Back when I did the post on Buridan's ass, I was really going to post something on Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623–August 19, 1662) since it was the 384th anniversary of Pascal's birth. Not that I keep track of these things, it had just been mentioned on TV and jogged my memory a bit. Pascal has his own "philosophical mind game," along the lines of Buridan's ass.
Blaise Pascal is from the old, old school of scientists. The ones that were both schooled in science and in theology. Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum. As an engineer in my past life, I dealt with "Pascals" (a unit of pressure equivalent to one newton per square meter) on a daily basis, but never really gave much thought to the man behind the units.
Pascal's wager is actually very simple and it's simplicity brings about criticism and atheistic parallels. I don't believe Pascal, who possessed a mind of incredible talent, was using his wager to prove anything, but as a ponderable for those who didn't believe in God. An impetus to start a conversation, not an end in itself.
The Wager is described by Pascal in the Pensées this way:
Let us consider the paraphrased translation of Pascal. "God either exists or He doesn't. Based on the testimony, both general revelation (nature) and special revelation (Scriptures/Bible), it is safe to assume that God does in fact exist. It is abundantly fair to conceive, that there is at least 50% chance that the Christian Creator God does in fact exist. Therefore, since we stand to gain eternity, and thus infinity, the wise and safe choice is to live as though God does exist. If we are right, we gain everything, and lose nothing. If we are wrong, we lose nothing and gain nothing. Therefore, based on simple mathematics, only the fool would choose to live a Godless life. Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have nothing to lose. 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."
In his Wager, Pascal attempts to provide an analytical process for a person to evaluate options in regarding belief in God. This is often misinterpreted as simply believing in God or not. As Pascal sets it out, the options are two: live as if God exists, or live as if God does not exist. There is no third possibility.
Therefore, we are faced with the following possibilities:
You live as though God exists. If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing. You live as though God does not exist. If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.
With these possibilities, and the principles of statistics, Pascal attempted to demonstrate that the only prudent course of action is to live as if God exists. It is a simple application of game theory (to which Pascal had made important contributions).
The irony is, Pascal was a Jansenist. He is also considered the father of probability theory. How he reconciled probability with his predestined Jansenist beliefs...the odds are against us ever understanding.
To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.
~Cardinal John Henry Newman
2010 Cannonball Award
Father Solanus Casey
"Even suffering is part of the truth of our life. Thus, trying to shield the youngest from every difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk creating, despite our good intentions, fragile persons of little generosity: The capacity to love, in fact, corresponds to the capacity to suffer, and to suffer together." ~Benedict XVI
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Fides et Ratio Encyclical
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.
Thank you everyone that voted for the Kneeler at the Cannonball awards!!
Words of Father Corapi, for all my politician friends and relatives and those who vote for them
"Catholic office holders, whether presidents, senators, congress men or women, or judges at any level must adhere to Catholic teaching or run the risk of separating themselves from the Body of Christ. In such egregious and chronic cases of gross moral evil such as instituting and perpetuating abortion and the structures of sin that surround it, it is quite probable that such Catholic officials are excommunicated in virtue of the acts themselves. A latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication is likely triggered when they vote for laws, funding, and structures that enable and perpetuate such obvious and egregious evil (Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canons 1364,1398; Canon 1329, par. #2). They are in turn forbidden from approaching the sacraments as the result (Cf. Catechism of Catholic Church #1463)."
"It is not morally possible for any Catholic to support abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning, or same-sex marriage. There are no ways around this, no justifications whatever. Why? For the simple reason that the Church holds these things to be intrinsically evil. They are evil in themselves, and no circumstances or subjective conditions can ever change that."