The world today has become a dynamic place to live in. Life is characterized by too much hard work with very few returns. From social pillars such as the family to the political arena and even the church, its systems go as people try to make ends meet. Indeed luxury has become an expensive endeavor for many. In their quest to search for a better life, people forget about the real reason for living.
It is in this light that a famous philosopher Thomas Morris, who is also a Christian, a professor of philosophy, and business person, tries to explain what life is all about. He does this in his book “Making Sense of It All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life” (1992).
In this book Thomas Morris discusses in detail all the unpublished thoughts of the late Pascal. The latter was a celebrated French philosopher, a mathematician, and scientist, who died aged thirty nine. Before his conversion to Christianity, the brilliant young man had spent most of his life pursuing academic interests.
Pascal surprised the world when at the age of twelve he reconstructed the geometry of Euclid. He later went down in history as the inventor of the first calculator, which with incremental technology, became today’s computer. With all the fame and status, Pascal was not content with life. Then, “on the night of November 23, 1654, at the age of thirty-one, Pascal had a profound and deeply moving mystical experience that dramatically turned him around, reorienting all his priorities” (p. 9).
This was the beginning of the works that would later inspire thousands of Christians. The reformed scientist turned all his energies into Christian literature. He was particularly concerned with the philosophies that lead people in their personal lives. Unfortunately, these writings were never printed, until Thomas Morris recreated them in his book.
In the first chapter the author Tom Morris shows the Christians’ need of a guide in life. This is a person, who shows you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. This helps us to avoid regrets that come with rash decisions. It is such a person from who we as Christians get solace when things tend to be too overwhelming for us. A guide will show you where you are wrong and will correct you. According to Morris, this book is the ultimate guide for a contemporary Christian.
The author categorically puts it that this book is one of the best guides in Christian literature as it awakens the sleeping giant in you. In the second chapter Morris raises the matter of indifference among the Christians. He is concerned that people no longer care about giving meaning to their lives. He says that it is unfortunate to be ignorant, but not to be concerned that you are lost is utterly unreasonable.
He blames the common people for leading a life of ignorance with no care about what one does with his/her live. To them life is just that, life. “This negligence in a matter where they themselves, their eternity, their all are at stake fills me more with irritation than pity; it astounds and appalls me; it seems quite monstrous to me” (p. 23).
The author has gone further to show how Christians tend to preoccupy themselves with other things in life to avoid the thought of God and death. Indeed most people today maintain a low profile when it comes to the matters of the gospel. This was what Pascal went through in his days and he said “men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things” (p. 31).
The author further examines Pascal’s thought that human beings tend to give the whole notion of God’s existence an empirical approach. For instance, scientists say that if God really exists, then it must be proven using scientific methods. These are methods that are standard and can be tested to give a conclusive outcome. But, according to Pascal, this is a wrong approach to life. There is more to life than just reason and sense. Also faith counts.
Morris goes ahead to use the above views to address the contemporary Christian. For example many people today tend to give more priority and faith to science than they give to Christianity. That it is easier for people to believe a weather forecast than to heed to the prophecies made by Christians. The reasons given are that the latter are not pure facts. There is no room for faith-based deeds in the modern world.
Pascal is against the surface structure of Christianity. For him it is not enough to just be a Christian. This is relevant to today’s life. We encounter many people, who find themselves being called Christians either because they were born by Christian parents or because they think it is fashionable to bear the Christian label. To Pascal, this is not the way to live a fruitful life.