Seven Science & Philosophy Questions

Seven Science & Philosophy Questions for Everyone



 The Butterfly Effect is defined as:

The phenomenon whereby a small change within a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.

In other words, a butterfly making the smallest alteration in the wind might set off a chain reaction causing a hurricane two weeks later on the opposite side of the world.

Or something like that.

Think of an important event that has taken place during your life or the life of someone you know.

Now think about how that event came to be.

What was the butterfly?


No Accidents?

 Scientifically speaking, everything happens for a reason.


Meaning on a physical level every interaction in the universe has a definitive physical cause, no matter how obscure.

And thus, universally speaking, there are no accidents.

No luck.

No true randomization.


Things like human emotions, impulses, and ideas don’t necessarily fit into any standard scientific construct.

Meaning the reasons behind several of humanity’s physical actions aren’t exactly known.

Meaning human activity can disrupt the universe’s interactions.

So are there accidents after all?


The Doctrine of Double Effect

 There’s a runaway train.

Aboard it are five people.

Thing is: you’re standing at a lever which, if you pull it, will switch the tracks and save the five people.


If you pull the lever, you’ll redirect the train to a portion of the tracks where a woman and her baby are standing, totally unaware of what’s about to happen.

If you don’t pull the lever, five people will die through your inaction.

If you do pull the lever, two people will die due to your direct action.

Which choice is correct?


Worth More

For purposes of this exercise, we’re making up a point scale.

We’ll call it the Universal Point System.

The system goes from 0-10. A zero means no value at all to the universe. A ten means the highest possible universal value. A five is somewhere in the middle.

For each of the following, assign a value based on the Universal Point System:

A drop of water

The planet Mars

A single human being

A blue whale


A star

A galaxy



Game of Thrones

Choose which king you would prefer to rule the kingdom in which you live:

The Sword: Strong, decisive, militarily powerful, yet prone to rash judgment

The Peacemaker: Calm, benevolent, generous, yet unwilling to take risks

The Lawyer: Highly intelligent, even-handed, able to solve complex problems, yet entirely non-emotional

The Philosopher: Visionary, wise, deeply thoughtful, yet not at all concerned with tradition or religion

And which king would you least want on the throne?



Which of the following do you believe?

Words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve found the meaning, you can forget the words.” ~ Chuang Tzu

Man is the only animal who enjoys the consolation of believing in a next life. All other animals enjoy the consolation of not worrying about it.” ~ Robert Brault

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.”

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” ~ Niels Bohr

You have to do it by yourself. And you can’t do it alone.” ~ Martin Rutte


If it Hasn’t Happened by Now…

 If, in the entire history of humanity, no one has yet been visited by someone from the future, does that mean time travel won’t ever be invented?


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These questions and many, many more appear in my book, 101 Questions for the End of the World.

J Edward Neill

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy