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Belief and Reason

“ This leads me to hope that if I here explain the nature of the clouds in such a way that we will no longer have occasion to wonder at anything that can be seen of them, or anything that descends from them, we will easily believe that it is similarly possible to find the causes of everything that is most admirable above the earth.”

   Descartes
  
  Descartes wished to “explain clouds, winds, dew and lightning as mere physical events in order, as he explained, to remove ‘any cause to marvel’”
   It seems to me that if one examines the Descartes view on natural mystery we can understand the aim of studies like these. It’s not unusual for a rationalist to want to banish superstition- we saw this with the Muslims. Descartes wants to change the function of God from a god that makes peasants believe that floods that kill their livestock are the will of a vengeful god to a god that is a creator and architect of nature but not the executor of every act of nature.
   For a man like Descartes, contemplation “meant purely cerebral activity,” so there is no room in his belief for mystics. He seems to want to further the cause of reason, and claims that if he can explain the clouds with reason he can explain everything beyond the clouds with the same reason. This explanation is inadequate for me, because and explanation of the forces behind the clouds- condensation, evaporation, atmospheric pressure, global climate patterns- is still inadequate to explain the clouds. Clouds behave according to more complex mathematical laws than we are capable of grasping.The forces of chaos are so complex that mathematicians are still struggling with the mechanics of chaos, and it seems that a perfectly rational mind is a limited one, just as a purely mystic mind is similarly limited. Only through a union of  these two and other methods of analysis and perception can a comprehensive understanding of what the human relationship with divinity is actually made up of be achieved. 


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