Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pascal's gambit


I
was talking with an engaged couple the other evening. The young lady was from a 'creationist' background. The young man was an 'evolutionist'.

On the one hand, he stated that God cannot be known by reason alone. Even in the seeing of the creator's handiwork, especially as evidenced by evolution and the intelligent design theory, faith is needed. Reason alone cannot suffice.

She said her upbringing would be pretty fundamental: The Bible says it - I believe it. Creation is played out in Genesis as absolute in the details that we need to know and believe. Faith enters only in so far as to whether or not we believe the scriptural account literally and finally.

I think they're going to have a lot of interesting dinner-time conversations.
Is the alternative to follow Mr. Pascal's argument?
[You'll have to look it up, guys.]

A synopsis of one view would include this decision matrix.

God exists God does not exist
Wager for God Gain all Status quo
Wager against God Misery Status quo


How do you see it?

4 comments:

Dennis said...

I like what St. Robert Bellarmine, who's feast we celebrated on Monday, had to say about reconciling science and the faith. Speaking about the Copernican theory that the earth might go round the sun, and not vice versa, he said:

"...I say that, if there were a real proof that the Sun is in the centre of the universe, that the Earth is in the third sphere, and that the Sun does not go round the Earth but the Earth round the Sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and we should rather have to say that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true. But I do not think there is any such proof since none has been shown to me. To demonstrate that the appearances are saved by assuming the sun at the centre and the earth in the heavens is not the same thing as to demonstrate that in fact the sun is in the centre and the earth in the heavens. I believe that the first demonstration may exist. but I have very grave doubts about the second, and in case of doubt one may not abandon the Holy Scriptures as expounded by the holy Fathers..."

What we know by revelation is more sure, more certain, than anything we know by reason, because the One who reveals is more sure, more certain, than any human. But the question remains: what is being revealed in revelation? That's a ponderous thing.

uncle jim said...

Dennis,
Welcome ... ponderous it is.
Not too far from you in KY is the Creationism Museum, I'm told. Ever been there?

Bill said...

Much of my spiritual life is based on Pascal's wager.

uncle jim said...

Bill,
Thanks for showing up here.
Being only semi-literate, I find simple things easier for me to assimilate and internalize. To me, Pascal presents a reasonable approach to living life ... somewhat like 'imperfect contrition'. It ain't highfalutin but it can get me there.
I hope you can share a story or two as this blog gets going.