What was the role of God in the writings of Descartes and Pascal? Essay

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What is the role of God in the writings of Descartes and Pascal?

Both the idea of God and the existence of God play a major role in the writings of Descartes and Pascal. Both certainly appear to believe in him though they argue the case for his existence very differently and they also give Him a very different sort of role in their works. Whilst Descartes claims that he is certain of the existence of God, using a large part of his Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire la raison, et chercher la verité dans les sciences to prove the supreme being’s existence, Pascal’s approach to philosophy cannot allow anything to be certain. He instead asserts that he knows God and that, through the use of his famous Wager, it is better for anyone
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He also makes extensive use of the story of the Jews to illustrate why one must believe in God, even if, of course, one cannot be certain of His existence.

This, however, is where the similarity ends between the role of God in the two early-modernists’ work. Pascal’s very approach to philosophy cannot allow certainty from reasoning and he strongly disapproves of a method, particularly one such as Descartes’.

“Les preuves de Dieu métaphysiques sont si éloignées du raisonnement des hommes et si impliquées, qu’elles frappent peu”

He even goes as far as to remark that the founder of Cartesianism is “inutile et incertain”, indicating that he also believes that Descartes’ reasoning for the existence of God is severely flawed.

Pascal’s approach to God is again portrayed as a stark contrast to Descartes’ as he states

“C’est le cœur qui sent Dieu et non la raison. Voilà ce que c’est la foi. Dieu sensible au cœur, non à la raison”

Michael Moriarty points out that God therefore is felt through emotion and that, whilst it is not customary to place any sort of conviction within emotion, it is far more real than reason at the time in which it is felt. This can be understood when we consider that, within the realm of reason and causality, for a proposition to be true it must be inferred or deducted by another proposition. This