Blaise Pascal's religious conversion – Nov. 23, 1654
This week marks the anniversary of when celebrated French mathematician and scientist Blaise Pascal reported having a deep mystical religious experience.
Pascal is credited with many discoveries and inventions, including an early calculator, a roulette machine, as well as pioneering advancements in scientific research in multiple fields.
In a document sewn to his coat known as the “Memorial,” Pascal described the experience as seeing fire. Soon after, he renounced pursuing secular labors to focus on theological arguments.
“Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy,” wrote Pascal in the Memorial.
“Jesus Christ. I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified. Let me never be separated from him. He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel: Renunciation, total and sweet.”
It was Pascal who famously developed the argument of “Pascal’s Wager,” which posited that there was no downside to believing that Christianity.
“Wagering for God superdominates wagering against God: the worst outcome associated with wagering for God (status quo) is at least as good as the best outcome associated with wagering against God (status quo); and if God exists, the result of wagering for God is strictly better than the result of wagering against God,” explained the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.