Is the Universe a Simulation? Scientists Debate

“If you study physics long enough, you too can become crazy”,

James Gates of University of Maryland

Is the universe just an enormous, fantastically complex simulation? If so, how could we find out, and what would that knowledge mean for humanity? Scientists met to discuss this question recently, but more of that later.

The movie ‘Matrix’ did touch upon the concept of our reality as a computer simulation. It did point to the concept called ‘Maya’. People are still trying to decipher the true meaning of the movie and most of them agree that it borrows heavily from the Maya or ‘illusion’ concept. It however tries to embody this illusion as a computer simulation. Moreover, the movie ends with the Sanskrit Mantre – Asato Ma Sadgamaya – which translates as “From ignorance, lead me to truth; From darkness, lead me to light; From death, lead me to immortality”

‘Maya’ – The ancient Indian philosophical thought of our reality as just an illusion has been touched upon in Hindu Vedanta philosophy as well as in Sikhism. It means more or less that we are living in an illusion created by ‘Maya’ and we are an un-real manifestation. Interpretations of sikh scriptures though in their attempt to distance themselves from Hindu thought, do touch upon Maya but then try to explain it in physical terms of temptations of money, pride etc. etc.

While we lesser mortals with a basic level science education at graduate or post-graduate level discard anything remotely connected to spirituality as absurd or superstition, leading astro-physicists have never had the conviction to deny God.

Carl Sagan said – “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.”

Einstein said – “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal god is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”  Einstein also said  “We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations.”

It comes at no surprise to me that leading scientists are actually discussing the possibility that we are living in a computer simulation.

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