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Ave, lector.

It strikes me that I have not written about anything directly interesting in a long time.  It must be…oh, at least twenty-four hours.  As I have recently instituted a law that makes this in fact illegal, I will immediately begin amusing you again, partially from the goodness of my heart and partially because I can’t think of anything to write about today.

SO

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY BUTTERFLIES!

I’m cheerfully ambivalent about butterflies.  On the one hand, they are pretty, yes, yay; on the other hand, it is very irritating to try and catch them without a net, and so they are harder to touch than other bugs.

As someone who sees a bug and immediately wants to pet it, I admit my emotions are lukewarm towards things such as wasps, butterflies, bees, and other flying insects.

You will notice I added wasps and bees to the list.

This is because wasps and bees are not very cuddly either, and in fact seem to take it rather remiss if one attempts to catch and pet them.

But enough about that.  Let’s talk about PHILOSOPHY.*

*if you’re not into philosophy, that’s cool: Skip down the page to where it says “Arcing Solar Prominences” in all caps.  By not skipping this you are agreeing to REMAIN CHILL ABOUT IT.

SO.

There’s this hypothetical problem in Philosophy of Religion.

It’s called “the problem of Evil,” and it goes something like this.

“God is omnipotent. God is wholly good; and yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true, the third would be false. But at the same time all three are essential parts of most theological positions: the theologician, it seems, at once must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three”  (J.L. Mackie, Evil and Omnipotence)

Anyone see a problem here? No?

All right then, let’s move on.

THE PROBLEM that Mackie reiterated for us is a fairly old one, and an imposing one.  Debate has gone on for years on this subject.  And no matter where you stand, I hope that this argument is at least an interesting one to see.

Fortunately, another philosopher pointed out something which I very much approve of.  Before we go into that, let’s mention the arguments given for and against the “problem of evil.”

“Good cannot exist without evil.”  Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but clearly if God can’t break a little rule like that, then he’s not entirely omnipotent. (keep in mind that something “omnipotent” can, by definition, do anything).  This argument has a counterpart:

“Evil is a means to good.”  Again: if God cannot skip directly to Go in this case, he’s not entirely all-powerful.  Problematic.  On the other hand, God may or may not be limited by “causal laws,” but this is another, more confusing argument.

What this leads to is the assumption/argument that the Good in the world only exists because of Evil, that all the evil is necessary as a means to all the wonderful things we have.

Another argument is privatio boni, the argument that ‘evil’ is only the absence of Good.  That’s interesting, but I’ll move past it and address the larger issue.

I recently read a work by a philosopher named Steven Cahn that amused me.

He took the problem of evil…and inverted it.  He said* “Well, you weirdos all seem confident we’re talking about an omnipotent, omniscient, all-good God. How do you know we’re not actually the creations of an omnipotent, omniscient, totally evil Demon?” 

*not actual quote.

The idea of Cahn’s article “The Problem of Goodness” is, in short, this.

Everything that works as a dis/proof of the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, omnibenevolent God also applies as a dis/proof of the existence of the previously mentioned omnipotent/omniscient/malevolent Demon.

Let’s run back down the list real quick. [more not-actual-quoting follows]

“Well, there can’t be an evil demon ruling the universe–there’s so much Good in it!”

But what if this demon was so constrained by logic that he cannot create Evil without also creating Good?  What if, in fact, every Good in the world is required as a price for all that tasty, tasty Evil?

“Well, there’s so much that is Good and wonderful, though! Surely not all of the goodness in the world is required for that.  AND, since there seems to be a superfluous amount of Good, CLEARLY this is not the most evil world your Demon could have created.  Obviously your demon is either an impotent shadow or a ghost of your imagination.”

Well, that’s nice.  Apply that now to the Problem of Evil.

Hmm.

All you have to do is swap “Good” for “Evil” in the argument above and “God” for “Demon” and ta-da, you’ve just disproved God.  Which is impossible and pointless, because you cannot prove or disprove the existence or nonexistence of God. 

THEREFORE, in essence, Steven Cahn has just disproved the problem of Evil as a valid argument, since it reaches such a silly conclusion as trying to disprove God.*

*For identical reasons, trying to prove God is just as pointless, but I won’t go into this particular debate for a while.

ALL RIGHT

ENOUGH PHILOSOPHY.

ARCING SOLAR PROMINENCES: they are cool.

Well, not really. They’re actually hot.  Very hot.

[not as hot as lightning, but still.]

LET’S TALK ABOUT THEM.

THIS is a solar prominence.  What is it?

In layman’s terms, it’s the sun blowing a bubble.  A bubble of air-meltingly hot plasma.  Except the sun sucks at blowing bubbles, so all that happens is plasma sprays out into space (and sometimes comes and hits us and disrupts our wireless internet, because the sun is occasionally an asshole for no apparent reason).

SO a solar prominence is a giant loopy thing of plasma, partially anchored to the sun by the power of magnetism and a dollop of fairy dust, which just hangs there in space looking pretty awesome for a while.  They are pretty damn big: the largest on record pretty much equaled the sun’s diameter in length, meaning for a while the sun looked like a snitch with wings of plasma.

…sorry, I was distracted by the awesomeness of a snitch with wings of plasma.

ANYWAY, sometimes these prominences suddenly EXPLODE and go flying out into space, which is rather alarming really, especially if they happen to come and hit earth.  When that happens, they cease to be prominences and are instead referred to as coronal mass ejections (CMEs).  Note that not all CMEs are caused by prominences, nor do all prominences become CMEs, because I think that’s an important thing to point out.

SO basically what we have here is something PRETTY AWESOME, with a destructive force equivalent to that which is released when you pull the “do not remove” tag off a mattress.  It’s fun. Yay, science.

MORE IMPORTANTLY though, it just looks SO COOL. OH MY GOD.

OHHH MYYYY GOOOOOODDDDDDDDDD

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