Virtual reality thought experiment
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06-05-2015, 03:56 AM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2015 04:49 AM by akeki.)
Virtual reality thought experiment
Hello there. Often when discussing what it means for god to be outside our space and time, I get the thought of virtual realities and programmers. From virtual reality standpoint, the programmer is a god. Programmer can do everything: create space and matter out of nowhere, pause the whole virtual reality, jump into any time, read everybody's minds etc.

I have opened my thoughts a bit here: http://finnishatheist.blogspot.fi/2015/0...rld_6.html

I would like to get comments about the idea, what different kinds of scenarios emerges from it and overall, what do you guys think of it.

I'm also open for grammar and typo corrections. As the blog name suggests, I'm from Finland so English isn't my native language.
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06-05-2015, 04:43 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
Hi there. Welcome to TTA.

FYI we have a rule about linking to stuff on one's first post but yours looks quite interesting so I'll be reading it after dinner.

Cheers

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06-05-2015, 05:00 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
(06-05-2015 04:43 AM)DLJ Wrote:  FYI we have a rule about linking to stuff...

Until cronyism rears its ugly head. You crony. Angel

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06-05-2015, 06:11 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
(06-05-2015 03:56 AM)akeki Wrote:  Hello there. Often when discussing what it means for god to be outside our space and time, I get the thought of virtual realities and programmers. From virtual reality standpoint, the programmer is a god. Programmer can do everything: create space and matter out of nowhere, pause the whole virtual reality, jump into any time, read everybody's minds etc.

I haven't read the blog, but just based on this:

In this analogy, "God" would be outside of one set of space and time, but still be in another. So, he's outside of his program having influence on it, but he's still a physical entity in his universe.

The whole reason theists posit God being outside of space and time is because of the cosmological argument. They'll state that everything needs a cause and the universe is no exception. So, they'll say God is that cause. If you ask them what caused God, they want to avoid infinite regress, so they'll state that God has no cause. This is, of course, special pleading, so they need to give a reason why God is immune to the very rule that makes him "necessary".

Thus, they claim God to be outside of our normal notions of causality. Now, going back to your programmer analogy, in this case, God would just be in a different universe with it's own causality, which would beg the question: what started that universe?

...and we'd be right back to infinite regress.
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06-05-2015, 06:29 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
(06-05-2015 06:11 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(06-05-2015 03:56 AM)akeki Wrote:  Hello there. Often when discussing what it means for god to be outside our space and time, I get the thought of virtual realities and programmers. From virtual reality standpoint, the programmer is a god. Programmer can do everything: create space and matter out of nowhere, pause the whole virtual reality, jump into any time, read everybody's minds etc.

I haven't read the blog, but just based on this:

In this analogy, "God" would be outside of one set of space and time, but still be in another. So, he's outside of his program having influence on it, but he's still a physical entity in his universe.

The whole reason theists posit God being outside of space and time is because of the cosmological argument. They'll state that everything needs a cause and the universe is no exception. So, they'll say God is that cause. If you ask them what caused God, they want to avoid infinite regress, so they'll state that God has no cause. This is, of course, special pleading, so they need to give a reason why God is immune to the very rule that makes him "necessary".

Thus, they claim God to be outside of our normal notions of causality. Now, going back to your programmer analogy, in this case, God would just be in a different universe with it's own causality, which would beg the question: what started that universe?

...and we'd be right back to infinite regress.

That is true. But my analogy isn't meant to deal with that precisely, but something very close to it. Because from the perspective of program-creatures, the programmer is outside their time and space. For them the programmer is everywhere at once, knowing everything he/she wishes to know. For them, the programmer is timeless. And also on a level of existance they can't reach by any means. The real answer to cosmological argument (IMO) is that we don't know anything about god, and that because of that it's impossible to say anything about it.

And that's what the analogy is good for in my opinion. The programmer himself/herself has complete control about what the creatures inside the program know about him.

In my opinion the analogy is good for many many issues, and I believe that religious people would agree at least with the start position of it: that the programmer is a god of a program.
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06-05-2015, 07:07 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
In your analogy, the only motivation for this programmer is entertainment at the expense of the programs and of course there are an almost infinite number of options to derive entertainment from this programmed world that don't involve making your creations suffer.

This would also reveal some things about the programmer:

1. They are far from perfect, they NEED entertainment, they NEED worship.

2. This programmer is making vague promises about living AFTER you die?

Why does a program need to die? How exactly would this program live in the "real" world of the programmer after it undergoes this "death"?
We know no mechanism that would do this, so the programmer is probably lying, all of it's programs will simply cease to be after they are expunged from the memory.

But it would entertain the programmer to make it's programs behave according to their belief of a life after disconnect.

3. This programmer is a capricious prick. Angry

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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06-05-2015, 07:37 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
The thing is, your programmer can also be living in a virtual reality too with his or her own programmer.

In this scenario there is no ultimate real world. Its all virtual. Its the brain in a vat.

This kind of thinking reduces a human life to the level of a video game life. No good can come from the devaluation of others.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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06-05-2015, 07:46 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
(06-05-2015 06:29 AM)akeki Wrote:  The real answer to cosmological argument (IMO) is that we don't know anything about god, and that because of that it's impossible to say anything about it.

The real answer to the cosmological argument is that no one knows how the universe started, so we shouldn't insert assumed stop-gaps as substitute answers.


(06-05-2015 06:29 AM)akeki Wrote:  And that's what the analogy is good for in my opinion. The programmer himself/herself has complete control about what the creatures inside the program know about him.

In my opinion the analogy is good for many many issues, and I believe that religious people would agree at least with the start position of it: that the programmer is a god of a program.

Yes, in a completely nonfalsifiable way. Picture this counter analogy:

If the programmer is completely inaccessible to the programs, what reason do they have to assume there is a programmer? If he doesn't announce his presence, they'd be foolish to assume he's there.
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06-05-2015, 08:48 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
Perhaps a virtual reality world is why we have observed certain peculiarities when observing the small quantum world?! When we attempt to measure a particle, we change the nature of the Universe. Maybe the programmers have hidden something from us. Thoughts?
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06-05-2015, 09:17 AM
RE: Virtual reality thought experiment
(06-05-2015 07:46 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(06-05-2015 06:29 AM)akeki Wrote:  The real answer to cosmological argument (IMO) is that we don't know anything about god, and that because of that it's impossible to say anything about it.

The real answer to the cosmological argument is that no one knows how the universe started, so we shouldn't insert assumed stop-gaps as substitute answers.

Yeah. That was what I was trying to say. It's impossible to say anything about the existence of any god, therefore it's not wise to believe in any.

Quote:
(06-05-2015 06:29 AM)akeki Wrote:  And that's what the analogy is good for in my opinion. The programmer himself/herself has complete control about what the creatures inside the program know about him.

In my opinion the analogy is good for many many issues, and I believe that religious people would agree at least with the start position of it: that the programmer is a god of a program.

Yes, in a completely nonfalsifiable way. Picture this counter analogy:

If the programmer is completely inaccessible to the programs, what reason do they have to assume there is a programmer? If he doesn't announce his presence, they'd be foolish to assume he's there.

I'm getting the feeling that you are misunderstanding my point, and that in the end we think the same.

When theist talks about there being a god and claiming that he knows anything about said god, I think the programmer analogy clears it out why I think it's not justified to claim that. The programmer could be there, no doubt about that, but we don't [i]know[/] if that is the case. And even if we did know for certain that there is a programmer, that still won't get us anywhere because we have absolutely no idea who it is. And even if we really knew who it was, we couldn't tell if he/she was lying to us. But if a programmer wanted the program inhabitants to be aware of his/her existence, he/she would have tons of possibilities to show that 100% no doubt: write it on the sky, insert it into person scripts etc.

And a big point is that if I created a virtual world similar to our real world and treated my creations the same way as god of the bible did, would people think I was a good person? Inherited punishments, genocides etc. That makes it really concrete for a believer, I think. It brings the issue closer to human level.
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