Originally posted by Spammer.
Since conciousness is created by some arrangement of the neurons and electrical impulses in our brain (barring a 'soul'), consciousness can theoretically be recreated using a man-made computer. Matter and the laws of physics can also be described using a computer, to a degree of accuracy. If both these statements are true, I see no reason why a simulated 'Universe' - indistinguishable from the real McCoy, to its inhabitants - could not be created by a single person, naturally at some point in the distant future. My question is this: would the person (or people, for that matter) who built the computer and wrote the software be accurately described as God(s)? In other words, is the creation of the Universe, life and consciousness (as well as an assumed omniscience, in the computer program scenario) enough to be classified as God, or are omnipotence and immortality absolutely necessary? More importantly, would the creation of a Universe without pain, death - the usual drawbacks - make you objectively 'better' than, for argument's sake, the Christian God?
Those are some thought provoking questions. Let me do a cursory two-dimensional analysis first and depending upon how much interest is piqued, get more comprehensive.
That brain produces consciousness or consciousness emerges from the brain is a popular assumption absent empirical evidence. As of today, we don't know if consciousness is physical or nonphysical, local or non-local. We still don't know the neuronal correlates of consciousness and even if hypothetically speaking we do discover such correlates, it doesn't guarantee that we will be able to solve the question of how and why we have subjective experiences. For instance, three people can bite into the same apple, one might find it delicious, one might like it and the third one might spit it out. The question is, what does the apple really
taste like? So to your first statement, what algorithm in your computer encapsulate the real
taste of an apple?
Formulating physical laws using mathematical equations to describe physical phenomena is not the same as creating
the physical phenomena. I could describe a car but I didn't create the car. I could assemble a car using parts but I didn't create the parts that I have used to assemble the car. I could create the parts but I didn't create the alloys used to make the parts. I could create the alloys but not the elements that make up the alloys. You get the drift - ultimately, the energy we have at our disposal is not created by us.
But if we were to get putative for a second and say a single person or a group of persons did manage to create a simulated universe that mirrors our universe; it still doesn't mean that there certainly will be inhabitants in that universe possessing intelligence. In our universe, matter and forces combined to randomly evolve (guided by laws of nature of course) to what we see all around us. In a rerun, it's not a given that things would AGAIN evolve into what we see all around us. Question to you then would be: in your simulated universe are you keeping things deterministic? Are you guiding processes? If yes, do you think the intelligent inhabitants of the simulated universe wouldn't be able to figure that out? Because, in this universe, so far we can't tell with certainty whether processes are truly deterministic or not. At the micro level, it seems chaotic where as at the macro level it is bound by cause and effect.
As for the questions with the philosophical bent concerning pain, death and "the usual drawbacks" as you put it. We usually understand things in terms of one another. If pleasure is all there is, I doubt if we will ever experience pleasure. An orgasmic moment becomes an orgasmic moment only if the previous moment is non-orgasmic. Gradations seem to matter when experiencing this world. I too abhor the concepts of pain and suffering and would never "forgive" the "creator/designer" (if there is one) for introducing pain and suffering but objectively speaking, I don't think we can have a functioning universe without a contrast. A contrast in each and every concept and entity. Which could be the reason why we have particles and anti-particles, black and white, attraction and repulsion in this universe. To distinguish one from another.