Thursday, 31 March 2011

Is Reality real?

For the past couple of years I've increasingly been thinking how strange the world is.  For example, the fact we live on the surface of a huge ball floating in the midst of an infinite sea of nothingness.  It seems vastly more reasonable to me if we had, instead, found ourselves living on a plane; perhaps one infinite in extent in all directions.

Indeed I’ve even begun to wonder if we might not live in a virtual simulated world created by aliens living wholly "outside" our Universe.  This can be compared to the bots (computer controlled players) in a computer game
at some point in the future becoming conscious and wondering if their world (game environment) has a creator.  We know that their creator – the computer programmer – is not some entity existing within their world; that is, unlike the bots themselves, the programmer does not equate to some pixels in their game environment.    Rather the programmer exists “outside” of their reality altogether.

Similarly, might it not be the case that our world -- our Universe -- is likewise a creation of aliens living wholly “outside” of our reality?  Perhaps their Universe is utterly different; after all they live in the "real" world.  Perhaps the creation of our Universe is just a huge experiment on their part. Perhaps they monitor everything we do and say. Perhaps it might even be the case that they are conducting a kind of psychological experiment to see how long it will take before we twig on that our reality is artificial.

Or perhaps the creator is not some being or beings living in another Universe “outside” of reality, but rather what we traditional conceive of as “God”.   A Mind, perhaps infinite in scope, being responsible for the creation of our world, and even perhaps responsible for its second by second existence. 

I am not the only person who has had the notion that our entire reality might simply be a creation of conscious entities living wholly “outside” of our reality.  This is typically advanced in terms of the hypothesis that our entire reality is simply a computer simulation.

See this programme for example from about ~39 minutes onwards.

And this extract from a TV programme


  1. A further thought: That we are not people as such, but rather we are 'consciousnesses' looking through particular 'viewports' into a world. Our true nature is an open, boundless awareness, and we simply 'tune into' the experience of being "Ian Wardell on Planet Earth in 2014" and so on. We could equally tune into another experience. (Different universes are not spatially located relative to each other.)

    To give yourself a notion of the "tuning in" experience, think what happens when you fall asleep.

    You lie in your bed, as you drift off: The image in front of you dissolves, the sounds around you gradually fade away, your body sensations disappear, there is just blankness for a while - but your sense of you being here still persists! Then, slowly, perhaps fragmentary images appear in your open awareness, these coalesce and form into objects, which then develop into a world - a dream!

    Furthermore, it is not necessarily true that all people you encounter have a consciousness 'viewporting' them. Our control of ourselves isn't direct - we are spontaneous and automatic unless we change course, by interfering and suppressing an action, or by using intention to set a new goal for your experience. If I set a goal for "Anonymous" and then go away for a while - withdraw from the 'viewport' - 'Anonymous" will continue on that path, reacting appropriately to circumstances.

    (Analogous to setting of on a car journey, falling into a dream, and still ending up at the destination, even though you didn't directly control the actions that got you there. Thing is, you never do directly control your actions; rather, you experience them, which is different.)

  2. Also, you might enjoy this.