The weekend sermon has me approaching a common myth “Science and Christianity are not compatible.” The argument is a common fallacy among people living in modern first world countries. The “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins have asserted that any belief in God means you have to throw out all reason and intellect.
As I was preparing this morning the Lord reminded of one of the great intellectuals in human history, Blaise Pascal.
Born in 1623 Pascale was the second of three children. His mother died when he was 3 years old and his father decided he would personally school young Blaise. His father soon realized that Blaise was one fo the greatest mathematical minds in the world. At age fourteen he was sent to his room after an argument with his father where he invented some of the theorum’s that we still use today in modern Calculus.
Pascal’s genius extended to the invention of mechanical devices as well. He was the originator of the calculator, the wristwatch, the syringe, the wheelbarrow, and the hydraulic press. In addition, he designed the first public transportation system.
In 1646 Pascal’s father fell ill. His death drove him to begin thinking about faith. He struggled with the intersect of faith and reason but after “much thought” he succumbed to believe in Jesus intellectually. Many biographers call this his “first conversion.” It was mostly intellectual and did not last long. When his father died in 1651, he moved on from religion and entered what many call his “worldly period.” Soon after, his younger sister decided to join a convent, to which her third of their father’s estate was given. Since his older sister had already used her part as a dowry, 30-year-old Pascal was left with just his third of his father’s estate, without his parents, and with both of his sisters fully engaged in other vocations.
In other words, he was poor and alone. And that is when God entered his life in an amazing way.
It was November 23rd, 1654 and Pascal was at home alone. The sun was set and all was dark. He was most likely preparing for bed when, suddenly, at around 10:30pm, something supernatural happened. It’s not clear exactly what he saw, but the amazing mystical experience lasted for a full two hours. As soon as it was over, he grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down what was swirling through his head.
Here is what he wrote:
GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have departed from him:
They have forsaken me, the fount of living water.
My God, will you leave me?
Let me not be separated from him forever.
This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.
I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified.
Let me never be separated from him.
He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel:
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on the earth.
May I not forget your words. Amen.
Pascal then sewed a copy of this vision on the inside of a jacket that he wore every day till he died.
After his conversion, Blaise went on to write groundbreaking works of theology and philosophy (Not to mention a few more groundbreaking mathematical theorums). Blaise Pascal is a great example of someone who leaned into God and found that faith and reason always end up in the same place.