The Experience Machine, the Nature of Reality, and God

Have you heard the thought experiment of The Experience Machine? If not, it’s roughly as follows:

Imagine there exists a machine, such that when you enter it, you experience a perfect universe. Everything you desire, is there. A personalised universe designed to make you as perfectly happy as it’s possible to be. Would you enter? Would you ever leave?

I think leaving would be the right choice. We ought to choose reality with suffering over happy illusions.

But I’m trying to pin down why the virtual reality of the machine is less real, and also less good, than the world outside it, and it’s not so clear to me. It feels real. Yes, it’s not physically real, but what’s the difference between our physical world and the virtual world, that behaves the same?

The best I’ve come up with so far, is this: reality doesn’t revolve around me. It lies outside of me, and isn’t dependent upon my will. It has a life of its own.

And this is infinitely better. Why? Because it makes communion, love and graciousness possible. The machine can provide every pleasure, but not these things, which make life life. The beauty of life is in being intruded on by the Other, giving ourselves to the Other, and both creating/becoming something new as a result. It’s sex, as opposed to masturbation. It’s the Trinity as opposed to the monad.

My questions seem to have found their answers 🙂. Even my next question, which I will share anyway.

If reality is outside of my power, is nothing real for God? Is God alone in an experience machine?

The answer is, that God is Trinity. God is the Lover, the Beloved, and the Fountain of Love between the two, and all three exist only in and as this Love. They do not exist, then love, or exist, then be loved. They love and are beloved and conceive love, from all eternity, and this is what God is.

May God bless you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit


  1. Here’s my very short answer.

    Goodness is ordered in love. Love is perfectly exhibited within the persons of the trinity. The human experience must be rightly ordered toward person and act for our fellow human, so to fully experience the goodness of humanity and to be happy one most order their desire to the communio.

    A VR has no community.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. More or less I am confirming your thoughts. I’ll attempt to put into words several philosophical assertions on the fly here. Since the enlightenment, the philosophical approach has been a “liberalization” of man from all authority. To create the promethean man, who serves only individualism. However, I’d argue that isn’t the essence of humanity; it doesn’t exhibit the teleology of what it means to be human.

        In modernity, we’ve lost the basic function of our humanity at the most primitive level by articulating that something with distinct human DNA because they are not born are not human. The first community is the family. All of us as children could not survive with a pure form of individualism. We have to rely on our parent—our closest community. So, let’s branch that out more families sometimes need the aid of other families/communities those become tribes/towns and then progresses into nations etc.

        Now, technologically we’ve attempted to control “life,” and in your example, a VR system fits into another peg of individualism that serves to negate reality at the expense of the authentic community for the sake of the individual to fall into escapism.


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