The Religion of Silicon Valley

You probably aren’t real. This idea continues to drum up attention and billions of dollars in research in Silicon Valley. I’ve written about this before. But a line from an article I read this morning in Vanity Fair nearly jumped off the page, er screen.

Like other publications dealing with this issue, Vanity Fair’s Nick Belton sites Oxford University Professor Nick Bostrom whose 2003 paper on this topic is the “Bible” for simulation theory. At the close of the article Belton quotes an award winning science writer who is skeptical of the theory as saying, “It’s basically a religious belief system in the Valley.” That’s a refreshingly honest statement in a world where scientific theory, philosophical bias, and wishful thinking are often presented as interwoven “facts.”

It’s also a reminder that every worldview is at bottom a religious system. Everyone has to get out of bed in the morning and face life with a set of unprovable assumptions. The “simulation hypothesis” reminds us that the very act of facing the world as though reality is really real, and not a simulation, is itself a step of faith.

Of course, if Christianity is true, as I believe it is, then the assumption that the outside world is real, that we occupy a real place in it, and that life has an overarching purpose, are all well-founded.