News & Media

Are we living in a computer game?

Melt Your Brain is a series of videos where we reveal facts that may well make your brain feel like it is melting!

Did you know that you and everyone you know are just characters in a computer game? Not like the characters you’re used to on your screen obviously, but still – it’s a scary thought that you might not be who you think you are! In this new video, we explore the age-old question of fate versus free will!

It’s a question that has troubled humans almost from the beginning of time. Most of us believe in free will – so if we want to move our hands around or even hit someone in the face, we believe we’ve chosen to do that. Well, that might not be the case. Some scientists would argue that you were always going to hit someone in the face and it wasn’t really your choice, it was something that you were predetermined to do – like destiny really!

In 2012, six well-known academics were asked for their consensus on free will. They voted 4:2 in favour of free will being an illusion. So, 4 out of 6 think there is no such thing as free will – can you believe it?! Not unsurprisingly, the four who thought free will was an illusion were all scientists and the two who did believe in free will were philosophers!

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne from The University of Chicago said: “Free will is the possibility that after a decision has been made, you could have chosen otherwise. But, because a decision is nothing more than the chemical and electrical brain molecules which are predetermined by our DNA, surely the outcome is the only outcome possible.”

Maybe, free will is a concept we invented to make ourselves feel better when in reality, everything has been decided for us. It’s a pretty hard thing to accept but it might make us feel better about some of the terrible decisions we’ve made in the past.

So, does that mean you can just do anything you like and not be held responsible for your actions – well, yes you can but you might end up in prison as well. There is always the suggestion that you can consciously choose to override what your brain is predisposed to do.

If the general consensus is that we don’t in fact have free will, does that mean that fate is a real thing then? That everything we do is predetermined and maybe there’s no point to anything and we’re just coming along for the ride. Essentially, all our actions are pre-programmed , like in a computer game?

American astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson put the odds at 50:50 that our entire existence is a program on someone else’s hard drive. Even Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Spacex recently said that he believed the odds are overwhelmingly high that we are living in a computer simulation. In fact, he said the chances we are living in base reality i.e. not a computer game, are billions to one. What?!!!!

If it were true, that would make whoever programmed this simulation effectively, God! Let’s hope this programmer doesn’t think things are going too badly and just restart the whole game. Then, we’d all be in trouble!

Is it free will or simply fate…? And who is ultimately in charge – you, God, fate – what do you think?!

Watch the full video!