Are we living in a (computer) simulation? Elon Musk thinks so. Is there Biblical support for the idea that we are living in a "(computer) simulation"? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Scriptures like 1 Cor 13:12 seem to point to a "completion" or reality to come -- would it be unbiblical to discuss these ideas with unbelievers in the sense that yes, this life is a test, or challenge, or temporary experience until we face reality when we die (as in Ecclesiastes)? I am inspired by Paul's approach in Athens, utilizing the altar to the "unknown god" to direct his listeners to Jesus. -- Mike. C.

Computer simulations offer rich analogies for the reality of the spiritual world. But they fail if the implication is that the physical world is any less real. Remember top that the opposite of spiritual is not physical, but unspiritual. The inhabitants of the Matrix are unspiritual when they live only for the limited pleasures of the Matrix (as the Judas figure willfully chose — wine, steak, and no recollection of ultimate reality).

But we must say more. A biblical theology of creation affirms not just the reality of the physical creation, but also its goodness. It is “very good” as the Lord affirms in Gen 1.

  • 1 Cor 13 speaks of a state of maturity or perfection or completion, yet without telling us exactly what that is, so I don’t feel I am sufficiently certain of the passage to leap to the simulation conclusion.
  • As for Acts 17, Paul assures us that the true God created the physical world. While there is a “test” at the end (Acts 17:30), that doesn’t mean that the earth and our earthly experiences are merely means to an end. But yes, he makes a cultural connection and through it finds a place to stand as he speaks to the heart of the Greek intellectuals of Athens.
  • Now Ecclesiastes never says that the world is unreal, only that all is vanity “under the sun” (that is, without God in the picture).

I have spoken often of The Matrix as an excellent extended metaphor of spiritual reality. Other Christian writers have rejected this thinking as Gnostic — which I consider unnecessary. Any analogy too tightly pressed crumbles, or at least fails to illustrate that for which its support originally was enlisted.

The article you referenced made a telling point: "A simulation is, by definition, an 'imitation of a situation or process.' And so, if we were living in a simulation, how would we exist and interact with our physical world as we know it? Unless our physical interactions with food, humans, air, and the like are all elaborate programs to trick the brain in every which way to perceive the physical as such, the concept in and of itself is inherently flawed. Once a 'simulated' object becomes physical, then does it, conceptually, stop being a simulation?"

To properly utilize Matrix imagery resonant with Christian theology, we would need to acknowledge that the computer simulation (the Matrix) shows not so much that the physical world is unreal as that its inhabitants are ignorant as to its true nature. They have no transcendent values or objectives.

To make sure we have a biblical view:

  • The creation is real
  • The creation is good
  • The creation will be redeemed (Rom 8; Rev 21-22).