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The Miracle of Theism 2: Descartes and the Idea of God

10/26/2011

(a) The Argument of the Third Meditation- Exposition
The line of argumentation goes something like this:

People have a concept of God as the infinitely powerful, perfect, creator and sustainer of the universe. This concept can’t come from other mental contents, nor can it be derived from the perception of other material things. Therefore it must have a source outside of my mind, and it must have the features I imagine.

God exists because we can think of God, and that idea can’t come from us or the universe, only from God himself.

(b) The Argument of the Third Meditation- Discussion
The response is that we do not in fact have a conception of the infinite. We just extrapolate from finite things. We can imagine the times where we knew something, or where we lacked knowledge. Omniscience then is an extrapolation of that thought, where we have none of that lack, only the positive. Same with omnipotence and other ideas.

Next, we need not imagine perfection to see our imperfections. I lack glasses. I can imagine having glasses. I need not imagine perfection to imagine a lack, and a fixing of this lack. All such desires can be describes as such, without appealing to perfection.

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