Beyond the Wager
Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century French philosopher and scientist, is perhaps best known for his "wager," an argument about the existence of God. But there was much more to Pascal and his brilliance.
In this accessible and well-documented study, philosopher Douglas Groothuis introduces readers to Pascal's life as well as the breadth of his intellectual pursuits, including his contributions to mathematics, science, ethics, and theology. Groothuis overviews the key points of Pascal's Pensées, which captures his thoughts about God, humanity, and Jesus Christ. Readers will also explore Pascal's views on a range of topics, including culture, politics, Islam, and miracles.
Often quoted and often misunderstood, Pascal is a complex figure whose writings have charmed, puzzled, and inspired readers across the centuries. With guidance from a leading Christian thinker and longtime student of Pascal, Beyond the Wager takes you on a journey to discover the riches Pascal has to offer today.
"I have been reading Blaise Pascal's writings as well as other contemporary writers and apologists who have discussed Pascal and his ideas for at least three decades. Beyond the Wager: The Christian Brilliance of Blaise Pascal is one of the finest introductions to this amazing Christian thinker available. Douglas Groothuis's fine book is both substantive and accessible—a must-read for all of us contemporary Pascalians."
"This is a stunningly good and meticulously researched yet lively look at the work of the pioneering Christian thinker Blaise Pascal. Groothuis masterfully does for a new generation what needs to be done over and over, introducing this creative mind anew to show the importance of his tremendous insights for our time, and all times."
"Philosopher Douglas Groothuis has devoted decades to studying, teaching, and writing about Blaise Pascal, and it shows. Groothuis skillfully addresses Pascal's fascinating life, scientific achievements, theological controversies, apologetic efforts, and more. His adept presentation of Pascal's unique anthropological argument for Christianity is particularly superb. Beyond the Wager is an excellent resource for seasoned Pascal readers and those new to the compelling insights gleaned from the works of the French polymath."
"A fine introduction to the breadth of Pascal's apologetics, Douglas Groothuis's Beyond the Wager is accessible without oversimplification and careful without pedantry. It includes intriguing discussions of little-known or overlooked arguments and ideas in Pascal's thought, such as those concerning the status of messianic prophecies as evidence for the truth of Christianity and the rational appraisal of non-Christian religions."
"Blaise Pascal is a genius for the ages, though he's often misunderstood and sometimes maligned. Douglas Groothuis's treatment is admirable—one of the ablest philosophers of our day writing on one of the ablest of all time. No thoughtful defense of faith today can afford to avoid engagement with the brilliance and the passion of Pascal's Pensées."
1. Blaise Pascal: Known and Unknown
2. A Short Life of Pascal
3. Scientist and Philosopher of Science
4. Theological Controversy
5. The Character and Plan of the Pensées
6. God: To Prove or Not to Prove
7. Skepticism and the Hidden God
8. Deposed Royalty
9. Jesus Christ: Miracles and Prophecy
10. The Excellence of Christ
11. Christianity, Mohammad, and the Jews
12. Wagering a Life on God
13. Pascal's Critique of Culture and Politics
Conclusion: A Christian Genius for the Ages
Appendix: Descartes and Pascal Get into an Argument in Heaven