Hold on to your cellular-automated horses!

At any and every moment, countless amateur philosophers all over the globe are debating this exact issue right now. Just in case anyone comes across this node in their search for meaning here on e2, I will take a moment to stamp the rubber-stamp opposition to this statement. However, I would like to point out that I completely agree with mmmmbacon's basic premise. Stephen Wolfram does so, as well. Unfortunately, his research in this field has not produced the so-called "missing link" in the materialist-determinist's vision of the universe: one brilliantly complex Conway's Game of Life.

The missing link is the bridge between the simple structures capable of occurring in rule-based computer-model simulations, such as Conway's Game of Life and the higher levels of  complexity we find in our everyday world. Put simply, the little squiggling shapes populating Wolfram's computer models never evolved into figures with higher complexity. The blinking cross, for example, will never evolve into a more interesting figure, it will always and forever remain a blinking cross. This type of environment does not seem to represent the chaotic fullness and creativity of the world we are all used to. Wolfram himself admits that most of his simulations, regardless of the time spent running through the simulation, never reach a higher level of complexity. In fact, Wolfram admitted that his results reached a certain level of chaos, and then hit a plateau: a humming comfort level of complexity.

Hold on to your free-willed horses!

But wait! This may not be the end of the materialist-determinist's road, but rather just the beginning. Perhaps, as the counter-counter argument goes (in which I place my trust): Wolfram's models simply aren't large enough, and also perhaps his rules governing these models are not complex enough. Perhaps if the computer-model simulation were the size of, say, the entire size of the universe itself, then maybe the data will evolve into higher orders of complexity, such as rats, perfume, giant squids, and cable bills.

Calling All QM Buffs: Please see this node for the quantum side to the philosophical inquiry of determinism. I personally dislike the current rubber-stamp quantum argument: that the nature of free will hides somewhere in the quantum buzz engulfing the universe. To me, that's like picking up thirty-nine upside down cups without finding the little red ball and then just assuming it is going to be under the fortieth. Maybe there is no little red ball.

Oh, I guess I failed to answer WHAT IF the universe is like the Game of Life, and I must say I agree with ariel's assertion below: If the universe were a Game of Life, then it would look and feel exactly as it does today, with no difference!