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Allen J Epling

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Is Reality Just a Computer Simulation?
by Allen J Epling   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Similarities between physical behavior at the quantum level, and computer programs, suggest maybe the universe is a running computer program.

There are two famous experiments in quantum physics that demonstrate a single point. The outcome of both experiments is not "real" until the person doing the experiment makes an "observation" of the outcome.

 In the famous 'Schrödinger's Cat" experiment, quantum physics says that the cat is both dead and alive in a 'probability' state until the observer opens the box and observes the outcome. At that point the "probability state" "collapses" and the outcome becomes 'real'.

In the "double slit" experiment, the outcome is determined entirely by which or two types of measurements the experimenter makes. Any attempt to change the type of 'measurement' also changes the outcome. This experiment has been repeated in many various forms, with the conclusions always the same. A single outcome does not exist until the observer makes a decision as to how to measure the outcome.

The point of this discussion is that, at the very smallest, quantum, level of reality, the nature of reality is not determined until it is "observed", at which time it then 'collapses' into a definite state.

In a world in which we like everything to be hard, definite, and static, this would be absurd if it occurred at the 'macro' level. This suggests that something is happening at the very smallest aspect of 'reality' that cannot be explained by the 'normal' physical laws of  either Newton or Einstein. This has been a source of much consternation for both myself, and other scientists for decades.

Perhaps there is a common sense answer.

As a former computer programmer, I often layered a number of subroutines in a program simulation, to account for any decision-making process the user might make. In those programs, the outcome depended on the keystrokes of the user, and different keystrokes determined different outcomes.  THE OUTCOME WAS NOT DETERMINED UNTIL THE USER MADE AN ATTEMPT TO DETERMINE THE OUTCOME. I didn't realize this was the same type of systemic process that is happening at the quantum level of reality.

To properly analyze the program's dynamics, an interpreter would have to look at the minute details of the original code for the program. The same thing happens in quantum physics. In an attempt to understand what is happening at the quantum level, physicists have to look at smaller and smaller details of sub-atomic particle activity, in order to make sense of behavior at that level.

Isn't this exactly the same process necessary to understand the functioning of a computer program?

It has been suggested that the entire universe could be reconstructed in an computer if it had enough memory and processing power. The amount of memory has already been calculated to be 10 followed by 100 zeros, bytes of memory. One way to conserve memory would be to make distances in the universe so large that the participants would have no way to ever leave their immediate environment by travel to the distant "stars" and other parts of the program. This would allow the programmer to concentrate most of the memory on a very limited set of 'detail' with which the participants could interact, within the local solar system.

I believe there is reason to think of the possibility that when we are exploring the most minute particles of physics, we may actually be interacting with the basic bits of a computer program, a program that determines our reality at the 'macro' level, and in which we are all characters in the program.

Of course, if there is a program, there must be a programmer. A CREATOR.

If this is an accurate description of what we call reality, then such things as 'miracles' and 'supernatural' events would be no problem for the "master programmer' to write into the program. It would also be an easy task for the programmer to write a 'special' character with enhanced properties, that represents himself, into the program and interact with the participants.

Such a program doesn't have to have a predetermined flow of action, as any game programmer will affirm, because there will be some randomness and 'free will' built into the actions of the participants. However the programmer could determine the final outcome of the simulation and act as a 'judge' of the merit of the individual participants and decide whether to continue their role in a more advanced program that follows. Those not found worthy of continuing could be relegated or "trapped' to continue in another program that allows no free will or pleasure.

I'm sure someone reading this must be laughing at the suggestion I just made, that we are living in a computer simulated environment, that we think of as reality. I myself have to restrain my sense of humor as to how far to carry this scenario. The problem is how do I prove it is not 'real'.

When I was teaching H. S. Chemistry, I had a hard time convincing the students that when they hit their fist on a wall, they were not really touching the wall, that it was the electrostatic repulsion of the electrons in their hand repelling the electrons in the wall. It is hard to conceptualize what is really happening in our macro world of 'reality' when we try to describe an action so small that we can't see it.

Are we finally seeing evidence of a Creator at work in the physics of our universe? The bizarre world of quantum mechanics is the most basic layer of 'reality' and is not understood fully. It does offer some evidence that all the above dissertation is true .

Is this where we will finally find scientific evidence that there is a Creator?

Or, have I just spent too much time on my computer playing World of Warcraft?


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