X-Message-Number: 11688
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 16:04:39 -0400
From: Brook Norton <>
Subject: Emulations and God

Tom Donaldson, in msg 11680, says:  

>This is an answer to Mike Perry:  

You seem to believe that the notion that we are emulations in a computer
already has some value, even though there is no experimental evidence for

that idea. I will be stronger here: just what difference does this notion

have from the belief that there is a God (or gods)? Those who like
theology are welcome to it, but it does not become less theological if we
believe in a Programmer rather than a God.<  

You make a good point but I think there is a good answer as to why a
Programmer and God are different.  You ask for experimental evidence that

we are in an emulation.  There is none, in the same sense that there is no
evidence that cryonics will work.  The case for being in an emulation and

the case for cryonics both depend on examining evidence that the
fundamental technology is workable and is being developed in labs
today..then logically extrapolating to where that technology will lead. 
In the case of emulations, the evidence is that computer technology works
and is 

improving rapidly.  Artificial life is currently being programmed and one

would expect it to become increasing sophisticated over time.  I think it

reasonable to extrapolate and say the artificial life might some day
become aware.  It may be necessary to use a special chip that creates the

time and space relations so as to become a functioning self-circuit.  But

one way or another, the computers might someday become aware.  If we
choose not to communicate with some or all of them so they can evolve
independently then they may be unaware that they are emulations.  And
their eventual emulations will be unaware, etc.  If this is plausible,
then how 

can we tell which level of the emulation we are on?  There is no evidence

to point that we are at the top level.  In fact, odds are, given a
multi-level emulation environment, that we are not at the top "real"

Contrast this with the case for God.  The claim is that there is being
that can break the laws of nature at will and that He created the

From my perspective there is no evidence that this is true.  And there is
no current technology that when extrapolated leads to the conclusion that

God exists.  Granted, there is no evidence that God does NOT exist.  But
to postulate God just adds another layer... instead of asking where did
the universe come from, we fall back a level and ask where did God come

This is not as persuasive as the case for emulations.  

For various reasons, I don't think we are emulations but I'm not yet

Brook Norton  

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