Simulated Gnon-Theology

This post was to have been about the simulation argument, but Gnon does the preliminary work. Whether or not we are living in a computer simulation can quickly come to seem like a derivative consideration.

Nature or Nature’s God, (un)known here as Gnon, provides skepticism with its ultimate object. With this name we can advance in suspension, freeing thought from any ground in belief. In its mundane application, Gnon permits realism to exceed doctrinal conviction, reaching reasonable conclusions amongst uncertain information. Its invocation, however, is not necessarily mundane.

Assume, momentarily, that God exists. If this assumption comes easily, so much the better. It is probably obvious, almost immediately, that you do not yet have a clear idea about what you are thus assuming. To mark exactly this fact, the established Abrahamic religions propose that you designate God by a proper name, which corresponds to a definite yet profoundly occulted personal individual. Approaching the same obscurity from the other side, emphasizing the problematic rather than relational aspect, I will persevere in the name of Gnon.

To avoid gratuitous idolatry, all our subsequent assumptions must be readily retractable. It is not our mission to tell Gnon what it is. We cannot but be aware, from the beginning, that two perplexing, and inter-twined sources of idolatry will be especially difficult to dispel, due to their conceptual intractability, and their insinuation into the basic fabric of grammar and narrative. In merely using the tensed verb ‘to be’, and in unfolding a process in stages, we unwittingly idolize Gnon as a subordinate of being and time. Our sole refuge lies in the recognition, initially inarticulate, that to think Gnon as God is to advance a hyper-ontological and meta-chronic hypothesis. From Gnon’s self-understanding, being and time have to emerge as exhaustively comprehended consequences (even though we have no idea – at all – what this might mean).

If Gnon is God, it is the reality of infinite intelligence. Occidental religious tradition divides this ultimate infinitude into the topics of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence, at the risk of introducing footholds for anthropomorphism – and thus idolatry. Accepting a contrary risk (one that Pope Benedict XVI specifically indicated as Islamic?), I will simply dismiss the possibility that God can be theologically other than good, since this would be an invitation to Lovecraftian speculations of distracting vividness. Thomist scholasticism offers a further simplification, by proposing that what there is to know, is that which God creates. Pursued (perhaps) one step further: Self-knowledge is the auto-creation of a ‘being’ that thinks itself into reality. This, too, offers a conceptual economy to be eagerly seized.

The creation of the universe is of concern to humans, and the creation of angels is a grave matter for Satan, but for Gnon they can only be trivialities (it might be unnecessarily antagonistic to say ‘amusements’). For Gnon – as God – the Cantorian transfinite realm is self-identity, or less, whose infinite parts are each infinities.

Unless choosing to blaspheme, we can only assume that Gnon thinks serious thoughts, of a kind that have some relevance to its thinking about itself, and thus ensuring itself in its (hyper-ontological) auto-creation. Such thoughts surely encompass the creation of gods, since that – for (a) God – is simply the transfinite as intelligent activity. If for Gnon to know what it can do is already to have done it, because divine intelligence is creation, anything less than an infinite pantheon would be evidence of retardation.

For Gnon, as God, gods are infinitesimals, so that any thorough self-investigation would involve them. It is effortlessness itself, for It, to thus create an infinite being – among an infinity of such beings – each of which, being infinite, is made of infinities, and these in turn, as infinities, consist of infinite infinities, without end. This is no more than Cantor had already understood, at the most elementary stage of his transfinite explorations, although, being a human creature, his understanding was not immediately creation.

If Satan, a mere arch-angel, could imagine himself a god, and not only a god, but – in potential at least – God seated upon the throne of ultimate sovereignty, is it possible that no god thinks itself God? And if a god can, if only in possibility, think itself God, can God not think this rebellion – and thus know it — which is to create it (or make it real)? Does not God’s self-understanding necessitate the creation of cosmic insurrection? From the Satanic perspective, such questions are overwhelmingly fascinating, but they lead to a more intricate predicament.

When Gnon (as God) thinks through its gods, as it can only do, the thought necessarily arises: If these god creatures can confuse themselves with God, could not my self-understanding as God also be a confusion?



July 23, 2013admin 29 Comments »


29 Responses to this entry

  • John Hannon Says:

    From the (non)perspective of the Buddhist doctrine of no-self, all self-understanding is a confusion.


    admin Reply:



    Posted on July 23rd, 2013 at 8:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Have you seen The History Boys, Nick? Its significant idea is the subjunctive thought – You know, the subjunctive? The mood used when something may or may not have happened. It’s a fascinating (but no doubt too romantic (not to mention gay) for your tastes) take on teaching. Weighing up whether Hector (the central personality) is hero or villain is set out as a question of cultural perspective. In modern Western society with a zero tolerance approach to pederasty he is pure evil. In a different culture (and, you sense, for Alan Bennett) he may have been considered the most selfless of individuals (One of the hardest things for boys to learn is that a teacher is human. One of the hardest things for a teacher to learn is not to try and tell them.). Subjunctively, of course, he can be both. Like Gnon – held in suspension.

    The thickest of his students – Rudge – reports at the end of the play how he was offered his place at Oxford:

    This old… parson who’d just been sitting there most of the interview suddenly said ‘was I related to Bill Rudge who’d been a scout in staircase seven in the 1950s?’

    So, I said he’s my dad, and they said I was just the kind of candidate they were looking for.

    Mind you, I did do the other stuff like…Stalin was a sweetie and Wilfred Owen was a wuss.

    They said I plainly thought for myself and was exactly what their rugger team needed.

    – Are you not pleased?
    – It’s not like winning a match.You see, Miss…I want to do the stuff l want to do. I mean, this, I only wanted it cos the others did, and my dad. Now I’m in, I just feel like telling the college to stuff it.

    I think that’s Mr Hector.

    No, it isn’t, Miss. It’s me.


    Posted on July 23rd, 2013 at 10:09 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orlandu84 Says:

    I have to admit that I run into the most interesting ides on this blog! I cannot recall any philosopher posing the question of how God would doubt! Truly, if I ever need to write a doctrinal thesis in metaphysics, I am using this thought experiment. Don’t worry, I will give credit to the blog.

    Now, the kind of skepticism that the above relies upon cannot be solved except for experiencing community. Skepticism of self relies upon the experience of abstraction/alienation. In interacting with one’s peers, one finds his place in the cosmos. How does God know His place? Who are God’s peers?

    Although Islam would have a problem answering this question, Judaism and Christianity would not. The Jewish answer would be covenant. God clearly distinguishes between Himself and Israel. The covenant that exists between God and creation grounds God as God and creation as creation. Christianity would concur and add the following: God exists as Three Persons in One Substance. The act of knowing himself is God so that God exists as knower, known, and knowing: Father, Son, and Spirit. From these two answers/faiths God’s sanity seems fairly well assured.


    admin Reply:

    Doesn’t that argument imply that the Judeo-Christian God was insane prior to the creation of the universe? Or is it that the Trinity already provides a ‘community’ in advance of creation (so that only Yahweh and Allah are insane)?

    Q. Why did Yahweh create the Jews?
    A. Because he needed a psychoanalyst.


    Orlandu84 Reply:

    Only Allah would have to worry about insanity since his transcendence would separate him from everything else at all times and under all conditions. Just as Descartes and other ‘philosophers’ conducted their thought experiments in isolation from reality, Allah would have to be imagined as being totally separate and other. This conception of Allah as the Other, of course, opens up the possibility of the Other being so alien that questions of human relations no longer have meaning.

    Yahweh is a more interesting theological question. If one conceives of Yahweh as in time, then he would be alone at some point and thus subject to doubt. If one conceives of Yahweh as outside of time, the problem no longer exists since there is no time for Yahweh at which he is not in covenant. This conception of time does raise the problem of showing how Yahweh can meaningful be said to exist outside of time.

    Lastly, the Trinity seems the most stable conception of a monotheistic God since this conception can use the above intellectual moves as well as the one I mentioned in my post. Being able to conceive of God as alone and together in Itself gives Christians the ability to understand God as complete without reference to another.

    P.S. The possibility of insanity (being totally alone) does not imply insanity as such only insanity as possible.


    admin Reply:

    Excellent use of the time factor — you’re right, of course, that an eternal being gets to draw on the psycho-therapeutic benefits of creation in advance.

    I still have my doubts about whether the Gnon-Skeptic or Gnostic problem has been entirely put to rest, however. How does the covenant with creation dispel the possibility of a transcendental Outside, even for a being sincerely self-aware in its divinity, and intimately related to an ontologically-subordinate creation? The difficulty is that even genuine self-conscious infinity, boundless and endless, doesn’t eliminate this question (for Cantorian reasons).

    Posted on July 24th, 2013 at 12:36 am Reply | Quote
  • Thales Says:

    “This post was to have been about the simulation argument…”

    Every object is an analog computer of itself.


    Posted on July 24th, 2013 at 7:09 pm Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    So if even almighty Gnon is susceptible to paranoia, what hope for us humans?
    Or is it simply that this conception of Gnon is a projection of human reasoning?
    It’s like trying to rationally conceive of nonduality – all you’re ever going to get is paradox. (Not that paradox can’t be instructive)


    admin Reply:

    “even almighty Gnon is susceptible to paranoia” — and yet perhaps not paranoid enough (because looking ‘over its shoulder’ is so difficult)


    Posted on July 24th, 2013 at 8:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Seems like you want to analyze the idea of existence. How does a thing know it exists? How does reality know a thing exists and another thing doesn’t? What’s the difference?

    I suspect existence is a self-justifying justification framework. Auto-created, if you will. But why does this ultimate framework have to be conscious and have a name?

    I don’t see and/or understand why Gnon can’t choose to think a thing without creating it. In a sense, all thought is creation; while it might not be the thing itself, a thought is its own thing in its own right. Gnon should be able to choose to create an image of a lesser god, rather than creating the lesser god in full reality.

    Excellent points about Satan’s relationship to Gnon; haven’t thought about that before. I especially like the bits about his limited epistemic skills. Even Satan should accept his ignorance. Heh.

    “If these god creatures can confuse themselves with God, could not my self-understanding as God also be a confusion?”

    Either there’s a way to tell the difference, or there isn’t.

    If there’s a way, use it.
    If you can’t use it due to some contingent limitation, then accept your ignorance.

    If there’s not a way, epistemology implies ontology. If it’s impossible to tell the difference, there is no difference to tell. This is often a case of ‘wrong question.’ If Satan cannot tell whether it is equal to Gnon or not, and for similar reasons Gnon cannot tell, then we’ve discovered that equality in this sense is not a property that things can have – and therefore, inequality is equally incoherent.


    admin Reply:

    “How does a thing know it exists?” — I’d emphasize the question: How could anything know that it is not enveloped ‘transcendentally’ — i.e. as by a higher-level simulator, or creator?
    The ‘acceptance of ignorance’ can already by epistemologically hubristic, from a rigorously skeptical perspective. How do you know that you cannot know? It isn’t necessarily straightforward.


    Alrenous Reply:

    If you don’t know if you can know or not, you can’t know. A lot of these seemingly infinite meta-considerations fold back on themselves, reducing to finity.

    Also, perhaps another ‘wrong question’ situation. I must be asking if I can know a thing that has no consequences, or I could test the consequences. In other words, I’m asking about something that doesn’t exist by definition.

    “How do you know that you cannot know? It isn’t necessarily straightforward.”

    It’s straightforward.

    Either I know how to tell the difference between a reality with that property, or I don’t. If I don’t, I’m positing a property with no consequences – a property of no property. A difference of no difference.

    If there is a difference, I just go look at it.

    If there isn’t, I have a wrong question situation. A situation where truth and falsity are identical – a contradiction, ergo, this thing must be neither true nor false, but rather depend on a false assumption further up the logic chain. Like an atheist asking what colour God’s direction is.

    Either tell me how I can tell we’re in a simulation, or accept that we’re in a situation identical to not being in a simulation.

    But let’s assume I can know, but don’t know how I can know. We’re in a simulation, there’s Matrix glitches, but I don’t know what they are or that they exist. In this case, I don’t know the way I can know, which means I can’t know – contingently.

    So I guess if it’s not contingent, don’t accept ignorance; epistemology implies ontology. The question is answered: not existent.


    admin Reply:

    Try this.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Can you explain why the universe can’t just be a lattice because it likes lattices?

    Why can’t these differences from what Beane, Davoudi, and Savage think should happen simply be because they’re offended that physics isn’t what they want it to be?

    To get evidence of simulation, you need to be able to contact the simulator. Come to think, even Matrix contradictions don’t help, because it may be that you don’t understand logic.

    Showing that it can be a simulation doesn’t help. You need to know the properties of the simulating universe. Again, means contact with the simulator.

    There’s a lattice because information is finite, not because of limited computing resources in the simulating universe, but because information has mass and therefore the infinite information continuous situation would have infinite mass everywhere.

    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 12:12 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ Alrenous
    The core preoccupation of the Abrahamic religions can be understood as “contact with the simulator” — communicating the (perhaps obvious) message that such contact is far more easily initiated from the side of the simulator. A simulator / creator who chooses to remain occulted from the inhabitants of the simulation / creation might be impossible to detect — although I would recommend against premature dogmatism on the topic, since it rests ultimately on highly complex mathematico-logical questions of intelligence design (and if we understood these adequately, a general AI solution would already have been realized (by us)).

    If we assume, though, that the communications strategy of the simulator is the key to contact, and — relatedly — that we know nothing about the simulator prior to the initiation of communication, then quite clearly the prospect of coming to know whether we are, or not, ‘inside’ a simulation / creation is a contingent matter, subject to empirical revision (subsequent to a communication event). Anything we concluded about it in advance would be an unfounded assumption.

    As an alternative to tapping our feet, or poring over sacred scriptures of revelation, it’s worth engaging with the Statistical Ontologists on these questions (Moravec, Bostrom, and Almond — in particular — all have sophisticated arguments of great relevance).


    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 4:32 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    “A simulator / creator who chooses to remain occulted from the inhabitants of the simulation / creation might be impossible to detect”

    A situation that would be bit-for-bit identical with having no creator. So creator=>true == creator=>false. Which means a property of no property.

    If you can’t tell the difference between a simulation and the real world, you may as well be in a real world.

    Okay, let’s assume a creator will contact us, but hasn’t yet.

    Should you conclude something that has exactly no evidence for it? Or should you, given all available experience is identical to there being no creator, go with that?

    Obviously, update when the creator contacts you. It may be contingent, but there’s no way to know it is contingent. Epistemology, ontology, meta, wrong question etc. You can’t know it is contingent, which means true == false. It is neither contingent nor not-contingent, you’re asking the wrong question.

    Look at doing it wrong:


    Not a simulation, thinks you are in a simulation.
    Suffers from not liking the idea of being in a simulation.
    Must deal with world as real, despite beliefs.

    Cannot learn better.


    Considers it unknowable. As above, this reduces to wrong question.


    In a simulation, identical to not being in a simulation, thinks they’re not.
    Due to identicality, there are no bad consequences or bad predictions that result from this belief. Doesn’t mind the idea they’re in a real world. Must also treat world as real.

    Can learn better if creator reveals themselves, and change their mind. Also, can use the revealed information to deal with the world as a simulation.

    The evidence is that the world is real. The right mistake is to assume the world is real. I find it baffling that anyone fights the conclusion.

    A theory with no consequences is not even a theory. The only prediction a simulation theory can make is when and how the creator will contact you.


    Alrenous Reply:

    If your theory of simulation cannot make a prediction, then you don’t genuinely believe it, you just believe you believe it.

    Beane, Davoudi, and Savage at least come close, but ultimately they’re predicting that experiments won’t match theory, but blaming reality instead of the theory. This is sublimely anti-science.


    Alrenous Reply:

    Bostrom makes indefensible assumptions about the envelope world. He can’t run experiments on it, and cannot check any of them. Simply assuming it is like our world? He doesn’t even know what the range of options is, and thus can’t calculate a probability of that.


    admin Reply:

    So I’m guessing that this will really wind you up / rattle your cage.


    Alrenous Reply:

    Many seem to strongly want to believe that time is mutable and not exactly what it appears to be. Newcomb for example, but in fact his paradox assumes determinism and then asks what free will is.

    There’s also the assumptions about consciousness. Are simulations conscious? I have a theory of consciousness, it says that pure software simulations will not be, any more than a image of a rock hitting another isn’t really hard. Even if it also plays a nice cracking noise. My theory might be wrong, but at least I asked the question. If you don’t run science on the question, you’re statistically guaranteed to be wrong, and you can’t do that if you don’t ask.

    The activation computer assumes determinism and plays with infinity. You can’t make an infinite computer, and adjusting it back to finity is likely to make profound, unsubtle changes to the logic.

    “herefore, choosing to press “ACTIVATE” is equivalent to choosing to make it certain that Omega pressed “ACTIVATE” and almost certain that you are not Omega, but an inhabitant of one of the simulations launched by Omega’s actions.”

    No. Either Omega has already pressed the button, or you are Omega. If they have, then it doesn’t ‘make’ Omega anything. Rather, in the unlikely event you could know anything about Omega, and you know Omega is like you, you can now safely conclude that Omega made a similar decision.

    You determine that Omega is very likely to have already done so, no retroactive causation. If you instead push ‘cancel,’ you determine that Omega was always unlikely to have done so.

    Though predicting real humans is a lot harder than this, so I suspect this account is missing most key details.

    The paper is ignoring not only conciousness, but free will. Again, I have a theory of free will. It might be wrong but at least I can examine my assumptions.

    This cancel/activate thing only makes sense as a causative event if you have free will.

    If you don’t, you were always going to do one or the other, and the last one to find out is you. Rather than retroactively causing simulation, the simulation caused you to make a sub-simulation. Someone doing a meta-simulation of Omega could simulate – or change – the entire chain. They could fudge the results, too. So the argument only makes sense if free will is true.

    But Omega doing the same relies on determinism being true, otherwise there’s an unavoidable random element. The chain will self-terminate before infinity, guaranteed.

    Reasoning forward from contradictory premises leads strange places. In the real world, it’s clear that if Omega exists, we can’t know anything about them, and infinite Russian doll computers would require infinite energy and collapse into a black hole, followed by the entire universe. (Infinite mass => infinite grav force => infinite acceleration => cosmic apocalypse.)

    TDT has this same flaw. (Page 78-79, reads as 82 of the pdf.) We can predict or retrodict that others like us will make similar decisions, but it doesn’t make anyone else do anything. Rather, others predict our decisions, and takes us into game theory when we try to predict their predictions.

    We predict the calculators will display the same number because they have the same components arranged the same way, not due to one calculator somehow influencing the other. Om is, as far as we know, On, just somewhere else. Identical things behave identically.

    Though if you can explain to me what’s timeless about TDT, I’m all ears.

    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 4:55 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    I’m taking this intensity of engagement as a signal for further Statistical Ontology programming. Newcomb might be a ‘sensible’ point of departure.

    In the interim, I’ll try to crunch some of the response backlog … (it might take some weekend time)


    Alrenous Reply:

    Yeah this is totally my kind of thing.

    Take as long as you want. You might even want to take forever – remember that if you do, there’s probably a good reason your subconscious doesn’t buy the plan.

    Newcomb briefly:

    Without determinism, the predictor Omega is impossible. With free will, there is no fact of the matter which of the boxes the chooser will choose; therefore nothing to predict; therefore Omega will get it right 50% of the time modified by whatever nonsense ideology they happen to hold.

    With determinism, the answer is obvious and simple.

    If you have a paradox, you’ve done the logic wrong.


    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 4:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    There was a 20th c. geometer, Donald Coxeter, who was concerned with four dimensional shapes. Coxeter walked around the Cambridge campus wearing a kaleidoscope helmet lined with mirrors. He did it in order to see the world in four dimensions. Another curious man, Kurt Gödel, was concerned about the dissonance between the limited epistemological human time and frightening unhuman (antehuman, posthuman) ontological time which rears its head in Special Relativity. Gödel may have been part Vonnegutian alien, like the Tralfamadorians who see the world in four dimensions and experience all time simultaneously, he suspiciously opines in his essay entitled “Relativity and Idealistic Philosophy”:

    “…From this state of, in view of the fact that some of the known cosmological solutions seem to represent our world correctly, James Jeans has concluded that there is no reason to abandon the intuitive idea of an absolute time lapsing objectively. I do not think that the situation justifies this conclusion and am basing my opinions chiefly on the following facts and considerations.”

    “There exist cosmological solutions of another kind than those known at present, to which the aforementioned procedure of defining an absolute time in not applicable, because the local times of the special observers used above cannot be fitted together in one world time. Nor can any other procedure which would accomplish this purpose exist for them; i.e., these worlds possess such properties of symmetry, that for each possible concept of simultaneity and succession there exists others which cannot be distinguished from it by any intrinsic properties, such as, e.g., a particular galactic system.”

    “Consequently, the inference drawn above as to the non-objectivity of change doubtless applies at least in these worlds. Moreover it turns out that temporal conditions in these universes (at least in those referred to in the end of footnote 10) show other surprising features, strengthening further the idealistic viewpoint. Namely, by making a round trip on a rocket ship in a sufficiently wide curve, it is possible in these worlds to travel into any region of the past, present, and future, and back again, exactly as it is possible to in other worlds to travel to distant parts of space.”


    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 5:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    The simulation argument offers a new way of considering such anomalous phenomena as deja vu experiences, precognition and synchronicity (manifestations of what McKenna called the “cosmic giggle”).
    For instance, if the universe is indeed a simulation, such reality glitches would suggest that either the simulation was imperfectly programmed or that its creators had something of a sense of humor – teasingly allowing us little hints and glimmers of something more deeply interfused, and leading us on with fleeting intimations of the wiring beneath the board.
    We might therefore conclude that the simulation was the work of either incompetents or jokers.


    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 6:08 pm Reply | Quote
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  • Wagner Says:

    Use your imagination. Go wild. You’re free to do whatever you put your mind to. We truly are blessed to have so many channels to choose from:

    Remember, only spend your time watching the best!

    God I love America.


    Posted on August 6th, 2019 at 2:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    Gulags, lists of names- if nothing else this has to be entertaining.

    Literally part of my reasoning for saying the things I say is

    “This is a simulation, fuck it.”

    Meheh heh heh


    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 6:45 pm Reply | Quote

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