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Why atheists like our world as a computer sim

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From Joshua Rothman at the New Yorker:

The simulation argument is appealing, in part, because it gives atheists a way to talk about spirituality. The idea that we’re living in only a part of reality, with the whole permanently beyond our reach, can be a source of awe. About our simulators, one can ask the same questions one asks about God: Why did the creators of our world decide to include evil and suffering? (Can they change that setting in the preferences?) Where did the original, non-simulated world come from? In that sense, the simulation argument is a thoughtful and expansive materialist fable that is almost, but not quite, religious. There is, of course, no sanctity or holiness in the simulation argument. The people outside the simulation aren’t gods—they’re us.

Considered as a parable, the simulation argument is essentially ironic. In the end, it’s a story about limits. On the one hand, we maximize human potential by creating worlds of our own; on the other, by doing so, we confirm the impossibility of ultimate knowledge about the universe in which we live. Transcendence enforces humility. In the end, the fulfillment of godlike ambition makes the universe harder to know. More.

Rothman doesn’t address the question: If so, what is our world is a simulation of? That’s the most obvious question and, come to think of it, the one that isn’t allowed.

See also: Tyson bombshell: Universe likely just computer sim

and

The bill arrives for cosmology’s free lunch

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4 Replies to “Why atheists like our world as a computer sim

  1. 1

    Seems to me that the simulation argument would force atheists to consider God as a possible “simulator.” Not the only option, of course, but certainly one of them.

  2. 2
    EDTA says:

    The people outside the simulation aren’t gods—they’re us.

    Um, except for one small difference: they can shut us off at any time while we cannot shut them off at all. We are the more ephemeral beings, clearly subordinate to them. That’s all. Not such a rosy picture for anyone not happy about being #2.

  3. 3
    mahuna says:

    There are of course analog simulations, the same way there were analog computers before digital computers became faster and cheaper.

    So declaring that the universe is a simulation immediately raises the questions:

    1. A simulation of WHAT reality?
    2. A simulation run by Whom?

    Organizations like the SEC run simulations of the US economy and use the intermediate results (since the the simulation never runs to completion) to change the economic policies that cause the real economy to change. So is the US economy in fact an analog simulation of something else? (Um, how long can a self-serving elite convince the general public to cooperate in a scheme to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a self-serving elite? Let’s run the simulation and find out!)

    In a book I finished last night there was the great wisdom: Life is a dream; death is real.

  4. 4
    john_a_designer says:

    Why do atheists seem to like our world as a computer sim?

    It appears they are willing to look at any possible explanation except the existence of an eternally existing transcendent Mind (God). That tells us that their so called beliefs are based more on their personal irrational prejudices and smug condescension than dispassionate reason.

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