Elon Musk is a business magnate, engineer, and inventor most readily known as the founder and current CEO of two companies, Tesla and SpaceX. Musk was recently interviewed at the Code Conference, which brings together industry leaders in media and technology to explore the impact technology is having on our lives. It was a truly fascinating interview on many levels, but there was perhaps nothing more astounding than this statement:
“There’s a one in billions chance [we’re in] base reality.”
Essentially, Musk believes it logically follows because of our rapid technological advancements (particularly in the world of gaming, virtual reality, and eventually augmented reality that's indistinguishable from actual reality) that we are currently in a simulated reality created by a super intelligent artificial intelligence (AI). Think, the Matrix. Musk believes there's a “one in billions” chance that our world is NOT part of a simulation.
Super Intelligent AI and God
As the world moves forward in the development of AI, there’s growing concern as to the ethics of its deployment and regulation. In fact, Musk believes there is a real possibility of ending up on the wrong side of a real (albeit simulated) Ultron and without real (albeit simulated) Avengers to save the day. It’s baffling to me that the idea of God is so intellectually preposterous, but a super intelligent AI simulating our entire universe is, you know, totally feasible, man. As a self-confessed nerd, I guess I can see how it’s just cooler to believe that the Matrix actually exists than it is to believe that an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6).
Plus, Musk’s hypothesis solves nothing. I found it ironic that he said we should not only logically believe this theory, but that we should actually hope in this theory. The problem with hoping and believing in his hypothesis is that it features an infinite regress. If this world is a simulation, it’s likely that our Simulator is also a simulation, within a simulation, within a simulation. So this theory ultimately does nothing to avoid the fact that somewhere there is a base reality, and whatever being exists there is asking this fundamental question: “Why am I here?”
However, I do think there is something to what Musk says about base reality. The Bible tells us that in our sinful nature, we have layered distortion after distortion over our base reality. Romans 1 would put it this way: “They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” In other words, the reality God created has been exchanged for a reality of our own construction, and ultimately, this construction is infinitesimally less glorious.
Mankind is desperately trying to live in a reality that has no God. We keep running the simulator over and over again, and we continue to blow ourselves up. Reset. Start again. But the unavoidable fact is that base reality belongs to God and is utterly intertwined with Him (Colossians 1:17). In our simulation, Jesus is the proverbial "red pill" that brings us to a tragic awareness of all our distortions and a glorious awareness of God's base reality.
In this way, God is not much different from what Musk is hypothesizing. God is super intelligent (omniscient) and super powerful (omnipotent), and He frames our existence in time and space (omnipresent). The biggest difference is that we live in a simulation of our own making, and Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, is inviting, encouraging, and empowering us to peel back the layers of distortion so that we can experience base reality. God's base reality is infinitely better than anything we could imagine or, you know, simulate.