Hello, my name is Cosmyk, and this is my first post.
One thing that I find very disturbing is the Simulation Hypothesis (SH). The SH is basically the idea that I am either a brain in a vat, or a simulated person (a “sim”) who is being fed sensory data from some kind of artificially-generated simulation. In my opinion, the two best arguments for the SH are Nick Bostrom’s Simulation argument and the argument from Digital Physics, made by Edward Fredkin, Brian Whitworth, and others. To find Bostrom’s argument, Google “are you living in a computer simulation” and click on the first result. To find Whitworth’s argument, Google “the physical world as virtual reality” and click on the first result. To find Fredkin’s website, Google “Edward Fredkin” and click on the second result.
I don’t believe that the arguments from Digital Physics hold much force. Digital Physics is a minority position. Current scientific evidence does not give any reason to favor it among other theories, since DP is only one interpretation among many superior ones.
Bostrom’s argument, by itself, can be avoided if once accepts dualism. Humans have an immaterial nature, while sims are purely material, so no human is a sim. But I believe his argument can be reformulated to include “neural simulations”, which are “brain-in-vat” scenarios, like in the movie The Matrix. Given the rise in popularity of video games, it is not unreasonable to think that in the future, many “matrices” will be created. If 50% of humans are plugged into such matrices, and we cannot tell whether or not we are in one, the probability of us being in such a matrix is 50%.
Digital Physics also supports the argument. Let’s say one accepts that brains-in-vats (BIVs) outnumber humans, but for whatever reason still believes that one is real. In that case, one is believing an unlikelihood, namely that one was “born out of the matrix”. We should lose credence in theories that posit improbable events, so realist theories would lose credence.
My main questions about all of this are:
- Are these arguments sound, or flawed? If they are flawed, how so? Are there any good objections to them?
- How would these arguments affect Christianity? Do you think Christianity or theism in general can still be defended even if it turns out we live in a simulation? For example, do the Five Ways still work?