Religion and the Simulation Hypothesis: Is God an AI?

Do Video Games and the Matrix provide a scientific basis for religious beliefs? (part 1)

  • Riz Virk

NOTE: On the 20th anniversary of the release of the Matrix, MIT and Stanford grad Rizwan Virk is releasing his book, The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientists Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics Agree We Are In a Video Game, which explores the scientific, philosophic and religious basis of this theory. This is one in a series of articles which explore different aspects of the simulation hypothesis — visit to learn more.

For hundreds of years, many well-known scientists weren’t afraid to speak of God (or the importance of consciousness) in their writings, ranging from Newton to Descartes to Einstein. This may partly have sprung initially from not wanting to share the fate of scientists like Galileo whose research was suppressed by a dominant Catholic Church. Over time, though as the Church became less dominant, I suspect it stemmed from a genuine belief that while science was good at making observations, its reductionist tendencies might never be able to explain the unseen worlds of consciousness often explored by religion. As a result, scientists have steered clear of religion as something that is “not scientific” and should only be studied by sociologists.

Recently, a theory has emerged which is causing a lot of scientists to look again at age-old religious concepts, and both video games and science fiction have provided a key part of this new model. This theory, the simulation hypothesis, is the idea that what we perceive as physical reality is actually a computer-generated simulation — like a super sophisticated video game, as depicted in the movie the Matrix.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of this groundbreaking film. While the film had many religious overtones (the emergence of a Messiah to save the human race), it emerged as cultural phenomenon beyond most other films of its day because of its central thesis: that we live in a simulated world and that there is another world beyond what we can see.

This is the first of two articles that examine how many of the ideas put forth by the World’s religions -both Eastern and Western — are not only consistent with the simulation hypothesis, but that this new theory may find a way to bridge the ever-widening gap between religion and science. Part I will focus on the Western religions, specifically God and his Angels and the idea of an afterlife, while Part II will focus on the Eastern religions, specifically about the idea of maya, or illusion, karma and reincarnation.

We’ll see how these religious ideas take on a whole new meaning when viewed through the lens of the simulation hypothesis. In fact, this theory may provide a scientific and technological basis for all of these arguments, showing that the unseen worlds described by the world’s religions may be more scientific than we thought! …

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