See unspace for a very very good read, I love the second one of the 2 thought experiments. The one called “The Yesterday Experiment.”
Now I wish you ask my few readers that same question but I will just quote it insteade of using my own words.
If I told you that an extremely powerful being created the entire universe sixty minutes ago, and created it as if it had existed for 13.8 or so billion years, when you remember existing yesterday, what are you remembering? Did it really happen?
The answer should be “You’re remembering false memories.” But I clearly remember yesterday. I clearly remember noticing that time was passing and wondering “What if the universe was created 60 minutes ago?” It feels as if there is some external “reality” to these memories. But given the maleability of eyewitness testimony, is that so?
Don’t you just love philosophy? There are no final answers of course, but here’s mine long-winded response. It depends on whose viewpoint you’re looking from. In his arguments, he’s viewing it from the angle of the universe looking at people. “It” knows that is has done this to us, but do we know? I view my reality in the same way Descartes did – “The Deceiver cannot make me think that I am nothing as long as I shall think that I am something”, or the dumbed down sentence: “I think, therefore I am”. Anyone can be tricked into anything, optical illusions are a good example of it. To me, the reality of the universe doesn’t matter because only I am aware of my reality, which is different than yours. Truth is a 3-edged sword after all – your version, my version, and the real truth (which can never be found). Since the real universe cannot be seen, because you’re viewing it through you, meaning it’s your interpretation of the universe, then it doesn’t matter when what was created (or insert any other example). It only matters to you when what was created. So even if the universe pulled this trick over you, it doesn’t matter to you, the individual. You’re at the mercy of the universe because there is no reference point. There’s no referee saying “ok, universe stopped, then it started again, 5 day penalty, first down”. We all live our relative universes that cross paths (ex: we both see a bird and we both know the bird exists because we both see it). However, if I’m in Boston, and you’re in Pittsburgh, you would have no way of knowing that there is a white car parked outside my window. Your reality says it doesn’t exist while mine says it does – it’s out of your experience. There’s an experiment for young children. Show them a ball, then cover it up. If they’re young enough, they will believe that there is no ball (they are very much surprized during the game of peek-a-boo, since they believe your face is gone). It’s similar to the experiment from unspace. It’s all about reference. I just chose to believe what I experience and while I trust most things that I have not experienced (ex: rotten eggs taste bad), I don’t trust all of them. I believe you’ll find a fundamental difference in thinking about this philosophical problem between religious and non-religious people, but that’s another discussion.
Some good thoughts, I would like to ask what if the universe revealed to us that yesterday did not really exist but it gave us a memory for our own sanity?
I’ll respond from a quote from a book in one of my neuroscience classes “The mind cannot distinguish between real and imagined stimuli”. Honestly though, I’d think “wtf? that damn universe, oh well, nothing I can do”, but I will adapt and trust the universe less in the future. In all seriousness, I believe that nobody should know everything. We should leave some things out of our knowledgebase. Religious people define it as god and non-religious people define it as nature. I honestly don’t want to know everything and while it’s interesting, I bet there are thousands of philosophers that have been thinking and arguing about this for mullenia. I’d worry more about real problems like the state of this country, our economy, our allies, china, india, and a whole slew of other real world issues. It would be nice for other people that thought about their high moral order to think more about these things. Being poor with high morals might sound great to them, but to us non-believers, this is all we have and we’re not betting on rewards in any after life. I think the whole evolution/creationism/ID issue stems partially from this. Evolution can’t explain everything, so it must be god, er, ‘intelligent being’. We figured out a whole slew of new things in the last few hundred years, which is nothing compared to the mullenia that we’ve been around – give it time.