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.



Deriving Good

Truth is simply existence in reality.
Lies are non-existence in reality.

Life is existence in reality.
Death is no longer existing in reality.

Love is imagining futures with.
Hate is imagining futures without.

What you’ll notice is there are essentially two groups of things. The question obviously is, how do we determine which is which? One group is clearly a presence. The other is an absence. One group is independent. One group is dependent.

We call the independent group ‘good.’ Not arbitrarily, the dependent group would not exist without the independent group. For instance, without truth there are no lies. Hate would not exist without love. Death would not exist without life. You would never know a bad apple without a good one to compare it to. There would be no darkness without light. Therefore,  the dependent group is called ‘bad.’

In Christianity, God is the maker of all things. God is love. God is true. God gives life. Therefore, God is good.