Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Grundist Manifesto

As much as I’d rather we live in a world where claims are based on observable reality and people feel fulfilled without the need for a higher power, humanity just isn’t there yet. In the midterm, I propose a stopgap religion that isn’t entrenched in an out-dated culture and is far more likely to be true than any of the crap we have now. I call it “Grundism.”

Before I get into my narcissistically named faith, first let me expand on why it is better than any of our Abrahamic options. Judisim, Islam and Christianity are all based on the Torah and assorted sequels written when slavery, racism  and sexism were the order of the day. We’ve had civil rights and enlightenments since then, so the bigotry of yesteryear need no longer apply. It was also a time of mysticism and superstition where stories were used to fill in the considerable gaps of human knowledge. Starting fresh, Grundism isn’t forced to either deny reality or convert failed “truths” from holy books into allegories. In short, my religion can take into account current science and make new speculations. While these speculations may be debunked in the future, I hope that by then religion will be universally denied and we can proceed to mankind’s destiny among the stars.

Okay, so what is Grundism?

Grundism is based on the simulation hypothesis. According to the S.H., we are artificial intelligence living out our “lives” within a Matrix-like program--however, the A.I. bit is an important distinction from the movie. We are not humans in pods feeding power to the machines, we are the machines. More specifically, we are computer programs. This seems like a crazy idea, but I submit that it is far less nuts than the ideas sold in church and I’ll tell you why. We can and do already simulate a bunch of stuff in order to learn, teach and play. If you don’t think World of Warcraft is an achievement, then consider that we can model the physical laws as accurately as human senses can perceive--albeit on very small scales. With Moores Law still in affect and quantum computing on the horizon, it’s conceivable that we will be able to simulate four dimensional space over long distances in the relatively near future. If a simulation indistinguishable from reality is possible, then A.I. as a function of a simulated human brain should also be possible. And if it is possible, then it will happen--our ability to find innovative uses for new technology has been true since the discovery of fire. In fact, as tech progresses and these simulations become easier to run, it will happen exponentially often. The point is, if this is possible, we have to assume that we are currently in a simulation. For every one physical universe, there could be trillions of digital universes. Odds are, we aren’t in the real one.

In Grundism, the Simulator (capital “S”) of our universe is, for all intents and purposes, God. He is the entity running the computer that runs us. Other sects of Grundism may break off defining the Simulator as the company that originally wrote the software, the hardware on which the software runs or the computer that simulates the universe in which our personal Simulator lives. Hopefully, Grundism doesn’t splinter too thinly, because I’m counting on church donations to put my kids through college.

The Simulator is the creator of our universe whether or not He or She first developed the software. He or She initialized the relevant program and that’s all that matters to me. And yes, the Simulator can be man or woman or transsexual or asexual or alien or whatever. There is no way for us to supersede what the software allows us to perceive. This is a philosophical quandary similar to the “brain in a vat” problem and something we all have to deal with whether you subscribe to Grundism or not.

Many of the hallmarks of religion apply to Grundism. One could pray to the Simulator and He or She may “hear” the prayer by means of a Google-like alert that monitors more than the Internet, but also every living thing’s words and thoughts. This would be far too much data for the Simulator to parse in real-time, but He or She is likely only looking for searchable keywords. Once heard, any prayer could be answered if it pleases the Simulator or serves the simulation. A “miracle” from our perspective could easily be accomplished with a new line of code.

Already believe in Noah’s flood, Moses’ sea parting and Jesus’ rise from the dead? That’s fine. These “miracles” could also be accounted for by one-time code executions. Hell, you could even say Jesus was the simulator entering His simulation to experience it first hand via a virtual reality interface. Grundism makes what was supernatural, natural--just digital. Belief in the Bible isn’t warranted, simulation or not, but I’m assuming the only people who have a need to adopt a new faith are those who already have one, so I welcome, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddists, Scientologists, Wiccans, whatevers--Grundism is for you!

Grundism Features

  • Grundism solves evil! There is no “problem of evil” in Grundism. No one is saying the Simulator is benevolent. He is probably a scientist learning from the introduction of variables that, in His or Her mind, are neither good nor evil. Or he could be a bastard, there’s no telling.
  • Grundism is compatible with any moral code! There is no baggage in Grundism. There is no guilt or shame associated with original sin. You can act however you like without regret. However, your actions have consequences within our world that may affect the continuned execution of your program and/or that of others. If you must believe morality is God-given, you can keep on believing this as a moral if/then statement...but I don’t feel like I have parameters on my life.
  • Grundism's gods have gods! Grundism is not, strictly speaking, monotheistic. Our universe may be created and/or guided by one Simulator or many, but either way there are other Simulators running other universes.
  • Grundism says you may not cease to be! Grundism allows for an afterlife, but doesn’t guarentee it. Unlike in Christian Apologetics, Grundists don’t presume to know anything about God's (the Simulator’s) motives. After we stop perceiving our time of earth, we may start perceiving another realm...or our program may no longer serve a purpose.

Grundism Bugs

  • Grundism doesn’t account for the ultimate origin of the Simulator. We can’t assume He is eternal like most monotheistic traditions. The best we can do say what science shows us about the origin of this universe is true for the universe of the Simulator. We can only guess as to the ultimate origin, much like an eternal deity is a guess.
  • There is probably an upper limit to processing power where either Moore’s Law breaks down or technology stops progressing due to heat death (or some other end) of the physical universe. This means that there isn’t an infinite number of simulated universes, just an awful lot. For this reason I don’t consider infinite regress as a possible “origin” of the Simulator. It also means that simulations within simulations may eventually crash the system.

That’s Grundism as I know it. It will take a while for this post to earn holy book status, but I can wait. If you can think of any reasons why Grundism is not superior to all other religions, please let me know in the comments. If you can’t, it’s only rational to convert or, better still, give atheism a shot.


  1. I like it. I'm no convert, but I like it. :-)

    I've thought for a while about a stopgap religion, but without any real traction. I have to say I like the way you've laid this out. And if people get turned off by your narcissistic name, since some bastard already claimed the appropriate Scientology, perhaps Computology may be a good alternate.

  2. I've always loved the idea of our universe being the laboratory of some higher level scientist. Whether we are a simulation or a cosmic petri dish doesn't matter much. Lisa Simpsons and her little world come to mind, as does nagilum.

    Hey, if you are going to start a real religion you need some religious leaders right? I call pope!

  3. You can't be Pope, but once I apply for cult status I may franchise out a church to you.

  4. Yeah, I tried to think of a better name. Digitalites? Artificology? I got nothing.

  5. I don't know about a better name for the religion, but the Simulator could be 1 and therefore we would all be zeros.

  6. Key point about religions: Christians think they're about beliefs. They're not. The beliefs are a damaging side-effect.

    Best evidence in the study of religion is that they're mostly about group membership and rituals. If you're trying to replace the "religion hole" in people's lives, you need to give them parties where they dress up in funny costumes and
    chant, on specific days of the year, plus special jewelry,
    handshakes, and funny rituals. Accordingly, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Church of the Sub-Genius are very solid religions, even with deliberately unbelieved beliefs. (Discordianism, due to its tendency towards rejection of organization, is slightly less so, sad to say.)