Competing Churches

In my last post, I described this hypothetical organization called the Church of Bruce which I could use to extort people by making them unsure about which world they live in.  I just want to clarify one of my conclusions that was a bit off. Where I said you could conclude that you almost certainly live in one of the Church of Bruce (CoB) simulations, you really can only conclude that you almost certainly live in a simulation with a Church of Bruce in it. If there are other groups out there making simulations featuring Church of Bruce’s then you might be in one of theirs. And if they aren’t using the same criteria for rewarding people in the afterlife, then you would be less justified in donating to the Church of Bruce. This opens the door for competing churches.

Suppose you find yourself in a situation where there are several competing churches all promising to make as many simulations as they can in which they will reward followers of their church. In this case you are almost surely in some church’s simulation, but it is hard to tell whose. Although it is possible that you could hedge your bets by donating to all the churches, let’s assume each church stipulates that people in their simulations will only be saved if they worship their church exclusively. So you need to figure out which church (if any) offers you the best chance of salvation.

The likelihood that you are in a simulation by a specific church is the proportion of simulations (+ reality) consistent with your experiences that are made by that church. For example, if the Church of Bruce makes 75% of the simulations, then you have about a 75% chance of being in a CoB simulation and it probably makes sense to donate to them.

Intuitively, it seems like you should try to compare the current churches and try to gauge which is best poised to make the most simulations in the future. All else being equal, the bigger wealthier churches seem like the best candidates. But the problem with this logic is that if you are in a simulation, then you are observing the church in the simulation, not reality. It is possible that the situation in the simulation might correspond to the situation in reality, but is there any reason to believe this?

To think about the relationship between reality and the simulations you need to thing about the goals of the churches making these simulations. They are making the simulations to maximize people’s confidence that they are in a simulation where they should donate to the church. People can’t think they are in any simulations that are inconsistent with their experiences. So churches will want to make simulations as consistent with reality as possible and advertise their intentions of doing this in advance. So the Church of Bruce would advertise that at some point in the future it will make a ton of simulations that will be made as consistent as possible with reality up to that point.

Based on this principle that simulations should tend to be similar to reality, we can infer from our observation that a given church is powerful that it is likely powerful in reality and that we should donate to it. It isn’t necessarily true that simulations should look like reality because some of the churches might not design their simulations rationally. In general though we should expect all the churches to produce simulations that look pretty similar to reality.


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