Saturday, July 07, 2018

Pascal on the Christian religion

“The Christian religion, then, teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer.” Pascal's Pensées , p. 153, Gutenberg  e-book, Section VII, The fundamentals of the Christian religion.

Pascal died a very young man—39--and Pensees was published after his death, and was assumed to be notes for a larger, more polished work. T.S. Eliot (20th century American/British poet and social critic), in the book’s introduction, implies his religious, theological and science ideas are so well known, he hardly needed to review them. That, of course, is not true—not sure it ever was. My own formal education is quite lacking in philosophy, religion, literature and the mathematical sciences, although that isn’t always the case for others my age, I’m guessing it is for today’s students.  I believe I was in a Bible study many years ago and did come across his famous wager for the existence of God. "If you win, you win everything; if you lose, you lose nothing."

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