Friday, October 04, 2013

Lost and found

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24). 
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Heb 11:13-16).
Virtual reality supplies a striking allegory for the Biblical metanarrative. Suppose you woke up one day to find yourself in a virtual world. At first you try to get back to the real world. But search as you might, there is no door, no exit, no escape. The virtual world is seamless. 
Although you remember the real world you came from, and even though you miss the real world in which you were born and raised and came of age, yet as the months and years wear on, you find yourself having to adjust to life in the virtual world. It's inevitable that you will adapt to your new surroundings. That's what you experience every hour of the day. And by the same token, the longer you live there, the virtual world becomes more real to you than the real world you left behind. The real world fades. You never forget it. You yearn to return. But it's less tangible, less immediate, than the simulation into which your consciousness is constantly immersed. 
Suppose you have kids in the virtual world. Your kids are artificially intelligent virtual characters. Left to their own devices, they'd be totally unaware of a real world beyond the confines of the virtual world. The virtual world is the only world they've ever known.
Suppose you teach them about the real world. Recount to them how you came into this world from another world. Share with them the life you had in the other world. Your story would be handed down from one generation to the next, as an article of faith. A record of testimonial evidence.  
Although your virtual posterity has no natural existence outside the simulation, yet in principle, God could reify them–give them corporeal form. They could then cross over from the virtual world into the real world. 

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