The correct quote of Blaise Pascal

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”

[This is from page 75 of Blaise Pascal’s Pensees (New York; Penguin Books, 1966).]

Way back in February of 2006, I shared the quote that is commonly assumed to come from Pascal, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing.  It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” However, as I found out through comments and checking up on it, that that was not a correct quote. And since many people are searching for Pascal’s quote, I thought it would be wise to post the correct one in bold letters!

I love the real quote even better!!

Let’s be reminded to each day fill our lives to overflowing with our Savior. Let’s remember to love on those who are around us who are trying in vain to fill their emptiness. We are have what they need, and they need to see a difference in us.

Good night! 🙂

God bless you!

35 thoughts on “The correct quote of Blaise Pascal

  1. Thanks for being diligent on this quote. I have heard the original statement so many times, I had come to believe it was the actual quote and not a paraphrase. The real quote is more eloquent, which we would expect from Pascal.

  2. MORE ACCURATELY…

    “this desire and this inability proclaim to us, that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself. He only is our true good, and since we have forsaken him, it is a strange thing that there is nothing in nature which has not been serviceable in taking His place; the stars, the heavens, earth, the elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, pestilence, war, famine, vices, adultery, incest.” Page 113

    http://www.amazon.com/Pensees-Philosophical-Classics-Blaise-Pascal/dp/0486432556/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340296054&sr=8-1&keywords=9780486432557

  3. That was very good. I loved it and I agree. I’ll definitely use this. I agree with what you say. It is sound truth. God bless and keep the faith and keep up the good fight.

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I read today`s devotional and it had the quote “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which can`t be filled by any created thing but only by the creator.” by Blaise Pascal. I found it so true which is why I wanted to share it. I`ll share the correct quote instead. May God bless you!

  5. I have pondering over this verse in the Amplified Bible for some time Eccl. 3:11 hoping to write a track based on it. I was reminded of Pascal’s quote because, he seems to touch it directly. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds ( a divinely implanted purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy), yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Eccl. 3:11. My mother loved to speak from her own experience when sharing the gospel, about the ” Empty Hallo” as she called it within man. That spot that nothing else but God could fill, I too could relate to it . So, hear is this truth in the word, God has put something into every human, we all have it, when we look at others out side of Christ, we can see there all vessels to be filled with Him, the eternal God.We can pray for them to be filled instead of judging them. I would appreciate any help you all might have in putting this verse into a track.

  6. Thank you for your diligence in doing justice to this very beautiful quote!!! Thank you for your sharing and exhortation!

    God bless you!!!🤗🙏🏽

  7. “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” may not be an accurate quote of Pascal, but I still like it. It is not a terrible paraphrase.

  8. What I like about the paraphrase is that it more precisely defines the identity of the “God” that fills this vacuum! It is the God of scripture, the one who has revealed Himself in the person of Christ! Hebrews 1:1-4 explains:
    “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

  9. Whether Pascal knew this or not, the thought comes originally from the 14th century English mystic, Richard Rolle, in his book The Fire of Love, chapter 11: “Since the human soul is capable of receiving God alone, nothing less than God can fill it; which explains why lovers of earthly things are never satisfied”

  10. Wow. I’m so glad you did this! Thank you. And I agree: The accurate quotation is far richer and deeper than the summation. I think accuracy is paramount for the Christian (part of what it means to tell truth), and for the writer. As an author, myself, I place a high value on it, and do all I can to assure it! Thank you, again.
    Lynn Morrissey

  11. Reason and critical thinking may not fill the void but they can put you on the road to understanding that a myth cannot. To do so they must come from a point of humility that recognizes something that faith forgets. The ultimate unknowability of the of the universe that surrounds us. The claim that we can know the omnipotent and omniscient is a fallacy born of the arrogance of faith. Reason recognizes that the void need not nor can be filled but the journey reason affords makes the destination of little matter

    • Vincent, what do you mean by “myth?” I get the feeling you are lumping anything not categorized as “reason and critical thinking” into some vague nonsensical pile of “untruth.” That is certainly not what “myth” is. Myth is truth expressed on a deeper level than “critical thinking.” When you read great fiction of the fantasy genre such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or any fantasy by C.S. Lewis or Madeleine L’Engel, you don’t find “critical thinking,” but a deeper truth that is, in Lewis’ words, “Further up! Further in!” If faith forgets the unknowability of the universe, as you allege, could it be that scientism forgets the humility of the possibility of a God who reveals and who revels in relationship with humans? I don’t know of truly spiritual people who think they can find their way to God. That would indeed be arrogant. In general, all spiritual insight is seen as coming from above and from outside. It is a gift, a grace. We can’t find God. But why can’t God find us? Then that God who knows us can be known by us–personally and with awe and trembling. As the song writer has said and countless people have affirmed, “And he walks with me and he talks with me
      And he tells me I am his own
      And the joy we share as we tarry there
      None other has ever known.”

      That destination is worth knowing, not a little matter, and the journey is worth experiencing when reason and faith are both operating.

      • Dan,
        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Perhaps rather than “myth” my issue is with faith. Myth, as Carl Jung spent a lifetime investigating, is a necessary component for us to understand the mysteries that surround us in life. Myth allows us to ponder the unknowable and to imagine freely. As an avid reader myth is something I truly enjoy but I do not mistake it for reality. Myth allows me to ponder reality as through a glass darkly. However, faith is a far different matter altogether. My issue is that faith provides the believer with a certainty that critical thinking is incapable of offering because a necessary requirement for this method of reasoning is doubt. I had a philosophy professor in college that focused our minds on the Cartesian edict “cogito sum ergo” as “I doubt therefore I am” rather than its more common translation “I think therefore I am”. Doubt’s bedrock for the critical thinker is humility. When faced with the unknowable or ineffable it simply says I am uncertain. Faith, even in, and especially in, the devout requires an abandonment of that doubt and therefore that humility because the believer believes due to a feeling rather than reason and regardless of the facts as we know them. “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith proves nothing” Please forgive me this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche but it illustrates my issue with faith clearly. Reason is a poor tool at best but it is, to me, the best among the poor tools we thinking beings possess.

  12. From what I understand, Pascal wrote his book in French, so really, it’s a matter of translation. Technically, any English quote of what he actually said would be an “inaccurate quote”. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s