Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Agnosticism is impossible

I am reading a fascinating book by Peter Kreeft on the writings of Blaise Pascal Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal's Pensées.

Kreeft's premise is that most Christian Apologetics are written for believers, whereas Pascal wrote for non-believers.

One excerpt I already posted was Why happy atheists are destined for unhappiness eternally.

I have read a couple of Peter Kreeft's books (all excellent), and he lists them all on his site.

Both these men are awesome writers and Christian apologetics.

Then as I was googling Pascal, I found this site of Kreeft's.

His essays are here.

There is an essay on "The argument from Pascal's Wager", "Hell", "The argument from design", "The Argument from Conscience", "The problem of Evil", and others. His essays are a couple of pages long and easy to read.

Because I am currently reading Kreeft on Pascal, I loved Kreefts' essay on the Pascal's famous Wager. Remember that this argument was written for sceptics. Here's a bit from Kreeft on Pascal's wager:
"...The most powerful part of Pascal's argument comes next. It is not his refutation of atheism as a foolish wager (that comes last) but his refutation of agnosticism as impossible. Agnosticism, not-knowing, maintaining a sceptical, uncommitted attitude, seems to be the most reasonable option. The agnostic says, "The right thing is not to wager at all." Pascal replies, "But you must wager. There is no choice. You are already committed [embarked]." We are not outside observers of life, but participants. We are like ships that need to get home, sailing past a port that has signs on it proclaiming that it is our true home and our true happiness. The ships are our own lives and the signs on the port say "God". The agnostic says he will neither put in at that port (believe) nor turn away from it (disbelieve) but stay anchored a reasonable distance away until the weather clears and he can see better whether this is the true port or a fake (for there are a lot of fakes around). Why is this attitude unreasonable, even impossible? Because we are moving. The ship of life is moving along the waters of time, and there comes a point of no return, when our fuel runs out, when it is too late. The Wager works because of the fact of death."

He ends the essay with the following:
"An atheist visited the great rabbi and philosopher Martin Buber and demanded that Buber prove the existence of God to him. Buber refused, and the atheist got up to leave in anger. As he left, Buber called after him, "But can you be sure there is no God?" That atheist wrote, forty years later, "I am still an atheist. But Buber's question has haunted me every day of my life." The Wager has just that haunting power."

I wonder if Joyce Arthur, a self proclaimed atheist, has ever read Kreeft or Pascal?

1 comment:

  1. People are not atheists because of a lack of intellectual ability or because they've missed a key book or two. They are atheists because of will. It is very, very true that the keys of hell are locked from the inside. God may call home one or two, here and there but for the most part atheists will one day reach the destination they've been travelling toward for their whole lives.