Tag Archives: Counterfactual Condition

The Counterfactual Condition

counterfactual condition, mets

Mets fans are disappointed. That’s to be expected; losing the World Series is tough. But as fans analyze the loss, we actually learn something far greater than just a baseball score. It is called the “counterfactual condition.”

What is the counterfactual condition? It is a principle that states that “if-only” a single decision had been made, contrary to the one that was in fact made, then the outcome would have been different. So, for example, “if” Terry Collins had put Jeurys Familia, in the game, instead of leaving Matt Harvey in, then the Mets would have won.

But we will never know what would have happened if a different decision was made. In 1748, David Hume expressed reverse causality as, “if the first object had not been, the second never would have existed.” Nelson Goodman coined the phrase “counterfactual condition” in 1947 for what the “contrary-to-fact” condition. A World Series has only two possible outcomes, but millions of ways to get there. All we can do is guess as to what would have happened otherwise.

And we love to guess at “what ifs?” If he had thrown 1 more strike, if they had hit one more run, if they had eaten fewer eggs that morning…etc. But the truth is, that there is no way of knowing the outcome from the counterfactual conditions. Except when it comes to scripture – another reason the Bible is so unique.

The Bible records for us what happened in reality. It tells us the true condition of man. But it also records for us what would have happened “if” Jesus had not risen on the 3rd day.

In 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, Paul writes, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

In other words, the counterfactual condition of mankind is a disaster. There is no hope. You die in your sin. There is no salvation. There is no afterlife. Thankfully, Paul continues in verse 20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead…!”

There is hope! There is salvation! This life is not all there is! And the factual condition is eternal life with God because of Christ’s saving work. Are you still hoping for “ifs” and “buts” or are you enjoying Christ’s glory today?