A few months ago, NBC News posted an article titled “Are We Living in a Simulated Universe? Here’s what Scientists Say.” In the article, Dan Falk suggests that we may be living in a such a simulation, behind which stands an “architect” or a “programmer.” Falk refers to experts who speculate that the brain behind our reality might be an an advanced race of aliens or even our future selves.
When I read Falk’s article, I was not struck by it’s novelty. The ideas presented in the article are not new. Philosophers and scientists have long wrestled with the idea that our reality is merely a result of some sort of computer simulation. Additionally, for well over a decade, video game developers and Hollywood have presented us with variations of this “theory.” Just think about The Sims or The Matrix.
While Falk’s article may not be novel, it is noteworthy on several levels.
First, the article is presented as “science.” It is posted on NBC’s “Science” page. It contains quotes from a number of “scientists.” It is followed by a list of additional “science” articles. Clearly, this theory is being presented within the realm of science, that is, the realm of that which we can observe and test and prove.
Unfortunately, as the article admits, we have absolutely no way to test or observe or prove this theory. Everything discussed in this article really falls within the realm of worldview and faith. Posting the simulation hypothesis on the “science” page is akin to watching Ancient Aliens on the “History Channel.”
Second, the article is really attempting to provide fundamental answers to basic worldview questions about ultimate reality and the meaning of life. Where did we come from? Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is anyone “out there?” These are questions that must be answered by any and every worldview. Worldviews have consequences, and the simulation hypothesis, if accepted as true, has enormous impact on the way we think about ourselves, each other, morality, and eternity.
Third, from a Christian perspective, the article repeatedly approaches the truth before retreating into baseless speculation. For example, Falk notes that the simulation hypothesis has similarities to the creation story found in Genesis. Falk also notes that the simulation hypothesis should make us feel a certain way about ourselves, namely, humble in light of the great intelligence that stands behind our simulated existence.
The Christian hears these suggestions and immediately knows there are answers to the big questions of life. The people who subscribe to the simulation hypothesis want to know about origins and purpose. The Bible tells us that there is in fact an “Architect.” The Bible tells us that the Creator has not only designed human life, but also revealed himself to human beings. This revelation has come first through creation (Psalm 19) and second through Jesus Christ (John 1). This means we don’t have to wait for an error message in the simulation to know there is a Creator. We simply have to look at creation and consider Jesus Christ.
The Bible also describes our purpose. We are created in the image of God. We are created to know God, reflect God, enjoy God, worship God, and obey God. Sin prevents us from fulfilling our purpose, but through Jesus Christ we can once again be the people God originally created us to be.
Finally, the search for “truth” represented in this article must be seen for what it is … a denial of and rejection of the one true God. The apostle Paul described this very scenario in Romans 1. He insists that the truth about God is plain to people because of what has been revealed in creation (Romans 1:19-20). He insists that human beings suppress this truth by their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). He insists that while we know there is a God, we neither honor him or give thanks to him (Romans 1:21). He insists that while claiming to be wise, we actual fall into folly by exalting the creation over the Creator (Romans 1:22-23).
You can post an article like this on the “science” page of a major news network. You can quote people with advanced degrees in physics and philosophy. You can appeal to human experience and popular media. But to suggest that we are merely living in a simulated reality is ultimately a denial of and rejection of the Creator.