God Does Not Necessarily Have to Exist
In Descartes’ Meditations, he makes the strong claim that God must exist. I will first explain what Descartes’s argument for God’s existence is, and then I will attempt to support the argument that God does not need to necessarily exist through objections and replies.
Premise 1: “We have an idea of God as an infinite and perfect being.”
First, Descartes believes that there are properties that are inherently perfect. For example, being good is a perfection while being bad is an imperfection. A perfect being has all the perfections as properties. We have an idea of such a being as God.
Premise 2: “Our minds are not infinite.”
To begin this argument, Descartes entertains the idea that he cannot be certain of anything in the world, that everything known to him could be the result of an evil spirit’s deception. The only assurance he finds is “Cogito Ergo Sum;” I think, therefore I must exist, at the very least, as a thinking thing at this moment in time. With this foundation, he moves on to argue that since his extensions, his imagination, and his senses can deceive him, he is a finite, limited, imperfect being. In other words, his mind is also not perfect.
Premise 3: “A cause must have at least as much reality as its effects.”
Descartes believes that things have both Formal Reality as well as Objective Reality. If an entity has Formal Reality, it will exist in the world as a substance. If an object has Objective Reality, it will exist as an idea. However, Descartes believe that things are not just “real” or “unreal.” He thinks that some things are more real or have more Formal Reality than others. Ideas are also “real” by his definition (less than actual material things with material substance), but they exist as a representation of an idea (contains Objective Reality). So since every idea is a mode and has Objective Reality, it must also have some amount of Formal Reality. He then argues that because we have an...
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