What kind of game are we playing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I’m returning to my look at Edward Castronova’s book Life Is A Game, seeing as it was highly influential on my Defend Talk. At this point, he is asking what kind of game we are playing. We are going to be looking at three main categories, materialist, subjectivist, or objectivist.
For a materialist game, everything in this game is matter in motion. Suppose you see a drowning child and you jump in the water to pull them to safety. Did you do a good act? Not really. You are matter in motion jumping in to save matter in motion and goodness is not a material property inherent in the matter in motion. If there is any goodness, it doesn’t come from the situation itself.
Actually, Hume would agree with this. Good or evil are often ideas that we throw on the events that we see. We read them into the event instead of reading them out of the event. In a materialist universe, it is not real. I do understand that atheists and other materialists do have arguments for why they think moral truths are real and objective. I just find them all so far lacking.
What about a subjectivist game? In this, we make it up as we go along. There is no real game, but we act as if there is. The closest analogy that comes to mind is Calvinball. Calvinball in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip is supposed to be the game that has no rules.
To be fair, many of us can make up games for us to do on our own when we get bored. Many a family on a long car trip, including my own, did the game of trying to find cars from different states in the country and seeing how many you could find. Children with imaginations make up games quite easily. In essence, most every game we have here to some extent is made up. Chess is not built into the fabric of the universe.
That being said though, once the rules of a game are made, one cannot change them willy-nilly. You cannot sit down to play a game of chess and suddenly decide that your bishops can move horizontally in the middle of the game. Now if you and your opponent want to make up some artificial rules to change the game, you can, but they must be agreed upon.
However, subjectivism doesn’t work because we can’t just make everything up and if we make everything up, we can make up the outcomes to. There is no risk. There is no real way to lose. Besides that, there are aspects of the game we cannot change. No matter how much you protest, 2 + 2 will still equal 4 and no amount of complaining will change that.
This leaves us with an objectivist game. There is something real to what we are doing. There is also something that is real beyond us. This game is not just something material as there is real good and real evil out there.
How do we play this game then and what is the goal? That’s for another time.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)