The Simulation Hypothesis and The Quantum Mechanical Computer of the Universe: A New Argument for the Existence of God By Dr John Jensen

The Simulation Argument

      Philosophers, and some physicists have speculated about the world not being “real” as we normally think but being a computer simulation, as seen in the Matrix movies. For example, British philosopher Nick Bostrom wrote a now iconic paper, “Are You Living in a computer Simulation? Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 53, 2003, pp. 243-255. There he reasoned that with runaway technological advancements in computing power, and the reaching of a singularity producing post-human superintelligences, the post-human civilisation may run ancestor simulation on their computers. Given the standard assumption in the materialist paradigm of the philosophy of mind, that these simulated minds would be conscious (minds are just computers), then it could well be that the vast majority of minds like ours could actually be simulations, and given the vast number of simulations run, it would be more likely that we are among the simulated minds, rather than the original biological minds.

     As he puts it: “If there were a substantial chance that our civilisation will ever get to the post human stage and run many ancestor-simulations, then how come you are not living in such a simulation?” Bostrom’s argument can be attacked at many fronts, especially from our perspective from rejecting his materialist/functionist theory of mind. But, running with the madness, it seems even from the post-human perspective, that the super-computer minds of his hypothetical future would have no interest at all in running simulations of ancestors. Even if such beings did come to exist, which I very much doubt God would allow, if it was possible, why should they waste time modelling such primitives when they could be working on unimaginably complex mathematical problems, the likes of which we could not even comprehend? It seems then that Bostrom’s simulation argument falls apart before it even gets going.

     Nevertheless, there is more to this idea than meets the eye. A strong case has been made by Max Tegmark in Our Mathematical Universe (Allen lane 2014), that our universe, and indeed the multiverse, is fundamentally mathematical in nature, that physical reality is a mathematical structure. That seems to be too crazy to be believed, until more deeply thought through in the light of modern physics. Physicist John Wheeler, after doing ground-breaking work in quantum mechanics concluded that physical reality was informational at its foundation “every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself – derives its function, its meaning and its very existence entirely …  from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits.” This is his “it from bit” principle, which “symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom … an immaterial source and explanation: that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe.”

     Theoretical physicist James Gates has claimed to have uncovered error correcting codes in equations related to string theory, and these equations are identical to the computer code used in browsers, to put it roughly. He gives an exposition in his paper, “Symbols of Power,” Physics World, vol. 23, 2010. He states (p.39); “… codes play a previously unsuspected role in equations that possess the property of supersymmetry. This unsuspected connection suggests that these codes may be ubiquitous in nature, and could even be embedded in the essence of reality. If this is the case, we might have something in common with the Matrix science-fiction films, which depict a world where everything human beings experience is the product of a virtual-reality-generating computer network.”

Enter Quantum Mechanics

     In a fascinating paper by Bernard Haisch, “Is the Universe a Vast, Consciousness-Created Virtual Reality Simulation?” Cosmos and History, vol. 10, 2014, Haisch argues that quantum mechanics gives evidence for the simulation view. To take but one example, light behaves in ways that is contrary to common sense in many physics experiments, such as the two slit experiment:

“A similar experiment is easily done in a science lab with a laser and a screen with two narrow slits. Have the laser beam be wide enough to shine on both slits, then cover up one of the slits. As light from the laser passes through the open slit, a pattern will appear on the wall behind the slit. This pattern is due to spreading out of light, a process called diffraction and in this case specifically single-slit diffraction. Now if you open the second slit, light going through each slit will still undergo diffraction, but in addition light from both slits will interfere with each other. This yields a double-slit interference pattern that is quite different from the single-slit interference pattern. These experiments are easily explained by picturing light as a wave.

With a bit of geometry you can show how and where the peaks and troughs of the waves will reinforce or cancel yielding the patterns on the wall. In the double-slit interference experiment, assume that the laser beam has been turned down so low that only one photon at a time reaches the two open slits. It is natural to assume that an individual photon can only go through one of the slits or the other. If that is the case, then if we let a pattern accumulate on the wall it should be a single-slit pattern because each photon can only go through one or the other. Wrong! So long as both slits are open a double-slit pattern is what builds up even though the photons were passing through one at a time with each photon long gone before the next one comes along. How is this possible? The conventional explanation is that each photon somehow “knew” that even though it went through slit A, slit B was also in the open position. Or alternatively, even though it went through slit B, it “knew” that slit A was also open.”

    So how does the “photon” know what to do? The standard answer, given by Richard Feynman is the path integral formulation or the sum over histories, described by S.  Hawking and L.  Mlodinow in their book, The Grand Design (2010), as follows:

“Feynman realized one does not have to interpret that to mean that particles take no path as they travel between source and screen. It could mean instead that particles take every possible path connecting those points…. The situation at both slits matters because, rather than following a single definite path, particles take every path and they take them all simultaneously. That sounds like science fiction, but it isn’t…. In the double-slit experiment Feynman’s ideas mean the particles take paths that thread through the first slit, back out though the second slit, and then through the first again; paths that visit the restaurant that serves that great curried shrimp, and then circle Jupiter a few times before heading home; even paths that go across the universe and back. This, in Feynman’s view, explains how the particle acquires the information about which slits are open….”

    This is probably the less weird aspect of quantum mechanics, a photon travelling the entire universe in zero time! This in Haisch’s view indicates that the universe is primarily not physical at all, but mental. A program could very easily describe what the elementary particles/waves (and particles have a wave-like nature as well), actually do. Haisch does not go on to make the obvious conclusion here, but if the world is a simulation, then there must be a Universal Mind programming the computer of the universe behind it all. Evidence of this must therefore be written into the very fabric of reality. Does this mean that we are not “real” and just pre-determined entities, like the characters in a film? Is the universe then a vast movie? Hardly. The Universal Mind, which we can call “God,” is free to create beings which have freewill built into their essence. In fact, the problem with determinism really lies in the materialist version of reality, where the law of causality requires an endless chain of causes leading back into the past, seemingly making freewill impossible. But, on the view that the universe is primarily mental, not physical, this problem dissolves, for there is no such universal law of causality, because what we think of as things in the word, are more like ideas in the mind of God. God can will free will upon us:

     Along with this, the mind-body problem is neatly solved since there is no longer any ontological problem of explaining how an immaterial mind causally interacts with a physical body. There are no physical bodies as such, and what we take to be such bodies are constructs created by God. Most existential problems of existence thus fall into place. The Holy Bible takes things much further than the bare bones of natural philosophy and gives us more precise answers about the meaning of human life and destiny. We must study it intensely as it contains the meaning of reality, this world and beyond. It is the reality of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It,  Jacques, Act II, Scene VII



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