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Blaise Pascal was a true genius.  A Seventeenth-Century French mathematician, he is credited with many inventions.  His work has had a profound influence on modern science, everything from probability and statistics, to the existence of vacuums, which set the stage for quantum physics.  Amazingly, he was also a master of French prose and is considered one of the most important authors of the French Classical Period.  As if all this wasn’t enough, Pascal was an accomplished philosopher and theologian as well.  And this might be his best-known legacy.  You may not have had any idea what a genius Pascal was, but I’ll bet (pun intended) you’ve heard of Pascal’s wager!

Pascal’s wager says that the best bet in life is to believe in God.  If you believe and there is a God, you win the jackpot!  However, if you believe and it turns out God doesn’t exist, you don’t win anything, but you don’t lose anything either, except perhaps sleeping in on Sunday mornings!  Likewise, if you don’t believe and there is no God, you neither gain nor lose anything.  But, if you don’t believe, and it turns out there is a God, you’re in big trouble!  You lose everything: your soul, eternal life, the bliss of Heaven, etc.

Despite its popularity, Pascal never meant his wager to convince anyone to believe in God.  Instead, as a believer who found the evidence for Christ overwhelming, he meant it to encourage people to sincerely pursue the Truth so they would see this evidence for themselves.  Pascal explained the “hiddenness of God” as God’s way of preserving human freedom.  He argued that God reveals enough evidence for the open-hearted seeker to know He’s real; but He leaves enough hidden so that the person who truly doesn’t want God to exist won’t be compelled against their will to believe.   

The one who wants to see, will see; the one who doesn’t, won’t.  By God’s loving design, it all comes down to the will.  And, as Pascal found, if you sincerely want and seek God, Christ will reveal Himself to you.  

Last week, I pointed out how there are intelligent, well-informed people on either side of the God debate.  Just as it bothers some unbelievers that there are so many rational, scientific people who believe, it bothers me that so many rational, scientific people don’t! 

How do you explain this?  Why do some find the evidence overwhelming and others find that same evidence lacking?

After considering himself “irreligious” for most of his life, the eminent Twentieth-Century ethics philosopher Mortimer Adler was baptized at age 81.  Despite masking his unbelief with intellectual objections, he confessed that the main reason he rejected faith in Christ for so long was because it “would require a radical change in my way of life, a basic alteration in the direction of my day-to-day choices as well as in the ultimate objectives to be sought or hoped for…The simple truth of the matter is that I did not wish to live up to being a genuinely religious person.” (as cited by Jim Spiegel, “Unreasonable Doubt”, Christianity Today, January, 2011, p. 48, my italics)

Is the reason some find the evidence overwhelming and others don’t ultimately because our wills create “intellectual blindspots”?  If Christianity is true, if there is a God who created free creatures capable of choosing to love Him in return or not, we’d expect to find this happening.  Not that this makes Christianity true.  Just that what we find in this divergent reaction to the evidence is completely consistent with it.  It’s not necessarily an indication that the evidence isn’t that overwhelming.

The past two weeks, I’ve been talking about some of the major reasons young people are rejecting Christianity.  One last reason that often comes up in surveys is the issue of autonomy—they think it’s ridiculous to believe in some God who stands in the way of your freedom and all the fun you can have.  Without overwhelming evidence He’s real, who’d want to live this way?  Good point!

But what if God isn’t some cosmic killjoy or moral policeman?  What if He is, as Christianity reveals, the lover of our souls?  The one in whom we find life, life in all its fullness?

Perhaps this might be reason for a second look, and, as Pascal found and his wager meant to encourage, discovering evidence that is overwhelming.

So what about you?  Do you think of God as a cosmic killjoy?  Or is He the desire of your heart?  Tell me what you think by going to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and leaving your comments there.  If you haven’t had a chance yet, please “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel.  I am so grateful for all your continued support!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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