The Fragility of our Thinking

So there is open war among men, in which each must take a part, and side either with dogmatism or scepticism…

What then shall man do in this state? Shall he doubt everything? Shall he doubt whether he is awake, whether he is being pinched, or whether he is being burned? Shall he doubt whether he doubts? Shall he doubt whether he exists? We cannot go so far as that; and I lay it down as a fact that there never has been a real complete sceptic. Nature sustains our feeble reason, and prevents it raving to this extent.

Shall he then say, on the contrary, that he certainly possesses truth—he who, when pressed ever so little, can show no title to it, and is forced to let go his hold?

What a chimera then is man! What a novelty! What a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth; depositary of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the pride and refuse of the universe!

Who will unravel this tangle? Nature confutes the sceptics, and reason confutes the dogmatists. What then will you become, O men! who try to find out by your natural reason what is your true condition? You cannot avoid one of these sects, nor adhere to one of them.

Excerpt From: Pascal, Blaise. “Pascal’s Pensées.” iBooks.
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  1. There IS ABSOLUTE TRUTH that man can know
    Let GOD be TRUE and every man a liar
    Jesus is the way THE TRUTH and the life – no one comes to the father unless they come through the son
    Know the TRUTH and the TRUTH will make you FREE
    (also Exodus 34 v 6, Deut 32 v 4, Psalm 100 v 5, Psalm 117 v 2,Psalm 33 v 4, Isaiah 25 v 1, (Gospels – the number of times Jesus said “of a truth I say …..”
    John 1 v 14,17, John 3 v 21, John 4 v 24, John 16 v 13, John 17 v 17.

    I would suggest that pascal’s writings fits into John 8 v 44 – you are quoting the world’s philosophy not God’s and we know that satan is the prince of this world so we know that the world’s philosophy is a lie from satan to keep us from the truth John 14 v 17, Romans 1 v 25, Romans 2 v 8, 2 TIm 4 v 4

    1 Cor 13 v 6, 2 Cor 4 v 2, – Ian I struggle with why you would promote satan’s kingdom and satan’s lies on your blog? Surely it is more important to let the people out there know that there IS absolute truth and they can find truth, peace and joy in God through Christ? Is not the gospel what we have been called to proclaim – no the words of pascal?

    Gal 4 v 16 – I am your brother in Christ not your enemy Ian

    Ephesians 4 v 15 – let’s speak the truth out to people in love so that 1 Tim 2 v 4 can be evidenced. Your blog can be such a valuable resource for Christ – don’t use it to promote satanic ideals – such a waste. Isn’t God’s truth so much more exciting and edifying than satan’s lies?

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    • The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these two vices, not by expelling the one through means of the other according to the wisdom of the world, but by expelling both according to the simplicity of the Gospel. For it teaches the righteous that it raises them even to a participation in divinity itself; that in this lofty state they still carry the source of all corruption, which renders them during all their life subject to error, misery, death, and sin; and it proclaims to the most ungodly that they are capable of the grace of their Redeemer. So making those tremble whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, religion so justly tempers fear with hope through that double capacity of grace and of sin, common to all, that it humbles infinitely more than reason alone can do, but without despair; and it exalts infinitely more than natural pride, but without inflating; thus making it evident that alone being exempt from error and vice, it alone fulfils the duty of instructing and correcting men.

      Who then can refuse to believe and adore this heavenly light? For is it not clearer than day that we perceive within ourselves ineffaceable marks of excellence? And is it not equally true that we experience every hour the results of our deplorable condition? What does this chaos and monstrous confusion proclaim to us but the truth of these two states, with a voice so powerful that it is impossible to resist it?

      – Pascal

      That is actually the conclusion of the section I quoted in the main body of the post. Pascal makes the point that human beings would claim to know truth whilst being fraught with error, or they would claim this proclivity to error is all there is and that there is no meaning to like whatsoever.

      He introduces Christianity as the only religion which hold both the greatness and the weakness of human beings as true, whilst also reconciling them in the Gospel.

      Thus, for Pascal, only upon the foundation of Christianity can humans know the truth of themselves and the truth of the world. In this way he doesn’t argue that Christianity is true per se, but that Christianity is the only way to know truth.

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      • But he’s not teaching the gospel here – he’s teaching a religion – there is a vast difference? Would you hesitate at saying there is absolute truth and that the gospel of Jesus is the only truth? I claim to know truth because I know the GOD of truth – and he doesn’t lie. There is no other option – no other opinion that is correct. What would Jesus have said to Pascal? And would Jesus have quoted Pascal to make a point on his blog or would he have quoted his words/the words of his father – Jesus IS THE WORD?

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  2. I think you have missed his point. Pascal is not interested in merely telling his reader to believe the Gospel. He wants to demonstrate how it is true.

    In his thinking, the Gospel is the only remedy to the “contradiction” that humans are. That is, it can reconcile our greatness and our monstrosity without denying either.

    See, he understands it as the truth that human beings are capable to wonderful things whilst also being capable of great deceit. The Christian Gospel is therefore true since it gives an accurate explanation of observable reality (which is of course how science claims to work).

    I enjoy Pascal because he has a lot to say to our dominant ideology, especially since his major life work was in mathematics. He explores the faith in such a way that he allows the Gospel to challenge whatever bold scientific thinking he came across. To him, I suppose, the Gospel would simply be more true than any other explanation.

    Read more on Pascal here. http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1601-1700/blaise-pascals-conversion-11630126.html

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  3. Bloody hell, Ian, I’m amazed you even entertain this madness from Beverly anymore. Every time it’s ABSOLUTE TRUTH!!! THE WORD!!! STOP THINKING!!! SATAN!!! And there’s no reasoning with that kind of… reasoning.

    Seriously, enormous dead fish sitting on an otherwise shiny table.

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    • I think you’re being a little harsh. Beverly is making a point about maintaining the distinctiveness of Christian belief, thought. A great deal of theological confusion has come of Christians unquestioningly conceding to non-Christian thought.

      However I would challenge Beverly that her thought rejects some things rather presumptuously, without giving them a chance to be heard.

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