About the world as simulation
UPDATE 2022-05-01 07:37 +0300: Read a related discussion, which goes into more depth: Further thoughts on the universe as simulation (2022-05-01).
I received the following via email in response to my presentation about Cosmos, Logos, and the living universe (2022-02-05). I am sharing my reply with permission, while not revealing the identity of my correspondent.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the Cosmos. […] Have you heard about the theory that the universe may be a simulation? How would that affect your ideas?
I am aware of this notion, though I have not read any particular “theory”. My opinion is thus limited by my understanding of what the core claim is: we have no means of knowing whether the universe is real as we are a part of it and so whatever means we have are framed by the universe’s actuality.
In short: I agree. Does this affect my ideas though? No. It does not change my views about the universe, as it still has immanent logos, it still is ever-present (in its self-contained way if we entertain the simulation theory), it still has no true life and death or creation and destruction as everything is in the process of transfiguration. What I believe to be the case about the Cosmos applies to this ostensibly or potentially simulated universe.
Though I hold the same views for the plane of reality where the simulation takes place. If that too is simulated, then for the one superordinate to it, and so on. There has to be some point where no prior simulation takes place. In that world we will still have immanent logos and everything else I have talked about. Why? Because we already know that this originary plane of reality has structure, order, pattern, and hence reason and language. The idea of running a simulation cannot even be conceived in a state of absolute Chaos; “chaos” being the absolute non-Logos. We cannot even think about Chaos but only describe it in terms of negation as it being the opposite of what we can conceive: Logos. Same principle for nothingness or non-Being. It is impossible to describe chaos or nothingness because the very description—the very thought process—is Logos.
Consequently, my views are not limited to the observable world but to all possible worlds a human may reason about.
Since we are here, let me connect something I have said before with this simulation theory. It is about the notion of “revelation” and specifically my view that some exalted being cannot truly reveal itself to us.
Suppose the one who runs the simulation appears in front of you and tells you about their identity. Let’s call this being the “simulation master”. You ask for proof and the simulation master performs all sorts of acts that you interpret as miracles. To your eyes, this being clearly is superior to anything you have seen before or anything humankind knows about. Still, no miracle can ever prove the simulation master’s claim about their identity, because we can only prove that which is within our means of comprehension. We lack the capacity to verify whether this world is a simulation or not because we cannot think beyond what the universe renders possible. There is a terminus. By the same token, we lack the power to comprehend that which is supposed to be greater than the limits of our comprehension. As such, we can only provide assent to the simulation master’s claims by performing a leap of faith: we know the apparent miracles are beyond our abilities and we infer that this being must be who they claim to be.
Hopefully this makes sense. The point is that if we are honest with ourselves, we will have to remain sceptical even in the face of the simulation master: that is what our condition renders possible. I think you can discern the implications.