Friday 2 November 2012

Pascal's advice to those who want to be Christian but cannot make themselves do it


"...I am so made that I cannot believe..."

That is true, but at least get it into your head that, if you are unable to believe, it is because of your passions, since reason impels you to believe and yet you cannot do so.

Concentrate then not on convincing yourself by multiplying proofs of God's existence but by diminishing your passions.... Learn from those who were once bound like you...

These are the people who know the road you wish to follow, who have been cured of the affliction of which you wish to be cured: follow the way by which they began.

They behaved just as if they did believe...

That will make you behave quite naturally, and will make you more docile.

"But that is what I am afraid of."

But why?

What have you to lose? 


Pensees, by Blaise Pascal - excerpted from the Penguin edition page 152.



George G. said...

What to lose? Perhaps a share of the material pie. To keep my offspring from slavery in a world where deceit and lies are needed for success.

To be docile - to be trampled upon? To turn the other cheek and allow oneself to be injured, raped, pillaged by enemies?

At least the pagan gods gave room for deceit - even celebrated it - as a tool towards success over enemies. Instead of seeing the incessant struggle of life as a reason for escape and denial, they embraced the eternal struggle and allowed for full participation in it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GG Take care not to read and understand Pascal, if you wish to remain in a state of delusional denial about life.

C. said...

George G. - I think you're being unfair on the pagans. I only really know anything about the Nordic pagan societies but "using lies and deceit to get ahead" seemed to be frowned on a lot more than it is today, no matter how many stories there were about gods doing it.

And even these could be compared to stories of saints using deceit to carry out ultimately good acts (St Alban's martyrdom, St Elizabeth of Hungary and the roses...)

Anyway Bruce, I love getting to read this stuff every morning (American time zone...). Thank you.

George G. said...

@bgc - I apologize, you're right. I have limited knowledge of Presbyterian Christianity and little else.

@C. - I did not mean for one to get ahead over a comrade/brother, but pagan Myth seems to celebrate cunning towards enemies. I assume lying and deceit should not be permitted in a fair society, but against giants and monsters anything goes.

C. said...

I guess it depends on what version of Christianity you're talking about, but some theological views of atonement view the Crucifixion as one big trick on the Devil...