John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Sat, 16 Nov 1996 21:32:56 -0800 (PST)


On Fri, 15 Nov 1996 Michael Lorrey <retroman@tpk.net> Wrote:

>Of course were it running these simulations as computational
>devices, it would obviously wish to run them start to finish
>without interruption, like any scientist would.

But it's not a simulation because there is nothing to simulate, in your
scenario God makes the universe to solve problems and make interesting
structures. I can't see any reason except perversity to start such a universe
at such a low level, not help us out when we get into serious trouble, and
most important of all, not give us at the very start the inheritance of
acquired characteristics. I'm no saint but I couldn't sleep at night if I
knew that generations of conscious beings were suffering horribly in my

>It [God] would also be omniscient within that simulation, in
>it would neccessarily have a complete understanding of the
>entire workings of that simulation.

"God" would know the basic laws of physics in the world created by His
computer, but that does NOT mean He "would necessarily have a complete
understanding of the entire workings of that simulation". In the cellular
automation universe of the "Game of Life" the physics is very simple yet it
creates extraordinary patterns of great complexity, and the only way to
figure out what it will do next is to run it and see. You can learn the
physics (rules) of Chess in a few minutes, and spend a lifetime learning just
some of its ramifications.

>> John:
>>We may not be the first, but until the evidence suggests
>>otherwise it's wise to assume the simplest theory as your
>>working hypothesis.

>What is the simplest theory that actually axplains
>everything? If you have one, you deserve the Nobel, cause
>I haven't heard it....

If I could explain EVERYTHING I would deserve far more than a Nobel,
even conferring the title of "God" on me would be far too puny a tribute.

As I said, we may only be the second, and our universe just a program running
on a computer in a Meta universe someplace. But there is no reason to stop
there, this Meta universe could also be a program running in a computer in a
Meta Meta universe, but no reason to stop there either. We end up with an
infinite number of computers and universes, but somehow that doesn't seem
very simple to me, and anyway it wouldn't help a bit with the biggest
unanswered question of all, Why is there something rather than nothing?

I don't think the human mind is able to conceive of a more difficult question.
I have about as much chance of correctly answering that as pigs have of
flying, so I will focus on a much simpler, though still very difficult
question. What general form would the answer have to be in for it to be
satisfactory? Clearly "the universe exists because it should" is not
satisfactory because it implies the existence of ethical laws and existence
is what we are trying to prove in the first place. The anthropomorphic answer
that the universe must exist or we wouldn't be here to ask the question,
is true but just begs the question, why are we here? Any answer in the form
"the universe exists because of X " will never satisfy us because it
immediately suggests another very obvious unanswered question.

The only halfway adequate way to explain it is if it could be shown that
"nothing" was somehow self contradictory so there must be "something".
Needless to say I have no idea how to do this. Even in this case however it
assumes the existence of logical laws, such as the law forbidding
contradictions. Being logically self consistent doesn't prove a thing's
existence (Moravec would disagree), so why does being self inconsistent prove
it does not exist?

I love logic, I think its useful in solving all problems, except this one.
I don't know if the question even makes sense. The first word of this question
is "why" which means " what is the reason". Reason implies logic and logic is
something. So we are asked to find a logical reason for reality, but clearly
we can't use logic to find it, after all, that would be illogical. This sort
of thing could give circular reasoning a bad name because it's totally
without meaning.

Or is it? All the definitions in a dictionary are made of words, and those
words also have definitions made of other words also in the dictionary,
and round and round we go. Is a dictionary totally without meaning?
I suppose that all depends on what meaning means.

>>Then why call this being "God"? You must know that it is
>>burdened with more baggage than any other word in the
>>English language.

>What? John, I thought you were the premier taboo buster
>around these parts! Such preconceptions should not burden

Preconceptions about words do burden me. When I use a familiar word in a
unfamiliar way, I at least try to make that new meaning clear. That's not to
say that ambiguity and unusual uses of words don't have a place, but it's in
Poetry not Science.

>We use the word "computer" everyday in ways completly
>divorced from its original meaning (a job description for a
>person with a slide rule).

Yes, when I use the word "computer" it is divorced from its original meaning,
but not from its common meaning. My use of the word rarely causes confusion
because I did not make up a new meaning out of thin air. On the other hand,
if I said I went to Burger King, bought a computer, put some ketchup on it,
and then ate it, people might be puzzled.

>Creating a new definition for God should be an easy step..

Yes, very easy, far, far, too easy. There are so many they have lost all

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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