A Dream of Being A Butterfly: are we living in a simulation?

People have always wondered what our world truly is. With all the information given to us, it makes us wonder what is real and what isn’t? Who can we trust? Can we even trust ourselves? Who are we, and what is our purpose on this earth? Many people wonder this, yet no one seems to be able to know the answer to these questions.

Since the start of our existence, people have always wondered if we live in a simulation. A simulation is, “imitation of a situation or process.” This is also known as “The Simulation Theory.” I, myself, have always been a big fan of conspiracy theories. This one being one that I had always been quite interested in. I would always think to myself, “What if we are being controlled?” Previous to writing this article, I had done a bit of my own research trying to figure out more about our current living status as a universe. The problem that I think I encountered was the fact that I wanted to believe we did live in a simulation, up to my research on this article. But what I found instead was things that countered my beliefs. Which really surprised me because I didn’t
expect to see the different perspectives. But I believe that this really helped in order to piece together this article. Here are the claims people have made of us being in a simulation, and the counterarguments.

Starting off, we will begin in the 4th Century BC. One very famous Chinese philosopher, Zhuang Zhou, also known as Zhuangzi, had written a story that he had a dream where he was a butterfly. But, then questioned if he was really a butterfly who’s been having a dream about being a human. Very recently in 1977, Philip Kindred, an American Writer, stated that we are living in a simulation. But his statement didn’t seem to be very convincing, as he said that there truly is no evidence, unless we are able to really convince ourselves that we are in the future. In 2003, Swedish Philosopher, Nick Bostrom, created a hypothesis that could prove we live in a simulation. He gave three theses, and claimed that at least one of them is true. Number one, “All human-like civilizations in the universe, go extinct before they develop the technological capacity to create simulated realities.” Meaning that the human population will go extinct before we can create a convincing simulation that is glitch free. Number two, “If any civilizations do reach this phase of technological maturity, none of them will bother to run simulations.’ Meaning that humanity will have the technology available to create a simulation, but will decide not to. Lastly, number three, “advanced civilizations would have the ability to create many, many simulations, and that means there are far more simulated worlds than non-simulated ones.” Nick Bostrom believes that the third thesis is the most reasonable option out of all of them, which many people would agree with.

Although Nick Bostrom believes we do live in a simulation, science says otherwise. A study from physicists who specialize in the study of theory from Oxford University in the U.K., has confirmed that we are not a part of a human simulation, and there are no simulations in our world. The physicist came to this conclusion by studying the evidence being provided. I used to believe, as many others did too, that we would be able to live in a simulation, considering the fact that our technology has gotten so advanced, especially in video games. Many of the claims that I had heard were that a simulation runs like a video game where there is someone controlling it. And to be honest, it does not seem to be too far from reality, but once again, science has debunked it. The study has shown that creating a simulation is impossible. The reason being that there are simply not enough particles in the world that could take upon the computing power necessary to run a simulation. Meaning that there is no way that a simulation could be running, let alone multiple simulations.

I know for myself, as a lover of conspiracy theories, it can be really hard to let go of the idea of such an interesting theory. Especially being the core of all conspiracy theories, as many people claim. But sometimes we have to be realistic and look at the scientific evidence which is more reliable than a philosopher’s claim. A lot of times, we can get caught up with all the information we are given. We are very vulnerable to believe almost any information that we are given. But we must use our rational thinking to debunk our own theories that we believe in. At the end of the day, I can say it definitely feels very pleasing, knowing that I was able to debunk a conspiracy theory that I had believed. And sometimes, that is a better feeling than just believing.

Victor Jimenez, St. Laurence High School, DMSF

Photo by Atul Vinayak on Unsplash