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. 

Justified True Belief

I read the other day that the common epistemological definition of knowledge is justified true belief. Let’s take a look at atheism through this definition.

Atheism is a ‘lack of belief.’ Therefore if knowledge is belief, atheism can’t be knowledge, because it constitutes no belief. So we start off 0/1. 

Justified means having valid reasons to believe. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But as an atheist, you don’t actually believe, you simply ‘lack belief’. If you had reasons to lack belief, your position would be that God doesn’t exist, not that you simply lack belief in God.

‘True’ would only be applicable if the atheist position was ‘God doesn’t exist.’ Or that the claim ‘God exists’ is false. The only sense where you could consider the atheist position as true is by looking at it as self-affirming. Something like ‘it is true that this atheist doesn’t believe in God.’ But that just doesn’t get us any closer to whether or not God exists.

So if we can define knowledge as justified true belief, atheism fails on all counts. If atheism is framed as a rational pursuit of knowledge, it fails to answer the only question that it attempts to answer.

Today is

Tomorrow isn’t.

The more I think about it, that is the biggest lie that people seem to live by. That the fact that all of the days of their existence somehow promises them another day. This long game of flappy bird was always going to end.

By somehow postponing the questions about our mortality, we our always shocked by death. Instead of being grateful for the number of moments that we’ve strung together above ground, we seem to think that there is some sort of promise to live to old age. We count backwards from seventy or sixty, instead of forward from zero.

We can’t be thankful for today if we expect tomorrow. If we put stock in things that don’t exist, there is always the possibility of being wrong. And tomorrow does not exist by necessity. Not for me. Not for you. Not for the universe.

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. 

Animals Don’t Kill Themselves

Animals do not commit suicide. This is generally accepted as true, although there are a handful of examples of it. I’m not trying to prove the exceptions. Only the rules.

They are not capable of abstract reason. This is a very vague concept. The truth is that we simply don’t know how to describe why we are smarter than them.

So why is it that the one species that can reason is the only species that takes their own lives? To me, it could be the case that reason itself is the cause of suicide. Bad reason or perhaps good reason is all that could lead us to take our own lives.

There are two reasons to kill yourself:
I would be better without life.
Or the world would be better without me.

If animals cannot change their minds, there is no way to change their reason. To rewrite their logic, or get to either of these conclusions. That’s not to say that they don’t suffer.

If. That may be the only reason. What if animals simply do not understand the concept of if? They have a full sensory experience, but simply cannot make deductions. No thought experiments.

So instead of thinking: if I do this, I will no longer suffer. The ‘if’ here introduces a premise. It creates an alternate world that may or may not be true, based on the viability of the premise.

Life just is. You just are. I just am. If I was to give up the word ‘if’, I must accept my current situation. There are no hypotheticals to explore, only what is. And what is, is. There is no way to explore the new possibility of suicide, because there is no way of exploring new trains of thought at all.

But we can train animals to behave certain ways. We can condition a dog to sit for a treat because he knows that if he sits he will get a treat. Typically though, you will still have to show the dog the treat.  The dog has to know that sitting means treat. Which implies some knowledge of causality.

This seems to undermine the premise, that a world without ‘if’ explains animals lack of reason. But in this example, the premise is clearly true. If you are holding a bone and telling your dog to sit, he assumes [probably correctly] that if he sits you will give them to him.

So training may only mean teaching causality. If you can show your dog that he will get a bone if he sits, he will likely start sitting more often.

If the concept of a premise is not an option, there is no way of imagining a world without you in it. Because all you have known is a world with you. How can you imagine a world without you? It’s like sitting for a bone without any training. So there is no reason to think that you will be given a bone.

If all you can accept are true premises, is it possible to kill yourself?

If I wasn’t alive, I would be better.
If I wasn’t alive, the world would be better.

Do they understand the concept of better at all? Do you need a premise to conclude better? You cannot compare futures without the concept of ‘if’. And if you can’t compare futures, you can’t compare the world with you to the world without you.

And if you can’t compare the world with and without you, you can’t conclude that it would be better without you. And if you can’t conclude that suicide is the right decision, it is not possible.

The takeaway here is that the main difference between man and animal is reason and suicide. And I think those both may boil down to a single word.



Déjà vu: The Divine Breadcrumb

The thought is, I’ve been here before. It’s like you are living in a memory. To say I dreamed it, says nothing about how the future entered your mind.

For this to be valid, one must accept the truth of déjà vu: that our prior memory of a present event is just that.

No one has access to the future. The future does not exist right now.

If the human mind was isolated to spacetime, with no connection to other realities outside of spacetime, there is no reason to believe an imagined déjà vu event would happen.

If there is another realm, outside spacetime, where the mind lives, could we have access to things that haven’t yet happened?

If God exists, he is timeless, and has existence outside of spacetime. So his omniscience would include knowledge of the future.

For déjà vu to be possible, the mind must either have direct access to the future or access to something that has access to the future.

Do we have direct access to the future? No. So we have access to a being, who has access to the future. Either way,

Truth exists outside of spacetime. 

Why, because there are any infinite number of variables that go into making the déjà vu event happen. Think of the butterfly effect. If any part of the event was different, it wouldn’t seem like a memory. So the only way that this could be true is if there is a reality outside of spacetime. And a being with access to it.
To exist outside of spacetime with access to truth that is in it, the being must be omniscient. God is omniscient.

But also, this is not just access to the truth. This is access to my truth. So that this being has access to my mind. Therefore, this being is personal.

From déjà vu, I think we can reasonably conclude that a personal God exists outside of spacetime who is omniscient and personal.

Greatest Possible Worlds

I’ve made the argument that this is the greatest possible free world. I may get into that later. But the greatest possible world would not be the same as the greatest possible free world. 

If there is an afterlife, it must be better or worse than this world. 

If there is no afterlife, this would be the best [and worst] possible world by default. But you see, an atheist is correct either way. If there is an afterlife, this life is better than hell. And if there is no afterlife, this life is, by necessity, better than nothing.

If God exists, he exists in the greatest possible world. If there is an alternative worst possible world, God does not exist there.  Because if he did,  it could be worse. If God didn’t exist there.

But if you don’t believe God exists, he can’t exist in your ideal greatest possible world. So that, your greatest possible world is one where God does not exist. This is independent of the fact that God may or may not exist.

If there is a maximally great being, and the end game of humanity is to have them enter a maximally great world, it would make no sense to admit those who don’t believe in any such being or world. Because admitting people into that world who don’t think it’s the best possible world would make it less than the greatest possible world.

This Is Not Real

We live in Fantasyland. Everyone is always on their phones. And its taking us further and further away from reality. And truth.

Think about what Instagram is. Snapshots of reality. Pictures of your friends, family, or celebrities in the real world. You get the tiniest bit of it. A single frame or a fifteen-second video. They are only a part of your life because you chose them over the present moment. You chose someone else’s life over your own.

But it’s not only that. It’s not like you looked up in a restaurant at the couple next to you. From there, it’s your perspective of their reality. But on social media, you get their perspective of their reality. What they think their life is like or what they want you to think their life is like.

My wife and I watched the Joker the other night. I couldn’t stop thinking this is a movie based on a comic book. If it was a play, there would at least be real people in front of me. I am watching a screen. Pixels of actors pretending to be people who never actually existed.

I have friends that share Twitch feeds on Facebook. If you don’t know, this is a place where you can watch people play video games online. And it’s popular.

First off, the video game itself does not actually exist in the real world. It never did. It started as an idea in someone’s mind, and ended up on a disk in your console. And your interactions are on a server who knows where.

Just in case that is not removed enough from reality, you can watch people play instead of actually playing it. Think about a memory of you walking your dog. Now imagine me watching a video of you walking your dog, if you and your dog both never existed.

I guess you could say that what is real is your thoughts. So in engaging in these things, you could share experiences with real people. If your mind is on the same thing, you shared something, right? 

Remember ‘I think, therefore I am.’ If thinking is adequate to know that we exist in reality, we have to assume that thoughts exist in the same reality. 

The problem with this is the fact that if thoughts are the only things that anchor these things to reality, how do you distinguish between two different thoughts of killing someone-one in a game and one in real life? You have to remember that the game has no anchor in reality. No one actually dies.

If thinking of killing people is OK, but killing people is not, why should we practice thinking of killing people? Is it possible to kill someone without thinking of killing them first? 

But wait, the people you kill online are actually anchored in reality. They are other people like you. So it’s more like killing real people in your dreams. 

So if reality has any value, if truth has any worth, put down your phone for a minute and be present in your own life. Put down your controller and go do something with your friends, instead of killing them in dreamland. You’re the main character in your own movie, and you write the script.

Life is Art

And art is self expression.
Thus, life is self expression.
Science is man’s attempt to explain this art. It’s like trying to use paint by numbers to show someone how you feel. It makes no sense.
Even on the most depressing of days, you make real decisions that determine things about your future. So next time you feel stuck in an infinite loop remember that your life is art.
In my years of self experimentation, I started to develop methodical systems for just about everything that I truly cared about. I hyper-analyzed every facet of life that I could think of and control. So that in almost every situation, I had a pre-planned way to stand, how to sit, what to say. I had decided that these were the right ways of doing things. And I must do them the right ways.
The problem was that this did not take into account what was on my mind or how I felt. I simply made moral decisions out of decisions that had zero moral value. I had turned what I should do, to what I must do.
So of course I got depressed. I had turned myself into a robot. By the grace of God, I’ve learned that only free creatures can love. What I had done was create probably one of the most sophisticated loops ever, and lost free will.
So in becoming human again, I can acknowledge choices. And to acknowledge choices is to acknowledge freedom. And with that freedom I can choose a certain path. And I can express myself again. Life is art again. I can love again.

I die therefore I live

The fear that has completely disabled me over the past couple weeks is not of death, but of dying. Getting a terminal diagnosis from a doctor, and sitting on a hospital bed and feeling sorry for myself for the rest of my life.
But wait, we are all terminal. We are all born with an expiration date.
So any doctor would only confirm what I already knew about myself: that I am dying. So is he. 
The best and most powerful realization of this is that my uncertainty is still in tact. Just because I may have a terminal illness, doesn’t mean that is going to be what kills me. Someone could murder me on my deathbed, or infinite other possible deaths. So I am still just as uncertain about my death as I was before. 

I’ve been sitting on this thought for several weeks now. And tonight it hit me: 
Life does not mean death. Death is just a part of life. But death means life. To not be is to say that I once was.
‘I think therefore I am.’ I die therefore I live. 
If you never slept, would you know what consciousness was? Sleep is how we know we are awake. Death is how we know we lived.