Here's a radical idea: The odds are overwhelming that we are living in a computer simulation.
Or so said Elon Musk at the annual Recode Code Conference:
The strongest argument for us being in a simulation probably is the following:
40 years ago we had pong. Like, two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were. Now 40 years later, we have photo-realistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it's getting better every year. Soon we'll have virtual reality, augmented reality.
If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality. . . .
So given that we're clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we're in base reality is one in billions.
Tell me what's wrong with that argument. Is there a flaw in that argument?
I don't know if there is a flaw in that argument--I write a blog about the spirituality of commuting, for Christ's sake; what do I know about logic? I'll defer to the professionals to hash that out. But I do think that the idea of my brain floating in a vat somewhere, connected to some alien Xbox, is pretty cool.
Such an idea even helps me understand my faith. Saint Paul warns that we have to wake up from our slumber:
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. (Romans 13:11-12)
If I have been asleep as Paul suggests, then my life must have been a dream--a simulation. My life is not what I think it is. It is part of something much bigger.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
This is an interesting way for me to think about my relationship with God, my relationship with others, and my relationship with myself. The "simulation" is my false self, the idea of me created by my ego. My true self--the brain in the vat, so to speak--is the way Christ imagines me. I am a computer simulation run by the mind of Christ. And if I am a simulation in the mind of Christ, then it is Christ who lives in me. My false self--the part of me that lives in this simulation--is just that, a simulation. It is not real. Who I really am is found in Christ.
Now that is a radical idea.