We are commemorating this month the tercentenary of the death of Blaise Pascal.
Pascal said in his Pensées that the last thing we discover when writing a book, is what to put first. After having devoted some 380 pages to the consideration of the emergence of Pascal’s genius (Pascal: The Emergence of Genius, with an appendix on recent research, Harper Torchbook No. 82, paperback), I came to the sudden realization that, with due respect for the scientific achievements of adolescence and youth, the great divide along the Pascalian quest for truth was marked by a unique experience at the Cross. Only after he had surrendered to that Love which, according to Dante, “moves the sun and the other stars,” did Blaise apprehend in its fullness the truth, the living truth, truth to be done. Only then did the landscape of God’s reality begin to make sense.
In order to secure a glimpse of understanding into this miracle—for a miracle it truly was—let us freely recall that before his ultimate surrender to the Crucified and Living Lord, this amazing genius had, within 15 years, completed the circle of human sciences. At the age of 16, he had produced a treatise on conic sections which had laid down the groundwork for projective geometry. At the age our young people become concerned about College entrance examinations, he had invented and constructed the calculating machine. Having then turned to physics, he had demonstrated the phenomena of atmospheric pressure, brought to naught one of the greatest errors of ancient physics, invented the barometer and the hydraulic press, and formulated with perfect rigor the essentials of scientific methodology. Soon thereafter, during his so-called wordly period, he had given full status to the intuitive ...1
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