Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pascal's Wager

I am having a very careful, but beyond tentative discussion with a Jewish client about the existence (or not) of God and, more specifically, about Christianity. He lives in New England and has invited me to his home to discuss the matter further, although we are getting into this discussion over the telephone about once a week as we discuss a case in which we are intensely involved. I may go visit him at some point.

He is not, as they say, "religious". He says he is an agnositic. He is advanced in years and, as Dr. Kuykendall said of Mary once, "bright as a new penny". He tells me that he was quite religious as a young man, but turned away from the observant form of Judaism in which he was involved. I have run across older men before who were once religious but turned away. They are an odd mix. For one thing, they think they know all about the subject, but I have found their knowledge to be rudimentary, that is immature, sort of like my knowledge of amateur radio - I got away from it in my early twneties and came back to it 30 years later. At least I knew that there had been a lot of fresh insight and was aware of how little advanced I was when I left the hobby. On the other hand, whether or not these men think that they "turned away", it is obvious that the hound of heaven continues to nip at their ankles.

This past week we were on the phone and got into a discussion about whether God exists. He brought up again how he was an agnositic. I told him that since he was an agnostic and not an atheist, he should consider making a decision simply based on practical grounds. I suggested that he go ahead and believe in God. If there is no God, it will make absolutely no difference. If there is a God, then it may make a big difference in the scheme of things. I told him that a philosopher had put forth that proposition, but I could not think of his name.

Of course, the philosopher was Pascal, as I rememered this morning. I found an essay on Pascal's wager at a very interesting site. Christians, please pray for this man. We know that an act of will does not as a matter of necessity bring one into relationship with Christ, but we also have a promise that seeking God with one's whole heart will bring us to him. (For example.)

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