Friday, July 30, 2010

Life as a game

I was playing Conway's Game of Life on my phone and a thought occurred to me, "You know, if God treated Life like I play this game, we would all be doomed."

Conway's Game of Life is a cellular automata simulator. The version I play starts with an empty field. I swipe my finger along the screen to create life. Then I go about interfering with any form of stability or stasis in an attempt to clear the screen with as little interaction as possible. Put simply, first I create life then I set about to destroy it with as few moves as possible.

Any sort of massive single deity which claims to be both the creator and destroyer may be interested in playing similar games on a larger scale. Such games would, of course, ultimately lead to our destruction. Frankly, such games are fun, so I can clearly see the draw.

Multiple deities provide a checks-and-balances that you can't get with a single deity. This would be why there's an assumption that any single deity must be the definition of good. Defining anything as being "inherently good" is a rationalization, an excuse. It is an ethical cop-out.

Would you blindly follow a deity to the destruction of all life on the planet? What if you were sure that would trigger the return of your heroes and deities? What if you were given proof that the request came from your deity of choice?

Personally, I don't think I can call any deities inherently good, as I can not call any inherently bad. They exist. They may have their own agenda. They may believe their agenda would be beneficial to you or to humanity as a whole. But... inherently good? Is a tree inherently good? Are the stars inherently good? (Note that I can't talk about people this way due to the belief that some folks have that people are inherently bad.)

Good and evil are often just labels. If I said everything I did was good because I had been touched by my gods then I would be given carte blanche to be extremely damaging to my fellow humans without consequence or remorse. Unfortunately, this seems to happen with some cults.

You need to look at everything with a sense of ethics. Is the goal to win the game at any cost, or is it to play honorably while everyone has fun?

When dealing with divinities, a little doubt is good, as you may not be communicating with the deity you expect. (More on this later.) If you are asked to do something that doesn't seem ethical do not blindly accept it as a test of faith as it is just possible you may not be dealing with an ethical deity. Ethical deities not only don't cheat, they don't ask others to cheat for them.

Out here the game we play is for the hearts and minds of humanity -- the very future of our people. Play fair and we can all have fun. Cheat and you may still lose.


  1. You've read James P. Carse's "Finite and Infinite Games", right?