Sunday, December 16, 2007

Faith Awakened Review, Part Two

There are two main, related ideas here:

1. God designs our lives much as a programmer designs a complex program, and
2. God can control even virtual reality.

I don't disagree with either point. The problem for me is the nature of the interface. You see, God designed us to interact with him and with each other through this world and these bodies. So it seems reasonable to conclude that these interfaces (body and world) are the best--though they are certainly tainted by sin.

But the characters in FA who comment on the virtual experience find it paradisical: they don't want to leave it. Now, I can believe that, though for very different reasons than given in the story. Could God reach people through VR? Certainly. Would they be more reachable there? Certainly not.

You see, apart from the interface issue--God's preferred interface is surely out here--there is the nature of the virtual realm itself. Even in FA, there are doubts. The main character has a "dark night of the soul" experience in VR, which I would consider typical, and some computer-generated friends seem artificial: their behavior is mechanical. Again, no argument here.

The nature of VR is to turn away from the God-given interface to a man-made one: artificial worlds and bodies. Reality points to God; does artificial reality do so? Wouldn't it underscore our sinful tendency to turn away from God and others, accepting only imaginary versions of them all? For all our electronic connectedness, we are more lonely than ever.

This is the problem of all technological "improvements" to God's design. The transhumanists believe that we can become better by re-engineering ourselves--something C. S. Lewis addressed with horror in The Abolition of Man. But making ourselves stronger or faster or even more intelligent wouldn't actually make us better in spiritual terms, and by moving us away from our original design, it could actually make us harder for God to reach. Follow God's design. Accept no substitutes.

1 comment:

Grace Bridges said...

Aha, you got me there, Steve! Good point. I guess there are other factors in this... for one, the VR storyline is almost entirely autobiographical. And relative to this, it's my aim to fuzz up the boundary lines. Is this life for real? Or is it someone's VR program? Ever wondered why some people behave so woodenly, or why your life just doesn't work out? Maybe there's a bug in the system, and maybe those folks aren't real... The main point being: even if we were in an artificial environment, we wouldn't be out of God's reach. As to why VR seems better than reality in this respect - and where the divine connection came from - more details on that in the sequel. There's more to it than it seems...

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