Descartes and Hume the Philosophical Perspective on God

I. Introduction
At the rise of the philosophy and what it threatens to change in the social way of life, there are many entrenched institutions reacting against philosophy. One of these is religion and the church. Faith and the ideas of god and other aspects of religion are hard to prove and define. As philosophy seek explanation and proof for everything and criticizes those which cannot be proven, religion understood the serious implications of this development and was also critical of what the philosophers started to write and preach. The philosophical inquiry about god and religion has impacted strongly the ideas as well as the lives of many different important persons who nonetheless contributed significantly to the growth and development of the society. Two of the most famous philosophers of their time - Rene Descartes and David Hume - touched upon the idea of god and talked about it in their philosophical perspectives. Their ideas strongly impacted not just their own lives but the beliefs of other people too, making them important figures in the analysis and discussion of the concept of god in a philosophical perspective and context.

II. Discussion
Both Descartes and Hume touched upon the topic of and discussion of god and religion and related issues and ideas. Although not the strongest suit of both men and clearly not the area which they are considered as professionals and credible authorities, the two philosophers nonetheless left a legacy to the world with regards to their own ideas, thoughts and positions regarding the issues of god and religion. In comparative analysis between the two, it is noticeable that the two philosophers possess certain parallelisms as well as differences in this particular area of discussion in philosophy.

A. Their works and ideas on god and religion
It is even surprising that Descartes, dubbed as champion of God (Bush, 1962, p. 365) would even hint about his doubts, questions and skepticisms about the idea of god and this entitys role and importance in the life of the individual. This is considering not just his own works but also the main and core ideas of other philosopher writers whom he followed and whose works inspired him and his own works. One example is St. Augustine who is a very devout Catholic who strongly believed in god. Descartes was also schooled in an institution ran by devout priests - the Jesuits. Nonetheless, Descartes ideas about god and religion and the natural system of things, among others, were considered by religious groups and supporters as against religious tenets and dogma. Descartes ideas were attacking the religious institution at the time (Clarke, 2006, p. 423). Some of Descartes works were dangerous to the Catholic faith (Clarke, 2006, p. 423).

There are many proofs that Descartes was against the ideas of god and religion present and existing at the time. These proofs are the same things that church leaders saw and learned about resulting to severe actions. This includes his works being listed in the Index of Prohibited Books and the theory that his death was because of his potential ability to influence Queen Christina towards ideals that may go against existing ideas regarding god, religion and church. In the end, it was his pursuit to prove and understand his role in developing the science in natural sciences that go counter with the ideas of god and religion. For that, he was considered as against the church and its ideals and beliefs, including god (Clarke, 2006, p. 423).

The society attacked Descartes in the same way they attacked Hume largely because of Humes ideas and beliefs that challenge the very core and concept of god and religion and church. For Hume, he challenged not just the concept of god but also the role of god in the society, as a means to control through religion and church. While many believed that he was not an atheist also because of the fact that he does not believe in this also, analysts and critics believe that Hume was seen by the society as an atheist nonetheless. Because of that, Hume became a victim via actions that were deliberately done because of their disapproval of Humes beliefs, ideas and perspective regarding god and religion (Mossner, 2001, p. 392).

An example of this is his failure to land the job at University of Edinburgh which is believed to be caused by Humes position and ideas on the concept of god. This rendered him as an atheist in the eyes of the people, although what they dont know is that Humes take on this issue is more complex than that. Descartes was not dubbed as a heretic but Hume was (Mossner, 2001, p. 392), providing insight on the vast difference on how the two were perceived with regards to their position in the issue of god and other religion-based aspects and issues.

B. Points of similarity
If there is a point in similarity or points of parallelism between the Descartes and Hume with regards to the discussion of god and religion, it would have been in these aspects. First, both Descartes and Hume have been considered as philosophers who confused other philosophers because their position in god and religion is contradicting based on what they write, what they believe and what they say about god and religion. Second, the two philosophers approached the concept of god with strong skepticism and critical analysis. Lastly, the two philosophers undertook particular interest in a particular aspect of the issue and discussion of god.

The first similarity is noticeable when one reviews the life and philosophy of both Descartes and Hume. Descartes appeared to be a strong Catholic, there are many individuals including some of his contemporaries who believed that Descartes was actually veiling religiosity for other purposes and that in closer scrutiny of his works. Descartes was actually against the thought of God or at least is not interested with and believes to be not affected by any other act of God after creation. Descartes philosophy was based strongly on the discussion of issues involving man and existence as well as mathematics, and very little about God. One of the writings touching the topic of god and religion was Meditations. Here, Descartes appears to be showing his belief in the religion and its tenets, and in the idea of the function of the physical body.

The main artery that confuses critics and makes them believe Descartes has his own moments of being atheist and non-believer is because of his attitude that he pursues the establishment of truth based on what is established and proven and that any other things besides this is not true or nonexistent even. In his study of the human body as a machine, his considerations are focused mainly on how the human body acts scientifically and systematically, without room for consideration on the superstitious and the supernatural and thus, indirectly, dismissing the role of god. In Meditation, Descartes actually admitted the role of and presence of a God, and what this god does to human beings. Descartes investigation was proving how the human body functions and works with scientific merit, something that is not suitable in proving the existence of a god.

As for Hume, society has openly discovered his lack of strong pro-position on God and religion, but there is not enough evidence to establish that Hume indeed is anti-god since Humes ideas appeared to be somewhere in between - he alludes to an entity responsible for some of the things in life but he also openly criticizes what he believes as the negative or undesirable characteristics of both the Roman Catholic faith and Protestantism, not to mention his attacking the cosmological proofs for the existence of God (Noll, 2002, p. 108). He was skeptical and doubtful about religion but is also not very much interested or swayed by the ideas of atheism. Because of this, his contemporaries as well as those who came after him, wondered what exactly is Humes personal position on god and religion. His works like Of Miracles strongly challenge god and religion. However, in his work The Natural History of Religion, he points to a certain individual or entity whose intelligence was responsible for the whole design of nature as it is seen and experienced.

Hume, and in a certain extent even Descartes, showed degrees of skepticism and critical analysis on god and religion, although the results of these efforts at analysis varied from one philosopher to the other. During the time of Hume and Descartes and considering their place of birth and practice, it is not surprising that their lives and their consciousness are touched by the idea of god and religion. These two are important and consistent aspects which are socially-shared. Because of this experience in the god-thought or the preoccupation on the idea of, existence and role of god, these two philosophers included in their works theological discussions and explanations touching and discussing god and their particular position regarding that matter.

C. Differences
If there have been any differences, one would stand out among the rest. Hume critically challenged the idea of god and religion. Descartes, through his writings, tried to defend the idea of god and religion, although it is quite uncertain if he did this because of his responsibility as a philosopher or because of his moral obligation as a Roman Catholic. Other differences between the two are found on other areas of philosophical discussion. For example, Descartes was a strong supporter of rationalism while Hume was an empiricist who challenged the ideas of rationalism. Other difference is the manner by which the two worked on the philosophical explanation regarding god and religion. Descartes was not as involved and immersed as Hume was. Although both worked on diverse field of philosophical inquiry and discussion, the two also have different reasons and considerations why their exploration regarding the issues of god and religion was characterized by what they managed to accomplish in discussion and analysis about this particular issue.

III. Conclusion
What and who is god, really What is his role Does god really exist, and more importantly, how can this be proven These are just some of the questions that philosophers try to answer in the philosophical perspective and discussion on god. Unfortunately, some of the answers to these questions which philosophers like Rene Descartes and David Hume provided are ideas that potentially threatens the traditional foundation of church and religious beliefs. This makes Descartes and Hume and their ideas on god something that is considered as controversial as well as critical in the development of the appreciation and understanding of religious aspects.


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