Can Descartes' God be a deceiver?

Essay by CrustyJonesUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 2004

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In this essay I will attempt to show that Descartes' God can be a deceiver. In order to do this I will examine Descartes' arguments against this possibility. Should there still be sufficient cause to consider a deceiving God; this shall then be examined too. For the duration of this essay I shall assume that God exists, as the question of existence holds no real bearing on the intent of this essay.

The argument Descartes gives as to why God cannot be a deceiver is that God is supremely good and would not deceive because it would contradict the idea that God is good. However, the question remains, is God good?

One argument is that if God was good then all that is evil would not exist and that we would never go wrong. Descartes' argument against this is that evil, and everything we perceive as wrong in the world comes from some lack of knowledge.

Since we are finite beings it is only right to assume that we do not know everything, and because of this we can, and will, go wrong.

A counter argument is that a supremely good God would give us this knowledge to save us from harm. But the problem, says Descartes, is the relation between mind and body, exists in such a way that it is 'bound to mislead'. He goes further by suggesting that the mind has in it the ability to make the right decisions, as it were, but due to so many external inputs it is often difficult to do so fully. Essentially this argument shows that Descartes feels that God has given us free choice, and because of this we are open to mistake on occasion, despite our resources.

However, one critic asks 'how can...