The simulated reality in which we allegedly per Simulation Creationism live does not give much choice to go beyond its boundaries. We are bound by natural laws – physical and temporal – that rule the simulation as envisioned by our Creator, God. According to Nir Ziso’s theory, currently we are not capable of escaping it in our physical form and shape. We can only wait for a new body in a new heaven and a new earth.
The Bible tells us that it will happen with the resurrection of bodies: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15: 50). All of this, of course, presupposes physical death. But can we experience the “beyond” of simulated creation even in this life and space-time? While Simulation Creationism acknowledges divine intervention in ordinary natural laws in what we call miracles – either done directly by God, Jesus Christ, or through the words and deeds of the prophets – there might be an ordinary way to reach the beyond. This notion is rooted in the Christian mystical tradition of the Eastern Church and is called Hesychasm. How is it tied to Simulation Creationism?
By mysticism, we mean here a personal experience of the divine. The Orthodox Church is particularly prone to the mystical approach, even mixing mysticism and theology (deemed as a rational and scholastic discipline in the West). It is used for a vital end – union with God (theosis). Orthodoxy is also very oriented to the apophatic tradition of antiquity, meaning that God is totally beyond any form of human understanding: “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Only statements about what God is not will suffice. The apophatic tradition is something we can indeed understand. While we want to reach theosis, we understand that it is not possible in a simulated reality. By examining this reality, including the Holy Scriptures; “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), we can say that God is not evil, not selfish, etc, even if He is utterly unknown.
But, there is more. The apophatic approach is an active one, a process of purification where an individual turns away from all that is not God in order to reach theosis. From this approach, the mystical practice of hesychasm came to be. It is a meditation and prayer that developed in the Middle Ages in Orthodox countries, although it existed before then. It was written down by St. Symeon, the New Theologian, a mystic from Constantinople. He describes the direct experience of God’s light and mystical union turning inward in contemplation.
Hesychasm derives from the Greek word “Hesychia”, which means “inner stillness”. This prayer involves specific bodily postures, reading techniques, and repeated prayers. Meditation involves sitting down with your head bowed such that the chin touches the chest and the eyes are fixed on the place of the heart. Breathing is also controlled in time with prayer. The prayer takes the formula of “Jesus’ Prayer”: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me (a sinner)”.
Hesychast monks repeat it over and over, not necessarily in a particular body posture, but tradition is mostly obeyed. What is important to comprehend is that reaching God is not possible in the external world – a simulated reality, according to Simulation Creationism and the Simulation Hypothesis – but rather turning to the innermost parts of our being, which is a soul. It is the reality that exists outside the simulation, according to the Simulation Hypothesis.
This view enjoys tremendous evidence in the Gospel of Luke: “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17: 20-21). Many early Christian monastics understood it well. One of the founders of Christian monasticism, St. Anthony the Great (of Egypt) said: “He who knows himself, knows God”. St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: “When you see your brother or sister, you see God”, as all of us have an image of God within ourselves, a connection to the divine can be cultivated to the point where we become God-like. St. Athanasius said it simply: “God became human so that we might become God.”
What does theosis really mean, particularly when we see God as a big unknown? This question led to the criticism of hesychasm in the 14th century when leading figures such as Barlaam of Seminara accused hesychasts of not understanding the impossibility of experiencing God’s light. The answer was given by one of the greatest theologians of all times, St. Gregory Palamas. He drew a distinction between God’s essence and God’s energies. This essence is beyond all comprehension and experience.
Palamas argues correctly that God is beyond nature, above all beings, and nothing of His creation shall ever have the slightest communion with Him. However, these energies are God’s relationship with the created world and the way God communicates with HIs created beings. In Simulation Creationism, there are three kinds of reality: God, Soul, and the simulation. The absolute reality is God, and He created our souls. To make souls experience, learn, and develop, there was a need for a framework. It is a simulation, produced from a sort of supercomputer. Within it, God created everything else, but throughout the simulation, God is present through his energies. If we follow St. Gregory Palamas, we understand that these energies are not some part of God or HIs created power. Energies are identical to God, non-created, but not the same as God’s essence.
The light of God experienced by mystics is deemed identical to the light experienced by the apostles during the Transfiguration of Lord Jesus on Mt Tabor: “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). It is again God’s energy that is identical to God and uncreated, while not the same as His essence. In conclusion, we may say that Simulation Theory and Simulation Creationism can incorporate hesychasm as a way to reach out to God’s energy parallel to the simulated reality. However, it seems that we cannot reach theosis as a union with God’s essence.