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Posts Tagged ‘Blaise Pascal’

At least that’s what an anonymous responder tried to persuade the readership on a blog some years ago. According to this person, the Bible is just “a bad book of poetry” that no intelligent person would believe. And he challenged other readers to name a Christian genius (1).

Okay.  Here are a few to begin the list:

MATHEMATICS

Blaise Pascal’s notable mathematical works included the development of the theory of probabilities. Later in life, he devoted himself to theological writings. “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” (2).

 

Blaise Pascal (1623-1727)

 

Sir Isaac Newton, famous for his laws of physics, also paved the way for the subject of calculus. He too dedicated his later years to interpreting scripture. “Godliness consists in the knowledge, love, and worship of God, Humanity in love, righteousness & good offices towards man” (3), he wrote.

 

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727)

 

Dr. John Lennox is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He has published over seventy mathematical papers and co-authored two research level texts in algebra. But Lennox is also an astute Christian apologist, and has written such books as Can Science Explain Everything (4)?

 

Dr. John Lennox (1943- )

 

SCIENCE

Sir Francis Bacon, who established the scientific method, viewed science as a way to learn deeper truths about God. In his will, he included this final prayer: “When I thought most of peace and honor, thy hand [was] heavy on me, and hath humbled me, according to thy former loving kindness. … Just are thy judgments upon my sins. … Be merciful unto me for my Savior’s sake, and receive me into thy bosom” (5).

 

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

 

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)–One of the most important and influential physicists, astronomers, inventors and scientists to ever live. He saw no conflict between science and faith in God. “God is known by nature in his works, and by doctrine in his revealed word” (6).

 

 

James Clerk Maxwell memorized the Bible by the age of 14.  Yes, the whole thing. His extensive scientific studies determined that light is an electromagnetic wave, and his kinetic theory established that temperature is entirely dependent on the speeds of particles. Upon his death, a colleague wrote: “We his contemporaries at college, have seen in him high powers of mind and great capacity and original views, conjoined with deep humility before his God, reverent submission to His will, and hearty belief in the love and atonement of that Divine Savior” (7).

 

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

 

MEDICINE

Sir James Simpson, an outstanding obstetrician, pioneered many techniques in his field. He’s also credited for his discovery of the anesthetic qualities of chloroform. But when asked by a journalist about his greatest discovery, Dr. Simpson replied he was a sinner and Jesus Christ his Savior (8).

 

Sir James Simpson (1811-1870)

 

Dr. Joseph Lister, the father of modern surgery, determined as a medical student to not just practice medicine, but to also conduct research. Among the surgical techniques he developed, Lister proved the benefits of antiseptic surgery. A devout Quaker, Lister made it clear: “I am a believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity” (9).

 

Dr. Joseph Lister (1827-1912)

 

Alexander Fleming–biologist, physician, microbiologist, and pharmacologist—changed the world when he discovered penicillin, but he gave God the credit. “Discoveries of this magnitude are rare . . . God took care to hide that country till he judged his people ready; then, he chose me for his whisper and I found it and it’s yours.” Fleming also asserted: “My greatest discovery was that I needed God, and that I was nothing without him and that he loved me and showed his love by sending Jesus to save me” (10).

 

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)

 

Still further evidence of genius is found among the humanities. In an effort to keep this post of reasonable length, I’ll save that topic for next week.   But perhaps you’ll enjoy uncovering evidence for yourself of the godly faith of these Christians and others. The websites listed below offer a beginning point.

It is a fact that many proclaimed geniuses have chosen not to become Christians. God has chosen to bestow brilliant minds among all mankind, just as he grants the rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

But it cannot be said there is no such thing as a Christian genius.

 

___________________________________________

 

What Christian geniuses would you add to the list?

Please share in the comment section below!

 

Notes:

1. http://www.rightnation.us/forums/index.php?autocom=blog&blogid=7&showentry=742

2. https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/contributions-of-famous-christian-mathematicians 

3.  same as above

4.  https://www.rzim.org/speakers/john-lennox

5.  https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/scholarsandscientists/francis-bacon.html

6.  https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/scholarsandscientists/galileo-galilei.html

7.  https://creation.com/great-creation-scientists-james-clerk-maxwell

8.  http://evangelicalfocus.com/blogs/3118/The_Reformation_and_Medicine_My_lecture_to_commemorate_the_500th_anniversary-

9.  https://answersingenesis.org/creation-scientists/joseph-lister-father-of-modern-surgery/

10.  http://www.staplefordresources.co.uk/files/files/Alexander_Fleming.pdf

 

Other Sources:

https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/the-rich-historic-roll-call-of-great-christian-thinkers-and-scientists/

https://www.famousscientists.org/great-scientists-christians/

http://evangelicalfocus.com/blogs/3118/thereformationandmedicinemylecturetocommemoratethe500thanniversary_

https://relevantmagazine.com/god/9-groundbreaking-scientists-who-happened-be-christians/

https://answersingenesis.org/intelligent-design/signature-god-medicine-and-microbiology/

 

Art & Photo credits:  http://www.wikimedia.org (2); http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.wikimedia.org (2).

 

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Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much. ~  Blaise Pascal

“Kind words do not cost much.  Yet they accomplish much.”

*     *     *     *     *     *

“Do you wish people to think well of you?  Don’t speak well of yourself.”

*     *     *     *     *     *

The power of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts,

but by his ordinary doing.”

*     *     *     *     *     *

Do the above quotes remind you of Proverbs in the Bible?  They do have a similar tone, and certainly impart wisdom.  But they were not penned by King Solomon.  Credit goes to Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

Portrait of Pascal

His name probably sounds familiar.  Chances are, you studied him in school, either in math class or science, maybe both.

Pascal’s first noteworthy accomplishment?  He formulated  a basic theorem of projective geometry, called Pascal’s theorem– at age sixteen!

He invented a calculating device, to help his father, who was a tax collector–when he was only nineteen.

A Pascaline, an early calculator.

(A Pascaline, Pascal’s early calculator)

Another set of experiments produced his famous law of hydraulics.  He contributed important study on the vacuum, on the weight and density of air, and the arithmetic triangle.

Pascal also developed the theory of probability, which is still used today.

And he invented the syringe, the hydraulic lift, as well as the first mechanical computer.  A computer language is named after him.

Such broad giftedness wrapped up in one young man!  But Pascal was actually embarrassed by all his talents.

Even as he was studying mathematics and conducting scientific experiments, Pascal was also exploring spiritual matters.  He and his sister joined a group of Catholics in France, called Jansenists, who believed that salvation was a gift of God’s grace, and could not be earned through good works.

Pascal said,

(“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”)

In 1654, Pascal was thrown from a carriage when the horses bolted.  The horses died, but Pascal was unhurt.  He felt convinced God had saved him, and he began thinking seriously about what God might want him to do.

That night Pascal had a vision of the crucifixion and experienced a profound renewal in his spirit.  From that point forward, scientific work was of secondary importance in his life.

At that time, Pascal wrote:  “Certainty!  Joy!  Peace!  I forget the world and everything but God!…I submit myself absolutely to Jesus Christ my Redeemer.”

Pascal recorded  this and other statements about his mystical experience on a piece of parchment, then sewed the document into his coat.  There it remained hidden until it was discovered after he died.  Pascal was only thirty-nine years old.

(Pascal’s “Night of Fire” parchment)

Also discovered after his death:  twenty-seven bundles of notes for a major work defending the Christian faith.  These notes were published posthumously and titled Pensees, or Thoughts.  It became a classic of Christian thinking.

 Pascal’s truth-gems include:

“The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason.”

“Happiness is neither without us nor within us.  It is in God, both without us and within us.”

“If our condition were truly happy, we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy.”

“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.”

Perhaps his most famous statement in the Pensees is a short essay titled “The Wager.”  Here are a few excerpts:

“Either God exists, or He does not.  Which will you gamble on?  If God exists, you win everything.  If He does not exist, you lose nothing.  Do not hesitate, then:  gamble on His existence!”

In other words:

Thank You, Father, for wise men and women such as Blaise Pascal, who express themselves in such rare and beautiful ways.  Their words stretch our intellects and stir our hearts. 

Yet Your greatest joy would be for their words to touch our lives so that tomorrow we are nearer Your best for us–words such as that quote about virtue not being measured by special efforts but by ordinary doing.  Help me to remember that it is in the ordinary that I can reflect You most brilliantly.

 (References:  Eerdman’s Christian Classics;  www.christianitytoday.com ; www.ccel.org; www.answersingenesis.org. ; http://www.brainyquote.com ; http://www.goodreads.com ) 

Photo and graphics credits: http://www.smallactsofkindness.wordpress.com ; http://www.wikipedia.com ; http://www.famousquotesabout.com ; http://www.manifestpropensity.wordpress.com ; http://www.conflicted collegechristians.wordpress.com.

   

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