This is the second in a series exploring philosopher of consciousness David Chalmers’ 2022 book titled Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy. Chalmers, an atheist, who believes it possible that we are living in simulation, shows how such a belief challenges his atheism. Afer reviewing historic arguments for God, he concludes the simulation hypthesis may be the strongest, but it’s not enough to overcome his resistance to faith.
At the beginning of Chapter 9, “Did simulation create it from bits,” David Chalmers reflects on, or maybe parodies, the Genesis account of creation: (p. 167)
God said “Let there be bits!” And there were bits. God saw that the bits were good, and he separated them from each other. He called one bit “zero,” and the other bit “one.”
In the previous chapter Chalmers explained how the universe could be, or likely is, made of information. He refers to physicist John Wheeler’s term for how at the most fundamental level reality is reduced to bits — answers to questions that nature poses with yes or no responses. Wheeler said it was “observer-participators” who answered the binary questions that made the universe what it is. Wheeler’s idea was a bit different than how Chalmers’ uses it, as Chalmers admits, but he bases his argument that a simulation is a first class reality in the same way we consider the world we inhabit a first class reality because simulations are based on digits. They are made of information, the coding of zeros and ones, while our non-sim world uses the bits of quarks. He summarizes the idea this way: (p. 168–169)
“The it-from-bit creation hypothesis combines the it-from-bit hypothesis and the creation hypothesis developed in preceding chapters by saying that the physical world was created by a creator and is made of bits. The hypothesis should have a familiar ring. Its structure is analogous to the simulation hypothesis. The simulation hypothesis has two basic components: a simulator and a simulation. The it-from-bit creation hypothesis has two basic components: a creator and some bits. The simulation sets in motion the algorithm for the simulation, and the creator sets in motion the algorithm for the interaction of bits. The creator and the simulator have essentially the same job.”