# Conditional versus Biconditional God

The conditional is simply “if” whereas the biconditional is “if and only if” (written “iff”) The distinction gives rise to the error called “affirming the consequent”. I think this gets to what bothers me most about God. Let me explain.

I once dated a beautiful, sexy girl who told me that IF she met “Mr. Right”, she would get married. She had a very clear definition of Mr. Right and it wasn’t me. Many years later, I got an invitation to her wedding. I emailed her and congratulated her on finally meeting Mr. Right. To which she replied, he was NOT Mr. Right, but he WAS Mr. Right Enough, in that he was extremely wealthy (one of her criteria for Mr. Right). The mistake I made was called affirming the predicate. I assumed that her meeting Mr. Right was true because she was getting married. But she had not said IF and ONLY IF she met Mr. Right she would get married. Clearly her getting married could have been for other reasons (in her case, she was getting older and decided to settle for financial security before her fabulous looks faded. She was a very resourceful girl)

The “antecedant” (she met Mr. Right) was not correctly affirmed by the “predicate” (she is getting married). This is a mistake that it is very easy for us to make. We hear “if and only if” when all that is being said is “if”. To avoid this mistake, we need to determine whether the statement is conditional (IF) or biconditional (IFF).

Now how does this apply to God? Well when people speak of the existence of God, are they saying IF or IFF? I am trying to formulate a statement about the existence of God that is biconditional. In other words, a statement that could be true IFF God exists?

(BLANK) IFF God exists.

I phrase it this way because I am not trying to prove that God exists. I am not trying to affirm the consequent I am merely trying to identify and isolate those statements that would be true IF AND ONLY IF God exists. They could not be true for any other reason except that God exists. I cannot fill in the blank. Can you?

For example, one might say “I will believe in God IFF God exists” but this is clearly not true IF and ONLY IF God exists, because you might well believe in God whether or not he exists. If I met you years later and you reported that you believed in God, that would not necessarly mean God exists. There could be any other number of reasons that you decided to believe in him short of proof of his existence. Fear of death could have just overtaken you.

The only statement I can come up with is one like this. Athiests are wrong IFF God exists.

Now this one is Brilliant.

I’m going to say that the law of double negation is false iff God exist.

Stated another way, you mean the theory of God is inconsistent within itself? Please elaborate.

Well, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the begining and the end.

And if we know anything about the beginning we know its not the end.

Or this is a good one, he is father and son. And not even in west-virgina can someone be his own son. A breif look into the words would tell someone that.

I’m sure there are more, in fact there are few property of God that don’t Imply some sort of contradition.

Like Omnipotence and Omnibenevolance. One is to be able to do anything, the other is not to be able to anything that isn’t right.

Yeah if you took away all the pairs of contradictions you would have a very empty concepts. And on the other hand most contraditions one could to throw on there seem to ring with truth. God is German and he is not German.

Not that this is nessisarly a bad thing. Kinda Daoist really, but it seems to be essential to at least the Cristian God.

Hi PC,

Why do you think that ‘God’ is the Mystery? Why is God “JHVH” ? Why does Abraham see God as three men? Why does Jacob struggle with God thus:
And Jacob is left alone, and one wrestleth with him till the ascending of the dawn; and he seeth that he is not able for him, and he cometh against the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacobâ€™s thigh is disjointed in his wrestling with him; and he saith, â€˜Send me away, for the dawn hath ascended:â€™
and he saith, â€˜I send thee not away, except thou hast blessed me.â€™
And he saith unto him, â€˜What is thy name?â€™ and he saith, â€˜Jacob.â€™
And he saith, â€˜Thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast been a prince with God and with men, and dost prevail.â€™
And Jacob asketh, and saith, â€˜Declare, I pray thee, thy name;â€™
and he saith, â€˜Why is this, thou askest for My name?â€™ and He blesseth him there.
And Jacob calleth the name of the place Peniel: for â€˜I have seen God face unto face, and my life is delivered;â€™
(Genesis 32:24 f)

It is not because God ‘exists’ and can be proven like we can prove our own existence. And yet the reality of God for millions of people cannot be disproved. Why? Because there is more to life that the rationale - as important rationality is.

Shalom
Bob

Before we all continue discussing on the subject, if the premises we know about God are correct, we should make it clear that till now I’ve read only Christianic premises of God (e.g. 3 in 1, the son, alfa and omega).

However there are more religions on earth who believe in monotheism and I’m especially talking about Islam, obviously.

Muslims see God as One without any hassle and doctirines. How relevant is the IFF statement on the Islamic view of God?

Logical impossibility. The mystery of God. I think in any concept of God is the mystery. Without the mystery, it is not God, but rather it is something far less unique and interesting. If God could be explained in rational terms, then it would have been dismissed long ago.

But you now speak of the Biblical account of God. That is only one synthetic part of the concept of God. For example, the thing about Jesus is the claim that he was both God and Man. Take that away and he is just another guy. But the fact that this is impossible to be both God and Man at the same time (Both x and not-x) is what makes it a truly terrific claim. Something that ONLY God could possibly do, and no man could ever explain. The Trinity of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is another outstanding example of how Christianity piles more and more synthetic characteristics upon God and moves further and further afield of the universal concept of God. Three beings who are one being. Brilliant conception of a logical impossibility that only God could possibly be capable of doing.

I think this was by design. The Catholic Church was no supporter of the concept of a private understanding or interpretation of scripture, and so to heap these logical impossibilities upon God was to discourage any thought that men could ever hope to understand this, and so to further tie men to religious authority. They wanted to limit the choices to only two: 1)It is not true or 2)It cannot be understood.

This all fits with my position that God was originally a theory offered as an explanation of the unknown. Also it gets to my question about the synthetic God. What has been added to God that is clearly not part of the universal concept. It is my basic position that these synthetic add-ons (Dogma, sects, denominations, etc.) are far less compelling than the universal concept of God, at least to me.

I agree with you that this is not necessarily a bad thing. To simply say that God is a mystery is sufficient unto itself.

You know, of course, that the biggest dissapointment of Mohammed’s life was the fact that the Jews refused fellowship as kindred “people of the booK”? He fully expected to be embraced by the Jewish establishment since he thought they shared a common heritage from Abraham. Their rejection was a blow. That was when he changed from praying facing Jerusalem, as Islam originally did, and directed Islam to pray facing Mecah, a city thought to be established by Abraham. There was no hatred between Islam and the Jews in the beginning.

But your point is well made and I agree with it. I prefer to limit my discussions to the universal absolute concept of God rather than individual dogma, creeds, sects or denominations of Theism. All Theism is based on the same basic set of universal absolute concepts and it is those concepts we should consider. We can’t even agree on whether God exists at all, let alone the claims of any one creed or dogma.

Even a statement like “The Bible is true IFF God exists” is invalid. It is entirely possible that God exists but that the Bible is complete wrong about God. Some would even argue that most religious leaders throughout history had better wish that God does not exist because if He does then He might be pretty upset about their ill use of His authority.

Bob, you cannot quote the Bible to prove God exists. If we can’t agree on whether God exists or not, we certainly are not going to agree on the authority of the Bible. Your arguement is

God exists because the Bible tells me so
The Bible is the inspired Word of God
Therefore, God exists

If you can’t see the problem with this logic then …well, I won’t say.

Besides, you are ignoring one important fact. It is entirely possible for God to be true but for the Bible to be false. God is not inseperably linked to the Bible. The universal absolute concept of God was around long before the Bible. The books of the Bible are just one collection of synthetic statements about God. Maybe there is a God and he is not at all happy with what was written about Him in the books of the Bible. Maybe he never did any of those things and never acted that way and never said any of those things. You cannot tie the existence of God to the validity of the Bible. That ignores too many other possibilities. It is not true to say “The Bible is true IFF God exists” because that ignores the possibility that God is true but the Bible is false.

All right, help me get on the same page here. What is part of the concept of God then?

Is he the Creator?

God exist iff the world was created.

Is he the Omnibenovelant?

God exist iff there is good, there is a perfect example of good, and that example has a personality.

Is he something much bigger than us?

God exist iff there is a being that could if it chose hand you a can 'o whoop ass in any circumstanses.

If there is no biconditional definition, then we have to assume that God is an atomic concept, and the question then becomes what sort of things does he apply to? Amoung what other properties is the property of Godhood present?

Hi PC,

But that is the very point - you can’t argue on logical terms about Mythos. Mythos and Logos are complementary but completely different types of truth. I think we continually fail in our discussions at this point because the ‘modern’ is imprisoned in rationality and logic and the ‘religious’ in the attempt to make Mythos logical or rational.

If you read my postings, I am continually trying to point out that you can’t use scientific arguments on God - but you can’t dispute the spiritual reality that motivates the Spiritual either. You have to accept that in a healthy mind, the logical and mythological complement each other, but are not comparative.

A brilliant explanation of this is the book I have already praised elsewhere: ‘The Battle for God’ by Karen Armstrong. She shows brilliantly how the modern world is ignorantly producing fundamentalism by means of brutal expansion, spreading atheism and secularism as the assumed modernity instead of acknowledging the time needed for transition amongst those still in ‘premodern’ societies.

Your arguments are typical examples of the logic that premodern societies are being confronted with - without accepting that the logical and mythological can be complementary means of producing a healthy society. It is in fact a form of supercilious elitism (which Capitalism has become) that is being as oppressive as absolutist Monarchies and atheistic Communism have been and the cause of conflict - not only on this forum.

Shalom
Bob

Off topic, feel free to ignore:

Are you implying Science is logical? You need to know much more about science.

â€œbut the fact that this is impossible to be both God and Man at the same time (Both x and not-x)â€pc

Well how about 111=1 == all three are one. This verse of Ecclesiastes may help both of you â€“ god is something that cannot be described nor can it be pictured it is not of a physical quantity it has no mass we cannot measure it. The kicker is that we can feel it â€“we can feel that among all of man there is something that we canâ€™t say or put a word too but at times it is on the tip of our tongue. We can feel it in our hearts but cannot rationalize it in our minds. We know deep down it is what connects us in society what makes me love one man and hate another. Point being that the bible at times seems to be a description of this and at other times it seems to be a description of an all powerful being. I think caveman is right that the catholic church has made it this way â€“ and that this is where the bible gets a bad rap from non- believers . I see god as interconnection within the circle of life so to speak, the big picture. The natural law that seems to govern man, morality; should not be mixed in with an ones interpretation of what god is â€“the bible or Koran, whatever). First no one can come up with a solid definition of god- like I know wood is wood and so does everyone else, and obviously if we could then there would be no argument at all. Practically too even discuss the issue you need to know what god is, is he/it everything or nothing? Is he/it for only believer of the Christian/other doctrine or not? The Christians/other say that he is and this is what I think gives the absurdity to it all- when in fact Christians/other/whatever do what is necessary to receive the reward of heaven and righteousness. Well this is pretty selfish of it self should not be of a religious doctrine.

KING JAMES VERSION ECCLESIASTES 8

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.
When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)
then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

No, I specifically stated it otherwise!!

NOt “God exists IFF (blank)”

INSTEAD I SPECIFICALLY STATED “(blank) IFF God exists”

Not what under what conditions could God exist.

But rather what conditions could exist if and only if God exists. In other words, what is there that could be true if and only if God exists.

I specifically did not want to get drawn into a conversation about whether or not God exists, but rather I wanted somebody to point out some condition that would require the existence of God in order to be true.

Still, it seems to me that you ought to be able to point out some condition or some statement of truth that is biconditional upon the existence of God. Surely there must be something, some truth that could be true if and only if God exists? How could it be that everything we know, everything we percieve as true, could be true without God? Why is it so hard to zero in on one fact, one truth, that requires God to exist in order to be true?

Can’t you see my point?

The only time in history that God was unquestioned, was when men had no other thoery to explain the unknown. Then, to make matters worse, as alternative explanatiions arose, the Catholic Church used the inquisition and threat of death to suppress the truth. The Church held back science and philosophy by force of might. The Church even burnt books. But the truth found a way as it always seems to find a way, and broke free of the yoke of religious authority. And when it did, then it left religious authority with a black eye. Until today, God as an explanation for the unknown has so much competition, there are so many alternative theories we find ourselves without one surviving fact for which God is the only possible explanation. There is still an awful lot of unknown, that is not the problem. And God has not be falsified, that is also not the problem. And it is not the se other theories have been verified. No much of the competing theories, Darwinisim, Relativity, Big Bang, and many others, all lack verification and faslification. As does God. But it is certainly not that those competing theories have truth on their side, if they did, then they would not be called “Theories” they would be called fact.

But surely, there must be something, some statement, that could be true if and only if God exists???

Is there nothing?

Very strange thing to say. You are looking for an argument that would prove God’s existence, but dont want to talk about whether God exists.

So you basically want a ven diagram with all of the first term fully within the second term, or do you want identical coverage in terms? I’m not sure that saying “iff” instead of “if” doesn’t just reverse the diagram. (I spent time thinking about this last night — and it confuses me.)

Some statements you seek might go like this:

If Creation there is Creator, and if no Creator, there is no Creation.
And, iff Creator, then Creation, then iff no Creation, there is no Creator.
But in these cases the terms seem to have almost identical coverage.

I’m not sure under which ratios for God you wish to work under – is considering Him qua Creator sufficient for you?

(And pardon my contrapositive statements. Their purpose was somewhat lost in editing.)

Positing a creator and claiming there was an act of creation only leads to the endless regression. If there must be a creator in order for creation to exist, then who created the creator? And so on, in infinite regression. If one merely stops with the universe and applies to it all the unexplainable characteristics that theists apply to the creator then no need to posit a creator. Further, considering the vast unfolding of natural events to be the product of an act of creation is a little far fetched. Assigning a meaning to the sum totality of everything is a bit much. It is like looking as spilled milk and trying to decipher a message in the design of the spill. It is like looking at the crumpled metal of a train wreck and calling the engineer an artist who was trying to create a work of art. Perhaps the metal forms a certain shape but it could have been a thousand other ways. For all we know, we could be far from the only sentient life form to ever exist, even on this planet We may the umpteenth species to rise to a level of intelligence and understanding where we begin to seek meaning. Even if we are the only sentient beings to ever exist on this planet, what of all those other planets out there? And even if we are the only sentient beings to ever exist anywhere in the entire infinite reaches of the immense vast universe, the billions upon billions of variables could just as likely have gone some other way. We are like a man who rolls 20 straight 7’s at the craps table and then publishes a book claiming he has a system. Also, the universe is not a clock. It is not an artificial unnatural product. The universe is natural. It is not artificial. The vast unfolding of natural events is awesome indeed, but it does not imply any grand design. To assign to naturally occuring events and naturally occuring phenomina the same conditional requirements as a man-made clock so that thus it requires a creator, is just another way we homosapians project ourselves upon reality. We try to remake reality in our own image.

However, back to my challenge. So here is what you say:

There is a universe IFF God exists.

Not necessarily. This ignores all of the other unverified and unfalsifiable theories that have been offered to compete with the original theory of God. God was the original theory offered to explain the existence of the universe. But other competing theories have been offered and we have no way of knowing which theory is true. It is entirely possible that the universe may be true but God could be completely false.

My personal belief and opinion (Which I make no effort to push on anyone else, nor which I confuse with factual knowledge) is that there is an eternal mystery. Something always existed. It is the source from which everything comes and to which everything returns. All movement is by way of returning to the source. There is a vast unfolding of natural events which cannot be controlled, but which can only be accepted. Any attempt to control or improve upon the world only destroys the natural harmony. And being in harmony with that vast unfolding is to be centered and balanced and leads to unperturbable serenity. But I could be wrong.

PV, i must say you have totally misunderstood me. And until the last paragraph, i was rather disappointed in your response.

First, i neither posited a Creator, nor an act of creation.

Neither did i say:

Again, what i said was “If there is a creation, there is a creator”. That’s just a basic principle. One could take the position that there is no creation – only accidental connections – and doubt the consequent of a creator, which is what i thought you did in your post.

Then you went on and spouted all the usual atheist/agnostic dribble, which is never very philosophic.

I was interested, however in your note that the world is natural, not an artifact. Good point. But I say that the creator of the natural could be supernatural, and that “artifact” usually refers to the non-natural makings of men. This makes my argument sound like an analogous predication – which does not bother me as much as one might think it should. In any case the maker always has at least as much being as it’s creation.

Warm regards,
mrn

I’d better respond to this paragraph too – but we’re going off-subject.

First, there is a difference between theory and philosophy. Philosophy goes from the better known to the less known to achieve knowledge of a universal truth. Theory tries out guesses at truth and sees what fits. Philoisophy aims at certitude which theory is not designed to ever achieve. As long as you rely on theories, you will always be in doubt as to the truth. You can come much closer with philosophic argument. (In fact, if you wanted to establish the efficacy of theories, you would need to use a philosophical argument, wouldn’t you? Then theory is no more knowledge than it’s grounding philosophy, no?)

Second, to say “universe” implies oneness, which implies order. So I’m not sure you can have a universe without one prime mover, either.

How about if you think of it this way. I believe the Medievals said: “Whatever is recieved is recieved according to the mode of the reciever”.

Regards,
mrn

Postscriptum: By the way, let me know iff you think I am wrong.

Woah, dude its called a biconditional for a reason.

That is to say that if a biconditional statment is true then its converse is true.

But to be obligeing.

The world was created iff God exist.