Blaise Pascal was a great French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, inventor, and theologian. He was born on June 19, 1623, and died August 9, 19662 (McFall, 2017). He did he invented game theory and probability theory. On the other side, in philosophy, he was a pioneer in existentialism, and as a writer, Pascal bestowed his efforts in Christianity and thus worn the title the "Defender of Christianity." Pascal went waded a rough road even as he was making the historical contributions, i.e., he was struck by chronic illness. Despite the several contributions Pascal made in various areas, this review is going to explore the gift of this French man in Christianity and philosophy (McFall, 2017).
Pascal bestowed much of his efforts to gather notes and portions he believed would help him write a book called The Defense of Christian Religion. Unfortunately, the philosopher died before the book was written, but the part was published in a collection of thoughtful pieces, notes, and essays called Pensees. The venture into Christian philosophy was occasioned by Pascal`s thinking that "Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next, make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is," as he was quoted by Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Keller, 2014). In this philosophy, Pascal focuses on a manner in which Christian message can be conveyed to those people who don't believe in Christianity. In his view, people are not passionate about Christianity, and nobody wants Christianity to be real. However, Pascal believed that even though people were no objective about Christianity and did not want it to be true, he thought that the same people were afraid it could be true. The group of people in this context include the fair-minded who had their reasons for not seeing to Christianity to be true and those that are not fair-minded but just belittle and satirize Christianity. In the same note, Pascal believed that no one was neutral. According to him, a section of the people thought that if they allow Christianity to take its course, then they would not be able to live the way they would want to. As a result, such people advocating against it and would believe and accept any objection about Christianity that they would hear.
Now, the next critical question for Pascal was what the response of the Christians is? His thought landed on certain stages that could help someone to believe in Christianity. His first strategy was to disarm and surprise the non-believers. Since many people think that Christianity doesn't make sense at any given degree, they would celebrate if they hear about irrational, intemperate and hypocritical Christians (Rota, 2017). However, according to Pascal if Christian's characters prevail, then such thought would be broken. The second strategy is whereby Pascal urges Christian to be more proactive- they should make Christianity attractive and make the non-believers to believe that Christianity is real. Therefore, Christians should be determined to take their space in society but should not make Christianity look like what it is not. To support the philosophy, Pascal refuted the claims that reason and science alone can result in a person knowing God. He also believed that belief comes through 'heart' perception that understands without devising to use logic. The philosophy of Pascal denotes that God grace can make people feel in Christianity. He advised people not to be astonished by the people who are believers without having to us specific reasons (Rota, 2017). He argues that it is God that makes them believe in him and hate themselves- he disposes of their heart to be believers.
Pascal also advises that people will never be believers worth vigorous and unquestioning faith unless God intervenes their hearts. In the Pensees, the philosopher presented his popular argument for belief known as the wager. According to this argument, Pascal says that because reason cannot make an individual to have definite certainty, he concluded people should risk belief in something. He addressed the inability that reason and rationality pose to ideal believe by commenting that if one acts as he trusts something them that could cure their unbelief (McFall, 2017). The possibilities expressed by Pascal`s wager can be presented as a decision under ambiguity, will spectra of the decision matrix illustrated below (Keller, 2014):
- God exists (G) God does not exist (G)
- Belief (B) + (infinite gain) 1 (finite loss)
- Disbelief (B) (infinite loss) +1 (finite gain)
From the values above, the option of believing that God exists is higher than the belief that God does not exist.
Now, Pascal`s wager did not lack criticism from an atheist who questioned the benefits of Christian beliefs. Pascal`s wager was aimed at proving that logical reasoning cannot backup faith or lack of confidence. Despite the different take on reliance on God, from Pascal`s work if individuals believe or don't believe, their reasons justify their positions they have chosen and thus belief in Christianity has nothing to do with objective evidence regardless of the situation (Hacking, 1972).
Hacking, I. (1972). The logic of Pascal's wager. American Philosophical Quarterly, 9(2), 186-192.
Keller, Tim.. (2014, Feb. 25 ). In Pascal's Method for Presenting the Christian Faith. Retrieved Mar. 24, 2019, from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/pascals-method-for-presenting-the-christian-faith/McFall, M. T. (2017). Taking Pascal's Wager: Faith, Evidence, and Abundant Life, by Michael Rota. Teaching Philosophy, 40(1), 116-119.
Rota, M. (2017). Pascal's wager. Philosophy Compass, 12(4), e12404.
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