By Jaime Nava –
Imagine your life was created as a test. All the decisions you made were a part of a grand scheme put together by an intelligent designer. Each fork in the road you chose would have consequences written in. In the end, everything was tallied and inspected almost like a lab rat in a maze. Sounds like some twisted religion doesn’t it? Or what if your life was a game instead. The decisions you make are one cog in a giant machine that is churning out hilarity or sadness, not for you, but for someone who is playing this colossal game with you as a character inside. The world would be a giant sandbox that you were allowed to thrive or starve in. Sounds possibly more cruel than the lab rat’s existence.
Wealthy inventor and engineer, Elon Musk, believes the possibility of our existence as a giant simulation is totally probable. Now Elon is a smart dude. He has a plan to put people on Mars to live. He designs spaceships that can land themselves after flight on a floating landing pad. He’s someone people listen to. So when he seriously answered a question about our reality being a simulation, lots of people ran with it. To sum up, he said that the strongest argument for our reality being a simulation comes from the fact that technology has advanced incredibly in 40 years and will continue to advance. Eventually technology will be able to perfectly mimic reality (given enough time and assuming advancement continues). If that is the case, and since there are so many Xboxes, Playstations, and PCs in the world, and any of them could be playing out some simulated reality as real as our own, therefore the chance that we are living in the base reality is one in billions. This harkens back to Plato and the sense that there are forms (what is really real out there in idea-land) and there are shadows of those forms, a simulation if you will. Elon and Plato differ in that Plato thought the physical world to be inferior to the forms and Elon assumes that there is no divine realm with his language of evolution. They agree on doubting that what we experience is inferior to some other reality.
The Federalist had a great article by Berny Belvedere on the moral implications of creating a full on realistic simulation (the last paragraph has a great punchline). Consider a different issue. What are the theological implications if we were living in a simulation? They are legion but I’ll consider two. First of all, should this be a simulation and somehow we break the fourth wall, why bother? Why not go all hedonistic? What’s wrong with dropping an atomic bomb? Live and let die means nothing because you’re not alive which means you can’t really die. Not only is there no point to living but death has no meaning. If this is the case then horrific acts of crimes against humanity aren’t crimes at all. In this case, Hitler wasn’t all that bad (he really was). If what we believe to be reality is either some alien kid’s hottest game or some scientist’s simulation for testing purposes then what you and I do and what happens to us doesn’t matter. Secondly, and most importantly, there is no real Jesus in a simulation. There was no real death and no real resurrection in a simulated reality. If there is no fulfillment of God’s Word, no flesh incarnate, no death for our sins, no resurrection over death, then we Christians are pitiful.
How do we know we exist in the base reality (of the possible billions of simulated realities)? There’s no reason to doubt this is base reality instead of a simulation. The burden of proof lies with Elon and others like him to prove that this is in fact not the true reality. Although the probability of multiple simulated realities is a plethora it’s still probable this is the base reality. There’s no evidence otherwise. I again commend Belvedere’s article referenced above for a good philosophical argument for this reality as the true reality.
Reality tells us that there is a Creator. Complexity and mathematics attest to His creative work. For millennia the devil has tried to fool people into believing some alternate reality. It’s the same lie that he used to fool Adam and Eve, “Did God really say…?” In this reality there is real sin. That means Hitler is actually evil for what he did. That means that your neighbor needs your good works. It means that shooting up a crowded theater is an offense to mankind and to God. The devil aims to fix our eyes on falsehoods so that we lose love for neighbor and find no assurance in the cross. I’m sorry Elon and others who think this world isn’t real but Christ is assuredly risen. He is the Alpha and the Omega. This means that our sins are forgiven by Christ on the cross. This means that He conquered death. This means that He will return to make a renewed cosmos. Is it probable that we are in a simulated reality? As probable as a flying spaghetti monster. Heaven and earth might pass away but God’s Word never will. That’s what’s real.