Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pensées by Blaise Pascal

What is the prime objective of the atheist? It’s very simple; to convince Christians that God does not exist, and that the strength believers take from their faith is available to them by means other than believing. You can see this clearly spelled out in Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. He couldn’t be clearer about it; on the first page he writes:
I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God.
In short, Harris and other atheists tell Christians they have got something wrong.

To see what happens when the shoe is on the other foot, take a look at this recent clip from Joe Rogan’s interview with Sam Harris. In it, Harris complains mostly about Mike Cernovich, but the most poignant moment comes when he talks about Hunter Maats.
Or some, some guy like Hunter who, you know, I have no idea who he is, but he’s telling me I’ve got something wrong … and you know I feel a little bit worse about myself, a little bit worse about my career, a little bit worse about people, a little bit worse about the future…
The irony is surely self-evident. For those who have abandoned God on the word of Sam Harris, this alone should cause disquiet.

Unlike Harris, Blaise Pascal sought to provide a way in which people would feel, to borrow from the world’s most famous atheist, a little bit better about themselves, a little bit better about their lives, a little bit better about people, and a little bit better about the future.

Pascal believed in God, he never doubted for a moment, but he acknowledged the difficulty that many had in truly surrendering their doubts. And he sought to understand those people, and to formulate arguments that would allow them to share in the joy and benefits he himself derived from believing.

Harris boasts about his success at persuading Christians to reject the idea of God. (I pray they are having a better time with self-belief in the absence of God than Harris is.) Pascal, in the long series of thoughts that comprise Pensées, wrestles with how to convince people that a greater joy and life awaits.

Whether you believe in God or not, it’s worth asking which man, Harris or Pascal, has your interests truly at heart. Which of them seeks your happiness? Which of them cares for and loves you? 

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