One of the things I’ve heard the more academic atheist types discuss occasionally is simulation theory, specifically the idea that we’re all in a simulation of some sort. The amusing thing to me about this idea is that it’s almost a scientific theory way of ending up at Christianity – in fact, I’ve written about Christianity’s view on cosmology here, and it’s pretty close. Of course, what Christianity has that simulation theory is lacking is an understanding of who is running the simulation, and what the purpose of the whole experiment is – and here’s the answer: we’re the entire reason for the simulation. This whole grand reality we all live in is an experiment in trying to raise up people who seek and love God.
That also raises up the interesting question of what happens when the simulation ends – for any or for all of us, it’s the same thing. At a certain point, our run in the simulation is done – and the Bible also promises that at a certain point the simulation will be done for everyone. What happens then? Well, what we’re promised is that we don’t end – God brings an immortal part of us out of this simulation into his higher level reality. And what happens then to that immortal part of us that he’s preserved is up to us. In our simulation, he is letting evil exist, but in his reality, everything impure and evil is not tolerated, and is cast out. So the choice is really with you: do you choose to embrace God’s reality, or not?
One of the things I’ve been thinking about for a while is the perspective of how Christianity puts the universe together – what’s the grand cosmological view of the universe that Christianity takes? Here’s my attempt at summarizing:
Before the universe existed there was God – and he’s a God with several notable qualities to this view: He’s perfect, and he fully embodies both love and justice. Also, he’s a community of beings. And he desired/desires a people who will fully love him, who can enter into his community. Here’s the catch though: axiomatic to love is free will, and the capability to choose something or someone else. Love without free will is not a thing – that’s like The Stepford Wives. And even more complicated is that, because he is perfect, giving people the choice to choose to love something other than him requires giving them the choice and chance to be less than perfect, and to do less than perfect things, including to each other, which will also require that they face the justice due for their actions.
So this is what God did: he created a universe that could be a neutral, imperfect stage to allow humans the free choice to learn to love him or not. And then, to resolve the issue that humans would not be perfect, he chose for one of the beings in his community to come down and live as one of us, and volunteer for the punishment due to each of us for the wrongs we commit. It not only fills the justice requirement, but it allows him to express his perfect love, and overcomes our inevitable imperfections that separate us from him.
There are several items I like about this lens on Christianity and the universe. For one thing, the attributes of God that are fundamental to this worldview are very different than the attributes that different religions try and claim to God, which sets Christianity as clearly apart from other religions, and puts to rest the argument that “all religions are basically the same”. Also, it clearly calls out and explains one of the main questions people typically struggle with: how could God let evil and natural disasters happen? Perhaps the thing I like the most, however, is the extent to which it informs worldview about individual purpose as well as the shape of society – when God created the universe he specifically wanted so many things (such as marriage or the justice system, for example) within it to serve as metaphors for us to learn to understand the relationship he wanted us to have with him. I find there’s a feedback loop of understanding how these systems should be idealized through the Bible as well as understanding aspects of the Bible through these systems.