top of page
  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Waiting for Godot

While many have never seen or read Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot, it is often cited as a commentary on humanity’s propensity to wait on the illusory in order to give meaning to an otherwise empty existence. It is also a perfect analog for the absurd beliefs proffered by adherents of Q’Anon and other fringe cults who live in a world of inverted reality. I don’t wish to dignify the beliefs of these groups by reciting their familiar claims that the vast majority of us are deluded fools living in a universe manufactured by media and political machination. It is sufficient to say that for some people acceptance of the reality in which we live is unacceptable.

I was focused on this thought the other day when I happened on an article in a scientific journal that was titled provocatively, Proof our world is a digital simulation. Frankly it was a fascinating piece, although some of the math was a bit beyond me. Summing it up, the authors offered several tests of the theory that we live inside a simulation—a concept that has been advanced by both philosophers, mathematicians and many others, but has generally been met with skepticism by the scientific community. In this article, however, a team of physicists set out to explore the theory applying real world tests. These scientists began their exploration by asking some fundamental questions about the constraints of creating a universe of such vast complexity as ours.

Envision for the sake of illustration the idea that we are living in a matrix-like universe—one that has been rendered with absolute precision magnitudes beyond anything humans are capable of creating. Despite this seemingly impossible achievement there remain telltale constraints. One, is the barrier of the speed of light. Notwithstanding all of our technological achievement the speed of light marks the outer limit of the simulation’s ability to render a convincing reality.

Similarly, how do we explain such universal constants as Pi, or the golden ratio? While it is true that mathematical equations and constants are our attempts to explain relationships we have discovered and quantified, why do they exist? And finally, how do we explain seeming anomalies posed by quantum physics that suggest observability of a phenomenon is causal?

If these questions interest you I refer you to the paper on which they are based, On testing the simulation theory, by Tom Campbell, Houman Owhadi, Joe Sauvageau, David Watkinson.

As I read through this paper and other texts on the subject I became even more convinced that our human need to make sense of existence, to identify a prime mover responsible for life is baked into our DNA. I can understand the attraction of a unifying theory explaining reality in scientific terms as opposed to creationism for those not disposed to a religious explanation. Undoubtedly, we humans have wrestled with this question since we became self-aware.

So what does this have to do with Q’Anon and Godot? It seems to me that humans are so focused on the why of our lives that what we make of them is beyond us. Some reject what is apparent and conjure a different reality, convincing themselves that at some future date all will be revealed. Doing so permits them to escape the uncomfortable or unpleasant, and engenders a sense of superiority giving purpose to acts and beliefs that the majority would reject. Some people use religion in much the same way, as an excuse for harboring beliefs that would be otherwise repugnant to most. Even those who fully reject the idea of an ineffable deity or an intelligent agency with vast resources are left like Vladmir and Estragon at the curtain drop, waiting.

Whatever beliefs you may hold, it is unlikely we will ever know the answer as to the why of our lives. The what, our purpose, the relationships we form and the consequences of our acts and beliefs are the only thing that is real. They are what we should honor and what we should never seek to escape.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Dr. Strangelove

Many of us can recall the iconic movie, Dr. Stangelove, a legacy of the age of Atomic anxiety at the height of the Cold War in the 1960’s.  In the face of a Cuban missile crisis and daily shoe-poundin

Choosing Beggars

One of the only social media sites I frequent has a thread entitled Choosing Beggars.  The gist of what gets posted there are stories about ingratitude—typically of an amusing nature but sometimes so


Among many new words in our vocabularies since the advent of the Internet, disintermediation may be one of the most understated to emerge from that sea of acronyms and euphemisms coined by tech market


Subscribe and we'll send you new posts every week

  • Facebook Social Icon
bottom of page