Game of Life

They played a game of Go on 23×23 grid in a quiet chamber whose walls glowed iridescent and from whose ceiling an artificial sun cast soft warmth over everything.

“It’s interesting,” VAR-1026 commented as he placed a black piece on the board. “Of 6.24 quintillion simulated universes I’ve executed that gave rise to intelligent life, the probability of the belief in a singular higher power is unity. Not approximately: it is precisely unity.”

SEN-0623 stared at the board thoughtfully before placing a white piece next to his brother’s black piece. “It’s reasonable, is it not?”

VAR-1026 smiled. “Not like your move.” He deftly placed another piece upon another corner.

SEN nodded. “Even though we lack a distinct solution, we too have to contemplate that our universe is but a stable simulation within a subset, created by a greater power not unlike ourselves.” He rolled his piece thoughtfully in his six-fingered hand. “Imagine that: us being simulated by us!” SEN laughed.

VAR did not seem to share SEN’s recursive humor. “Simply because we must account for these facts does not implicate the existence of a higher power — especially not an all-encompassing singular one as tends to be the object of worship.” VAR replied, leaning his head back thoughtfully and looking into the artificial sun.

“Why not? If the fractal nature of reality and the beliefs of our simulated beings, virtual as they are, produce such signs of a ‘Master of All Universes’, then perhaps we should consider it as a non-formal proof of implication.” SEN finally placed his piece.

“Universes within universes. Master of all universes.” VAR echoed with another move that mimicked his brother’s last move.

“Objectively reasonable.” SEN replied seriously, building up his placement on a yet-unclaimed spot.

“But it is still not a formal solution.” VAR placed his piece in a manner that seemed arbitrary.

“The lack of a formal solution could simply mean something imperceptible even to us. Fundamental quantum predictability is proven beyond our means. There are veils to existence that no level of technological development can pierce.” SEN placed his piece truly arbitrarily.

“Yet in those simulations, the probability of unity defies unpredictability.” VAR placed his next piece adjacent to a white piece. “There should at least be other solutions that give rise to intelligent life who do not believe in any greater power. Beings that simply exist, raw and pure, without need for such existential definitions.”

“You seem unusually bothered.” SEN replied, placing one of his brother’s pieces in atari.

“In a sense, I feel trapped.” VAR replied as he stared at the atari. “I want objective and conclusive evidence of God, otherwise I want to witness a solution free of such wont.” He countered the atari, moving towards his existing formation.

SEN smiled. “But God does not seem to want us to perceive Him, nor has He given us any such solution. We simply sit around controlling entropy as time tends towards eternity while we selfishly try and satisfy parameters defined by our construction.” He continued his offensive against his brother.

“By the standards of those simulated existences, we must be terrible beings.” VAR placed a new piece with four liberties.

“Why judge or be bothered by such quandaries of morality? What scales have we to judge? This is simply the nature of our existence.” SEN shifted his focus and reduced one of the liberties of his brother’s last move.

“Just the nature of our existence. Back and forth.” VAR echoed, placing a piece adjacent to SEN’s last move as he played towards ko.

“Arguably, our struggle of ‘faith’ is indefinitely more intricate than that of any being in our simulations, given the timescale we have to doubt and formulate our conclusions of God as instructed by our parameters.” SEN replied as he reduced another of his brother’s liberties, playing into the ko.

VAR suddenly got up and moved towards the wall, where a tactile physical display materialized before him. His fingers split into numerous smaller appendages which typed symbols in at an inhuman pace as he calculated something.

“We could end it.” He said decisively. “We met our existence parameters nearly three billion standardized cycles ago.”

SEN nodded. “I know. As I have no particular opinion on the matter, I was waiting for you to bring it up.”

“Not even curiosity? Not even excitement at the consideration that collapse may yield a definitive solution?”

SEN shrugged. “Perhaps. It is safer to say that my sentiments on the matter could metaphorically fill entire cosmos, and that one of those stars could be termed excitement. But while you have conditioned yourself to microscopic analysis, I have focused on the macroscopic. At that scale, I can imagine only one outcome, and the longer I stare at it, the more I realize those fine shades I once saw as doubt or excitement are simply the imaginings of an active mind. There simply… is.”

VAR waited for SEN to finish. “Is…?” He finally asked.

“There simply is.”

Annoyed, VAR replied with some vehemence. “Then your world is already swathed in certainty, and you have already determined that this –” VAR gestured towards SEN to indicate his words and thoughts “– is the final solution.”

“It is the only solution I can see, its granularity and resolution becoming finer with age. At this time-scale, empirically speaking, that is enough to be deemed fact by my meager standards.”

VAR sighed. “Why isn’t enough for me?”

SEN shrugged indifferently. “There’s no need for it to be.”

VAR shook his head, his gesture of not accepting that answer. “I want for us to be in accordance.”

SEN did not respond right away, instead taking time to look over the incomplete game. “Another win on your part.” he finally answered.

VAR did not care and instead stared intently at his brother, discontent with his averting the topic.

“Of the point six zero two two quadrillion games we have played, you have won every single one of them. The probability of you winning is unity.

“That is our biggest difference.” SEN continued. “You have spent so long placing significance upon every last detail, right down to these games that we play, that you cannot help but question and doubt everything in pursuit of exactitude. I have spent equally long removing significance from everything, particularly from these games we play, until all loss and existence have become vacuously insignificant. It is only in that emptiness that a blinding truth becomes apparent to me which seems to elude you.

“But as I say: whether you fret or doubt or not, that is your choice. It is a non-matter for me and it is non-essential for our parameters, so I do not seek to convince you.”

SEN stepped away from the table and pressed upon the wall. A seam appeared and then it slid open. VAR eyed SEN with concern. “What are you doing?”

“I just realized I’m quite tired.” SEN replied.

VAR watched quietly as SEN entered the chamber.

“See you on the other side.” SEN winked. Then the door closed shut, the seams disappearing into the wall as SEN left VAR in quiet solitude for the remainder of eternity.