem from the fact that he appears oblivious to matters of faith and he uses circular reasoning to prove his assumptions.
Desmond, Clarke. Descartes: a biography, Cambridge: Cambridge university press, 2006.