Scientists have long pondered the existence of God and consciousness, possibly for hundreds of years. Then think of all those who have followed Newton, Descartes, and Einstein. Many did not want to suffer the same fate as Galileo when the Catholic Church dominated thought and banned his work.
The Church no longer holds sway and science is accepted along with its astute observations. Perhaps science, using reductionist arguments, can explain the unexplainable, but someone has to answer the question of the unseen world of consciousness. It has fallen into the realm of religion. It is a good thing that scientists traditionally eschew religion as being “not scientific”. They have even suggested that sociologists should study what falls into the hands of theologians.
Now scientists have to sit up and take notice of something new: the Simulation Hypothesis. It asks some age-old questions but now they are answered by what looks like science fiction. It has to do with video games! The key idea of the hypothesis that reality is nothing more than a computer-generated altered reality – simulation. We are living in an amazing video game created by a super computer. It is not unfathomable.
In fact, the movie, The Matrix, filmed in 1999, proposes the very same thing. It has been almost twenty-two years since its release. It has become an obsession for many. Some appreciate the religious overtones: a Messiah comes to save the human race. It was a groundbreaking move that became a cultural phenomenon. Its thesis is now widely accepted. In his model, Nir Ziso, for example, has advanced the idea of a world beyond what we see. He is the founder of The Global Architect Institute and author of Simulation Creationism.
Ziso, as the model creator, believes that human actions take place within a simulation the objective of which is to research and monitor typical life events. He suggests that a divine deity created the universe to study creation and life as fundamental processes. He incorporates religion and theology into his philosophical assumptions. He even considers the possibility of a movie-like simulation.
According to Ziso’s model, what humans sense through sight, smell, or touch are predetermined and transmitted to an observer. The information sent includes our thoughts and actions. The observer’s reality is like a “movie”. It could be a transmission from a relay station to the endpoint observer. The observer’s consciousness is a component of the simulation. It is in charge of recording his/her emotional response to what is being transmitted.
Or those vested in the Simulation Hypothesis. Western religions are accommodated as they are consistent with it. It is exciting to finally have a theory that bridges the ever-widening gap between religion and science. In fact, religion takes on a new meaning in the light of the hypothesis. Now the simulation argument has a basis not only in science but technology. The former unseen worlds referred to by various religions have a plausible explanation.
Religious Overtones of The Matrix
We are going to be talking about Neo forever it seems, the hero of The Matrix played by Keanu Reeves. As a computer hacker, he finds references to something mysterious online, called “the Matrix”. He comes to meet Morpheus who says, “Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You’ll have to see it for yourself.”
What happens next is that Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne) offers Neo a choice. In the movie’s most famous scene, Neo can either take a “red pill” to wake up (and see the Matrix) or a “blue pill” to continue on with his life. Neo opts for the red pill and finds that he is in the “real world”. So, the life he had been living was actually in a sophisticated video game. It was ultra-realistic, enough to convince him it was true reality.
What is a Simulated World?
Perhaps only science fiction could create such an idea: a simulated world. In fact, the Wachowski’s (the movie’s creators), drew heavily on the work of novelist Philip K. Dick, among others.
Some of the greatest minds of our time jumped on board. One is Nicholas Bostrom, a professor and scholar at Oxford University. In fact, he wrote a groundbreaking paper on the subject in 2003. His arguments were accepted by other noted theorists such as physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (host of the New Cosmos), and even Stephen Hawking, the genius. Most computer scientists can be added to this illustrious list.
The reason for taking Bostrom seriously is the obvious technological revolution we see in AI and video games. Even Elon Musk is a proponent of a simulated world. We can accept his advice given that he is a public figure as the founder of Tesla and SpaceX. This idea seems to fall naturally into his realm.
In 2016, he made waves with an explanation. His particular logic led him to conclude that Pong was once state of the art in video games. It was over forty years ago! We found the dot to be fun as an arcade game. How far have things come! Today with have
MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) like World of Warcraft and Fortnite. When Pong was the hot game, no one could fathom a virtual world complete with characters controlled by millions and millions.
In the face of augmented reality and its great fidelity to real life, Musk postulated that we will one day not be able to distinguish them. In fact, “physical” and “virtual reality” will seem one in the same. Musk took Bostrom a few steps further and added video games as evidence. We can follow their trail to the end conclusion and accept the Simulation Hypothesis as an alternative to traditional religious explanation of creation. In the end, they have the same goal.
We know the Western traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as they are the Abrahamic line of religions. The Bible is respected by them all, at least in part.
In the Old Testament the book of Genesis recounts creation. It begins with the statement, “Let there be light, and then there was light.” God spoke and then created the world in six days. He rested on the seventh.
The concept of creation has plagued scientists because six days seems impossible. After all, our planet is billions of years old. So the Earth must have been created in some other way. Six days is only metaphoric.
After all the scientific explanations and the Big Bang Theory, we have the Simulation Hypothesis, alternatively known as Simulation Theory. What Genesis recounts has new meaning. But how can we reconcile biblical creation with the idea that the universe is computer generated? There is no physical reality at all! Scientists may find this outlandish, but many accept the idea of living in a video game. Given what we know about virtual reality, this is not impossible. It takes seconds to start and play a game. They use fractional algorithms to fabricate the Milky Way and its contents. It is clock speed – way beyond the time Pong took. Each step is a progression into a virtual realm.
So why not accept that our “reality” is just a larger example that incorporates the concept of time in terms of days and years. Someone or something has set it all up and it runs in a millisecond.