Friday, April 13, 2007

Beetlejuice and God

I seem to have found myself enmired in apologetics recently. Does God exist and would he prefer Coke to Pepsi? Nothing wrong with that. A more esoteric chain of reasoning crossed my path recently. Betelgeuse, in Orion, whose name is derived from the Arabic for "Ibt al Jauzah" (the Armpit of the Central One) is one of the brightest M-type stars in Earth's night sky, yet having a density approaching that of a vacuum, hence being nothing more than a cloud of nebular dust. Why then does it glow so brightly? Some allege that 'it's God', perhaps not realising that the thing has a maximum radius the size of the orbit of Neptune. Thus, not much stuff per cubic metre but a shedload of cubic metres, making up to 17 solar masses' worth, hence lots of stuff and able to burn. Some apologetics is like that. Short on information, long on flawed reasoning. I was going to include an image, but the prettier ones were just concentric orbits of orange and yellow,rather like a streetlamp in thick fog, plus a scale, so I thought it better to leave a massive amount of not much to your imagination.

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