Many people talk about Pascal and his famous wager, but in my experience, nearly all atheists and most theists misunderstand it. Most atheists straw man Pascal as just a gamble based on hope (sometimes unintentionally and due to just accepting what atheist sites and leaders falsely assert falsely without checking facts for themselves.) I spent many hours reading through much of Pascal’s Pensees and have come to the conclusion that most of those talking about him are misrepresenting his views. But since the Bible says to “Test everything that is said.” 1 Thess. 5:21 I also have to critique a little of Pascal’s claims.
Let’s look at a couple foundational concepts briefly.
A) FAITH IS BASED ON FACTS, EVIDENCE AND PROOF
the Bible tells us that faith in God is based on solid evidence, facts and proofs.
“For forty days after Jesus had suffered and died, he proved in many ways that he had been raised from death. He appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about God’s kingdom.” Acts 1:3 (CEV)
This is why the famous pastor Dr. R.C. Sproul said that throughout Christian history, Christian scholars have argued for God based on proof:
“[Classicist Christian scholars] argue that proof for the existence of God is conclusive…It is actual proof… That’s a very burdensome [difficult] thing to claim…But, I do think the classical school achieves that goal of compelling proof,” pastor R. C. Sproul, “Defending Your Faith” seminar, part 15
Another scholar writes:
“Faith always has the element of assurance, certainty and confidence . . . and evidential value substantiating the thing we hope for . . .” (M. Lloyd Jones, Romans, Ro 4:18-25).
The very definition of faith throughout history reflects this fact. The Hebrew root word of faith, aman/אֱמוּנָה, “means firm, something that is supported or secure. This word is used in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a “secure” place…” http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/vocabulary_definitions_faith.html
Another good site shows several Hebrew words for faith and related words. Here’s an excerpt:
The Hebrew word “aman” means “believe, trust in, rely upon, believe in, have faith”  or “be faithful…trust, have belief, believe, to be certain”.  Harris, Archer and Waltke say that when used in the Qal verb pattern, “aman” “expresses the basic concept of support and is used in the sense of the strong arms of the parent supporting the helpless infant”.  An example of the Qal verb pattern of “aman” is in Psalm 31:24. 
Harris, Archer and Waltke also say that in the Hiphil verb pattern, “aman” means “to cause to be certain, sure or to be certain about, to be assured” and “shows that Biblical faith is an assurance, a certainty, in contrast with the modern concepts of faith as something possible, hopefully true but not certain”.  Examples of “aman” used in the Hiphil verb pattern are Genesis 15:6, Exodus 14:31, Numbers 14:11, Deuteronomy 1:32, 9:23, 2 Kings 17:14, 2 Chronicles 20:20, Psalm 78:22, Isaiah 43:10 and Jonah 3:5. 
The Qal and Hiphil verb patterns are two different types of action words in Hebrew.
Exodus 14:31 shows the people of Israel had this certain faith on one occasion when it says that the people “believed the Lord”. But Numbers 14:11, Deuteronomy 1:32, 9:23 and Psalm 78:22 show they later lost this certain faith. Jonah 3:5 reveals the wicked people of Nineveh turned to the Lord with such certain faith: “So the people of Nineveh believed God…” It is obvious from the previous Hebrew definitions that “aman” or faith means:
· to be certain about God and His character, unlimited power, wisdom and promises.
· to totally trust God.
· to be faithful or loyal to God just as a loving husband is to his wife. Such a husband ignores the adulterous suggestions of other unfaithful women.
· and to continue to rely on God no matter what the problem or circumstance.
In Latin, the word faith comes from the word “fides” which meant ‘reliablity’, and includes the concepts of honesty, trustworthiness , confidence, trust, veracity, etc.
http://thelawdictionary.org/fides/, ancienthistory.about.com/od/lawgovernmentpolitic1/g/113010-fides.htm, www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=faith
In the 1913 dictionary, faith is defined as:
7. Credibility or truth.
See more on the biblical/historical meaning of faith here:
B) PASCAL’S WAGER HAS MISTAKES
Pascal says that if you believe in God and He isn’t real, you lose nothing. But that is not how Paul saw it. Paul said this:
“And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” 1 Corinthians 15:19
At Paul’s time, that was certainly true since Christians could be killed for having faith in God. At other times and periods of history it was sometimes different than this, since belief in God usually makes nations much more peaceful, successful and strong in many ways (as I’ve explained some here: http://www.truth-is-life.org/GoodLifeEvidence.html). Belief in God has enormous benefits for people at all levels of society in most periods of history, especially at the national level. But if God is not real and there is no heaven, it can cause some losses at the individual level. It can at least cause some losses of time and some money that is contributed to churches (although as Dr. Cnaan points out, every $1 given to churches brings ~$4.77 in benefits to communities and sometimes much more). Still for an atheist who thinks this life is all there is, there is some loss compared to what he/she could hoard.
C) DEBUNKING ATHEIST CLAIMS ABOUT PASCAL’S WAGER
Let’s continue by debunking the atheist armies of straw men regarding Pascal once and for all.
PASCAL’S REAL WAGER & THE BIBLE’S SIMPLER WAGER
The Bible says: “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life&in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
The Bible’s claim is all that really matters since Pascal won’t be resurrecting anyone. But, to show you how badly atheist sites and leaders consistently and irrationally misrepresent all sorts of facts, let’s document how their treatment and quote mining of Pascal is one of the worst misrepresentations of anyone in history, esp. considering the volume of people who misrepresent Pascal and the volume that Pascal wrote (which in ITSELF should be a clue to any rational person that it’s not just hope..since you don’t need ~200+ pages to talk about hope).
Actually all that is needed to show this are the words of T.S. Elliot introducing Pascal’s Pensees (or just do a search of the words “proof”, “evidence”, “intellect”, “reason” to see for yourself how badly atheists and some theists misunderstand Pascal). Elliot says:
“The plan of what we call the Pensées formed itself about 1660. The completed book was to have been a carefully constructed defence of Christianity, a true Apology and a kind of Grammar of Assent, setting forth the reasons which will convince the intellect Above all, he [Pascal] was a man of strong passions; and his intellectual passion for truth was reinforced by his passionate dissatisfaction with human life unless a spiritual explanation could be found.[Pg xii] We must regard the Pensées as merely the first notes for a work which he left far from completion; we have, in Sainte-Beuve’s words, a tower of which the stones have been laid on each other, but not cemented, and the structure unfinished.” http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18269/18 … 8269-h.htm):
I’ve never seen even ONE atheist represent Pascal accurately like T.S. Elliot did, not one. Note that I don’t think Pascal is infallible and disagree with him on some points. But, he makes some good points. You can skim point #5 on evidence if you want. We have MUCH better evidence now which will come in the debate with Inferno. Note also that Greek thinkers “proved” things mostly by rational arguments, not experimentation and Pascal argues similarly but with more evidences than most Greeks used. Whether you think Pascal’s evidence is good or not is not the point. The point is that he was using what was considered evidence by many thinkers religious and secular at his time and thus his argument is evidentiary, not just blind hope.
The below summarizes Pascal’s Wager and the Pensees (from the Pensees at Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18269/18 … 8269-h.htm):
1) QUESTION OF IMMORTALITY IS MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: The most important question in life is whether God exists or not since that influences all our thoughts and actions and choices.
“The immortality of the soul is a matter which is of so great consequence to us, and which touches us so profoundly, that we must have lost all feeling to be indifferent as to knowing what it is. All our actions and thoughts must take such different courses, according as there are or are not eternal joys to hope for, that it is impossible to take one step with sense and judgment, unless we regulate our course by our view of this point which ought to be our ultimate end.There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable; those who serve God with all their heart because they know Him,&those who seek Him with all their heart because they do not know Him.
In truth, it is the glory of religion to have for enemies men so unreasonable: and their opposition to it is so little dangerous that it serves on the contrary to establish its truths. For the Christian faith goes mainly to establish these two facts, the corruption of nature, and redemption by Jesus Christ. Now I contend that if these men do not serve to prove the truth of the redemption by the holiness of their behaviour, they at least serve admirably to show the corruption of nature by sentiments so unnatural.”But as for those who live without knowing Him and without seeking Him, they judge themselves so little worthy of their own care, that they are not worthy of the care of others; and it needs all the charity of the religion which they despise, not to despise them even to the point of leaving them to their folly. But because this religion obliges us always to regard them, so long as they are in this life, as capable of the grace which can enlighten them, and to believe that they may, in a little time, be more replenished with faith than we are. But as for those who bring to the task perfect sincerity and a real desire to meet with truth, those I hope will be satisfied and convinced of the proofs of a religion so divine, which I have here collected, and in which I have followed somewhat after this order … Section 194
“Before entering into the proofs of the Christian religion, I find it necessary to point out the sinfulness of those men who live in indifference to the search for truth in a matter which is so important to them, and which touches them so nearly.
“For it is not to be doubted that the duration of this life is but a moment; that the state of death is eternal, whatever may be its nature; and that thus all our actions and thoughts must take such different directions according to the state of that eternity, that it is impossible to take one step with sense and judgment, unless we regulate our course by the truth of that point which ought to be our ultimate end.
There is nothing clearer than this; and thus, according to the principles of reason, the conduct of men is wholly unreasonable, if they do not take another course.
On this point, therefore, we condemn those who live without thought of the ultimate end of life, who let themselves be guided by their own inclinations and their own pleasures without reflection and without concern, and, as if they could annihilate eternity by turning away their thought from it, think only of making themselves happy for the moment.
This resting in ignorance is a monstrous thing, and they who pass their life in it must be made to feel its extravagance and stupidity, by having it shown to them, so that they may be confounded by the sight of their folly. For this is how men reason, when they choose to live in such ignorance of what they are, and without seeking enlightenment. “I know not,” they say ..” section 195
2) CHRISTIANITY MUST BE PROVEN TRUE BY REASON, PROOF, ETC.
We are given minds to reason with and should use them to reason scientifically about religion and prove that it is true and has more evidence than its rivals. Pascal wrote,
**There are two ways of proving the truths of our religion; one by the power of reason, the other by the authority of him who speaks. We do not make use of the latter, but of the former. We do not say, “This must be believed, for Scripture, which says it, is divine.” But we say that it must be believed for such and such a reason, which are feeble arguments, as reason may be bent to everything. Section 560.
**” Theology is a science, but at the same time how many sciences? section 115
**”Man is obviously made to think. It is his whole dignity and his whole merit; section 146
**”The conduct of God, who disposes all things kindly, is to put religion into the mind by reason, and into the heart by grace. Section 185
**”Men despise religion; they hate it, and fear it is true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire respect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true.” Section 187
**”The prophecies, the very miracles and proofs of our religion, are not of such a nature that they can be said to be absolutely convincing. But they are also of such a kind that it cannot be said that it is unreasonable to believe them. Thus there is both evidence and obscurity to enlighten some and confuse others. But the evidence is such that it surpasses, or at least equals, the evidence to the contrary; so that it is not reason which can determine men not to follow it” section 563
“Two extremes: to exclude reason, to admit reason only.” Section 253
He deals with presuppositions in section 282 some.
He recognizes that there are 2 different kinds of Christians.
“Those whom we see to be Christians without the knowledge of the prophets and evidences, nevertheless judge of their religion as well as those who have that knowledge. They judge of it by the heart, as others judge of it by the intellect.” Section 287
Again and again, Pascal like Bible writers bases belief in God on reason and evidence. But, he makes a lot of philosophical before listing the evidence and this is where the wager and straw man come in.
3) NATURE CAN BE USED FOR AND AGAINST BELIEF IN GOD-IT’S NOT CONCLUSIVE
Pascal didn’t consider nature to be conclusive evidence for God. His comments in sections about nature here are the parts that are frequently straw manned by atheists as his whole argument when they are nothing of the sort.
“Nature presents to me nothing which is not matter of doubt and concern. If I saw nothing there which revealed a Divinity, I would come to a negative conclusion; if I saw everywhere the signs of a Creator, I would remain peacefully in faith. But, seeing too much to deny and too little to be sure, I am in a state to be pitied;” section 229
“I admire the boldness with which these persons undertake to speak of God. In addressing their argument to infidels, their first chapter is to prove Divinity from the works of nature those who have the living faith in their heart see at once that all existence is none other than the work of the God whom they adore. But for those in whom this light is extinguished persons destitute of faith and grace to claim to have concluded the proof with such an argument, is to give them ground for believing that the proofs of our religion are very weak. And I see by reason and experience that nothing is more calculated to arouse their contempt.” Section 242
“Why! Do you not say yourself that the heavens and birds prove God? No. And does your religion not say so?” No. For although it is true in a sense for some souls to whom God gives this light, yet it is false with respect to the majority of men.” Section 244
(Note: The evidence from nature is now MUCH stronger than it was at Pascal’s time.)
4) THE WAGER, THE STRAW MAN & PRAGMATIC EVIDENCE:
Pascal many times refers to atheist arguments in his writings and then using philosophy, reason, etc. rebuts them. This section is a bit complex and he could have been clearer in both wording and formatting (but remember he died while working on it and it’s not complete). But given his repeated point that Christianity must provide evidence, his listing of many types of evidence and conclusions that Christianity is the only reasonable and rational religion (see also next points), its quite clear that in this red section below hes listing atheist arguments against religion, NOT Christian ones for it. Yet, this is what atheists represent as his total argument in favor of religion. POPPYCOCK and astronomically HORRENDOUS quote mining.
Pascal introduces the section as speaking according to natural lights (similar to methodological naturalism and reasoning from nature which he above already said could be used by both sides and so wasn’t that helpful). In this red section, it’s quite clear that Pascal is listing the arguments of naturalists who reject God, in preparation to rebut it. This must be what is happening because there are sentences about Christians not being able to give a reason for their belief when Pascal explicitly states that we do and lists many in his book. Either Pascal is insane (since he’s calling his own religion foolishness in one place and the most reasonable in others), or this section is his summary of the atheist argument, NOT the Christian one and is being straw manned.
section 233, naturalists argument that Pascal will rebut.
Let us now speak according to natural lights.
If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is. This being so, who will dare to undertake the decision of the question? Not we, who have no affinity to Him.
Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give a reason for their belief, since they profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason? They declare, in expounding it to the world, that it is a foolishness, stultitiam; and then you complain that they do not prove it! If they proved it, they would not keep their word; it is in lacking proofs, that they are not lacking in sense. “Yes, but although this excuses those who offer it as such, and takes away from them the blame of putting it forward without reason, it does not excuse those who receive it.” Let us then examine this point, and say, “God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
Do not then reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. “No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all.”
He then moves to rebut the above section starting with a reasonable wager and then tiny pragmatic evidence:
“Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.” Section 233
He talks about one way of making it easier to believe (performing the actions/rites which may help increase belief) and then refers to a few pragmatic benefits of this life from Christianity in THIS life that you gain, for which you lose and risk almost nothing AND you have a great chance at living forever. He concludes this section (NOT the evidence or his book) judging that even here (Without the voluminous evidence coming in later chapters) that the only rational choice is to be a Christian. Pascal writes,
“The end of this discourse. Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side? You will be faithful, honest, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing. Section 233
5) LISTING EVIDENCE:
After discussing some philosophy and reasons why its important to think about God and that we must wager and what he thinks it he most rational wager, Pascal then discusses sources of belief in chapter 4, one of which is reason and then dedicates much of the rest of the book from chapter 5 on to listing many evidences and reasons why Christianity is true, a lot of them philosophical and logical, but also the success of the Jews history, prophecy, miracles, law, realism, Jesus divinity and resurrection, morality, explanatory power, etc. His death unfortunately interrupted this. Here are just a few excerpts:
“According to the doctrine of chance, you ought to put yourself to the trouble of searching for the truth; for if you die without worshipping the True Cause, you are lost.”
“But,” say you, “if He had wished me to worship Him, He would have left me signs of His will.” He has done so; but you neglect them. Seek them, therefore; it is well worth it.” Section 236
“There are three sources of belief: reason, custom, inspiration. The Christian religion, which alone has reason, does not acknowledge as her true children those who believe without inspiration. It is not that she excludes reason and custom. On the contrary, the mind must be opened to proofs…The history of the Church ought properly to be called the history of truth.” Section 245
“The greatness and the wretchedness of man are so evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us both that there is in man some great source of greatness, and a great source of wretchedness. It must then give us a reason for these astonishing contradictions.”Section 430
“If we must not act save on a certainty (as in 100% certainty), we ought not to act on religion, for it is not certain. But how many things we do on an uncertainty, sea voyages, battles! I say then we must do nothing at all, for nothing is certain, and that there is more certainty in religion than there is as to whether we may see to-morrow; for it is not certain that we may see to-morrow, and it is certainly possible that we may not see it.” Section 234
“In order to make man happy, it [religion] must prove to him that there is a God; that we ought to love Him; that our true happiness is to be in Him, and our sole evil to be separated from Him; it must recognise that we are full of darkness which hinders us from knowing and loving Him; and that thus, as our duties compel us to love God, and our lusts turn us away from Him, we are full of unrighteousness. It must give us an explanation of our opposition to God and to our own good. It must teach us the remedies for these infirmities, and the means of obtaining these remedies. Let us therefore examine all the religions of the world, and see if there be any other than the Christian which is sufficient for this purpose.All other religions have not been able to do so.” Section 430
“But I would ask him if God demands anything else from him than the knowledge and love of Him, and why, since his nature is capable of love and knowledge, he believes that God cannot make Himself known and loved by him if God impart to him some ray of His essence, will he not be capable of knowing and of loving Him in the manner in which it shall please Him to communicate Himself to us?…I do not mean that you should submit your belief to me without reason, and I do not aspire to overcome you by tyranny. In fact, I do not claim to give you a reason for everything. And to reconcile these contradictions, I intend to make you see clearly, by convincing proofs, those divine signs in me, which may convince you of what I am, and may gain authority for me by wonders and proofs which you cannot reject; so that you may then believe without … the things which I teach you, since you will find no other ground for rejecting them, except that you cannot know of yourselves if they are true or not.” Section 430
“No other religion has recognised that man is the most excellent creature. Some, which have quite recognised the reality of his excellence, have considered as mean and ungrateful the low opinions which men naturally have of themselves; and others, which have thoroughly recognised how real is this vileness, have treated with proud ridicule those feelings of greatness, which are equally natural to man.” Section 431
“He who hates not in himself his self-love, and that instinct which leads him to make himself God, is indeed blinded. Who does not see that there is nothing so opposed to justice and truth? For it is false that we deserve this, and it is unfair and impossible to attain it, since all demand the same thing. It is, then, a manifest injustice which is innate in us, of which we cannot get rid, and of which we must get rid.Yet no religion has indicated that this was a sin; or that we were born in it; or that we were obliged to resist it; or has thought of giving us remedies for it.” Section 493
“The true religion teaches our duties; our weaknesses, pride, and lust; and the remedies, humility and mortification.” section 492-3
“It is true there is difficulty in entering into godliness. But this difficulty does not arise from the religion which begins in us, but from the irreligion which is still there. If our senses were not opposed to penitence, and if our corruption were not opposed to the purity of God, there would be nothing in this painful to us. We suffer only in proportion as the vice which is natural to us resists supernatural grace.” section 498
“The Christian religion alone makes man altogether lovable and happy. In honesty, we cannot perhaps be altogether lovable and happy.” section 541
“The Christian religion, then, teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer.And, as it is alike necessary to man to know these two points, so is it alike merciful of God to have made us know them. The Christian religion does this; it is in this that it consists.” section 555
“Therefore I shall not undertake here to prove by natural reasons either the existence of God, or the Trinity, or the immortality of the soul, or anything of that nature; not only because I should not feel myself sufficiently able to find in nature arguments to convince hardened atheists, but also because such knowledge without Jesus Christ is useless and barren. Though a man should be convinced that numerical proportions are immaterial truths, eternal and dependent on a first truth, in which they subsist, and which is called God, I should not think him far advanced towards his own salvation.” section 555
“God being thus hidden, every religion which does not affirm that God is hidden, is not true; and every religion which does not give the reason of it, is not instructive. Our religion does, all this: Vere tu es Deus absconditus.If there were no obscurity, man would not be sensible of his corruption; if there were no light, man would not hope for a remedy. Thus, it is not only fair, but advantageous to us, that God be partly hidden and partly revealed; since it is equally dangerous to man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing God.”section 584-5
“Against Mahomet. The Koran is not more of Mahomet than the Gospel is of Saint Matthew, for it is cited by many authors from age to age. Even its very enemies, Celsus and Porphyry, never denied it.The Koran says Saint Matthew was an honest man. Therefore Mahomet was a false prophet for calling honest men wicked, or for not agreeing with what they have said of Jesus Christ.” section 596
“The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold. Mahomet slew; Jesus Christ caused His own to be slain.Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered reading. Any man can do what Mahomet has done; for he performed no miracles, he was not foretold. No man can do what Christ has done.” section 598-9 “Proof of the two Testaments at once.To prove the two at one stroke, we need only see if the prophecies in one are fulfilled in the other. ” section 641
“Two errors: 1. To take everything literally. 2. To take everything spiritually.”section 647
“The prophecies are the strongest proof of Jesus Christ. It is for them also that God has made most provision; for the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle existing since the birth of the Church to the end. So God has raised up prophets during sixteen hundred years, and, during four hundred years afterwards, He has scattered all these prophecies among all the Jews, who carried them into all parts of the world. Such was the preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ, and, as His Gospel was to be believed by all the world, it was not only necessary that there should be prophecies to make it believed, but that these prophecies should exist throughout the whole world, in order to make it embraced by the whole world.” section 705
“If one man alone had made a book of predictions about Jesus Christ, as to the time and the manner, and Jesus Christ had come in conformity to these prophecies, this fact would have infinite weight.But there is much more here. Here is a succession of men during four thousand years, who, consequently and without variation, come, one after another, to foretell this same event. Here is a whole people who announce it, and who have existed for four thousand years, in order to give corporate testimony of the assurances which they have, and from which they cannot be diverted by whatever threats and persecutions people may make against them. This is far more important.” section 709
“Predictions of particular things.They were strangers in Egypt, without any private property, either in that country or elsewhere. [There was not the least appearance, either of the royalty which had previously existed so long, or of that supreme council of seventy judges which they called the Sanhedrin, and which, having been instituted by Moses, lasted to the time of Jesus Christ. All these things were as far removed from their state at that time as they could be], when Jacob, dying, and blessing his twelve children, declared to them, that they would be proprietors of a great land, and foretold in particular to the family of Judah, that the kings, who would one day rule them, should be of his race; and that all his brethren should be their subjects; [and that even the Messiah, who was to be the expectation of nations, should spring from him; and that the kingship should not be taken away from Judah, nor the ruler and law-giver of his descendants, till the expected Messiah should arrive in his family].” section 710 “Prophecies fulfilled.I Kings xiii, 2.I Kings xxiii, 16. Joshua vi, 26.I Kings xvi, 34.Deut. xxiii.” section 713
Many specific prophecies listed in chapter 6
“During the life of the Messiah.Ænigmatis.Ezek. xvii.
His forerunner. Malachi iii.
He will be born an infant. Is. ix.
He will be born in the village of Bethlehem. Micah v. He will appear chiefly in Jerusalem, and will be a descendant of the family of Judah and of David.
He is to blind the learned and the wise, Is. vi, viii, xxix, etc.;[Pg 219] and to preach the Gospel to the lowly, Is. xxix; to open the eyes of the blind, give health to the sick, and bring light to those that languish in darkness. Is. lxi.
He is to show the perfect way, and be the teacher of the Gentiles. Is. lv; xlii, 1-7.
The prophecies are to be unintelligible to the wicked, Dan. xii; Hosea xiv, 10; but they are to be intelligible to those who are well informed.
The prophecies, which represent Him as poor, represent Him as master of the nations. Is. lii, 14, etc.; liii; Zech. ix, 9.
The prophecies, which foretell the time, foretell Him only as master of the nations and suffering, and not as in the clouds nor as judge. And those, which represent Him thus as judge and in glory, do not mention the time. When the Messiah is spoken of as great and glorious, it is as the judge of the world, and not its Redeemer.
He is to be the victim for the sins of the world. Is. xxxix, liii, etc.
He is to be the precious corner-stone. Is. xxviii, 16.
He is to be a stone of stumbling and offence. Is. viii. Jerusalem is to dash against this stone.
The builders are to reject this stone. Ps. cxvii, 22.
God is to make this stone the chief corner-stone.
And this stone is to grow into a huge mountain, and fill the whole earth. Dan. ii.
So He is to be rejected, despised, betrayed (Ps. cviii, 8), sold (Zech. xi, 12), spit upon, buffeted, mocked, afflicted in innumerable ways, given gall to drink (Ps. lxviii), pierced (Zech. xii), His feet and His hands pierced, slain, and lots cast for His raiment.
He will raise again (Ps. xv) the third day (Hosea vi, 3).
He will ascend to heaven to sit on the right hand. Ps. cx.
The kings will arm themselves against Him. Ps. ii.
Being on the right hand of the Father, He will be victorious over His enemies.
The kings of the earth and all nations will worship Him. Is. lx.
The Jews will continue as a nation. Jeremiah.
They will wander, without kings, etc. (Hosea iii), without prophets (Amos), looking for salvation and finding it not (Isaiah).
Calling of the Gentiles by Jesus Christ. Is. lii, 15; lv, 5; lx, etc. Ps. lxxxi.
Hosea i, 9: “Ye are not my people, and I will not be your[Pg 220] God, when ye are multiplied after the dispersion. In the places where it was said, Ye are not my people, I will call them my people.”
“Having considered how it comes that there are so many false miracles, false revelations, sorceries, etc., it has seemed to me that the true cause is that there are some true; for it would not be possible that there should be so many false miracles, if there were none true, nor so many false revelations, if there were none true, nor so many false religions, if there were not one true. For if there had never been all this, it is almost impossible that men should have imagined it, and still more impossible that so many others should have believed it. But as there have been very great things true, and as they have been believed by great men, this impression has been the cause that nearly everybody is rendered capable of believing also the false. And thus, instead of concluding that there are no true miracles, since there are so many false, it must be said, on the contrary, that there are true miracles, since there are so many false; and that there are false ones only because there are true; and that[Pg 242] in the same way there are false religions because there is one true..” section 817
“This people is not eminent solely by their antiquity, but is also singular by their duration, which has always continued from their origin till now. For whereas the nations of Greece and of Italy, of Lacedæmon, of Athens and of Rome, and others who came long after, have long since perished, these ever remain, and in spite of the endeavours of many powerful kings who have a hundred times tried to destroy them, as their historians testify, and as it is easy to conjecture from the natural order of things during so long a space of years, they have nevertheless been preserved (and this preservation has been foretold); and extending from the earliest times to the latest, their history comprehends in its duration all our histories [which it preceded by a long time].” Section 619
“Antiquity of the Jews. What a difference there is between one book and another! I am not astonished that the Greeks made the Iliad, nor the Egyptians and the Chinese their histories. There is a great difference between a book which an individual writes, and publishes to a nation, and a book which itself creates a nation. We cannot doubt that the book is as old as the people.” Section 627
6) OTHER RELIGIONS CAN”T COMPARE TO CHRISTIANITY:
“On the fact that the Christian religion is not the only religion. So far is this from being a reason for believing that it is not the true one, that, on the contrary, it makes us see that it is so. Section 588
“The falseness of other religions. They have no witnesses. Jews have. God defies other religions to produce such signs: Isaiah xliii, 9; xliv, 8. Section 591
“We must reason in the same way about religion; for it would not be possible that men should have imagined so many false religions, if there had not been a true one.Other religions perish; this one perishes not.” See chapter 9 of the Pensees for more on this.
“I see many contradictory religions, and consequently all false save one. Each wants to be believed on its own authority, and threatens unbelievers. I do not therefore believe them. Every one can say this; every one can call himself a prophet. But I see that Christian religion wherein prophecies are fulfilled; and that is what every one cannot do.” section 692
“Other religions, as the pagan, are more popular, for they consist in externals. But they are not for educated people. A purely intellectual religion would be more suited to the learned, but it would be of no use to the common people. The Christian religion alone is adapted to all, being composed of externals and internals. It raises the common people to the internal, and humbles the proud to the external; it is not perfect without the two, for the people must understand the spirit of the letter, and the learned must submit their spirit to the letter.” Section 251
7) JUDGEMENT ON EVIDENCE: EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY DWARFS OTHERS
“Therefore I reject all other religions I find it now sufficiently justified by so divine a morality. But I find more in it. I find it convincing that, since the memory of man has lasted, it was constantly announced to men that they were universally corrupt, but that a Redeemer should come; that it was not one man who said it, but innumerable men, and a whole nation expressly made for the purpose, and prophesying for four thousand years. This is a nation which is more ancient than every other nation. Their books, scattered abroad, are four thousand years old.
The more I examine them, the more truths I find in them: an entire nation foretell Him before His advent, and an entire nation worship Him after His advent; what has preceded and what has followed; in short, people without idols and kings, this synagogue which was foretold, and these wretches who frequent it, and who, being our enemies, are admirable witnesses of the truth of these prophecies, wherein their wretchedness and even their blindness are foretold.
I find this succession, this religion, wholly divine in its authority, in its duration, in its perpetuity, in its morality, in its conduct, in its doctrine, in its effects.
The frightful darkness of the Jews was foretold: Eris palpans in meridie. Dabitur liber scienti literas, et dicet: Non possum legere. While the sceptre was still in the hands of the first foreign usurper, there is the report of the coming of Jesus Christ.
So I hold out my arms to my Redeemer, who, having been foretold for four thousand years, has come to suffer and to die for me on earth, at the time and under all the circumstances foretold. By His grace, I await death in peace, in the hope of being eternally united to Him. Yet I live with joy, whether in the prosperity which it pleases Him to bestow upon me, or in the adversity which He sends for my good, and which He has taught me to bear by His example. Section 736
8) EVIDENCE ALONE WONT CONVINCE ALL
But, evidence alone is not enough for everyone. It’s important to establish a personal connection with Christ. It may be a born again experience like Pascal and some have had or it may be a connection through our conscience and thought impressions and the heart. Most important is that we have a living faith that God is changing and purifying us through (read James 2). Only this faith that connects to God’s power will bring eternal life.
“Therefore, those to whom God has imparted religion by intuition are very fortunate, and justly convinced. But to those who do not have it, we can give it only by reasoning, waiting for God to give them spiritual insight, without which faith is only human, and useless for salvation.”section 282
For some, faith will be more intellectual. But some also have the experience that Pascal did in 1654.
“From about half-past ten in the evening to about half past midnight. FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob. Not of the philosophers and the scholars. Certitude, certitude, Emotion, Joy, Peace. God of Jesus Christ … Oblivion of the world and of everything except God. Righteous father, the world has not known You, But I have known You.” http://pascalianawakenings.blogspot.com … re_23.html
(note that the Bible doesn’t say that Christianity doesn’t have wisdom and is foolish. It says that some consider it foolish, but is is most wise of all).
“This religion, so great in miracles, saints, blameless Fathers, learned and great witnesses, martyrs, established kings as David, and Isaiah, a prince of the blood, and so great in science, after having displayed all her miracles and all her wisdom, rejects all this, and declares that she has neither wisdom nor signs, but only the cross and foolishness.
For those, who, by these signs and that wisdom, have deserved your belief, and who have proved to you their character, declare to you that nothing of all this can change you, and render you capable of knowing and loving God, but the power of the foolishness of the cross without wisdom and signs, and not the signs without this power. Thus our religion is foolish in respect to the effective cause, and wise in respect to the wisdom which prepares it.
“Our religion is wise and foolish. Wise, because it is the most learned, and the most founded on miracles, prophecies, etc. Foolish, because it is not all this which makes us belong to it. This makes us indeed condemn those who do not belong to it; but it does not cause belief in those who do belong to it. It is the cross that makes them believe, ne evacuata sit crux. And so Saint Paul, who came with wisdom and signs, says that he has come neither with wisdom nor with signs; for he came to convert. But those who come only to convince, can say that they come with wisdom and with signs.”section 586-7
Since Pascal’s time, the evidence of God from all fields, including nature has exploded & major evidences for atheism have been falsified. As you investigate these evidences, any objective person will have to agree that Pascal’s wager and the Bible’s statement that spirituality brings many benefits in this life have been conclusively proven and the null hypothesis has been falsified. Note that Bible principles are not the ONLY factors that affect these areas. In certain cases that may be true. But, in most cases, there are several factors that influence them. But, religion has been tested and proven to be one of the significant factors overall in improving the quality of life.
2 thoughts on “PASCAL’S REAL PROOF OF THE RATIONALITY OF CHRISTIANITY & WAGER (summarized)”
It all depends on what exaclty the person means by “I want to believe it but I can’t.”Does he mean that he really wishes Christianity were true, but that it unfortunately appears not to be? In that case, he can either sigh wistfully and move on, reflecting that things are not always as we might wish them to be; or he can doggedly keep returning to the arguments for and against Christianity, evaluating them and reevaluating them in the hope that, against all odds, he will see something he hadn’t seen before and realize that Christianity probably is true after all. (This is more or less what I find myself doing these days.)Or does he mean that Christianity appears not to be true, but that believing it nevertheless brings benefits of some kind (psychological, social, etc.), and that he therefore wishes he could somehow brainwash himself into believing what he knows ain’t so? In that case, he needs to repent.