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Descartes believes that science and
religion can co-exist together. In the quest to find this balance he begins to
question everything around him, including himself. Descartes does this to build
the foundation of truth, not truths based on false opinions. He believes that
following the mind will discover these truths rather than our senses. These
senses can sometimes be untrustworthy, and only our mind can help us through
it. 

            In Meditations I, Descartes
begins speaking about skepticism he has believed throughout his life. He
states, “it is now some years since I detected how many were the false beliefs
that I had from my earliest youth admitted as true, and how doubtful was
everything I had since constructed on this basis.” (6) He goes on to say that
as the older he gets, he begins to question things which led him to let go of
past opinions and start anew. Descartes’ skepticism is so broad that “if I am able to find in each one some reason
to doubt, this will suffice to justify my rejecting the whole.” (6) He wants to
makes sure that his new opinions will be based on sound foundations and even
the mere question of one part he will reject it completely.  He then begins to speak on our senses and how
untrustworthy they can be to our foundations. He states, “all that up to the present time I
have accepted as most true and certain I have learned either from the senses or
through the senses.” (7) Descartes also talks about dreams in Meditations I and
states that when he is dreaming, he is aware of real objects. He proposes that
dreaming is made up of real objects in our waking life, not something new or
made up. Descartes gives an example of “painters, even
when they study with the greatest skill to represent sirens and satyrs by forms
the most strange and extraordinary, cannot give them natures which are entirely
new.” (7) For this reason, he cannot distrust the “simple and more universal”
things such as “to wit, a body, eyes, a head, hands, and such.” (7) Descartes
also questions God who is “supremely good.” (8) He describes God as good, and
therefore he cannot be deceived because He would not have put these thoughts
into his mind.  He then describes if
there wasn’t a God but “some evil genius not less powerful than deceitful, has
employed his whole energies in deceiving me.” (8) The purpose of Meditations I is that Descartes
believes that if he is a skeptic that he won’t fall prey to false foundations.  

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            In
Meditations II, Descartes claims “But what then am
I? A thing which thinks.” (10) The Cogito Argument or The Dream Argument is
what Descartes believes that while dreaming and awake we may share similar
objects. Is believing that we are dreaming, but we are fully awake, an act of
deceiving ourselves while dreaming. When dreaming a person may believe that
they are seeing, smelling, touching, hearing, and tasting that same way they
would in their waking life. He states, “so that after having reflected well and
carefully examined all things, we must come to the definite conclusion that
this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time that I pronounce
it, or that I mentally conceive it.” (11)

            In Meditations III, Descartes describes that God is
perfect and that he exists which is the watermark argument for God’s existence.

He states “now all these characteristics are such that the more diligently I attend
to them, the less do they appear capable of proceeding from me alone; hence,
from what has been already said, we must conclude that God necessarily exists.”
(16) In the argument for God’s existence Descartes describes God as “a
substance that is infinite eternal, immutable, independent, all-knowing,
all-powerful, and by which I myself and everything else, if anything else does
exist, have been created.” (16)
He also states that if God is infinite, he then must be “finite” (16)
and that there is more “reality in infinite substance than infinite.” (16)
Descartes concludes that God is far greater than anyone else which he then must
exist. Towards the end of Meditations III, Descartes is convinced that God exists and that he must
also exist. He then begins to question his ideas, stating, “but among
these ideas, some appear to me to be innate, some adventitious, and others to
be formed or invented by myself; for, as I have the power of understanding
what is called a thing, or a truth, or a thought, it appears to me that I hold
this power from no other source than my own nature.” (14) These arguments help support the watermark
argument that God does exist. Descartes is not positive which ideas come from
him or outside of him, but his focus is on those ideas outside of him. Before
concluding that his ideas are from him, he analyzes the idea of God and that it
was not from his senses. He then
assumes “consequently the only alternative is that it is innate in me,
just as the idea of myself is innate in me.” (18)

            In
reading Meditations, I was able to understand Descartes and his way of having
science and religion co-exist. I do believe his remarks on both subjects are
convincing because there are some things or ideas that we cannot explain and
that may come from a higher power. He doesn’t deny that science and religion do
not exist either; he accepts both. Having grown up in a devout Catholic family,
I was thought that somethings that were outside our control we should look to
God for guidance. In school, I learned about Darwin and evolution. I accept
them both and they must exist in relation to each other.   

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