Arcade Philosophy

Ever wonder why the world is the way it is?

Philosophy can be grossly divided into two different camps: the mechanistic belief that reality is as observed and the belief that something more exists. The observable reality system requires no explanation but does leave people devoid of purpose. Is there nothing more to life than propagating genes and, possibly, the pursuit of happiness? Throughout the ages, people have created a multitude of systems that create purpose by adding unobservable elements to reality: Gods, destiny and providence, divine justice, the list goes on. This paper offers yet another enhanced-reality concept. While somewhat humorous, it does a better job of explaining the human predicament than most other theories.

If the world is not as we can observe it, and something more - supernatural - exists, then we might as well go all the way and state that we exist in a virtual reality environment where everything is an illusion. Nothing we observe really exists. Our world, the universe, and our very existence is a creation - a secondary false-reality created for a purpose. Of course, this merely shifts the original question one reality up - what purpose does the creating reality have? However, the answer to that cannot be observed from this false reality. Thus, we can leave that question to our creators. The question we can pursue is: why did they create us?

To understand the motives of these creators, we can project our own lives into the future, millions or perhaps even billions of years. With sufficient time to evolve, it is clear that death will become optional and eternal life the norm. Technology would offer no limitations that we can imagine. With, what would seem to us, near unlimited power and immortality, what would there be to do? In such a situation, how would we entertain ourselves? Well, we would probably play games and watch entertaining things.

What games would bored and nearly-omnipotent beings partake in? Perhaps they would be drawn to the carnival, the thrills of wild rides that offer fear without true risk. What would an immortal being be afraid of the most? Death, of course. The fear of death - the one constant feature of our reality. From a very young age, we learn that we are going to die, the people we love are going to die, that everyone is going to die. We fear disease, famine, war, accident, and violence. Yes, there are places on this planet that offer relative safety compared to other more dangerous areas. Carnivals also have a kiddie section with easy not-too-scary rides. Our reality also offers a choice between the relaxed and intense, between the tilt-a-whirl and the roller coaster. Every ride, easy or wild, offers the same fear of death. The only real change is in immediacy.

What entertainment would such beings enjoy? Reality shows perhaps? Maybe they would enjoy watching ignorant characters attempt to discover their place in this virtual reality: to invent gods or attempt to build rational explanations. This would be great fun, learning the latest antics, theories, or worship. It would be especially fun to inject odd events that the inhabitants would have to build explanations for. Perhaps a messiah, or an odd physics result. The bizarre world of quantum mechanics could easily be explained as just a joke on our poor physicists, religion as just a joke on all of us.

If you suppose that the reality we exist in is not as it seems, and that something supernatural need exist, then a casual observation of this reality leads to one truly obvious conclusion. We exist in a virtual reality game - World of Earth - where each of us is a character. We have souls, those eternal beings that guide our characters through this environment. We eventual die, as is our destiny, and our souls get to experience a thrilling fear of death, without any real risk. It is a popular game, at six billion characters and counting, and it must also be very entertaining to watch from the outside. I wonder what kind of ratings we're getting?

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