The simulationist argument
In response to a scientific article two people wrote very dissonant comments. One, Rebekkah, condemned science and recited a very narrow fundamentalist view of the world. The other, Joshua declared emphatically that religion was entirely bogus and that all he could see was all that there is.
Science vs religion again eh? Rebekkah”s diatribe is no sillier than Joshua”s categorical absolutism. Our universe appears to have been fine tuned for intelligent life. Better explanations than chance are: (a) God, (b) a multiverse (a virtually infinite number of universes), or (c) both. (See John Leslie)
Option (b) makes the best logical starting point but I can”t imagine (b) without there being many technologically (and ethically) sophisticated civilizations which can, and do, populate countless numbers of what we can think of as full immersion virtual reality simulations with beings like us. The more sophisticated, the more the distinction between the “virtual” and the “real” becomes meaningless.
Think of it. We are on the verge of developing such technology ourselves. What are the odds that no other civilizations have done so? And if they have, aren”t the odds of our being in one of those numerous “simulations” much greater than the odds of being in the one and only “reality”. (See Nick Bostrom)
Perhaps there is no reality underlying these simulations. Physicist Richard Gott III has proposed a manner for a universe to create its own ancestor-universe. This seems even more plausible an explanation for origins when one thinks of these universes as simulations.
So, once upon a time (in most senses not temporally connected to us but in another sense in our future) a technologically and ethically sophisticated being began running a simulation in which another did likewise and so on until one began running the simulation in which the “first” (first in our story anyway) found himself.
Fantasy? Rebekkah would dogmatically dismiss it for rendering a natural explanation for the supernatural. Joshua would dismiss it based on his pseudo-certitude concerning, well, everything. I find the scenario an appealing possibility that suggests that there may be a perfectly rational explanation for all aspects of actual human experience. It is at least cause enough to keep one”s mind at least partially ajar.