Rationalists believed that an important group of foundational concepts are known through reason, as opposed to Empiricists who believed they are known through experiences like sense perceptions and emotions. Rationalists believed in truths through our innate ideas. Empiricists used deductive reasoning putting greater emphasis on the inductive method. These different beliefs bread different conclusions about the mind, about the external world, and about God. In my paper, I will discuss Spinoza's rationalist perception of the knowledge of God.
Spinoza had a very different belief of God, unlike the beliefs of philosophers before him. Spinoza believed that God was here on earth. He was everything in nature. He said "God is all, and all is God"(Sophie's World, P249). He didn't believe that God is no more than the sum of what exists. Instead, he thought that God had infinite qualities of which we can only perceive only two, thought and extension. Therefore, God must also exist in dimensions far beyond those of the visible world.
Spinoza was much a pantheist, believing that God is identical to the universe as a whole. For example, my car, my desk, my philosophy notes, and even myself are all parts of God. This is where Spinoza separates his views from the cast majority of western philosophers and theologians. They strongly rejected this view in favor of a transcendent concept of God, which holds that God is distinct from his creation.
The way Spinoza comes to these conclusions starts out by stating the relationship between nature and God. In nature everything is either thought or extension. The various things we see or experience in every day life, for example a tree or a speech by the president, are different modes of the attribute of thought or extension. A mode is the particular manner which substance, God, or nature assumes. A tree is a mode of extension, and a speech by the president is the mode of thought.