Today’s philosophy lecture freaked me out a little.
So the question was: What if we’re all just living in a simulation?
If you think about it, our brains are really just computers, but made out of organic material – proteins, carbon-based molecules – without diving into the sciencey specifics.
A bunch of neurons firing and receiving electrical signals in really complicated patterns. Just like computers without the squishy masses.
Our conscious experiences seem to be just electricity. How?! How indeed am I able to feel like a distinct being, to create thought, to feel things just from sparks in my head?
In theory, if we could somehow replicate the exact eletrical signals in our brains, could we also create conscious thought?
Well okay, that’s only if we believe in a really reductionist perspective – that we’re all simply a reduction of chemicals and electrical signals. But if our souls were some kind of magical life force, like a glowing sphere of energy stuck specifically to a physical body, it probably wouldn’t work. No one knows how souls work so we can’t ever know unless we do create something as complicated as a man-made brain.
Just the thought of the essence of me being just electrical signals, with no purpose or design freaked me out. It’s like my own thoughts are really just illusions of some kind of will, and Illusions are scary because it’s like living one giant fat lie.
But along the lines of recreated life, the point of simulated life was also brought up. Like if you could stimulate the neurons in our brains in the exact way they actually do get stimulated when interacting with our physical world, wouldn’t it feel exactly the same as reality?
You wouldn’t be able to tell exactly what’s real and what’s not.
Kind of like a dream, but our dreams feel like half-assed reconstructions of reality, like a 144p video that’s blurry with logical holes and inconsistencies. But even then dreams can feel so real when you’re in it, and you forget that you actually exist somewhere else.
Then again isn’t life really a simulation anyways? Isn’t our life here on earth a simulation of free will run by God so that He can sort out who would really choose to love Him and who doesn’t? Isn’t our real life in another dimension, waiting for us after time in this life ends?
When we finally die here, we’ll wake up in where we really belong, right?
It’s like the end of the game, shutting down of the programme we’ve been living in.
Isn’t that scary?
I guess it’s only scary because it feels like I’m talking about some man-made evil illusion that’s tricking everyone into thinking that their lives are real.
But God didn’t create just a programme, He created life, and agencies within us capable of choice and intent. Maybe a programme is a crude way of describing the inexplicable complexities of life, and it really falls short of describing truly how glorious life is. We are indeed programmed to be something, to think and to choose.
We’re beings. To be something. We are something.
When we really get down to the question of what it means to be, things get really strange.
As I was watching a vlog this afternoon on my couch, I realised how life simulations aren’t really a sci-fi futuristic concept. We already use simulations to pass time right now.
Aren’t television shows and dramas all ways in which we escape reality to see, experience, feel and think things we’d never have felt in our normal lives?
I was lying down on my couch for an hour with my phone being entertained by someone else’s life. Take away my phone and you’d just have a Rachel lying down on her couch staring into blank space for an hour. None of what I watched or experienced was “real”.
But yet it didn’t feel like I was doing something meaningless, and it certainly didn’t feel like I was doing nothing. I learned things, and felt things, I laughed at funny moments, identified with certain emotions the vlogger was describing, I felt like I really was witnessing the life of someone I knew right in front of me, like it’s the same as if I was watching a friend play with her kids in her living room.
What is “real” then? Everything we experience is “real” to us. Whatever inputs go through our brain is something that exists, in the form of neuron signals.
Of course the part of life that makes things feel real isn’t really just all about our experiences, but in what we actually do with our time.
It’s just such a strange feeling to attempt to seperate your conscious mind from your physical body, to think of yourself as a being that’s beyond what you can touch. Like i’m really just a cloud of information attached to this fleshly body.