Earlier in the semester, when my logic class first got started on symbolic logic, I didn’t like the idea that a conditional statement (If A, then B) is automatically true if the antecedent (A) is false. The only way a conditional statement can be false is if the antecedent is true and the consequent is false. “If A, then B” obviously is false if, in actuality, A is true and B isn’t. That makes sense, but it didn’t seem right that A and B could both be false and the conditional statement could still be true. Once we got into proofs, it made a little more sense, but it still seemed like a fairly abstract concept. If A is false, why does it matter whether or not B would be true if A were true?

1 Corinthians 15:17But then I remembered a very important conditional statement where both the antecedent and the consequent are true. ‘Tis 1 Corinthians 15:17, and it goes like this: tilde A horseshoe thingy open parentheses B dot C close parentheses. Or, to quote it directly, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Saint Paul goes on to tell us that A is true: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:20a)  Still, even though the antecedent (Christ has not been raised) is false, it is significant that if it was true, then B and C would both be true.

Christ is RisenActually, it kind of seems like we’re supposed to take the negation of the consequent as an implied premise. (That is to say, the people at the church in Corinth already knew that their faith was not futile and that they were not in their sins.)According to the rules of logic, specifically according to the rule called Modus Tollens, if the consequent is false, then the antecedent must be false. So the truth of A isn’t actually a separate premise, it’s the conclusion of a valid argument. Here it is, written as a logical proof.

Mark 16:16Just for the fun of it, here’s another bible verse written as a premise in symbolic logic:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16.