Monday, July 28, 2008

Pascal: "If there were no obscurity ..."

"If there were no obscurity man would not feel his corruption: if there were no light man could not hope for a cure. Thus it is not only right but useful for us that God should be partly concealed and partly revealed, since it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness as to know his wretchedness without knowing God." -Pascal, Pensees (446/586)

Thus writing, Pascal argues that God is in some ways hidden for some important reasons. This passage highlights two aspects of Pascal's anthropological argument. First, we might know God in some way without knowing our own wretched nature (such as in humanism or the new spirituality). Second, we might know our own wretchedness, but not know God. This would lead to nihilistic despair.

Both problems require a solution that, Pascal argues, only the Christian worldview can provide. We are great because we are made in God's image. But we are wretched because we are fallen. Only Christianity, says Pascal, can adequately explain this seeming paradox in human nature.

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