Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Wisdom of Pascal

I'm in the midst of working on a class where I use my book to interact with Richard Dawkins, and somehow I'm compelled to remember the insights of Blaise Pascal, the 17th century scientist who saw so poignantly the limitations of the growing scientific revolution. He knew that the profound insights of science can leave human beings desiccated of meaning and purpose. Science, and its servant reason, are good, but faith needs both habits or religious practices and most of all, God’s movement through the Holy Spirit, "There are three ways to believe: reason, habit, inspiration. Christianity, which alone has reason, does not admit as its true children those who believe without inspiration. It is not that it excludes reason and habit, quite the contrary, but we must open our mind to the proofs, confirm ourselves in it through habit, while offering ourselves through humiliations to inspiration, which alone can produce the real and salutary effect. Lest the Cross of Christ be made of none effect."

If we are to be fruitful in bringing together science and theology, let's not presume that science can prove theological truths. Instead we will do well to head Pascal’s words.


GCootsona said...

(I'm posting this for a friend, for whom technology--which we'll call "Hal" for the moment--did not let him log in. So he sent it to me by email.)
It is unclear that technology, or its parent, science, promise salvation. Dawkins and others may be victims of the Clever Hans effect. Their expectation of what perils or joy technology may bring to their lives is influencing the technology that they utilize. Dawkins may have a cognitive bias because he expects a given result and therefore unconsciously misinterprets data in order to find it. This observer-expectancy effect manifests itself in those that have great hope or faultfinding fear regarding technology.

matt said...

I've always found pascal's wager kinda silly. Aren't there lots of things that *could* be true? why don't we just be safe and give in to those too? What if the Muslim's are right? Shouldn't we make the safe bet and be Muslim?