The Design Argument for Simulation Hypothesis

I have always felt that the Fine-Tuning argument was the most serious of the empirical arguments for God’s existence. It is not merely that there is tuning but there is exquisite fine-tuning. Of course anthropic concerns are relevant. It is obvious that we will only be around to observe universes that have the requisite fine-tuning so maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised. Still, it seems reasonable to ask how and why the universe is fine-tuned. If it is by chance then that is amazing! Of course if there is a multiverse then we have a pretty satisfying explanation for why there is a fine-tuned universe at all. But whether there is or isn’t a multiverse is highly controversial. Overall then it seems to me that fine-tuning presents some (small, defeasible) evidence for design in nature.

Philosophers have known for some time that all design arguments suffer from the same basic flaw and that is that one needs to do a lot more work to get from ‘there is evidence for design’ to ‘God as traditionally conceived is the designer’. It is quite fun to imagine the various other possibilities, and as Hume points out, the more seriously one takes the analogy between nature and man made machines the more one starts to think that the designer is not perfect.

For my money the most compelling argument that God as traditionally conceived could not be the designer is the argument from evil (the fact that we are not photosynthetic pretty much cinches the deal for me). Of course there are responses, the necessity of moral freedom and the possibility of transworld saints to the logical problem and unknown motivations/ends to the inductive problem). But just as in the fine-tuning case I think that overall it is reasonable to conclude that the problem of evil provides defeasible evidence that God as traditionally conceived could not be the designer of the universe.

One possibility that immediately comes to mind is that the universe is designed because it is simulated. Bostrom’s simulation argument is well known and interesting but I think there is an interesting argument for the simulation hypothesis that stems from the above considerations. One way that a less than perfect being could design a universe is through simulation. To the extent that we find design inferences plausible, and to the extent that we find the problem of evil problematic, we have reason take the simulation hypothesis seriously.