“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grand children’s time … when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstitions and darkness.”

— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

I think Mr. Sagan developed a flair for drama in his later years, but his point is a good one: Why do we humans, in the face of overwhelming evidence against them, still choose to believe in fairies and little green men?

One of the more useful tools for evaluating an idea is Occam’s razor, which generally means the simplest explanation for a problem tends to be the right one.

For instance, which is more likely? That creatures from the planet Zoltar, who have developed the nearly-miraculous ability to travel unimaginable distances across the cosmos, who have finally located a tiny oasis of life on this third rock from the Sun, have chosen to hide from us and stick probes up our butts? Or is it more likely that people want to believe such a thing because it injects a little fantasy into our days?

Of course, you hear all the time about people who have experienced paranormal phenomena, such as talking to their deceased relatives, or having visions, seeing the future, etc. I would hazard a guess that more people believe in these supernatural ideas than don’t. Particularly in the area of religion, believers far outnumber disbelievers in the world.

The beauty of faith is that it cannot be tested. No scientist can ever disprove the existence of paranormal phenomena because these experiences do not generally occur with any observable frequency.

But I believe I have found the answer. All of you skeptics and believers out there, prepare to be wowed by this idea that will transform humanity as we know it. It’s not a new idea, but I’ve decided to use the work of someone else and spin it my own way.

There is a guy out there playing a game, and that game is us.

That’s it.

See, this “guy” developed a game where humans are smart enough to develop great inventions, they are emotional enough to experience love, they are aware enough to fear their own mortality and insignificance in the universe.

The “guy” derives no small amount of entertainment from this absurd setup.

He has created our universe in such a way that almost everything can be empirically tested. He has set up this simulation so that there seems to be a set of immutable laws of physics that cannot be violated.

And then every once in a while, for dramatic effect, he violates them on purpose.

You think your Grandma is speaking to you from Heaven? It’s the guy! Does bad luck follow you around everywhere? The guy is doing it. Are you psychic? Why, of course you are.

Because the guy gets bored. He’s trying to entertain himself.

If you allow that our world is a simulation run by some guy, every single supernatural phenomenon that has ever happened can be explained by this idea. It’s a way science and spirituality can co-exist…because they’re both right.

Thank you, Occam’s razor.

And before you reject this idea out of hand, imagine this:

– We already have simulations such as World of Warcraft and The Sims and Second Life. One of these days (probably in the next 20 – 30 years) there will be simulations so realistic they cannot be distinguished from reality.

– Once we develop the ability to create these realistic sims, it’s likely that many, many simulations will be created. After all, there isn’t just one copy of World of Warcraft. For that matter it isn’t the only game out there.

– If there are millions of simulations out there, but just one reality, what’s the likelihood that YOU are living in the ONE reality?

Not very likely, is it?

So the next time you drive four hours to Arkansas to qualify for PGA certification, and after two weeks of perfect weather your tournament gets canceled by thunderstorms, don’t blame bad luck.

Blame the guy!

For more information about the universe as a simulation, go here