So, Could the Matrix be real?
Many may think that the basic idea of a matrix has first emerged in this modern age, or rather, that the idea that we could live in a virtual reality has been established in the collective consciousness by the eponymous Hollywood films. This is not the case! The notion that we are embedded in a form of simulation is very old and already the ancient Indian civilization had this fundamental concept in its Vedic scriptures, which they called “Maya” – the cosmic illusion, that deceives us from our true reality.
However, there should be no doubt, that the Matrix trilogy has massively contributed to the fact that this idea has recently gained a certain publicity with this widely used meme – “Matrix”. These Hollywood films have virtually started a renaissance of this ancient philosophical perspective. At least they reintroduced this concept into the mainstream culture.
The philosophical origins of the Matrix
The western philosophical origins to this profound question, whether we live in an artificial, virtual reality does not date as far back as the ancient Indian philosophy and their concept of “Maya” – at least as much as we know. It emanates from the controversy between Platon vs. Democritus, or between two ideologies: idealism versus materialism. Platon assumed that the material world emerges from a higher principle – a higher consciousness or a complex metaphysical realm behind space-time. Materialism, however, assumes that the mind or consciousness is an outcome of physiological and chemical processes inside matter, so it is a result of mechanistic interactions between material structures, which generates a sense of self. If you want to put it in more simple words, one could also say, that materialism sees our brains as mini-computers, which somehow produce consciousness. This view is still reflected today in the current scientific doctrine, as it is taught to us in school.
Over the centuries, this dispute has not ceased, simply because we did not have the scientific means to present evidence to the argument in the one direction or another – until now. With quantum physics and the various phenomena associated with the entanglement of elementary particles, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-Paradox, and the various double-slit experiments, however, the status quo fundamentally shifted. All these modern findings can no longer be explained inside a mere materialistic worldview.
A new paradigm of Virtual Reality
These findings also increase the probability, that we live in a virtual reality – a Matrix, because the phenomenon of the quantum world can be much better explained in such a context than it is possible in a purely materialistic paradigm. Now with the modern technology, it became very easy to abstract, what the ancient Indian culture tried to convey with the concept of “Maya”. Technological achievements, such as virtual reality or the quantum computing are still far from reaching their full potential, however, it becomes obvious where these developments could lead us. Already the theoretical possibility that in close future we might simulate everyday experiences in such complexity, that we no longer could differentiate those virtual realities from “real” life, has to lead us into a whole new paradigm of thinking. From a purely materialistic conception, the string of “coincidences”, that had to take place, so that life on earth could manifest as we know it, is mathematically very unlikely. In comparison, the likelihood or chances, that we could soon simulate such a system in all its complexity with modern quantum computing, is overwhelmingly bigger. Conclusion: the fact is, it is statistically much more probable, that we are already existing in a simulation. This is a rather difficult proposition and you might need to read this paragraph again.
So, if this true – what does that mean for our everyday life? Well, that is a big topic and I would like to share my ideas about this in another article. Anyhow, to dig deeper, I would like to refer to the following documentary, which I like to include in this article. Get inspired!