November 23, 1654
This is the day the French physicist, mathematician, inventor, and theologian Blaise Pascal experienced a mystical vision and converted to Christianity. I must admit, Pascal is one of my heroes, not because I agree with all his musings, but because he truly was a brilliant man – loving to probe the depths of science and theology. Sadly, this genius died when he was 39 years old.
A Small Excerpt from Pensees 425:
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended ith different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions.
A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts. But example teaches us little. No resemblence is ever so perfect that there is not some slight difference; and hence we expect that our hope will not be deceived on this occasion as before. And thus, while the present never satisfies us, experience dupes us, and from misfortune to misfortune leads us to death, their eternal crown….
Pascal was fascinating. I am astonished that he was able to discern that “no one without faith has reached the point [of happiness] to which all continually look” and still make amazing discoveries like the Pascal Triangle. Below is a picture of his triangle along with the Fibonacci Sequence superimposed. Simply beautiful.