Blaise Pascal: Pensées
ca. 1656; translated by W. F. Trotter
(Encyclopaedia Britannica: Chicago 1952)
187. Order.--Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. ...
189. To begin by pitying unbelievers; they are wretched enough by their
We ought only to revile them where it is beneficial; but this does
190. To pity atheists who seek, for are they not unhappy
To inveigh against those who make a boast of it.
206. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.
221. Atheists ought to say what is perfectly evident;
now it is not
perfectly evident that the soul is material.
222. Atheists.--What reason have they for saying that we cannot rise from
What is more difficult, to be born or to rise again; that what has
never been should be, or that what has been should be again?
Is it more
difficult to come into existence than to return to it? ...
225. Atheism shows strength of mind, but only to a certain degree.
228. Objection of atheists: "But we have no light."
233. ['Pascal's wager'] "... I am forced to wager, and am not free. I am not
released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me
True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason
brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour, then, to convince
yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your
passions. You would like to attain faith and do not know the way; you would like
to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. ...
243. It is an astounding fact that no canonical writer has ever made use of
nature to prove God. They all strive to make us believe in Him. David, Solomon,
etc., have never said, "There is no void, therefore there is a God."
244. "Why! Do you not say yourself that the heavens and birds prove
God?" No. "And does your religion not say so?" No. For although it
is true in a sense for some souls to whom God gives this light, yet it is false
with respect to the majority of men.
245. There are three sources of belief: reason, custom, inspiration.
247. Order.--A letter of exhortation to a friend to induce him to seek. And he
will reply, "But what is the use of seeking? Nothing is seen." Then to
reply to him, "Do not despair." And he will answer that he would be
glad to find some light, but that, according to this very religion, if believed
in it, will be of no use to him, and that therefore he prefers not to seek.
253. Two extremes: to exclude reason, to admit reason only.