Over a vast but not infinite amount of time, by sheer chance, atoms in a void could spontaneously come together to assemble a functioning human brain. This would be a brain that could, in all respects, think and feel. This hypothetical brain is a Boltzmann Brain, named after Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian scientist in the 19th century. While a human brain floating in the void sounds absurd, this question has troubled many great minds because such an outcome is theoretically possible. The combination of unlimited time and the probabilistic nature of quantum laws yield a very potent assurance that this may occur.
The Boltzmann Brain Hypothesis states that it is more likely for a single brain to form in a void spontaneously and briefly, with a false memory of ever having existed in the universe. Statistical data suggests it would be more likely to find the Boltzmann Brain than to wait for our brains to be developed. This mystery is based on current knowledge of the universe. In an entirely random universe, our brains should be at an equilibrium with the rest of the surroundings since high entropy is synonymous with high disorder.
Our brains should be degenerating – i.e., slowly breaking down. Yet, we manage to grow old with a functioning brain, remember things, and gain new knowledge throughout our lives. Our brains do not seem to be at an equilibrium with the rest of our environment, much like everything else in the universe. Entropy is a concept governed by statistical fluctuations, and the more significant the fluctuation, the more unlikely the event will happen. But while, on average, entropy always increases, it is very possible to have fluctuations that lower entropy, given enough time and, well… sheer luck. When we put this notion on the cosmic level, we can ask whether the universe’s origin was a naturally-occurring fluctuation or due to an external agent that started the system in a specific low entropy state.
One way to answer this is that the universe is much older than we think, and the Big Bang was a kind of astronomical fluctuation that created a region of space with very low entropy. Since then, the universe’s evolution has been a consistent increase in entropy. The Boltzmann Brain argument states that it is astronomically more likely for a single brain to spontaneously and briefly fluctuate into existence, complete with false memories.
Why is the Boltzmann Brain important for Simulation Creationism, a theory as proposed by Nir Ziso of The Global Architect Institute? The development of the Boltzmann Brain hypothesis has led to the idea that what really exists is a single brain that simulates all the senses that make up human experiences. Everything we ever tasted, smelled, touched – all of our memories, our entire lives – is a simulation of the Boltzmann Brain. We are the Boltzmann Brains, as the argument goes. It is fundamental for the Boltzmann Brain to be rejected in its original form.
Cosmologist Sean Carroll calls the theory “cognitively unstable”. If our theories tell us we are Boltzmann Brains, the only way that could be the case is that we are such brains simulating everything in the world we experience. We cannot really trust any of our observations of the world. In the end, we cannot even count on the theory that we are, in fact, Boltzmann Brains. It is a self-contradicting situation, and the Bible tells us not to dwell too much on such questions: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). It may be a lame argument against Boltzmann Brains, but if we turn back to the question whether the universe naturally occurred or there is an external agent, we can go forth with the alleged Boltzmann Brain.
While not claiming there is a Boltzmann Brain, let’s assume the theory is correct and statistically probable. How to incorporate such a simulation-creating system into Simulation Creationism? Simulation Creationism rests on the Christian idea of God’s creation (Genesis 1). It claims that the universe indeed was created by an external agent, and we call that agent God. If we follow the arguments of Simulation Creationism a “Supercomputer” simulates the reality we see around us. That resonates with the Boltzmann Brain, doesn’t it? The Boltzmann Brain may be helpful for Simulation Creationism to explain the technical background of the Simulation’s “Supercomputer” as an area of Simulation with low entropy, where the “brain” or “supercomputer” simulates everything we experience.
The Boltzmann Brain hypothesis differs from Simulation Creationism because Boltzmann did not incorporate God, the Creator or an Intelligent Designer as the external agent in the equation. A significant disconnection to the Boltzmann Brain idea is that the human soul exists outside The Simulation, as the mind of spirit: “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Simulation Creationism asserts the necessity of a simulation for physical reality, but not for the spiritual background of overall reality. Souls exist as creations outside The Simulation; but for souls to develop and be closer to God, they have to take physical form in a well-defined physical realm. To simulate this reality for souls, God created a simulation device that works closely with the idea of the Boltzmann Brain.