September 27: Jesus (the bad news and the worse news)


The bad news: According the Pascal's Fundamentals of the Christian Religion: Christianity only works if you feel like shit:

We can then have an excellent knowledge of God without that of our own wretchedness, and of our own wretchedness without that of God. But we cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing at the same time both God and our own wretchedness.
There's a lot more of this wretchedness stuff, and also this:
Without Jesus Christ the world would not exist; for it should needs be either that it would be destroyed or be a hell.
But isn't it already a hell, because we're so wretched? It seems like a terrible argument. I mean, under these circumstances, having everything be meaningless would be a tremendous comfort; better than concluding that it all adds up to a hellish wretchedness.

There's also the bad news that Pascal's God prefers riddles -- that the very fact that he's hidden proves his existence -- that only a real God would occasionally decide, not only not to answer your prayers, but not even bother to listen to them. "Recognise, then, the truth of religion in the very obscurity of religion, in the little light we have of it, and in the indifference which we have to knowing it."

I don't even get this, really, but it's sort of surprising at a method of apologetics to claim that God shines intermittently like a cheap neon sign. (Although I've always been fond of the saw that the universe is run by a god who's 90% malevolent but only 10% competent.)

But that's not the worse news. The worse news is that Pascal proves the truth of Christianity from the evidence of how hateful the Jews are:
To give faith to the Messiah, it was necessary there should have been precedent prophecies, and that these should be conveyed by persons above suspicion, diligent, faithful, unusually zealous, and known to all the world.To accomplish all this, God chose this carnal people, to whom He entrusted the prophecies which foretell the Messiah as a deliverer, and as a dispenser of those carnal goods which this people loved.

...
For when blessings are promised in abundance, what was to prevent them from understanding the true blessings, but their covetousness, which limited the meaning to worldly goods?

Wow. It's bad enough that Pascal wrote this in 1660; but it's worse that the Harvard people decided to point us to it in 1930. Maybe the world is wretched and a hell after all.

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