For centuries those who are critical of the existence of God has heralded that science can stand on its own to describe and order the natural world that we live in. Theology, in contrast, must rely on the mystery of God to explain the processes of the world, which is seen by unbelievers as an abandonment of reason. In two very different ways, Thomas Aquinas and Pascal refute the skeptic’s stance but in a sort of harmony of head and heart.
Aquinas, in his Five Proofs, provides five “demonstrations” based on the nature of the known world that argues for the consistent proof of God’s existence. Aquinas seeks to use the rational methods and means science against those who cannot find proof for or commit to the idea of, the existence of God. The five ways are simple and easily digestible and provide a base layer that makes it possible to erect a structure of belief from them. The points, however, do not go so far as to prove the existence of the Christian God or even a monotheist perspective. This mostly does not seem to be the aim, other than ending each of the points with a final “This we call God.” Aquinas then is appealing to those who wield reason and rationality as weapons against the existence of God, by putting on display the right use of rational inquiry to prove God.
Pascal on his face could be seen as attacking a rational approach, but I see it as the cooperative argument to Aquinas. Aquinas succeeds in showing the ways reason supports God. Pascal picks up by stating that reason’s deficiency in constructing an entire worldview for or against the existence of God should humble it. He continues his perspective by stating that reason, which by he means intellectually honest reason, takes its last step when it concedes that there are “an infinite number of things which are beyond it” (Reader, 30). And, as Pascal finishes the thought, he pointedly asserts that if reason can’t get to the end of natural things, then how much less does it know about supernatural ones?
I resonated highly with the second Pascal excerpt on the hiddenness of God. This stance that God chose to be hidden influences my understanding of how God has acted and continues to operate. Pascal surmises that it not only right that God be partly concealed and partly revealed; it is also useful…” (Reader, 31). Our God, mysterious His ways, put the Law of Moses into effect so that by it men might know their sin. (Rom 6:7). The sacrificial blood of the covenant, to Israel, “righted” their relationship to Him. God, though, had hidden to them the typology they were taking part in, such that He knew He would save the world through a sacrifice of blood once and for all. This perspective should give us a lens to look through at the mysteries of the revelation, and consider that the mystery is purposeful, and for our benefit. God’s chosen revelation is equally as useful, not just in the primary sense of useful, but valuable in its form: It is everything we need to believe that He exists.