Are We in a Matrix or Base Reality?

Are We in a Matrix or Base Reality?

When speaking on evidence for the existence of God, John Clayton often begins by saying that first, you must believe that you exist. He says, “If you don’t believe that you exist, you have more problems than I want to deal with.” Some people today are suggesting that we do not exist in reality. The question we need to consider is, “Are we in a matrix or base reality?” Let’s examine what that means.

Philosophers have often contemplated the question of whether there is any reality. A philosophy professor I once learned from said that some of his associates begin their philosophy class by suggesting to their students that nothing is real, including the walls of the lecture hall. However, he pointed out that the professor always exits through the doorway at the end of the lecture. Are the walls real? Is anything real? Are we in a matrix or a base reality?

In 1999, there was a movie titled The Matrix in which people were made to believe that they lived in a surreal world where they could have superhuman powers and face life-threatening dangers while all the time being strapped to a chair with electrodes connected to their bodies. The idea must have found a sympathetic audience because it spawned three sequels, with a fourth scheduled for next month.

Now, some scientists are suggesting that we are in a simulation. According to one analysis, the chances that we are living in a “base reality” (meaning not a simulation) are about 50-50, with a slight edge to base reality. So people from scientists such as Neil deGrasse Tyson to entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk have suggested that we could be merely characters in a massive video game. To further that concept, we have quantum theory with its “spooky action at a distance” (Einstein’s quote), such as quantum entanglement and superposition.

In 1948, American mathematician Claude Shannon introduced the concept of the bit as a basic unit of information. Computers work with bits, which can have a value of either 0 or 1. By combining millions, billions, or trillions of bits, we can perform complex calculations and create sounds, images, or even videos. That is how modern cameras, televisions, telephones, and computers work. So the question is, “If the universe is a giant computer simulation, a matrix rather than base reality, how many bits would it take to create the simulation?”

Melvin Vopson, a physicist at the University of Portsmouth, England, estimated that the minimum number of bits of information in the visible universe could be around 1080. (That is 10, followed by 80 zeros.) If you include dark matter, which we can’t see or detect, it could be ten-trillion times that number.

So, do we believe we are in a matrix or base reality? If we believe that this universe is a computer simulation and we are only a relatively few bits in that matrix, you would have to believe that an infinite intelligence wrote the code for the program. However, it seems to me that a more reasonable explanation is that we are living in a base reality created by an infinite intelligence. The most incomprehensible thing is that the omniscient Creator cares about each one of us. (Read Matthew 6:25-34.)

— Roland Earnst © 2021

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