Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pascal's God-Shaped Vacuum

"'Because,' say some,
'you have believed from childhood that
a box was empty when you saw nothing in it,
you have believed in the possibility of a vacuum.

This is an illusion of your senses,
strengthened by custom,
which science must correct.'

'Because,' say others,
'you have been taught at school
that there is no vacuum,
you have perverted
your common sense
which clearly comprehended it,

and you must correct this
by returning to your first state.'

Which has deceived you,
your senses or your education?"
Blaise Pascal
Penseés 82

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end....

And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look....

A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts.... And thus, while the present never satisfies us, experience dupes us, and from misfortune to misfortune leads us to death, their eternal crown.

What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

He only is our true good, and since we have forsaken Him, it is a strange thing that there is nothing in nature which has not been serviceable in taking His place; the stars, the heavens, earth, the elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, pestilence, war, famine, vices, adultery, incest. And since man has lost the true good, everything can appear equally good to him, even his own destruction, though so opposed to God, to reason, and to the whole course of nature."
Penseés 425

"True nature being lost,
everything becomes its own nature;
as the true good being lost,
everything becomes its own true good."
Penseés 426

"Man does not know in what rank to place himself.
He has plainly gone astray,
and fallen from his true place
without being able to find it again.
He seeks it anxiously and unsuccessfully
everywhere in impenetrable darkness."
Penseés 427

"...the darkness has not understood it."
John 1:5

Man, left to his own means
searches hungrily.

The vacuum in his heart
needs to be filled.

Without God,
he loses his true nature,
he loses good,
he loses himself.

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