First thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment DH and nice to meet you. Apologies if we have conversed here before and I am forgetting but it turns out I am as bad with names in the digital world as I am in the real (or simulated) one.

I can totally understand why you would interpret parts of The Simulationist’s Church to suggest an absence of free will, particularly in The Ethic of the Simulationist where I use the word “programmed” when talking about persons acting for good or evil. I want to make clear that I (and by extension my church) have yet to form a hard and fast position on the issue. If you look again at the Simulationist’s Creed you will see free will touched upon in Maxims 2 and 3 which actually seem to contradict each other on the question. Maxim 2 stating in no uncertain terms “predestination is impossible” where Maxim 3 says “ free will exists.. only in so much as the parameters of the simulation code (physical/natural laws) allow. However, even maxim 3 which, taken at face value, seems to rule out free will, actually leaves a ton of wiggle room in either direction. What the parameters of the simulation code allow could easily be defined as free will. In this scenario the simulators would act only as “first movers” in the same sense as God is often said to have worked by many more secular minded modern day creationists. They set up the initial conditions of the physical parameters of the universe in the code, add quantum randomness, hit run, and then walk away entirely. This is similar to Maxim 2 which itself uses the inclusion of quantum randomness into the simulation code to make a very strong case for the necessity of free will. A fully determined system cannot have any randomness or it is no longer fully determined. It is a larger stretch to say it therefore must have free will but it certainly tilts the odds at least in that direction. Link to The Creed reposted below for convenience.

In any event the reason the church stakes no firm position on this question is that it is so hard. I have been working on a post discussing the possibility of free will in a simulated universe for many months now and have yet to finish/publish it as I keep pin wheeling back and forth between the two extreme positions and many intermediate possibilities. If an intermediate position is even possible is itself a matter of great debate that deserves its own separate treatment. I intend to finish and publish that piece soon but it may have no firm conclusion other than perhaps a ranking of sorts of the possibility of free will existing in the different SH possible variant systems. I do absolutely think that variant systems/forms of the simulation hypothesis are possible and in my opinion some are more probable than the strongest form and have made that case in the two posts below.

Assuming you accept the possibility of variant forms then right now I find free will the most problematic in the strongest version of the simulation hypothesis, what I call SH1. In SH1 both the universe and ourselves are 100% simulated. Link to discussion of the various SH forms possible below.

I find the probability of free will existing to be highest in the partial simulation forms pSH2&3 and of intermediate or roughly 50/50 probability in SH2 and SH3 forms. I will discuss my reasons for all this in the upcoming post. The whole mess is terribly complicated with partial simulation forms themselves of a near infinite variety available. I also discuss this in a somewhat tongue in cheek fashion in the post linked below.

And so it goes on and on. What was I talking about again? Ah well, it’s late. Thanks again DH and be on the lookout for the free will piece.

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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