Originally Posted by Hopeful25
Can anyone translate this into something that makes sense?
Do you believe it to be impossible that God is infinite, without parts?-- Yes, I wish therefore to show you an infinite and individual thing. It is a point moving everywhere with an infinite velocity; for it is one in all places, and is all totality in every place.
Let this effect of nature, which previously seemed to you impossible, make you know that there may be others of which you are still ignorant. Do not draw this conclusion from your experiment, that there remains nothing for you to know; but rather that there remains an infinity for you to know.
He begins by asking the reader a rhetorical question - do they think it is possible for God to be infinite. He proceeds to argue that God is both infinite and individual: 'It is a point moving everywhere with an infinite velocity; for it is one in all places, and is all totality in every place' - Basically, God is everywhere, or at least he moves between places independently of time, so he might as well e everywhere. He asserts that this sounds impossible to you, the ignorant reader, but it's totally true, so there are probably a whole load of other truths you are ignorant of.
Infinite movement, the point which fills everything, the moment of rest; infinite without quantity, indivisble and infinite.
- God is everywhere, isn't he great!
Infinite--nothing.-- Our soul is cast into a body where it finds number, time, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature, necessity, and can believe nothing else.
Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presense of the infinite, and becomes a pure nothing. So our spirit before God, so our justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion between our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.
The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast, and ought less to offend our feelings than mercy towards the elect.
We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what he is (Huh??? ). Is there not substantial truth, seeing there are so many things which are not the truth itself?
We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. But we know neither the existence or the nature of God, because He has neither extension nor limits.
But by faith we know His existence; in glory we shall know His nature. Now, I have already shown that we may well know the existence of a thing, without knowing its nature (by making one numbers analogy??? No math can be applied to the existence of an onmnipotent/onmipresent supernatural being.).
Let us now speak according to natural lights.
If there is a God, he is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is (didn't he just say that we can? "we may well know the existence of a thing, without knowing its nature"). This being so, who will dare to undertake the decision of the question? Not we, who have no affinity to Him.
Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give a reason for that belief, since they profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason? They declare, in expanding it to the world, that it is a foolishness, stultitiam; and then you complain that they do not prove it? If they proved it, they would not keep their word; it is in lacking proffs, that they are not lacking in sense. "Yes, but although this excuses those who offer it as such, and takes away from them the blame of putting it forward without reason, it does not excuse those who recieve it." (<<<< what does that mean???) Let us then examine this point, and say, "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which seperated us (???). A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
The numbers analogy works like this: We know there is an infinite amount of numbers; but we don't know what the last (yeah, he doesn't quite get infinity) one is, because if the 'last' number in an infinity were odd, adding 1 to it would make the 'last' number even, so we can never say with certainty what the 'last' number is. The same applies to God...we cannot be certain of his nature, but we know he exists, much as we know numbers are infinite.
There isn't a contradiction in his saying we can't know whether God exists and also that we can know a thing exists without knowing its nature. We know infinity exists in numbers because numbers have parts
that we are aware of - i.e. individual units - 1,2,3 etc. We do not know anything of the parts of God, however, so we cannot know his nature.
"Yes, but although this excuses those who offer it as such, and takes away from them the blame of putting it forward without reason, it does not excuse those who recieve it." (<<<< what does that mean???)
Basically, Christians who preach their religion lack proof, not reason....i.e. if you think, God might throw you into hell, its reasonable (according to Pascal's wager) to believe in him even without proof. He may be infinitely unlikely, but the risk of not beliveing in him is infinitely bad. This quotation is saying that the defence I just gave excuses preachers any guilt of preaching something that has no evidence, but it does not excuse those who choose to accept these preachings as truth.
Do not then reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it (?). "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."
Yes, but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must out of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then, that He is (<<< What?? What exactly are we gaining and losing?).-- "That is very fine (NO, it is NOT very fine ). Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." (I'm completely lost at this point.. )-- Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain.
The first sentence here is saying you shouldn't criticise Christians for believing in something they can't prove, because you can't prove it is false either. The quotation afterwards is a suggestion from some imagined antagonist saying "I can criticise both Christians an Atheists then, since both have made a choice about something they know nothing of, the rational person must be agnostic".
The author responds to this antagonist by saying that it is not optional to make a choice, everyone must decide whether they believe or do not. He suggests that we should choose to believe that God exists, because we would lose nothing from this if he didn't, but if God did exist we'd get heaven, which would be cool.
The long and short of all of this bollocks is, well, Pascal's Wager:
There are two paths in life, which are as follows:
There are two possibilities of the divine:
A.There is a God
B.There is no God
This leads to 4 possible outcomes:
1A: Faith+God=Heaven (yay!)
1B: Faith+No God= Death (meh)
2A: Atheism+God=Hell (Nooo!)
2B: Atheism+No God= Death (meh)
Thus those with faith have a chance of either YAY or MEH results, whereas atheists have the chance of NOOOOO or MEH....and it's better to be on the side that has the YAY in it and doesnt risk the NOOOOO.
This is., of course, BS...because if you have faith you have to choose what to have faith in, i.e. Thor or Allah or Zeus or whatever. And there an infinite number of possible Gods, so it is infinitely likely you have chosen the wrong one, and thus are just making him angrier and angrier every second. So the best of course of action is really atheism by Pascal's Wager logic: Don't ally to any God, that way you have no chance of praying to a false God and angering the real one.