Converging and Convincing Proof of God: Blaise Pascal, Our Lost Glory and the Need for God
But what of man if these fires of love are out?
Is there some sort of part within man's soul beckoning us to God even when the fire of love of God is out? There is a proof that is serviceable precisely when the fire of charity--the love of God--is out. And for that proof we might turn to the insights of the philosopher Blaise Pascal. It was the "peculiar achievement" of Blaise Pascal, according to Aidan Nichols in his A Grammar of Consent, "to show that the existence of God is somehow implicated in human aspirations," even those short of mysticism.
One such internal mountaineer was the philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, and the method he used to clamber into the mystery of man's depths, might be called the "method of relative immanence." It serves to provide us another of our converging and convincing proofs of God.
In our last article in this series, we spoke of the proof of God that we might derive from mysticism. In the mystic, the fire of love between a man or woman and God is ablaze. There is a communion between man and God that transforms the human subject, and leads to say: "If Teresa, then God; if St. John of the Cross, then God," and so forth with any "pure" soul.
But what of man if these fires of love are out?
Is there a part within man's soul beckoning us to God even when the fire of contemplative love of God is out?
There is a proof that is serviceable precisely when the fire of charity--the love of God--is out. And for that proof we might turn to the insights of Blaise Pascal. It was the "peculiar achievement" of Pascal, according to Aidan Nichols in his A Grammar of Consent, "to show that the existence of God is somehow implicated in human aspirations," even those short of mysticism.
Without God, Pascal came to learn, man faced "an extraordinary uncertainty of judgment," to borrow the words of Carl G. Jung in his book The Undiscovered Self. Without God, Pascal learned, "man is an enigma to himself."
This was Pascal's starting point.
In other words, man without God had to discover himself, and as he sought to discover himself he had to uncover himself, and by uncovering himself he learned of some paradoxical truths which bespoke of former glory, current tragedy, and possible calling.
What the detritus of man's former glory suggested is that the only way for man to explain himself is for man to recognize he was made for God and he needs God.
Before Pascal discovered this truth, he had to ask the question: What am I?
This was the adventure upon which Pascal embarked by introspection and reason alone. But this reason was something other than the reason of the scientific method, since Pascal knew, as Aidan Nichols puts it, that the "inwardness of things escapes the net of scientific method, which of its nature must prescind from consciousness."
What Pascal learned through the introspective climb down the "cliffs of fall" of his own being was that man was in one sense both greater than all of nature and yet in another sense lower than all nature.
"Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water, suffices to kill him. But if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than that which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this." (Pensée, 220)
"What sort of freak then is man! How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, glory and refuse of the universe." (Pensée, 131)
As he peered within himself, Pascal saw that there was something rotten in the state of man, yet at the same time, there were remnants of a sort of past glory or perhaps also remnants which spoke of the possibility of a future one. Even our miseries were evidences of prior greatness, the remnants of a palace of "a grand seigneur, a displaced king," (Pensée, 122) perhaps one who would one day again mount his throne.
When he looked within himself, Pascal discovered, in the words of Aidan Nichols, that "we are not merely a riddle; we are a tragedy."
It was as if Pascal, within the most interior parts of his being, had stumbled upon an ancient, abandoned and forgotten temple, sort of like a mysterious interior Stonehenge, and within its perimeter a cold altar stone with signs of ash: an ancient fire had been put out. We might call it the temple of obediential potency.
Pascal realized that the cold altar was the altar where self-love reigned. He realized that any ...
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