Rebuilding God: The Good Place
Since we are in the process of “Rebuilding God”, we’ll need to rebuild Heaven as well.
The idea of floating around for eternity playing harps in the clouds has never sat well with me. I don’t like singing, and I don’t play music. “Oh, but you will” is a common refrain.
Really? So, I’m going to be completely changed? Are you going to wipe my memory as well? Because, if so, why bother? Why not start with a better blank slate. If we are given new bodies and new minds.. well.. that’s just a different flavor of nihilism. That’s recycling, not farming.
I do like the idea of being reunited with loved ones. But this too raises a lot of questions. Do they want to be reunited with me? Is my desire for being with someone around for eternity eternal torture for them? Is it really even “them”?
Also, what “version” of them is it? I’m almost a completely different human than I was in my 20s.. both physically and mentally. Only a handful of things unite these different mes.. a few scars, my wife, and a recedeed hairline. And my name I suppose, that’s stayed pretty constant.
These aren’t new thoughts, but somehow we feels like we are closer to really talking about options as a society.
In the TV show “Uploaded” the main character has his “soul” uploaded to a digital heaven. It’s expensive and is funded by the living. The poor people can be uploaded to a more limited and ad supported version.. that looks a lot like Hell.
If we rebuild God, or create an AI deity in our image, what sort of afterlife will we ask of it? If it offers eternity, what will you want that to look like? And how will that not accidentally become Hell for the inhabitants?
One thought experiment I go back to often is Minecraft. It’s very basic, but very compelling “metaverse”. There are two main ways to play Minecraft, “creative mode” where you have unlimited resources and are immortal, or “survival mode” where there are threats and scarcity. Creative draws people in, but it almost invariably becomes stale. Who cares if you can build endless castles out of solid gold and diamond? Streets paved with gold? Who cares, it has no value.
Survival mode is compelling. If you survive the first night by building a sad cabin or climbing something, or just burying yourself and waiting for dawn.. you’ll find yourself looking for coal to start fires.. and food.. and then weapons.. and ultimately, diamond. It’s a thrill, which is funny because you are only a few clicks away from having everything you could possibly want in creative mode.
Are humans too ruined for Heaven? Do we need the struggle and strife? Would time lose all value if we had an infinite amount? It’s hard to imagine right now as there is so much I want to do, but what about after I’ve explored all of the trillions of planets?
In the game “No Man’s Sky” you can explore billions of planets. I’ve tried out dozens of them. The devs have done an amazing job of procedurally generating planets. Each one is unique having it’s own unique creatures, plants, and landscapes. It really is incredible. But it eventually gets dull. It’s all derived from “rules” much like our Universe, and thus, it becomes somewhat repetitive. We see lot of repetition forced by physics in our world, just look around at all the legs, fins, wings, etc… it’s called “convergent evolution”.
Maybe there will come a time when smart AI aliens inhabit these worlds, and build their own worlds, not unlike humans. Maybe you’ll explore a planet that has AI beings on it for millions of years and they’ve invented things we can’t really imagine. But more likely, they’ll find themselves with the same constraints we do. Cars, planes, trains, whatever.. they’ll most likely create things that look familiar in one way or another, because it’s the underlying “rules” that determine this.
Maybe their culture will be fascinating. Maybe they’ll right the most amazing stories and poetry, paint the best paintings. Or, maybe, they’ll struggle with the same things we do.. the nature of existence, the imperfections of the world.. or maybe things will be too perfect and they’ll have no strife. There will no “drama” that typically compels great works of art. No violence means no heroes. No deep and rich history of ancient struggles and battles.
Do we really want a Heaven with out struggle and strife?
It’s really hard to imagine a Heaven without a “to do”. I’ve oft joked God showing up, or Jesus returning, and saying, “all right, new Heaven and new Earth.. get to work”.. and we spend the next 1000 years just cleaning up the mess we made. LA would need to be leveled and rebuild entirely of course.
Maybe we were meant to be intergalactic explorers… but it’s hard to imagine being immortal.. what happens if you fly into a star? Infinite lives?