If I were God: programmer's thoughts
Often around – on the Internet or among colleagues – I meet the opinion that sensible people cannot believe in God. Because believing in God is about the same thing as believing in Santa Claus or a leprechaun.
Photo by Anton Vaganov
As a developer, it became interesting for me to reflect on this topic. A person has an overwhelming desire to create something similar for himself, so that this “similar” is not just imprisoned for several tasks (like a smartphone or a washing machine), but can think, speak, learn, engage in dialogue with people. Humanity seeks to create artificial intelligence. It seems to me that this person resembles a Christian God, who also at some point had a desire to create a being similar to Himself.
For example, I, as a programmer, can write a program, at the start of which a snake will appear and crawl on the screen. I can make coordinates (two-dimensional space 100 x 100), in which my being will crawl in one direction. Of course, I will be interested to make it more alive and add elements of chance to it. I will make a special function “crawl ()”, and inside this function I will add some random factor, for example, every 10 seconds the snake will change direction. But why every 10? You can take not 10, but a random number of seconds from 1 to 30, and then it will move in different directions unpredictably. It will be fun and interesting.
Then I want to create some kind of world for my ward: bushes, trees, berries. Perhaps I am creating a couple for the snake and will do the reproduction function. Perhaps I will add some primitive consciousness to the essence of the snake, so that it distinguishes food from stone, its partner from tree. Thus, the complexity of the program will increase and the lines of program code will become more and more – until I decide to stop. Maybe I will also make of these little snakes little men who will start to eat, sleep, multiply. Maybe I’ll decide to add speech and consciousness to them so that they can create a culture.
Do you know what's curious here? Men don't know anything about me, they live and move in the coordinates I set, in the laws I set. Do you think it will be difficult for me to break my own laws and work wonders in their world? Not at all. One line of code – and the "miracle" is provided, but only for me it is not a miracle, I do not even consider it a violation of the laws. It even sounds strange, because I myself give laws to this world and I can do anything with these laws.
And if I were very clever, I could try to write a program called “Evolution” with a mass of galaxies, three-dimensional space and time. In this program, a small snake with its primitive DNA begins to develop to a reasonable man who can think, worry, write poems or philosophical treatises, create an amazing culture, write beautiful pictures and music, and do science. For my little men, I would choose a small solar system in one of the galaxies. This would provide a special algorithm. Then I would just watch the process. No, I would not just watch … All my attention would be focused on this little world and on these little men. After all, they would become smarter and smarter, they would have pleased me every day. I'm afraid I would have problems at work, because I would only think about my players.
By the way, about the time that I would create: do you understand that I myself do not live in their time? I can do anything with their time: I can slow it down, I can speed it up – and they will not even understand that there is a place in which there is no their primitive space and primitive time.
I would watch their thoughts with interest. I would observe and rejoice in their first achievements. I would have looked at how different worldviews appear. It would be especially interesting what they think about me. One of them probably would have come to the conclusion that their world exists forever, and I myself — the creator — are also part of this world. That tree, stones, the sea is me, and that all human beings are me too. I would be amused.
One of them would think that I am the sun. Someone would think that their world rests on four elephants. Someone would conclude that there are many gods who created their world, they would begin to create temples and worship these gods. Someone would understand that their creator is a faceless, infinite energy, in which there is no mind, no heart.
But especially I would be interested in those who began to realize that their world probably has one creator who exceeds them in mind and ability. Someone of them would start looking for me, and then there would be a dilemma before me: to let them know something about themselves or not? Of course, I would like to open myself to them, especially considering that some would begin to lose the meaning of life, until they decide for themselves this question. I would have discovered something about myself, but only in such a way that their code would not fail from what they saw and heard. After all, they would have had a hard time already: many would start to consider them crazy.
I realize that those who came to think about my existence and believed in me would have been laughed at. Someone who believes in the power of science and forgetting about its boundaries would say that I am not a falsifiable, unscientific idea. Such scientists, of course, “forgot” that their science works only in their space and in their time, beyond which they cannot go, no matter how hard they try. Someone would start saying that believing in me is no different from believing in Santa Claus or leprechaun and that sensible people do not believe in me. I would not want to become a hindrance to their lives, I would not do wonders and tricks in front of them, so that they would believe in me, because I would not want to violate their freedoms.
This is how I got a thought experiment that convinces me that our world and all of us humans can be the creation of one intelligent Programmer Who is outside of our space and time, but Who can sometimes know about Himself.
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