Barry Dainton, University of Liverpool, 'Can Simulations Solve the Problem of Evil?'
Couldn’t an all-powerful benevolent God have created a world where there is far less pointless suffering produced by natural causes? Theologians have wrestled with the problem of “natural evil” for a long time, and plausible solutions have proven elusive. In The God Delusion Richard Dawkins writes: "Whether we ever get to know them or not, there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technological achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century." (Dawkins, The God Delusion, p76) I think Dawkins is probably right about what is technologically possible, and that this provides us with an alternative approach to the problem of evil. The simulation solution (as I call it) to the problem of natural evil rests on two hypotheses: (1) a technologically advanced future society acquires the ability to create artificial worlds containing fully sentient beings, and (b) it decides to make use of this ability. I will argue that both hypotheses may well be true, and that the question “Why is there so much suffering and disease in our world?” has the same answer as the question “Why is there so much violence in Grand Theft Auto series of video games”?
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