The Human Quest for Diversion

I’ve enjoyed Douglas Groothuis’ Christian Apologetics and find myself referencing it quite a bit.  Recently as I was looking for something in it, I saw my highlights of this great section where Groothuis summarizes Blaise Pascal’s discussion of how fallen people have a spiritual longing which they try to quench by diversions.  Here are Groothuis’ words:

“Part of Pascal’s understanding of humans as ‘deposed royalty’ …is that people discern in themselves a wretchedness they cannot cure and a death they cannot escape.  Unless people find solid solace in true religion, they will divert themselves from these realities to avoid despair.  For Pascal the quest for diversion becomes a testimony to our fallen estate.  If we were truly content with ourselves, we would have no need to distract ourselves.  However, ‘being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.’  We escape through diversion.”

“But the very escape from our miseries testifies to our need of God.  Diversion serves to distract humans from a plight too terrible to stare in the face, namely, our mortality, finitude and sinfulness.  Pascal unmasks diversion for what it is – an attempt to escape unpleasant reality and an indication of something unstable and strange in the human condition.  Interest in, or obsession for, entertainment is more than silly or frivolous.  It reveals a moral and spiritual malaise begging for explanation.  Our condition is ‘inconstancy, boredom, anxiety.'”

“According to Pascal, the quest for diversion is rooted in the Fall.  ‘There was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace.’  All people seek happiness, but all complain endlessly of the inadequacies of life.  Pascal argues that Jesus Christ uniquely answers the profound needs of humans, who cannot find adequate meaning and satisfaction in themselves or through worldly endeavors.”

Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, p. 367.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI

3 comments on “The Human Quest for Diversion

  1. Laura says:

    In 2015 I read Pascal’s Pensees – but they were edited, outlined, and explained by Peter Kreeft. (Here:
    I remember the section about diversion. I really appreciated, not only Pascal, but Kreeft’s interaction with him.

  2. Truth2Freedom says:

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

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