Counterfactuals and the Principle of Explosion

A counterfactual is a fact that follows a false hypothetical. For instance, if I never was born, I would never have owned a truck. The argument follows, but is based on a false premise.

It’s how we can think what-if about the past. I can think what if I hadn’t done that, then this would’ve never happened. It’s not a fruitful line of thought. And brings us no closer to the truth. It’s the definition of regret.

There’s the bright side of it though: if this world is preferable to the counterfactual, the thought becomes positive.

A child from my wife’s hometown was killed by accident, and one of the siblings thought I should’ve been home. If I was home, it wouldn’t have happened. As before, this could very well be true, just not in our universe. So it’s a practically meaningless thought. Certainly not one helpful for the grieving process.

I think it’s also a great way to be unhappy. Instead of accepting what’s happened, we try to change it by imagining different impossible hypotheticals. 

The principle of explosion  is that  “from falsehood, anything follows.” This is known as deductive explosion.The proof of this principle was first given by 12th century French philosopher William of Soissons.

As a demonstration of the principle, consider two contradictory statements – “All lemons are yellow” and “Not all lemons are yellow”, and suppose that both are true. If that is the case, anything can be proven, e.g., the assertion that “unicorns exist”, by using the following argument:

1. All lemons are yellow.
2. All lemons are yellow OR unicorns exist.
3. Not all lemons are yellow, therefore unicorns exist. [Source]

In the spiritual world that we live in, I think this may be one of Satan’s greatest tactics. For example, if we remain undecided about an important past event, anything follows. In the above example, it cannot possibly be true that the sibling could have prevented the death. That world simply does not exist. So entertaining the thought creates a reality where anything is possible. And in this case, that is not a good thing. 

Subjective Standard Morality

Read this first.

Morality is subjective, in a sense that we each have our own moral labels. Our own systems of right and wrong. We use our own standards based on what we believe is true.

In its simplest form, truth, life, and love are on one side of the switchboard. They are all objectively good. Yet, you are free to label them differently. In your morality, you can label truth as bad, life as bad, or love as bad. In labeling these as bad, you also change their opposites: lies would be good, death would be good, hate would be good. In comparing these labels to the objective standard, you would be evil. [For more on this concept, check out this post.] 

But morality is objective in a sense that there is a standard beyond ourselves. So that as our labels match God’s, things make sense. As our logic aligns with his, our morality does as well.

So morality is both subjective and objective. In that there is a proper standard outside of us. It is subjective in the sense that we set our own standards. We are the authors of our own moralities, measured against the nature of God.

Moral Cascade

In my work on the Fall, I’ve already gone into Eve’s unnecessary boundary around God’s command. And how this could have doomed her, Adam, and humankind. I want to take a closer look at this process because I think it’s worth further exploration.

In telling herself not to touch the fruit instead of to not eat it, she added to the command, and made herself much more vulnerable to sin. Not because the definition of sin changed, but because her definition of sin changed.

Taking the idea a step further, you can imagine a scenario where even wouldn’t allow herself to think about eating the fruit. And then, thinking about touching the fruit. Or even thinking about the fruit at all. But when something exists, and you see it from time to time, how could you not think about it?

moral cascadeLet’s say that cake is your vice. You don’t want to ever eat cake again. That’s it. But instead, you decide also to not buy cake. And to not touch cake. Because both of those things could lead to eating cake. And from there, you decide that you won’t even think about eating cake. So you avoid aisles in the grocery with cake on them. You turn away when you see someone eating cake. Your one vice snowballed into something impossible, what I like to think of as a moral cascade. 

So you see, these boundaries that one would think would protect someone from doing wrong, actually make it easier to do wrong in the mind of the doer. There is only one wrong in Eden: eating the fruit.



Ending the Comfort Zone

We all have a comfort zone.  There are certain things that we prefer. And other things that we prefer not to do. And some things we’ve never done.

Things inside the comfort zone are obviously comfortable. And anything outside the comfort zone is uncomfortable-except for the unknown. This is obviously a relative thing, some things can be more comfortable than others, and more uncomfortable than others.

Inside the comfort zone, we can still have two things, one more comfortable than the other. So if we choose more and more comfortable things, you can see pretty easily how the comfort zone can become smaller and smaller.

But you see, if comfort and discomfort are relative values on the same scale, we are only talking about values in a single space. Essentially, a pleasure metric. As we try new things, they find their place on our scale.

And the more pleasurable something is, the less reason we need to do it. The more uncomfortable something is, the more reason we need to do it.

There is another category: the unknown. Of course the unknown could be comfortable or uncomfortable in itself. Then after the unknown is known it becomes either comfortable or uncomfortable.

But what if we no longer value the comfort in things? Then reason is all that is left. Of course, comfort in itself is a reason, but a subjective one. We are no longer ranking what is most comfortable, but what we think is the right thing.

And the unknown is no longer comfortable or uncomfortable. It too, is only right or wrong. So that if we believe that something unknown is the right thing, it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable we think that it may be.

So our map of pleasure fades, because it no longer matters. What matters is right and wrong. That’s all that’s left. 

Your wife isn’t always right

She can’t be.

So to believe this, is to believe that your wife is perfect. But that is impossible. There was only one perfect person, and he died two thousand years ago. And if she isn’t perfect, she isn’t always right. So to believe that she is always right, is wrong.

If there is an objective moral standard, and there is, she is not it. 

People change over time, but the objective moral standard does not. So either she isn’t changing, or she is changing and isn’t the objective moral standard. And if she is not the objective moral standard, she is not always right.

But also, if she isn’t the moral standard and isn’t changing, she isn’t getting any closer to the actual moral standard.

So to believe that your wife is always right, is to set your standard lower than God’s, and to make is something grounded in someone who is changing, just like you.

So if your wife isn’t perfect, she could be wrong. And if she could be wrong, she isn’t necessarily always right. And if she isn’t necessarily always right, she is not an objective moral standard.

So to accept her as being always right is to do her, yourself, and God a disservice. Without challenging her where you disagree, she may actually believe that she is always right. And if you don’t hold your ground, you have accepted it. And to accept something that is wrong as a moral standard for your household is…well, wrong.

Happy wife, happy life. To say she is always right is to mitigate conflict. And I agree that it would do just that. But is it right to mitigate conflict where there is one? To accept someone else’s morals even if they have no objective grounding? To accept something that could be wrong to mitigate conflict is wrong.

If you accept her arbitrary moral standards and ignore your own, you both only get closer to her standards, which may be wrong. So unless you grow closer to a single standard, you either get further away from yourself, or further away from God. Who is the true moral standard.

Time changes us all. We can all get either closer or further away from the truth. And if you are morally anchored to someone who is not grounded in objective moral truth, you still will change. And without the proper anchor, it’s hard to see how you could grow closer to the truth.

In Defense of the Indefensible

Luke P., one of the most disliked bachelors in the history of the show, was just publicly crucified for his beliefs. And they’re a lot like mine. The problem is, he just doesn’t know how to defend his positions. And he went on a show that condones a system that it completely unnatural and against what he believes.

So obviously he’s going to get angry. I’m not going to stand up for everything that the guy did. I can’t. But this last exchange was hard to watch. The dude walked out before the show was over.

He tried to stand up for himself, but he just didn’t have the firepower. He had good positions on things, but just couldn’t explain the logic behind them. And he also couldn’t show the obvious flaws in the system itself or the Bachelorette. He really didn’t think well on his feet, and I know how that feels. I can’t imagine a stage of that magnitude.

Think about it: I know what I believe. I know what everyone is going to think about what I believe. But I also don’t believe in lying. So here it goes.

It’s  painful to watch. He can’t find words and just waits for seconds to respond to seemingly simple questions. But it’s not because he doesn’t know the answer, it’s because he knows that the answer is not an agreeable one. That his position is not a popular one.

The basis of the argument that sent Luke home was that he judged Hannah for using the fantasy suites for sex. In all fairness, that is basically what they are for. But Luke thought that he and Hannah had a deeper spiritual connection. Essentially, he thought that she was a Christian, so she believed like him. And being a born again Christian, he believed in not having sex until he got married. Here’s where it all started:

That’s where things get interesting, she has sex. And Luke was thrown off by her actions in spite of her beliefs. He calls her out on it, more out of surprise than anything. She goes on some tirade about how she can do what she wants and Jesus still loves her. Eventually Luke goes home.

So, the show tonight had Luke in the crosshairs. He eventually backtracks on his position and apologizes. At the end of the show Hannah attacks the poor guy again. Eventually, the guy just up and leaves in the middle of the show. I really don’t blame him. Hannah says something at the end of her attack that I won’t forget: That’s what grace is for!

She uses Jesus as a defense for sin. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He didn’t come to give us permission to sin, he came to give us a pathway to salvation.

If you apply that line of thinking to anything, it’s practically insane. There’s no reason to do anything other that what you please at any point, because of Jesus. In that case, Jesus didn’t come to free us from sin, he came to make sin more accessible to us.

Her logic is basically that she knows that it is wrong, and she did it anyways. And Jesus still loves her. Because that is what grace is about. Yes, we are all sinners. But if we use grace as an excuse to sin, how do we become more like Christ? It’s impossible. You get stuck in a loop.

If he would’ve been better equipped to defend himself, he could’ve asked why would you do something if you belief it’s wrong? And from there, I think he would’ve learned enough about her to leave the show. Because think about it for a second, if what you believe doesn’t affect how you act, why believe anything at all?

Go now and sin no more. John 8:11