Pesky Pascal

The problem of God’s existence and purpose in the face of evil has plagued theologians and philosophers as long as there have been men wondering about creation and the divine. It is the big “why?”

Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth century French mathematician and theologian. In his famous series of essays, Pensees (Thoughts), he laid down a marker, a logical test of faith in the form of a wager:

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having, neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is … you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then without hesitation that He is.

I’ll take the wager, but I’m a believing Christian already. For an atheist’s take, I recommend A Skeptic’s Guide to Christianity. That recommendation has absolutely no endorsement attached to it. I found the site by accident, and found it to have some decent internal logic.

Notice I wrote “internal.” The author, Paul Tobin, goes to great lengths to discredit Christianity by, among other things, ad hominen attacks on major figures in the Church’s history. Which is typically what folks do when they can’t argue something on its merits. Of course he went too far when he attacked John Calvin…

Nevertheless, Mr. Tobin has a rather complete dissertation on evil and its role in (according to him) disproving Christianity. Which he fails to do, but it’s useful to keep tabs on our adversaries. What I would pray for would be for Paul Tobin, and others like him, to see the light by seeing the Light that is Christ.

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