Simulation Hypothesis as Deism

Claim: Simulation Theory is synonymous with Deism (and perhaps Theism).

Any crafted universe may be considered a ‘simulation,’ no matter how rudimentary or advanced it may be. If a Judeo-Christian god decides to articulate a universe like our own, one may call that work a simulation. That god could be thought of like any other programmer or engineer, scripting the motion of atoms and the laws of matter in whatever incomprehensibly advanced cosmic language they might have at their disposal.

If Simulation Theory posits that this universe is an artificial simulation, it therefore supposes that something must have created this simulation. This proposal is synonymous with Deism (and possibly Theism), which propose that an intelligent god created our universe.

It would be hubris to then try and argue that such an architect might not, deliberately or inadvertently, layer their own seemingly perverse laws, moralistic systems, punishment mechanisms and afterlife schemas into their cruel work. Such an engineer might not even realize the moralistic subjectivity and inherent bias in their universe. These moralistic systems, of course, would be hewn into the very structure of their universe: absolute, inarguable, immovable moral codes that no denizen of this simulation could change, whether or not they chose to agree or disagree, and no matter how much anguish, rage or suffering these codes might cause. Perhaps the moral values of the god are inherited from the absolute, immovable laws of the crafted universe in which they themselves reside, passed down recursively to us.

In essence, the Simulation Hypothesis is synonymous with Deism. One cannot claim to be both an Atheist and also a subscriber to the Simulation Hypothesis: if they claim both, one must be false. Conversely, I might go so far as to consider a religious person a sort of Simulation Theorist, who believes in a very particular simulation.

The Simulation Hypothesis is synonymous with Deism, but may or may not be synonymous with Theism, which suggests that the creator would interact with its creation. Certainly, a creator could interact with their universe – but we have no idea if they would or not. Our claim – that Simulation Theory is synonymous with Deism – is one of purely syntactical distinction and not one of speculation. Claiming that Simulation Theory was synonymous with Theism would be an act of speculation, or possibly faith.

We humans design our own (rudimentary, simplistic) simulated universes. Look no farther than our video games, or even an experience like Dungeons and Dragons. I would even argue that film and literature could be considered simulated universes – one dimensional, deterministic universes – but universes nonetheless. Our legacy of simulation is as old as language: a heritage we have carried for thousands of years. It walks arm in arm with our greatest and most important legacy: the act of story. Perhaps our own creation mythos are, in fact, a story / simulation of our own devising.

Despite their incredible simplicity, our universes and their inhabitants are real. What kind of sick, twisted laws and systems do we build into our games, literature and film for our own amusement? How cruel are we? Is it cruelty?

Or, more interestingly: what laws do we sow into our own universes in order to learn more about ourselves?

Recommended Reading

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer: one of the most formative books of my adulthood

One thought on “Simulation Hypothesis as Deism

  1. “In essence, the Simulation Hypothesis is synonymous with Deism.”

    Totally agree. In fact, It’s a tautology, semantics. The word “deism” is useless. It’s basically the following claim: “I don’t know what kickstarted this universe, what defined the rules by which it runs. Whatever it is, I hereby declare that I shall use the following word to label it: GOD”.

    “One cannot claim to be both an Atheist and also a subscriber to the Simulation Hypothesis: if they claim both, one must be false”

    I disagree for all practical purposes, but could theoretically agree if you blow up the definition of “athiesm” (or rather, “theism”) so far to make it useless. My version of “atheism” is simply a claim that the world obeys natural laws, and that there is no evidence of outside agents reaching into this universe, manipulating it, adjusting or bypassing those laws. I can stand by that claim, even if some “simulator” or “god” kickstarted the universe, and I’ll continue to use “atheism” or “naturalism” to describe this philosophy, as long as I see no evidence of miracles or supernatural phenomena that disrupt those laws.

    I draw a boundary around our observable universe, and can only take philosophical positions about what goes on inside that boundary. None of the words I use to describe these philosophies are intended to make claims about what goes on outside that boundary, because it would be nonsensical to do so.

    Could we live in a simulation? sure. Are we likely to live in a simulation? Maybe. I could buy it. Will I still call myself an atheist, because I see no evidence of supernatural agents interacting inside our universe, breaking physical laws, doing magic or miracles? absolutely.


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