Posts Tagged ‘Blaise Pascal’

The Right GodAh, Homer Simpson. Even a dolt like him occasionally raises questions that are worth answering. This is one of them.

In case you don’t know, 17th century mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal formulated his philosophy based on the Christian idea of God. Since that time, there have been many challenges to the wager, but let’s deal with the one put into Homer’s mouth by the writers of The Simpsons.

Let me ask you: did four or five “gods” create the universe? What about the air you’re breathing right now — did a committee of “gods” come up with that? Our brains, our opposable thumbs, our ability to recognize right and wrong — did “god” #3 do all that during a very busy day at the office? Or was it #1?

If what I’m writing here seems a bit ludicrous, that’s exactly the point.

So why the Christian god? I bounced the question off a wise pastor. Here’s a bit of Ross Carkner’s thoughts:

“To begin with, we are talking about The Almighty as recorded in the Bible who has no equal. Poor Homer is concerned about all the lesser gods who are duking it out for a share of last place in the god contest.

“These lesser gods have often been put in place, not by their own claims, but the claims we make for them. The Bible records God as making His own claims …. so I do not worship a god of my own making, I worship the God who makes everything!

Here’s another viewpoint, from John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research: “There is one infallible way to know [what is the right god]—one sure test, and no other. The one God who can defeat death is the only God who can give life!”

That god is the God who offers a gift to humanity: Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is His Son. Primary source documents on His life all declare that three days after death, Jesus was brought back to life. That’s right, by “the only God who can give life!”

Now what about God getting “madder and madder” if we don’t worship Him? If the twists and turns of human history have proven anything, it’s that God is all about freewill — that includes us deciding who we want to declare as creator.

Ross Carkner weighs in again at this point:
“Is this God an ego maniac? Does the Almighty crave our attention? or is He more in tune with my redemption? My needs? My crisis? Since He is more concerned about my fulfillment — my fullness of life in Him, his reaction to my choosing lesser gods is not anger, but sadness.”

Exactly. So what do you think about Pascal’s Wager now? Does it make sense? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Lottery TicketsMost of us have probably read or heard about lottery winners who blew their entire fortune. But this example was so astonishing, I had to investigate it.

According a 2010 story in the Britain’s Daily Mail, 26-year-old Michael Carroll was hoping to get his old job back as a trash collector, eight years after winning about $19 million in a lottery.

Why was he seeking employment again? Because the entire fortune is gone. Gone on drugs, gambling, parties, bling, a fleet of cars, and hundreds of prostitutes. Just a year after winning the lottery, he was smoking about $4,000 worth of crack cocaine every day and hosting lavish parties.

All this caused his wife to take their baby daughter and leave him. But according to the Daily Mail, this wake-up call instead caused Mr. Carroll to turn to prostitutes. He boasted about having sex with up to four per day (he didn’t need much sleep, thanks to the drugs), spending nearly $200,000 along the way.

“I only started to think about three things – drugs, sex, and gold (jewellery),” he told the newspaper.

I found a quote from an ancient writer that indirectly refers to what happened to Mr. Carroll: “Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.” Mr. Carroll’s vices were different, but they certainly left him in the same dire straits.

His spectacular downfall aside, I also noticed the article mentioned Mr. Carroll had issues before the lottery win. For example, he showed up to collect the cheque in 2002 wearing what the journalist called an ‘electronic offender’s tag’ after being found drunk and disorderly. In other words, it wasn’t just the money that tossed his life into a sea of turbulence.

This leads me to conclude that, beyond having a breathtaking lack of wisdom, Mr. Carroll was – and probably still is – missing something his life. Something so significant he went to extraordinary lengths to fill it. And not one of them worked.

Blaise Pascal, the famed French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher, seemed to understand this. One of his most famous quotes says, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

How many of us will listen to the seductive siren call of fame, riches, career advancement, sex, extreme sports, drugs or alcohol? And how many will end up, if not destitute, then as spiritually empty as Michael Carroll?

Post your reaction below and let’s have a conversation.

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PatrickSwayzeI was reading a revealing and intimate Rolling Stone magazine interview with TV star Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges) when one quote struck me hugely.

“I remember a seminal moment, standing on the back deck of my ranch in Aspen. I’m a big star, I’ve got all this s..t, airplanes, cars, boats, a stream running down by my house and I’m going ‘Wow, this is really f…ing amazing. Why am I so miserable?’ ”

Then I recalled something from The Time of my Life, the biography written by movie star Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing, Ghost) and his wife, Lisa, before his 2009 death from pancreatic cancer.

Looking back at the life-transforming success of 1987’s Dirty Dancing, Swazye wrote, “When the thing you’ve been fighting for is suddenly in your grasp, it’s all too easy to look around and say – is that all there is?”

What fascinates me about these quotes is both men achieved exactly what our world says is the pinnacle of success. International fame, good looks, adoring fans and endless financial riches were theirs. As if that was somehow inadequate, Johnson had all the women he ever needed and Swayze had a rich, life-long marriage.

DonJohnsonSo what’s the deal with these puzzling quotes? How could these men be thinking such crazy things when our culture insists they couldn’t possibly need anything more?

Let me venture to write that our culture is dead wrong. No matter who we are are or where life has taken us, we DO need more – even more than the love of a spouse and family.

Where am I going with this? Consider these words, written more than 300 years ago by Blaise Pascal:

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Think that’s just crazy talk from some dead guy who didn’t know much? Um, Pascal was a mathematician, a physicist, a philosopher, an inventor and a writer. According to Wikipedia, he invented the mechanical calculator, the hydraulic press and the syringe. So it might be time to revise that opinion.

Beyond Pascal’s resume, consider how, all these centuries later, people like Patrick Swayze and Don Johnson are continuing to prove him right.

So what about you…Do you figure more money, a promotion at work, a new house or a ‘significant other’ upgrade will make everything good? Maybe it’s time to seriously ponder what Pascal said. Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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