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The Religious Affiliation of philosopher and mathematician
Rene Descartes


Descartes: "Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His school studies made him dissatisfied with previous philosophy: He had a deep religious faith as a Catholic, which he retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth. At the age of 24 he had a dream, and felt the vocational call to seek to bring knowledge together in one system of thought. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted - suggesting the famous 'I think therefore I am'. Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God - for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy. What he really wanted was to see his philosophy adopted as standard Catholic teaching. Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are generally regarded as the key figures in the development of scientific methodology. Both had systems in which God was important, and both seem more devout than the average for their era." [Source: http://astro.estec.esa.nl/SA-general/Projects/Planck/mplanck/mplanck.html].

From: Rich Deem, "Famous Scientists Who Believed in God", last modified 19 May 2005, on "Evidence for God from Science" website (http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html; viewed 5 October 2005):

Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His school studies made him dissatisfied with previous philosophy: He had a deep religious faith as a Catholic, which he retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth. At the age of 24 he had a dream, and felt the vocational call to seek to bring knowledge together in one system of thought. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted - suggesting the famous "I think therefore I am". Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God - for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy. What he really wanted was to see his philosophy adopted as standard Catholic teaching. Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are generally regarded as the key figures in the development of scientific methodology. Both had systems in which God was important, and both seem more devout than the average for their era.

[Sources:] S. Gaukroger, Descartes, an Intellectual Biography (1995), M. R. Keith, Rene Descartes: The Story of the Soul (1987)

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Webpage created 12 July 2005. Last modified 5 October 2005.
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