Skepticism is the philosophical belief that doubts whether or not any of our knowledge is true. Hume as well as Descartes have a complex relationship with skepticism. In several of their works, the philosophers respond to skepticism through the use of skepticism. In Descartes Fifth meditation he uses skepticism to address the idea of God. Hume uses skepticism in Section II of the Enquiry in order to discuss the origin of mans idea of God. The idea of a God is a very skeptical idea, Descartes has the most successful response to the question of if God exists due to the logic in is skepticism.
Hume wrote, nothing, at first view, may seem more unbounded than the thought of man, which not only escapes all human power and authority, but is not even restrained within the limits of nature and reality. In this passage Hume is discussing the ideas that man has and the power of his mind. He goes on further to say that while the body is confined to one planet, along which it creeps with pain and difficulty, the thought can in an instant transport us into the most distant regions of the universe. It is with this very power of the human mind in which we consider the idea of God.
Hume believes that the idea of God arises from reflecting on the operations of our mind and augmenting, without limit, those qualities of goodness and wisdom. Hume is implying that the idea of God already exists in our minds. According to Hume, every idea the human mind has is imitated from a comparable impression. However the term impression relates to all of our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. If every idea comes from an impression, then the idea of God comes from the impression we get when we think about all that is good in the world. We augment that feeling and get the impression that there is one higher power that is infinitely intelligent, wise, and good being.
Clearly the ide of God, that is the idea of a supremely perfect being, is one I discover to be no less within me than the idea of any figure or number. Descartes goes on further to say that the existence of God ought to have for me at least the same degree of certainty that truths of mathematics had until now. Descartes is implying that the idea of a God actually exists should be as certain as the laws of mathematics, meaning when we add one plus one, we know the answer is two, we should know there is a God, just as we know the answer is two. Furthermore, there is a great difference between false assumptions and the true ideas that are inborn in me, the first and chief of which is the idea of God.
Descartes is saying that the idea of God is something that is already in our minds, and that it is not an assumption but a truth. Thus it is no less contradictory to think of God lacking existence than it is to think of a mountain without a valley. Here Descartes is taking a truth and comparing it to God s existence. When Descartes compares truths with Gods existence, eventually, Gods existence becomes a truth. Hume believes that every idea comes from an impression, and the idea of God comes from the impression we get when we think about all that is good in the world. According to Hume, we take the ideas we have on wisdom and goodness, and we augment them into the idea of a God.
Descartes believes that the idea of God is something that is already in our minds, and that we do not assume that God exists, we know he exists, just as we know that one plus one is two. Descartes response is more logical because of the examples he uses in order to relate to the existence of God. The examples Descartes use help to clarify his beliefs about God, and that is why Descartes response is the more successful of the two.