Defeating Descartes’ Demon

This essay entails basic forms of Cartesian epistemology, specifically relating to his evil demon hypothesis. Descartes’ evil demon entails that an evil demon is creating an illusion, or simulation, of the world around you, and this is a perfect simulation. How do you defeat that demon and realize that the world around you is a fake construct of that demon? By doubting, for Descartes held doubt to be the true arbiter of knowledge rather than certainty.

By doubting that the very world around you is real, you have defeated Descartes’ Demon, because the evil demon hypothesis implies that the demon is creating a perfect simulation of the world around you, if the evil demon hypothesis is true, there would be no rational basis to conclude that reality is an illusion or simulation, and yet some people do doubt that.

By the mere existence of doubt Descartes’ evil demon has been extinguished, it has been defeated, banished even. However, reality can still be a simulation, but merely an imperfect one. Either way, it can be argued that reality is still real because reality is what you can experience, from our POV reality is all there is, and so even if it is a simulation, it is still real from the perspective of the people inside that simulation.

The Lewis Trilemma

The Lewis Trilemma is an infamous Christian apologetics argument brought forth by famed Christian apologist and writer of The Chronicles of Narnia series, CS Lewis. A basic formulaton of his Trilemma goes like this: “If Jesus was or wasn’t the Messiah, then there are three possibilities. Jesus was either a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.”

The most fundamental problem with Lewis’ Trilemma is the fallacy of false equivocation, in formulating this fallacious argument Lewis has ignored other possibilities, for his Trilemma is based off of the presupposition that the Gospels are historically accurate as records of Jesus’ Ministry, when we know that not to be the case at all. For one, the Gospels read more like novels of the period than they do works of history. There are things present in the Gospel that no man could’ve have possibly witnessed, like the temptation of Christ by Satan on the Mount, not to mention numerous other problems with the assumption that the Gospels are historically accurate, such as Jesus being born in Bethlehem, when Bethlehem didn’t even exist at the time of Jesus’ supposed birth.

Clearly Lewis hadn’t thought this through, and if this is the best they’ve got, then they ain’t got shit. I challenge any Christian reader of this to come up with something better than the Lewis Trilemma, and to do it without resorting to fallacious means of argumentation. Is anyone up to it, or are you chickenshit? We’ll see…

Divine command theory

According to the divine command theory of morality, morality comes from God, and anything God says or does is inherently moral. But that raises an important question, as Socrates put it so eloquently:

Is that which is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is that which is pious pious because it is loved by the gods? – Socrates, Euthyphro

That line is now known as the “Euthyphro dilemma”, and for good reason, it raises the issue of the ultimate nature of divine morality. Is divine morality objective or subjective? There are no easy answers to this, and I am afraid I cannot come up with any myself, but this dilemma does beg the ultimate question: If anything God does is inherently moral, does that mean that genocide is moral when God commits genocide? If so, would the Holocaust have been a moral action if it was God who perpetrated it rather than Hitler?

The Strange History and Stranger Planet of Barnard’s Star

The above video, made by a certain “ParallaxNick”, describes the history of Barnard’s Star beginning with its discoverer, the eponymous E.E. Barnard, himself a noted astronomer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While some aspects of the Barnard’s Star itself are interesting, such as the fact that Barnard’s Star is potentially a halo star, and is as old as our galaxy is, at twelve billion years of age, what I found most interesting were the aspects concerning the potential planet orbiting Barnard’s Star.

This planet, according to its discoverers, has a 99% chance of existing, so we can be reasonably certain that this planet does indeed exist. Furthermore, while this planet is nowhere near the habitable zone of Barnard’s Star, specifically being beyond the Snow Line, even though its distance from its homestar is comparable to the distance of Mercury from our own Sun, but it isn’t a gas giant. Gas giants can’t exist around Barnard’s Star, according to the video anyways, because Barnard’s Star is too low in metals to permit such a planet from forming.

This planet is a super earth, at around two to three times the size and mass of Earth, and yet this planet may still be capable of allowing life to flourish on it. To compare this planet to any of the inner planets within our own solar system would be wrong, this planet is more comparable to Titan, the famous moon of Saturn known for possessing lakes and rivers of methane and ethane.

While it is unlikely that methanogenic based life exists, as far as we know anyways, it is not impossible as far as the laws of physics allow it, and so Barnard’s Star b, as the potential planet has been dubbed, may be home to a thriving biosphere like Earth is, although any methane-based biosphere would be incapable of allowing complex, multicellular life to form in reasons outlined in another ParallaxNick’s videos, the one on Titan linked to in the video above.

Happy New Year’s, Everybody!

I want to wish all of my readers a happy New Year’s, by which we’re basing this off of the Gregorian Calendar, of course, if we were still using the Julian Calendar New Year’s wouldn’t arrive for another two weeks or so months, and right now would be December 19 of 2018, not January 1 of 2019. If one were to use the Islamic Calendar, which is lunar rather than solar-based, it would be RabiÊ» II 25, 1440, marking it this particular month and day in the 1440th year since Muhammad’s death. If one were to use the Jewish Calendar, today’s date would be Tevet 24, 5779, marking this particular day and month in the 5779th year since the date of Creation by Yahweh.

Humans have always been obsessed with time, and ways to mark time. This is important for several reasons, foremost among them being when to properly mark the date of important rituals or celebrations, such as when the celebration of the Winter Solstice is to occur. Our calendars are based off of two sources, the Sun and the Moon, and with these two different sources come a differing number of days in the year according to whatever calendar one’s culture is accustomed to using.

For example, if one is using a lunar calendar, a month would be approximately 30 days long, no deviations, and so a standard year in a lunar calendar would be 360 days, rather than the 365 days one would normally see in a solar-based calendar. Neat, huh?