Pascal states that faith is a gift of God, not the result of a process of reasoning (Pensées, L 7, 588/S 41, 487). In which case, we might ask, what is the point of an apology for the Christian religion? Suppose I am persuaded to adopt Christianity by arguments for the existence of God, and then for the unique status of Christianity as a divine revelation: in that case, my belief will be based on the human faculty of reasoning, and faith is not necessarily a gift of God. Or if faith is a gift of God, why should I trouble to study the proofs of Christianity? If God intends me to have faith, He will give it; if I do not have it, is that my fault? God could have given it to me, and has not. In either case, where is the place for argument?
Another problem. Pascal elsewhere says that the would-be but not-yet believer should fulfil the external rituals of religion: taking holy water and so forth. That will bring about belief: ‘Cela vous fera croire’ (L 418/S 680). In other words, the way to belief is through forsaking one’s human faculty of reasoning (refraining from asking what possible good holy water can do me) and adopting a purely mechanical mode of behaviour that puts one on a level with the animals (‘cela vous abêtira’).1 In this case also, where is the gift of God?