Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematician and physicist for whom a computer language is named. Pascal said that it makes more sense to bet that there is a god than that there is not.

He surmised that, if you bet there is no god and it turns out that there is, you could lose your soul for all eternity. When you die, that is that.

However, if you bet there is a god and it turns out that there isn’t, what have you lost? Think of living with God through all eternity — the most pleasant experience you can imagine.

Atheists who are strong in their convictions don’t need to make a lot of noise about who they are. They don’t need billboards trying to convince people.

D. L. Aydlette Jr. Fort Johnson Road

Charleston

Americans love the concept of second chances when it comes to celebrities, politicians and athletes, but are we giving second chances to people who desperately need it?

I am a convicted felon. I sold drugs and received stolen goods. I wasn’t a murderer, woman beater, rapist or child molester, but nine out of 10 times I apply for a job, I am turned down. When I was given a “second chance” at employment, I earned my way to being a supervisor four times, employee of the month 12 times and employee of the year three times. But more important, I was trusted with the keys to places I worked.

I have been blessed with second chance jobs, but those businesses failed, moved out of state or suffered layoffs.

Not every convicted felon can be rehabilitated or become a great employee, but without a second chance, no one will ever know. Employers do what they think is right for their companies, but a lot of the time, the only difference between me and others is that I was caught and convicted.

I keep telling myself that I will get another “second chance” job as a warehouse worker or forklift operator. I refuse to give up even if I’m turned down 100 times a day. Why do Americans love giving “second chances” to people who have means, power and connections?

Kenneth Floyd Granny Lane Awendaw

So the Berkeley County School Board wants us voters to support a $250 million bond issue to construct five schools and renovate at least four. This $250 million would add to current debt of about $428 million for a total of $678 million.

I’m pretty sure they are counting on taxpayers to have forgotten about the $75 million spent for Cane Bay High School.

Yes, the one with 386,000 square feet, a 2,500-seat gymnasium, a 6,000-seat football stadium and a 1,000-seat auditorium, all to support up to 1,500 students with future expansion to 2,000.

By the way, the 108 acres the school sits on was donated, so add its $7.5 million value to the school.

It is a great school, I suppose, with lots of technology, palm trees, architectural wow and security cameras. But one could argue that for the cost of this one school, at least two could have been built. Dorchester School District 2 constructed Ashley Ridge High School for $63.1 million. The school has 235,000 square feet and a planned maximum student capacity of 1,800. It also has its own 6,000-seat stadium, lunch room, auditorium, media center, seven athletic fields, one 1,600-seat gym, a smaller gym and a weight room.

The Berkeley County School Board estimated the debt service would result in increased taxes of $80 on a $100,000 home.

A paltry sum? The average single-family home value in Berkeley County in 2009 was $181,733. That would mean an increase of at least $145 before cars and other real property are figured in.

Before we agree to a bond request, the school board should commit something to taxpayers. How about committing to standardized school designs that meet instructional requirements and are cost-effective. Perhaps incorporate modular classrooms so as student populations shift so can classrooms. I suppose sharing sports facilities among schools would be just too difficult, but if we could sacrifice a few palm trees and a manicured sports field or two, who knows what could be possible?

John Groom Lake Moultrie Drive

Bonneau

On May 12, my husband and I left Moncks Corner on our way to Mount Pleasant. He is 80 and I am 77.

We had a flat tire on Highway 41, just east of Highway 17. It took us 30 to 40 minutes to inflate the tire. No one stopped to help.

We proceeded to Long Point Road, and the tire went flat again. A Mount Pleasant police car passed us without stopping. We were at this busy intersection for about 30 minutes before three people offered to help. One called a tire center to send help. After about 10 minutes a young guy from Gerald’s got us on our way.

I want to thank the two ladies, the gentleman and Gerald’s for helping us in our time of distress.

Martha Murray West Street Moncks Corner

On April 21 my brother and I had the honor of participating in Honor Flight Lowcountry, a program that takes World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., for the day.

Some of these veterans had never been to Washington, and most had not seen the WWII, Korean War or FDR memorials.

As a guardian, I attended to the needs of a veteran who is as fit as I and needed no looking after.

He was a terrific companion. He had been in the Korean War and had two brothers in the war at the same time. One, his identical twin, was killed.

My brother’s vet was 97, the oldest on the trip, and was wheelchair bound as were many others.

Soldiers from all three branches of the service along with airline personnel lined up to salute the veterans.

Passengers in the airport caught wind of what was happening and ran to shake their hands and to thank them for their service.

After spending an unforgettable day touring the memorials, we returned to the airport where a big band orchestra greeted us with sounds of the ’40s. Dancers in period dress performed.

The reception we received in Charleston was the icing on the cake.

Hundreds lined our path as we entered the airport — Citadel cadets, Navy and Air Force personnel, ROTC students, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and hundreds of citizens waving banners expressing appreciation for these brave men and women.

The soldiers returned to their everyday lives, believing they did nothing special, just followed orders. Yes, they were soldiers following orders, but it was much more than that. The challenges they overcame won freedoms for us and the world.

John Hassell Seagrass Lane Isle of Palms

Warren Peper’s May 7 column was excellent in its basic theme.

I totally agree that our POW/MIA heroes should not be forgotten. There were, however, a few facts that should have been included to better inform the public of the origin and current federal rules regarding the POW/MIA flag, and the U.S. military veterans to which it applies.

On Aug. 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, recognizing the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag and designing it “as a symbol of our nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the nation.”

Beyond Southeast Asia it is a symbol for POW/MIA’s from all American wars.

Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act passed by the 105th Congress stated that the POW/MIA flag will fly each year on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day.

Further, it said that the POW/MIA flag will be flown on the grounds of the public lobbies of major military installations as designated by the Secretary of Defense, all federal national cemeteries, the National Korean War Veterans Memorial, the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the White House, the U.S. post offices and at official offices of the secretaries of state, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and the director of the Selective Services System.

Civilians are free to fly the POW/MIA flag whenever they wish.

Mr. Peper’s article noted that the flag was designed as a symbol of citizen concern for missing military personnel after the Vietnam War.

He wrote that more and more of our World War II veterans are dying each day, and implied that it’s only the Vietnam veterans who are left to tell their stories. His failure to include all war veterans disturbs me.

How about the Korean veterans?

During the Korean War 5.72 million military personnel served.

The war started in 1950, ending in 1953.

Carl Bliesener Cavalier Avenue

Charleston

Ann Timberlake’s May 17 commentary certainly got my attention.

I believe the majority of customers would want establishments to recycle. Businesses should be leading the way to find an economical way to do so.

What about disposable items and excessive packaging? Much of our packaging can’t be recycled and ends up in our dumps. I thought disposable cameras were bad. Now we have disposable digital cameras.

Is this progress? We use billions of individual plastic water bottles because we find it too inconvenient to reuse containers. Those drifting islands of plastic bottles and debris on our oceans are still there.

I am just as guilty. I, too, have bought into the use of plastic bottles.

We are attacking the problem from the wrong direction. We need to go backward and make containers larger, not smaller. So we are a little inconvenienced. What is the big deal?

It is our own laziness and aversion to inconvenience that is burying us in trash and recyclables. It is not necessary to have everything in a throwaway bottle.

Pubs and bars are getting slammed with regulations that they find inconvenient and costly. We could fix all of that, but we don’t.

I am a local photographer who has spent many days this spring in the Audubon Swamp at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. I cannot tell you how disgusted I am when I see disposable cups and bottles in the swamp.

It is time we wake up as a nation and realize that we have to turn back the tidal wave of trash and recyclables.

Michael Kaynard Camerton Street

Charleston