Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and physicist who laid the foundation for the modern theory of probability. His father appointed himself as his educator and, curiously, decided to omit mathematics from Blaise’s curriculum, so Blaise could focus on the languages (especially Latin and Greek) and the classics. This had the opposite effect from that which was desired and young Blaise found all things mathematical to be irresistible. At 18 Blaise Pascal invented one of the first calculators. At 24 he began his work called The Generation of Conic Sections. He was only 31 when he discovered the fixed likelihood of seemingly random events based on probability. Nicklaus Wirth invented a computer language in the 70s and insisted on naming it after Pascal, in honor of Pascal’s calculator which was one of the very earliest forms of the modern computer. Blaise Pascal died of cancer at the age of 39. (biography.com)
Pascal was a genius. He was also a Christian. And I think his quote about faith offers insight into the question, “Why doesn’t God show Himself?”
How I Would Do It If I Were God
So why doesn’t He? I mean we have this anomalous piece of literature that we call the New Testament, at a point on the space-time continuum in Israel more than 2,000 years ago, that appears to be reportage according to some experts in ancient literature, C.S. Lewis being one of them. (see previous posts Doubt, Faith, and Reason and Tolkien, Lewis, and the Gospel Accounts) And what are we to do with it? What are we to do with this divergent piece of history? And why did God put us in this position anyway? Why do we have to decide if that piece of reportage we call the New Testament is real? Why doesn’t he just show Himself, to each and every generation? He’s God right? So He certainly could show Himself. Or He could at least send an angel to each generation. Or maybe He could carve out instructions for us on some monolithic rock in a desert somewhere, in a way that no human ever could–so we would know, for sure.
Any of those methods might be how I would do it.
I hear atheists and theists say similar things. Why didn’t God write an About page in the form of a constellation telling us about Himself? Why wouldn’t he offer proof of His existence? But God didn’t do it that way, and I think Pascal offers insight into the reason why.
Why Doesn’t God Show Himself?
It puzzles me, but God seems to be enthralled with the idea of free will. He’s enthralled with it way beyond me or anyone I know. You see I’m the kind of guy who likes to back up a phone call with an email. I like to arrange things so they can’t miss. I never would have put the tree of good and evil in the garden. I would have explained to Cain ahead of time that he was forbidden to harm Abel. I would have taken Samson on a retreat until he cooled off on Delilah. I would have made sure Bathsheba’s bathtub wasn’t in view of David’s castle.
But God didn’t do it that way. God set things up exactly the opposite. God seems to ensure a choice. God seems to arrange things so we have freedom. God seems to set things up to ensure our free will. He seems to be completely committed to this idea of free will, so much so that I think it could be that it’s just as Pascal says it is. God arranged the universe so that:
“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”
Choose to believe.
You might also like Doubt, Faith, and Reason: Genuine Seeker (Part 3)
Questions? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
“We are created to discover, to experience the Creation and to know the Creator,” says Dr. Henry Cloud. I love Blaise Pascal because he was one who lived his life that way. He loved science which is to love discovering and experiencing God’s creation. And he also loved God too, and devoted himself to knowing his Creator.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13