The Simulation Hypothesis
The simulation hypothesis.
For those of you that don’t already know, simulation hypothesis is a new idea about reality. It postulates that if a society get’s high tech enough it will create better and better computer simulations. Eventually those simulations might get so good that the characters in the sim will think they are real, living in a real world.
They might even create their own simulated universes with characters that think they are real, and eventually create their own simulated universes.
The upshot is, this universe could be a simulation and we’d never know. We’re probably not even an original sim, but rather several generations of sim in.
Obviously this is an idea brought about by Matrix type movies and stories. But it also has a friend in the holographic universe hypothesis; an interpretation of quantum mechanics. That hypothesis , as the name suggests, tells us the universe is a hologram.
Of course, neither the simulation hypothesis or the holographic universe can be tested yet, and perhaps never can be, and therefore may be seen as speculative philosophy; but not science.
So, lets think about this. We are simulations/computer script. Pretty depressing thought for most of us. And that’s the big question. Can a simulation feel emotions, pain, love, hate, etc? Why would we have a brain? Why would the universe and all in it have to evolve?
In the traditional creation myths we believe in, god creates us fully formed. But we know now that’s not true. We evolved from non-human ancestors, down to before single celled biology. Would a simulation evolve? Perhaps it would.
But that would mean then, that simulated humanity emerged over time due to the laws of the program, perhaps not even intentionally when it comes to individuals, or their specific behaviour. That’s like another version of creation, nature: The idea that everything is a natural progression of the cause and effect of the laws of physics. No intent at all in that one, just the inevitable result of dynamic but ordered interaction over time.
So we have three options now: A programmer god, a supernatural god, and nature. Does it really matter which is true? People like the supernatural god idea because they say it supplies purpose. But when you think about it, what does god’s purpose for us add?
Sure, god loves you and offers everlasting life if you do his will, but what ever god’s purpose for you might be, is it your purpose? No. Not unless you accept it as yours. Same with the programmer god. His or her purpose for us might be entertainment or education or scientific study, but is that our purpose?
In the natural explanation there isn’t a purpose we know of, other than being part of a natural process. Is that our personal purpose? No. We make our own purpose and meaning in life in all three scenarios.
Does god or the programmer love us? Well let’s see: they created a universe where everything has to kill to eat and survive. They created diseases, pain, mental anguish, suffering , hate, anger and death, to name a few..
If we created simulations and we found out one guy made his sims actually think, suffer, feel pain, etc, and that he puts them through torture, wouldn’t we consider that person evil? Any conscious being that can create any way it likes would be an evil monster cruel beyond belief to have created this on purpose.
If not on purpose, then they would be inept; unless they only set things up and the rest evolved naturally. They had no way of knowing what would happen. But even then, wouldn’t they have fixed the program by now if they loved us?
On the other hand, if it’s a natural process there is no one to blame and no malice. It’s just the way it is. I prefer this idea, though a Pantheist might say: Energy is god in turmoil, and the state of the totality is the totality’s attempt at perfection through conflict and resolution played out by all that exists: The creation of a god state from imperfection, rather than a perfect god creating imperfect worlds.
There could be some truth to that, even if it’s an evolving simulation, and that’s interesting.
So what are we? In all three alternatives we’re individuals that feel, have emotions like love and empathy, we are creative, talented , and have our own unique individual will, even if it’s not due to a supernatural soul, and is in fact the manifestation of all we are including our genetic predispositions played against our environmental conditioning, experience, learning, etc. We’re also chemicals, cells, and atoms and energy.
We’re all those things no matter what alternative we live in. So what then? It doesn’t matter which one or something else is true. It changes nothing unless you insist on eternal life. Most people get board with this one, do we really want it to go on forever? Some people certainly think they do. And who knows? No one. But other than that, nothing changes. We are still forced to go to work every day, pay our taxes, feed ourselves, etc. Simulation or not, walk in front of a fast moving train and you’re a flat mess someone will be picking bits of out of the trees for days. Try walking through a wall because you know you’re just atoms like the wall is and there should be enough space between that you can pass through it.
Unfortunately there are atomic forces that prevent that. Lucky for me since I’m writing this on the second floor. I’d be headed to the center of the earth otherwise.
So no, I don’t think it is a depressing thought because even if true, and I highly doubt it, it changes nothing about my life, including any personal ideas of meaning or purpose I might or might not have . No one knows with certainty yet, and perhaps we never will.
Of course, since we’re speculating, the programmer might have programmed the sim to place us in another world when we die, so we’d wake up dead in sim-heaven or sim-hell or on some other planet.
Isn’t sim-speculation fun?
And that’s all it is. It’s not science in any way shape or form, and don’t for a second believe anyone who says it is.
That said; just in case we are created by fifth generation simulation that’s a bit of a tyrant egomaniac, like Trump: All Hail Sim-God!