James A. Connor is the author of Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother and Silent Fire: Bringing the Spirituality of Silence to Everyday Life. A former Jesuit priest, Connor is professor of English at Kean University in Union, New Jersey; he has also held teaching posts at St. Louis University and Gonzaga University. He is a director of studies at the Lessing Institute in Prague. He holds degrees in geoscience, philosophy, theology, and creative writing, and a Ph.D. in literature and science. He is a prize-winning essayist published widely in such places as American Book Review, Traditional Home, Willow Springs, The Critic, The Iowa Review, and The Iowa Journal of Literary Studies.
Pascal's Wagerby James A. Connor
In a major biography of Blaise Pascal, James Connor explores both the intellectual giant whose theory of probability paved the way for modernity and the devout religious mystic who dared apply probability to faith.See more details below
In a major biography of Blaise Pascal, James Connor explores both the intellectual giant whose theory of probability paved the way for modernity and the devout religious mystic who dared apply probability to faith.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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James Connor has written an excellent biography of Blaise Pascal, 17th century mathematician and scientist...and theologian. Connor traces the parallel developments of Pascal's mathematical genius and his theological development, and then intersects the two at the point of Pascal's famous wager. I will not state the wager here, save to say that Einstein was correct. God does not roll dice, in this case, Pascal appealed to mankind to roll the theoretical dice. Along these parallel lines, Connor interweaves Pascal's famous disagreements with contemporary Rene' Descartes, various disagreements within the church of Pascal's time, and Pascal's struggles with his own angst and illnesses which ultimately left him a determined man who accomplished much during his short life time. Ultimately, Connors does find a place for both mathematical theory and theology to exist in the same plane of thought. I myself, a life long Lutheran theologian have written a paper using a mathematical model to illustrate Martin Luther's "sole fide" (faith alone) concept in light of post modern Pauline thought. This was before I read this book, but if one discipline influences the other, so much the better. Kudos for a book on a mathematical and theological genius that can be read and enjoyed by the average layperson to both disciplines.
Was a very good read.
I bought this book on a whim - and was really glad that I did. Connor's writing style is quite engaging. Each section leaves the reader curious as to what will happen next. The narrative combines a fascinating biography with a great deal of French history and concurrent history of the Catholic Church. I agree with another reviewer that an index would have been beneficial; yet I enjoyed the style of this book so much that I look forward to reading another book by this author.
Finally, after hearing about Pascal's wager for many years and seeing it referred to in print numerous times, James Connor has finally explained it to where even a novice like myself can understand it. But, the book goes much further than the wager. It involves life in France during the middle seventeenth century. All the conflicts between Catholics & Huguenots, Thomists & Janesists, Richelieu & everyone, those within the Pascal family itself, and finally the deep conflicts that tormented Blaise Pascal himself. His actual life history reads like a horror story. In addition to the very detailed explanation of the wager, Connor also enlightened this reader concerning Pascal's other accomplishments. I was ignorant of the fact that Pascal was involved in so many other experiments and scientific firsts such as being one of the founders of statistical analysis & probability theory. Kudos to Connor for keeping the chapters small as some of the data would be overwhelming to most if the chapters were lengthy. But a big thumbs down to Harper for lack of an index. How can a book like this that has been well written & researched not have an index?! All in all, this is a splendid book that clears up many issues. Now, if Connor can just do another one explaining Occam's Razor and/or Red Herrings, my cobwebs will be gone!