The Apologetics of Blaise Pascal

Journey through the Life and Mind of one of the Great Apologists of History

Curated by Jonathan Threlfall

Introduction to the Life and Thought of Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a true polymath. As a scientist, mathematician, literary genius, and theologian, he continues to garner the interest of scholars from a variety of disciplines. In this video, Pascalian scholar William Wood introduces the life and work of Pascal, including his dramatic conversion experience and groundbreaking contributions to science and Christian apologetics.

Primary Sources
Biographical and Philosophical Sketches
  • Will Durant – Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

    Biographical chapter of an audio book on Pascal.

Pascal the Apologist

Among theologians, Pascal is best known for his unique contribution to apologetics. Unlike many apologists who came after him, he did not accept Descartes’ belief in the autonomy of reason, so he approached the persuasive task with a chastened view of humans’ ability to arrive at truth through their reason. In this audio lecture, R. C. Sproul gives an overview of Pascal’s approach to persuading skeptical unbelievers.

Pascal’s Anthropological Argument

Douglas Groothuis is an evangelical scholar who has spent much of his academic career researching and writing about the apologetic approach of Blaise Pascal. In this video, he explains how Pascal reasons from the paradoxical human condition to the truth of Christianity.

Recommended Book

Pascal’s Wager

Many people think that “Pascal’s wager” is the lynchpin for his case for Christian belief. However, the wager is actually one among Pascal’s many appeals for people to believe in Christ. Since it is not technically an argument for Christian belief, people who think they refute it as an argument are actually attacking a “straw man.” In this first video excerpt, Ravi Zacharias demonstrates the positive usefulness of this aspect of Pascal’s case for Christianity. In the second video excerpt, Tim Keller comments on the wager, its significance, and a healthy way of using it.

Pascal and Reason

The word fideist typically describes someone who irresponsibly jettisons reasons in favor of faith, pitting knowledge and revelation against each other. Pascal has often been considered a fideist, but this judgment is based on a shallow reading of the Pensées. In reality, Pascal had a very sophisticated understanding of the relationship between faith and reason. He did not disparage reason, but he believed that people must understand its limitations. In this brief lecture segment, Arthur Holmes discusses Pascal’s distinction between rational and intuitive knowledge, and how this sets him apart from the thought of René Descartes.