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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

Faith Versus Reason

How well do you know your high school chemistry? Do you recall Pascal's Law? It describes the effect of applying pressure on a liquid in a closed container. Changes in pressure in a confined liquid will be distributed equally throughout the fluid. For example, a thin bottle will break when a cork is pushed down far enough. This principle is used today in hydraulics for presses, elevators, jacks, vacuum pumps and air compressors.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), an amazing French philosopher, is known today for his work in math, chemistry and religion. His father tried to educate him in ancient languages. However, at age 12, Blaise had discovered geometry and at 16 wrote "The Geometry of Conics," which is now lost. He also invented the calculating machine and the theory of probability, used in card games.

In his mid-thirties, Pascal became interested in religion. He wrote:: "Within each one of us there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill." Later, he wrote another book, "An Apology for the Christian Religion." In it he maintained that perfect knowledge arrived through Christian revelation. Pascal believed that faith is a sounder guide than reason; he wrote: "Reason can go only so far, but faith in God has no limits." Thus, reason hits a wall, but faith opens a window, allowing fresh air and sunshine to infiltrate.

Pascal understood that man has a dilemma. His conscious mind tells him he is impure against a perfect Creator, and he tries to reason it out. Man has supine indifference, lust, pride, selfishness, an alcoholic problem, or not feeling self-fulfilled, self-actualised. He plays mindless games to understand and rationalize his dilemma, but he finally realizes that his impurity cheats him out of being in harmony with God, creating a vacuum. Pascal admitted that this God-shaped vacuum was created within each of us that only He can fill. No wide amount of reasoning could eradicate it - only faith in God can supplant it.

Blaise Pascal's scientific mind has affected the world even to this day. Yet he pointed to Jesus Christ, who can fill our vacuum, our being, in order that we may have the final assurance that our lives may have order - not chaos, full and not empty, pressurized, not a vacuum. Yes, God understands our make-up, our chemistry and yearns to have a relationship with you.

A suggested prayer:

"God, I ask You to come into my life today, and fill this thin flask that I am. Give this outer and inner shell of mine strength, comfort and the assurance that I am in harmony with You. Forgive me for being impure against a perfect God. Take control of my life so that I can live for You. I realize that reasoning has its limits but faith in God has no limits. I thank You for supplying an answer to my feeble attempts in understanding myself. Amen!"

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