When I finished speaking, the fire surrounding me seemed to diminish and then disappeared entirely. The Red Horseman sighed. He closed his eyes with all his might and wrinkles appeared at their sides. Then he opened them and sighed again.
I don’t want to cross examine you, sir. You’ve convinced me of everything that you’ve said. Congratulations on your rare achievement.
What sort of game are you getting at?
I’m not playing games with you, and I won’t attack you merely for the sake of dialectic. Your “Proof of the existence of God” stands on four points, and upon honest examination, your overall argument that it’s more rational to believe in a Higher Power than to be any sort of atheist is both valid and sound.
You really aren’t going to debate with me?
I’m really not. As I said, you’ve persuaded me. Consider everything that you’ve said point by point.
PREFACE: It is more rational to be an agnostic than to be categorically sure of a higher power’s existence or non-existence.
- We can’t know for certain whether or not a higher power exists—to be a pure atheist (to believe with 100% certainty that it does not exist) or to be a pure theist (to believe with 100% certainty that it definitely exists) requires a leap of faith beyond what the available evidence can teach us. So, a rational person should approach the question of “God’s” existence from some sort of an agnostic starting point. If you believe the preponderance of evidence leans against a higher power’s existence, then you can safely lean in favor of doubting God and you can even call yourself an atheist of some kind (though not a pure one as Kimel defines the term). But the next points will show that there is actually a greater preponderance of evidence that a higher power really does exist than the depressing alternative.
POINT 1: You are more likely to exist for a reason than for no reason.
- Even from our imperfect human starting point, we know that (1) we were all born after a period of complete oblivion, meaning that life after non-existence is definitely possible (2) most causes have effects, which act as causes in turn. Is it more likely that you exist for no reason or for some rational reason? Since everything else in the universe seems to happen for rational, explainable reasons, it is more likely that your existence follows this rule rather than breaks it. The next point will propose a rational reason for your existence.
POINT 2: A virtual simulation because you were born before “the singularity” provides a more probable reason for your existence than no reason.
- If virtual reality is possible, future humans will be able to enjoy virtual paradises in which they essentially live forever as disembodied geniuses. The only way to incorporate the voices of their dead ancestors into the virtual database would be to simulate them perfectly, once. This is reminiscent of the doctrine of life after death, but provides a rational/scientific way it might actually happen. Is it possible that we’re really in a simulation? Not only is it possible, it is actually more likely than our not being in a simulation. We know: (1) we all exist, as if by magic, after a period of complete oblivion before we were born (2) life is possible without a wakeful 3-d reality (trees) (3) consciousness is possible without a wakeful 3-d reality (dreams) (4) rationalism is possible without a wakeful 3-d reality (computers). All this suggests that virtual reality is possible, likely, and, ultimately, just, insofar as the infinite utility of an immortal virtual paradise justifies the pain of being in a simulation in the first place. This argument puts an interesting spin on the so-called Boltzmann Brain Paradox; my consciousness is more likely to be the experience of a “brain floating in space” (a brain hooked up to a virtual reality smaller and less complex than the sum total of reality) than a brain caught up in an infinitely complex, random, enormous, and singular original reality. Moreover, if at least one civilization ever produced a simulation which simulated itself, a seemingly infinite number of individuals would be created–it is more likely you are a member of that teeming collection than an individual in an authorless universe.
POINT 3: The existence of simulations helps to solve for the so-called “Problem of Evil.” Since a dedication to simulations is such a rational commitment, over the course of the entire history of the universe, it is likely that very many civilizations indeed turn toward the design of simulations.
- Even if you don’t believe you are simulated, you should be enthusiastic about the development of simulating technology because it solves many horrific problems. Genetic engineering can solve the inherent injustices of the genetic wheel of fortune and render everyone a literal genius. It promises, too, the end of the slaughter of animals for food on the world stage, if artificial victuals can be created, and deeper in the future still, if virtual consciousnesses require no food at all, to say nothing of the solving of environmental problems in general such as pollution of the atmosphere, etc. Virtual reality can provide individuals not only with hedonistic pleasures, but with exciting artificial worlds in which ingenious voices can learn and interact for far greater periods of time than a contemporary human life span. In a virtual world, economic inequality becomes a thing of the past, as does fear of death. Even if you are a complete materialist, the promise of virtual reality is noble enough that the necessary steps to get there should be embraced as unmistakable strides forward in a great and noble enterprise. While there might still be unhappiness in virtual realities, such a future would still be unequivocally better than Earth as it is from a human perspective. Since a dedication to simulations is such a rational commitment, over the course of the entire history of the universe, it is likely that many civilizations indeed turn toward the design of simulations, increasing the probability we are in one in the first place.
POINT 4: The historical trajectory that leads to simulation is close enough to God (life after death, a wiser higher power) to be meaningfully worshipped in its own right.
- Virtual reality is ultimately a beneficial and just state of affairs, and the universe is constructed against all odds in such a way that this paradise can be achieved by even the likes of human beings. Insofar as it is more likely than not that we already exist in a simulation, and it is also definite that virtual paradise is preferable to the present, it stands to reason that (1) a higher power exists, in the form of designers of virtual reality and/or a force in the universe which is at least benevolent from a human perspective because it has the potential to result in virtual paradise (2) even in the unlikely state of affairs we are not in a virtual reality, we should take steps to get there.
The Red Horseman saluted me and bowed with a flourish. At that moment, I lost every intention of throwing my stone at him.
Next entry 10/16/2011