A lot of very smart people have been quoted saying that they believe reality is a simulation. It’s an interesting thought. The logic goes that any sufficiently advanced culture, such as the one we are becoming, will develop the ability to simulate a world so complete that the creatures inside it have no idea they are living in a simulation. Basically a really realistic video game. And if that’s true, the odds that we are the first to reach that point are vanishingly small. Therefore, we are likely to be created by more advanced creatures, rather than being the first to reach that point. It’s a fun idea for science fiction writers, but there’s something else going on here, other a working theory about our world.
Creation myths are all over the place. If you grew up in the US, odds are good that you’ve heard the Christian story. God made Adam from clay, and then made his wife from one of his ribs. There are others. Some cultures believe that the world was hatched from a great egg. Or that the oceans are some great god’s tears. Or that the whole world is carried on the back of some animal. All these stories have something in common. They take something about the world that the author is familiar with and exaggerates it into something large enough to encompass the whole world. What has changed is the tools that authors have to work with. Ancient Romans didn’t have computers, therefore their world was created by people who built and grew things, much the same way they behaved. We have computers, therefore the world came from a computer.
Current ideas about how our world is a simulation are no different than creationist myths. The people telling these stories are the ones smart enough to observe our world and draw analogies big enough to encompass everything that has been or will ever be. Is our world really a simulation? No. Hard no. Well, I shouldn’t say that. It probably isn’t. But I mean probably here the same way I mean you probably won’t win the lottery, while being struck by lighting, during a plane crash, caused by a meteor strike. It could happen, but it probably won’t. The myths tell us far more about what our values are and where our focus is, rather than the way our world actually behaves.