I learned why the teacher mentioned Descartes in step two of my Proof of the Mischievous God (see my previous post). Descartes had essentially devoted his life to the question expressed in step two.
To reiterate, step two states the following.
2) God can, then, influence the human mind and make one believe whatever He wants us to believe. This would certainly fall under the heading of what an all powerful person could do.
Descartes had asked himself the same question. Is there anything that God couldn’t possible fool us about? Anything that is, to use his word, indubitable, that is, free from all doubt?
Descartes spent years on the question. He was a deeply religious man, and wanted to believe that there was some absolute in the universe, some gift that God had given that was beyond all doubt, that we could use to build all of our other proofs about the universe from.
His answer finally came out as the famous expression, one that I hadn’t understood until then. “Cogito Ergo Sum”, or, more commonly, “I think, therefore, I am.”
What Descartes concluded was that God could not possibly be fooling us about our own existence. How could God possibly be tricking us into believing that we exist? If we didn’t exist, who, indeed, would he be tricking?
How could He, indeed.
God could, if He was mischievous and chose to do so, make us believe that two plus two equals five with the same certainty and conviction that we believe, “Cogito Ergo Sum.”
The point is, there could be a flaw in the logic of, “Cogito Ergo Sum.” that we are missing, or something obvious that we are being kept from seeing.
Can I point out what this flaw is? Of course not, because I believe it to be true. The logic of his point seems to be irrefutable.
But Descartes was the one who made the rules here. The legal system tells its jurors that, to find someone guilty, they must be guilty beyond “reasonable” doubt.
By Descartes’ rules, the word “reasonable” no longer applies. We are no longer talking about “reasonable” doubt, but to be completely beyond “any” doubt.
Descartes’ question is, in essence, is there anything that we can know for sure that is beyond unreasonable doubt. The problem, of course, is that once one throws out reason, anything goes. Logic no longer applies. A madman who is convinced that he is being tricked by God into believing he exists will except no demonstration that he is wrong.
Cogito Ergo Sum depends upon reason, but reason is one of the conditions that doesn’t apply under Descartes rules.
The General Uncertainty Principle does not require that the flaw be pointed out. All it does is state that a flaw could exist beyond our ability to see it.
To reiterate, NOTHING can be proven beyond all possible doubt, for all possible doubt includes unreasonable doubt, and without reason, the very concept of proof becomes meaningless.
Thereby, if I were to introduce unreasonable “what ifs” to any statement, such as, what if a statement, such as “a=a”, is wrong and God / Venusians / The Flying Spaghetti Monster / The Invisible Pink Unicorn is only making you BELIEVE the statement to be correct, then the statement has not been proven beyond ALL possible doubt.
After I wrote out my little principle, I turned stupid for the next decade or so.
I loved this theory. I loved the logic of the theory. And, like a man who falls in love with and marries an axe murderess because she’s got nice boobs, I paid too much attention to the outstanding attributes and almost lost my head.
I spent the next several years of my life believing that absolutely nothing was provable ‑ ‑ that nothing could really be demonstrated with certainty, therefore anything was possible. I became deeply philosophical during this period of my life. No one could ever get a straight answer out of me. I would respond to peoples concerns with relaxed, knowing smiles. Nothing mattered, so no decision was demonstrably better than any other in the long run.
This is the same fallacy that the nihilist falls into. Its a basic belief that just because nothing can be proven beyond all possible doubt that nothing can be known or proven at all.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it gives equal weight to reasonable doubt and to unreasonable doubt. There is absolutely nothing in the argument that suggests that this is necessary. In the tautological statement “a=a”, we are faced with the overwhelming logic of it’s obvious correctness. This statement is the cornerstone of all reason. If it is not true, then nothing else we have ever thought of can be true.
The only way it can be stated as being possibly false is by invoking the Venusian clause. But, even if the Venusians existed, there is absolutely no reason for us to believe that they would be able to, much less want to, make us believe this. One would have to be unreasonable to the point of insanity to seriously doubt that this statement is correct.
In other words, just because something is not provable beyond all possible doubt does not mean that it isn’t true. Just because it is possible to doubt something does not mean that it is wrong. To believe otherwise is not … uh … reasonable.
Therefore, I retract my argument that it is impossible to prove God’s existence. God could very easily prove his existence by making his existence known beyond reasonable doubt in a multitude of ways. Sending the same message to everyone on earth while simultaneously making all the non-believers walk around and quack like a duck would go a long way toward demonstrating His existence. I still maintain that it is unlikely that we will ever be able to prove His existence beyond a direct demonstration on His part, but I don’t have a proof for this; it’s just a statement of belief. I can imagine several ways by which science could come up with reasonable proofs for God. Nothing yet, but that doesn’t mean anything either.
Love and peace,