Virtual Bible

Virtual Bible

Duncan Macleod

“Even better than the real thing?

This study encourages you to create an experience in which people explore the nature of virtual reality, making the hyperlinks with media messages, Bible messages, and God.

Taste the real thing
1. Put samples of Coca Cola and other coke-based drinks such as Pepsi(Australian site needs Explorer or Navigator 4), Pams or First Choice Cola into communion/sample glasses labelled with numbers or letters. See if people can pick which drink is Coca Cola.2. Analyse together recent Coca Cola TV advertisements. What do they say about reality?
3. Look at/listen to U2′s “Even better than the real thing“, off the video Achtung Baby – The Videos, The Cameos And A Whole Lot Of Interference From Zoo TV. The first video mix does an expos≥ of TV addiction.

4. Play virtual reality computer games together. Shoot em up, skiing and rally driving are the most popular in video arcades. Black Sun is a popular networked experience of virtual community. You could either visit a video arcade or connect your own TV screen or video projector to the computer in your home patch.

5. Get people to bring along their virtual pets and demonstrate them in small groups.

Virtually Real Virtue
The word “virtual” refers to something in effect, without the actual reality. “I was virtually dead”, means I wasn’t really dead, though I felt like it. It’s as though it is really happening, but it’s not. The effect of watching a roller coaster in a surround theatre can make you fall over or get sick. But you never actually leave the ground.Virtual reality usually refers to computer-made simulations which re-create reality� or create one that never was. With helmets, gloves, earphones, and several million dollars’ worth of computer hardware and software, you can be or do almost anything.

As a group, prepare a debate on the virtues of virtual reality. One side argues for the potential, the other emphasises the dangers.

PLUSES: You could include uses for architecture, environmental impact analysis, engineering, air and automotive safety testing, astronaut training, and enhanced education. Experiments in which the real thing is too expensive, dangerous, or speculative. Just plain fun.

MINUSES: You could include the danger of withdrawing from real life; treating real life as though it was a game; waste of money & time; treating people like virtual objects. (Cross reference the MTV clip I’m a Barbie Girl by Aqua, showing the dangers of using women as objects which can be manipulated and undressed.

Virtual Reality in the Bible?
God provides a number of people in the Bible with what we could call “virtual experiences”. Zechariah’s eight visions, in Zechariah 1-6, and Peter’s vision of the unclean animals in Acts 10 are two examples. The visions of heaven in Revelation 4 – 5 can be compared to immersion video. It’s almost like being there!Are some parts of the Bible less real than others, or are they real in different ways? Use the above examples as test cases.

You could take a look at the resurrection. Did the disciples have a virtual experience of Jesus, or was it literally real? From the accounts in Luke 19, the early church firmly believed that Jesus had a body that could be touched, that worked. No illusions. And yet Jesus was able to appear without seeming to go through the door. One way of exploring this is to look at Paul’s imagery in 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 5 where he talks about our resurrection being like putting clothes on. Instead of becoming less real when we die, we actually take on a deeper reality, a more solid kind of body. CS Lewis explores this in depth in the book, The Great Divorce.

Virtual Gods – cheap and nasty
Exodus 20:4 sets out the second commandment, “Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love.”Throughout history, people have manufactured their own images or shapes and used them to approach and manipulate their gods.

In what ways are we tempted to replace God with our own idols that provide us with the effect but not the real thing?

Life – the real thing

Compare a graphic image of food or drink with the real thing. Invite people to sample and compare satisfaction.

Use Isaiah 55:1-3 to express God’s call for us to get a real life.


True Worship You could use songs that appeal to the imagination, inviting us to visualise being in the presence of God:”I see the Lord,” by Chris Falson, Seam of Gold, Sydney, Australia

Let our praise to you be as incense,” by Brent Chambers, Songs of the Kingdom, Scripture in Song, NZ.

You could use Isaiah 58 for a reference to real worship.

Send in your comments on this study, with your ideas on how it could be developed. “