Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 27: Pascal's Fundamentals of Religion (Vol. 48. pp. 181-192)

On this day in 1647, Pascal and Descartes sat down for a conversation. To have France's two greatest philosophers in the same room is one of those "I wish there was a tape of that" moments in history.

Today's selection covers what Pascal thought were the two main truths of Christianity: "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."

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