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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Man's Habit of Avoiding Despair with Distraction

Blasé Pascal, in his Pensees, reflected on how hopeless life is without God. He believes that all men can recognize their state if they are honest with themselves, but most men try to lie to themselves and seek to escape this conclusion through distraction instead of looking for God. However, looking for God isn't enough. Pascal is keenly aware of the competing claims different faiths have about who God is and what man's end will be. However, it isn't the threat of damnation that is the convincing proof of Christianity's truth. It is the prophecies of the coming Christ that demonstrate the divine origin of the scriptures. Here's the passage:
When I see man's blindness and wretchedness, when I consider the whole silent universe and man left to himself without light, as though lost in this corner of the universe, not knowing who put him there, what he has come to do, what will become of him at death, incapable of any understanding, I become frightened, like someone brought in his sleep to a frightening desert island who wakes up with no knowledge or means of escape. And then I marvel that we do not fall into despair in so wretched a state. I see other people around me of a similar nature. I ask them whether they are better informed than I am. They tell me they are not. Then these wretched lost souls look around and see some pleasant objects to which they give themselves and become attached. As for me, I have not been able to become attached, and, considering how much more likely it is that there is something other than what I see, I have sought out whether this God has not left some sign of himself.

I see many contrary religions, and so all of them false but one. Each of them wants to be believed on its own authority and threatens un­believers. I do not therefore believe them on that account. Anyone can say this. Anyone can call himself a prophet. But I see Christianity, where I find prophecies, and this is not something anyone can do.
It has been nearly 400 years since Pascal wrote those words, yet we still see people seeking to distract themselves with "some pleasant object" (usually including a wifi connection). And still only Christ can truly answer the despair of men's souls.


1. Pascal, Blasé. Pensees. Edited and translated by Roger Ariew. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing CO., 2005) 57-58.

1 comment:

  1. He wasn't hopeless. He was just "Blasé" I guess ...


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