Pascal, Blaise

(1623–62)
   Mathematician and Theologian.
   Pascal was born in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and from an early age showed a remarkable talent for mathematics. In 1646 he first came into contact with Jansenism and in 1651 his sister Jacqueline entered the convent of Port-Royal, the Jansenist headquarters. Then, in 1654, Pascal himself had a conversion experience and he became a regular visitor to Port-Royal. In his Lettres Ecrites à un Provincial, he attacked the theology of the Jesuits and caused violent controversy in France. He is chiefly remembered, however, for his Pensées, which were not published until after his death. He insisted that God was not to be found through human reason, but through faith and in his famous ‘wager’, he pointed out how much was to be gained and how little to be lost in putting one’s trust in the Almighty. Thus his belief was in the ‘God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’, not in the god of the philosophers and scientists. Although his views were regarded with derision in the eighteenth century, Pascal has been the subject of considerable scholarly interest for the last one hundred and fifty years.
   D. Adamson, Blaise Pascal: Mathematician, Physicist and Thinker about God (1995);
   J.H. Broome, Pascal (1965);
   R.J. Nelson, Pascal: Advocate and Adversary (1981);
   C.C.J. Webb, Pascal’s Philosophy of Religion (1929).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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