Philosophy Proof for Gods Existence Question
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Philosophy Proof for Gods Existence Question
The Problem of Dualism and a Proof for God’s Existence
Some Background: In his cogito ergo sum argument, Descartes tried to show us that our conscious mind exists as a form of reality that is radically different from our body. The philosophical problem that this creates is if they are so completely different, then how they are related to each other. How can the mind affect the body and the body affect the mind? Descartes tried to show that the answer to these questions forces us to consider the role that God must play in holding these two sides of reality together.
Descartes’ Argument: Descartes’ first point is that we must use deductive reasoning as our method for solving the mind/body problem. This means that we must identify an idea that is certain and indubitable, and then show how the answer to the mind/body problem follows with perfect logic from this foundation. Descartes calls these foundational ideas “innate ideas,”
Descartes sees his task as one where he must identify an idea powerful enough to explain the unity of mind and body. He argues that only the concept of “God” can do this. He argues that if we can prove with indubitable certainty that God exists, then we can show how God is the unity of mind and body, as well as the unity of subjective thought with the objective material world.
To prove God’s existence, Descartes once again asserts that any idea, which is certain, will tell us about reality. Thus, we do not need to “see” God with our eyes to know that there is a God. All we need to do is to reflect rationally upon our “idea” of God. Descartes reasons as follows: We have an “idea” of God as an eternal, infinite, and perfect being. The existence of this idea is a fact. But where could such an idea come from? There are only four possibilities. It could come from me, in the sense that I could have made it up or I could be hallucinating. Or, the idea could have come from my cultural environment, and I just picked it up from my socialization. Or, it could be a false idea planted in me by Descartes’ “evil genius.” Or, the idea of God could have come from God.
Now we get to the crux of his argument. Since you cannot get something from nothing, it follows that the origin of the idea cannot be less than the idea. In the language of science, a cause must be greater than or equal to the effect it produces. This principle brings us to these questions “How can imperfect things like an evil genius, our culture, or me produce an idea of perfection? And how could these finite things produce in me an idea of infinity? Since only God is infinite and perfect, and ideas of infinity and perfection cannot be produced by a cause that is less than these ideas, it follows that only God could produce in me an idea of God. Therefore, we conclude with deductive certainty that God must exist.
Now, if God is perfection, then it also follows deductively that God must embrace both mind and matter. Anything less would be a limitation on God and an im-perfection. For example, it would be a limitation to say that God is “just” an idea we have. To be both infinite and perfect, God must exist both inside our thoughts and outside of them as well.
In other words, if an all-powerful being exists then this being would embrace the unity of all things, including the unity to mind and body.
Your assignment is to write a three-to-four-page paper (about 1000 words), which responds to this question:
Did Descartes successfully prove not only that God exists, but also that God is the force which unifies my mind, (and perhaps my soul as well), with my body?
Your paper should be organized into the three sections described below. Please use the section headings Part One, Part Two, and Part Three, within your paper.
Part One: Argument Analysis. Break down Descartes’ overall argument into three or four smaller, and more manageable, chunks. What are his key premises? How does he move from premise to conclusion? For example, he presents us with the premises that (1) we have an idea of perfection, and (2) we ourselves are not perfect. From these premises, he draws the conclusion that it is not possible for us to just “make up” the idea. Within this section of your paper, just present some of Descartes’ arguments, don’t challenge or defend them. (Also, don’t try to present them all. Keep your focus on just three or four). This section of your paper should be at least 200 words.
Part Two: Argument Evaluation.
Now that you have presented some of his arguments, discuss them critically. Are the premises safe to accept, or is he making unsafe assumptions? If we do accept them, do they take us logically to their conclusions, or is he making some illogical leaps? Your evaluation should make explicit use of concepts such as “assumption,” “soundness” and “validity,” as these are presented within the discussion of critical thinking within Unit One of this course. This section of your paper should be at least 300 words.
Part Three: Conclusion. In this section, set aside Descartes’ attempted solution to the mind/body problem, and consider it in a more general way. Does the human mind exist as anything more than the biological functioning of the body (especially the brain)? If this is all that it is, does the mind die when the brain dies? On the other hand, if the mind does have a different sort of reality than the body, then how do we explain the interaction between them? How do my non-material beliefs and life choices move my material body into action? Likewise, how does stubbing my material toe produce a non-material pain? Is the pain in my mind or in my toe – or both places at once?
Your conclusion will not be evaluated on whether I agree with what you are saying. I am looking at your understanding of the issues surrounding Descartes’ views, but mostly I am looking at the amount of depth, development, and thoughtfulness that you bring to the questions that have been presented to you. To this end, avoid expressions such as “I feel” and “In my opinion.” Provide thinking rather than feeling and arguments rather than opinions. This section of your paper should be at least 500 words.