Daniel Jackson

Atheists are embracing Gods and creationism

Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor and entrepreneur, the twenty-first century’s answer to Howard Hughes, believes we are living in a computer simulation. The chances that we exist in ‘base reality’ are billions to one, he says.

Last week he told an audience of Silicon Valley tech evangelists:

‘Forty years ago we had Pong. Like, two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were.’ ‘Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic, 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, even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now. Then you just say, okay, let’s imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.’

His argument – that, given the increasing pace of progress in computer technology, we will eventually be able to synthesise reality and consciousness – is an abbreviated version of a 2003 paper by Nick Bostrom, a philosophy Professor at Oxford.

The paper suggests that if we aren’t living in a simulation, civilisation will end before we are able to reach the ‘posthuman’ age. The detail and the terminology isn’t important; the idea is bunkum, the sort of thing that’s fun to think about on psilocybin, but not much use otherwise.

What’s interesting is the way in which atheists are embracing the idea – or at least the possibility – of creationism. If we are living in a simulation, someone or something had to create it. True believers regard Bostrom’s trilemma with the same reverence thirteenth-century seminarians treated Thomas Aquinas’s Five Proofs.

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