More on the game universe theory in light of recent Asimov Memorial Debate
By MARTIN REZNY
Great, now I learn that not even a month before I wrote the first of my articles exploring the possibility of a simulated universe made as some sort of a game, there was an annual Asimov Memorial Debate on that very topic. A debate of which I have watched all of the previous years not long before that. Apart from proving that maybe I’m not entirely crazy and perhaps on something approaching a right track, it’s a veritable treasure trove of inspiration.
If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend doing so before reading further:
Questions to Ask a God
First of all, I really love these debates. What a wonderful way to honor and continue the legacy of one of the greats of world literature. Even though the speakers only skirted around the edges of looking at reality as a creation of a game designer with a particular psychology, the examples they brought up were great. Be it the kid eagerly letting loose a Godzilla on his world, or the one with random god-blokes buying and running an off-the-shelf universe-simulating software for dummies, their examples point to good questions.
Whether specifically stated, implied, or loosely related, I can identify these:
- Are we even intentional?
- Is this all about us?
- Is this a simulation within a simulation (within a simulation, etc.)?
- How much is controlled and how much just emergent?
- Does the creator interact with his creation directly, or at all?
- Does our reality have glitches or design flaws?
- Are we smart enough to figure out any of it?
- Is it possible to prove any of it?
- Does any of it matter to our everyday existence?
Then, of course, there’s the question of what kind of person or intelligence the creator might be, which I have already explored to some extent. But it is important to note that it cannot be separated from the above questions, because as it is with our creations, realities can have unintended features, just as they can fail to achieve intended results. What I find especially intriguing is that it is precisely in the god interactions or errors that we could identify it.
Here are some flawed or interacting God archetypes that I can think of:
Much like deists believe, creator of this world could be running this universe as a hands-off simulated experiment. In that case, it would be very difficult or perhaps even impossible by design to make him or her interact with any part of the creation. The only clue could be hidden in the purpose of the experiment, which is pretty hard to narrow down, given the complexity of existence. We have no way of knowing if the experiment is even working or not. It could still at least glitch, so there’s that going for us, but not much else.
This is undoubtedly a very entropy-friendly universe, so it would seem likely that if there is any creator behind it, he or she like them some splosions. The death and destruction galore must make this reality rather enjoyable to witness. Let’s hope that it’s at least a mature designer, not a godlike equivalent of a five year old suffering from ADHD crossed with Tourette syndrome. It could be possible to irritate such creator by accomplishing world peace and quiet. Which we sort of did, and got climate change for our trouble.
Assuming we’re indeed created in the creator’s image or serve any central role in the universe, maybe it’s that way because our creator is a vain one. By assuming that our creator is very much like us for that reason, the anthropomorphic thinking can actually work very well for reverse engineering what the god is like and how he or she, or shmlee, may think. Maybe we should try to drastically change our appearance and see what happens. If the creator is living some sort of fantasy through us, we can surely screw with it.
Much like we create most of our games with avatars as vessels for our own agency (and awesomeness), the creator of this universe may not simply be content watching it do its thing. Assuming that the apparent emergent nature of our consciousness makes it stand above the mechanical rules of nature, we may even be god ourselves, playing his or her favorite game, oblivious to it. If this assumption is correct, maybe we should look more closely into our minds to find evidence of a creator, rather than into the cold depths of outer space.
Have you ever wondered why everything always seems to go wrong at the worst possible time? Maybe the creator of this world made it expressly for his or her mean amusement, and therefore there’s a reason for things like poetic irony or the general punishment of human hubris happening all the time. Just take the example of Titanic — call a ship unsinkable and you’re clearly asking for any or all gods to dick with you. Maybe you can tease the creator into acts of highly improbable dickery by “coincidence”, thus proving its existence.
If this universe is nested within one or more other simulations (plus the ultimate reality), maybe our creator is not exactly on top of the divine hierarchy. Imagine that making this world is his job, he or she may not even wanted to make it in the first place, or it was forbidden by a higher authority. Imagine he or she doesn’t even know he or she is simulated. Maybe the design of this world shows signs of executive interference or of being left unfinished. That way, maybe we could actually topple god by appealing to a higher up.
Just like there’s a difference between humans capable of programming a game like Minecraft from scratch and those who can merely play it, there would be a difference between a creator of the universe who coded all the math him- or herself and his fellow god-lings who can only do the godlike equivalent of pressing the start button. A noob creator would mean a high likelihood of glitches or poor design choices and could hypothetically even be outsmarted by his or her software. Maybe we’re some creator’s Skynet or Neo.
And now take all of the above and imagine that our reality is, like most games, a collaborative effort. If multiple philosophies of design clash in the execution of our existence, it could be because god is not of a single mind. If that’s the case, then maybe the different creators with conflicting views could be goaded into engaging each other directly. First, however, we’d need to identify what those clashing principles are, and escalate the tension between them, whether it’s interference vs. no interference, life vs. death, or Coke vs. Pepsi.
In case you are of the religious sort, particularly if you’re a Christian, you should know I’m not really trying to insult your God. As it is stated in the debate itself, most of these options clearly conflict with the principle of omnibenevolence or even the more basic components of perfection. What this may be about is that even within monotheistic religions, God does tend to have less perfect agents, a middle management if you will. In a nested, conflicted, or team effort universe, your God may be the ultimate Supergod.
The point is that some of these options may actually be testable to at least rule out some possible creator’s failings or ways of interacting with the universe. Proving something once and for all isn’t really what science does, anyway, as is also pointed out in the Asimov Memorial Debate. As for the various unbelievers, this line of reasoning suggests not only that it may be possible to detect some form of a creator existing (or not), but also to test whether it is any kind of creator worthy of worship from various moral points of view.
Like what you read? Subscribe to my publication, heart, follow, or…