Simulated people, Christianity, and God's rationale

There’ve been two threads so far considering if we’re really simulated conciousness, a la “brain in a vat” scenarios, and if it’s moral to allow suffering of such people if you’re the creator. Here’s a third.

Suppose you were able to give a simulated world consciousness. It’s like you’re plaing Black&White or The Sims but far more advanced. Would you hide yourself and your powers from the sims, saying that only those that believed you existed would be able to witness your powers and abilities to edit their world in a Godly way? If so, would the more faithful see more of your awesomeness than the “aprogrammerists”? Or would you try to reach out to all the sims, letting them know you are there, controlling their world?

In other words, if you were a “normal” human but God to sims, would you let them know it? To what extent and to whom? Just how smitefull/blessing would you be?

What does this have to do with Christianity? Are you proposing that the physical miracles that Chrisitans claim have occurred actually happened for them, but not for the unbelievers?

(That must have come as a shock to that Pharoh, who suddenly found himself drowning while he thought he was chopping up Isralites on the shore of the red sea.)

That said, I maintain that belief in a heaven or afterlife logically requires the believer to also think that the current world is an unreal simulation. Does that relate to the topic?

It’d just be a game to me, and I’d probably run several concurrent worlds… one in which I could be the sadistic evil God, one of which I’d be a benevolent, one in which I’d be obvious and some where I’d just let the world run itself… and as for the inhabitants? Too bad. I’m higher on the food chain than them and I don’t think I need to feel any more sympathy for them than I do for the bacteria living in my body that depends on me to survive.

I’d fiddle around with all the different modes of godhood, and then eventually I’d just get bored with all the games, uninstall them (wiping out a couple billion AI creatures in the meantime) and move on to more interesting things.

The only exception would be if I befriended or fell in love with a virtual being, at which point I’d probably act different towards them. Compassion is only natural.

shrug. I don’t think my own consciousness is anything more than a complex algorithm, and I think a fully conscious simulator would only be a more complicated, not more valuable, version of Black & White. Life is life, however complicated it is. Give me any living creature, natural or artificial, and it’ll either be a potential companion to me (e.g. other humans, pets) or it’ll just be food or background fauna.

However, thinking more realistically, I suspect AI beings would be a strange mix of the first and third categories… and all in all this sounds like a potentially highly stressful situation for me as the god. They’d probably end up being too human for me to treat them as playthings without feeling guilt, and as soon as I get caught up in their affairs I’d probably feel obliged to either help them with all their issues or get overwhelmed by the sheer impossibility of it all and give up – kinda like Bruce Almighty? How could I play god when I can barely deal with the Sims and B&W? I’d probably just let the world run itself or not at all, not out of any moral concern to them, but because I wouldn’t want to become emotionally attached.

I was thinking more along the lines of James 4:8, “Draw nearer to God and he’ll draw nearer to you.” That is, the more faith you have, the more you will witness the glory of god. The question then, is if YOU were God (not from heaven over the earth, but from a computer over the Sims) would you require faith before you let a sim know of your existence? Would a sim have to say “Hey, I believe this is a simulation and there must be a programmer watching me” before you say to him “Yeah, I’m here. Watch these fish multiply.” Would you hide yourself from people that didn’t know or didn’t think you existed, from everyone, or from no one?

ETA: And for your “happened for them” question, I mean more like “In front of them miraculously” as opposed to while no one was looking.

No, I don’t think I would reveal myself to only the faithful. This is a (obviously) a pretty different situation, with the important differences being that I as a programmer am not the arbiter of morality or omnipotent.

I think the deciding factor for me would be “Are they capable of understanding this? Will I accidentally cause madness by revealing myself?” If not, then sure, I would.

Well, I often hear from Christians that God has absolute rights over us because he made us; that he has the right to kill us, torture us, neglect us, determine our purpose and moral code just because he ( supposedly ) made us. So, would we have rights over intelligent creatuires we made ?

Better hope they don’t find a way to get out then. And do you condemn, say, Hitler or Stalin for what they did ? And if you do, how does that fit with your “I have more power so I can brutalize and kill all I want” theory ?

As for me, I’d make it obvious that I made the world, the nature of them and their world, and try to make it as pleasant a place as I could.

I would save Heaven for the philosophers and seekers, and that would only come after they died “the first death.” So, I would have an afterlife. As for everything else, I would give all of the creatures their own traits laced with tidbits of my own personality, so that kindness and generosity were emotionally rewarding to both the giver and the recipient. I would also make it natural for those who are angry and judgmental to suffer from stress-related illness, such as ulcers, to make them self-destructive, unless they choose a lifestyle of “goodness.” Still, life for each of them would be a trial because the corrupted lifestyle some choose would have consequences for the innocent, but I would expect the seekers to use that as a reason to seek the Me in my universe.

It would take quite a powerful machine and intricate programming to allow me to create such a virtual world, and to let me always know everything that happens in it. The good part would be that I would basically observe. I’d be tempted to put Superman into the world. Maybe I would, but I’d make him invisible and spiritual. Maybe a whole legion of Supermen, and give them all free will.

Another vote for “it’s just a game”. Have fun. I probably wouldn’t have much fun torturing the sims, but I’d play at least a few simulations with different strategies for each. Each of the different strategies I try would be attempting to maximize their happiness and sense of self-fulfilment.

First I’d probably try rnning a challenging environment, where the sims have to struggle, work hard, and be quite clever to thrive. This might produce the happiest sims, because I know nothing in my life has been more fulfilling than seeing the reward for hard work.

I’d also try to do a “I am here, watching and protecting all of you because I love you” game, too. I think feeling loved is vital for happiness, but it conflicts with the previous game, where the sims could feel a maximum sense of accomplishment. Where’s the accomplishment in having everything you need handed to you?

Anyway, the point is that I’d treat them more like pets than humans.

You know what would be awesome, though? If these sims developed a theory of psychology, were aware of my existence, and developed a way to play ME. I could be happily banging away at the keyboard, totally unaware that these superior intelligences are manipulating me into doing exactly what they want me to do.

Regarding the AI people, you know, even if I treated them well, I think their population will just grow and grow and more mutations would occur and eventually I’d lose control and even lose count of them, and I wouldn’t doubt that the more aggressive and selfish among them would, if they ever escaped, attempt to overthrow me and take my place as the god of their world. In any case, like I said, I’d probably prefer to just not get involved in the first place. I don’t particularly enjoy either abusing or caring for other lifeforms – I’m just too lazy.

As for Stalin or Hitler, I wouldn’t really “condemn” them anymore than I’d condemn a lion who eats a giraffe. I see the entire animal kingdom, humans included, as one big power grab… simple animals living according to their simple natures. Our higher intelligence, I believe, enables us to do this in more complicated ways, but I think it still boils down to power and mating.

Whether I’d support either of them is a different question, and would probably depend on the circumstances I happened to be in (i.e. whether I was a healthy Aryan Nazi or a homosexual Jew). I think that, if either of them survived and controlled the world, I would not be the person I am today because the world I was brought up in would’ve been very different. They would control the education and upbringing of many countries, which would mean they would control the cultures, values, and moralities of these controls. I could easily have been brainwashed from birth into believing that they were the ultimate examples of human righteousness – hell, Spartan society did that very thing to their citizens.

I’ll tell you this much: the current me would not support either person’s agenda, but NOT because I think what they do is immoral. Rather, I think what they do is ultimately “not useful”. As the selfish creature that I believe I am, I’m always watching out for myself and I think that neither person’s plans would be beneficial for my long-term survival and contentedness. I believe that the best chance for me to achieve and maintain happiness would be to live in a society full of like-minded, generally non-violent people who balance self-interest with societal interest, because I believe only a carefully maintained equilibrium of the two can prevent dangerous, violent competition between individuals and allow people to focus on more interesting things and bigger dreams than basic day-to-day survival. I would prefer a safe and calm utopia for all because that would mean a safe and calm utopia for me.

Stalin and Hitler’s agendas seemed too impractical and unrealistic. They seemed far more likely to provoke random uprisings, violence, coups d’etat and such than maintain peace and order in the long run. It’s easy for militaristic societies like that to maintain peace, order, and effectiveness during wartime, but once they run out of enemies, I think internal civil strife would be inevitable. After all, all the powerful people in that kind of society would be the aggressive, dangerous, ambitious types. IOW, I wouldn’t support them not because I think they’re evil, but because I think they’re just asking for (eventual) trouble.

On the other hand, I WOULD be in favor of a perfectly controlled, “ideal” society if such a thing could be made and maintained – something like the clones of Star Wars, perfectly bred, perfectly brainwashed, and perfectly trained from birth to death. That, or even better, something like the Borg, incapable of competition within the species.

I would also support an alternative: Complete nothingness. I don’t think life has any intrinsic value above non-life, so if the entire universe disappeared overnight, I wouldn’t complain either. Not that I’d be around to even if I wanted to :slight_smile:

Did you know that archeologists have found the tomb of the Pharoh who was supposed to have drowned in the Red sea and also the tombs of his 50 sons who were all adult? So his first born wasn’t slain as a baby, nor did the Pharoh drown.

This was of course Ramses the 2d.


I wouldn’t care whether my sims believed in me or not, I would care how they treated each other. I’d probably be way way too interfering in that respect, punishing and rewarding.

And vice versa, FWIW. You may not feel sympathy for the bacteria, but their continued well-being is most certainly in your best interests.

For what it’s worth, there’s some disagreement about whether he was the Pharoh in Exodus.

That maybe true,but the Pharohs of that era are all been accounted for,so most Historians accept that Ramses the 2d, would have had to be Pharoh, because of the time frame that he ruled.

The Exodus has also been questioned as there is no sign of a large group of people living in the desert ,but there has been found where small family like groups went through the desert. And to stay in the desert for 40 years would have been absurd.

Even Moses being a historical man is disputed, because Had he been raised by a Pharoh’s wife the Egyptians would have written about him, as they were ones to write down most of the things important to them. Also, there was (recorded) some of the Israelites fighting in an other era at that time if the history books are accurate.