The Simulation Hypothesis and the Problem of Evil

ImageIn this special live episode recorded at the 2012 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, Massimo and I discuss the “simulation argument” — the case that it’s roughly 20% likely that we live in a computer simulation — and the surprising implications that argument has for religion. Our guest is philosopher David Kyle Johnson, who is professor of philosophy at King’s College and author of the blog “Plato on Pop” for Psychology Today, and who hosts his own podcast at Elaborating on an article he recently published in the journal Philo, Johnson lays out the simulation argument and his own insight into how it might solve the age-old Problem of Evil (i.e., “How is it possible that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and good God could allow evil to occur in the world?”). As usual, Massimo and I have plenty of questions and comments!

Rationally Speaking Episode #59

2 Responses to The Simulation Hypothesis and the Problem of Evil

  1. Stan Dorst says:

    I have to admit that the claim that it is “20% likely” that we live in a computer simulation seems to me to involve at least as much intellectual hubris as the claim that we can analyze the meaning of the word “God” and decide that He must exist by definition, without having to resort to anything as mundane as empirical evidence. I think that getting carried away by the power of one’s ideas must be an occupational hazard of philosophers!

  2. Noah Cohen says:

    Yes, but it’s a manner of securing our emotional involvement in the problem: if they said, “THIS IS THE CASE” as religious zealots do, we would not believe them, and if they said, “This is surely not the case, but bear with us for the hypothetical ride.” we would not be as engaged. Providing a fixed estimate, even if it is only an emotionally intuitive estimate, even if it is a downright lie of a guess, it’s a reasonable way to cue our serious consideration of the model.

    If I had gotten to this article first and you, second, I imagine that I would have written your comment, and you, mine. 🙂

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