A Virtual Religion

Blake Attempts to Pray

Blake Wake, my avatar in Second Life, is becoming more and more interested in the spiritual aspects of virtual space. Is it possible that spirituality may be mediated via computer networks and 3d graphics the way it is via text, the plastic jesus, and tel evangelism? Maybe even more profoundly because it is already non-physical and disembodied? (That is assuming spirituality requires these two things).

Blake Wake visits Pixel Jesus in a CaveThe first premise is that if physical communities are on the decline and people are looking to virtual spaces for community and spending more and more time there, there needs to be a spiritual component. The second premise is that virtual worlds are a new kind of place, related to but different in kind than real space. Our relationship to the spiritual there is also different. Simply importing real world religions into the space is somehow unsatisfactory. Is it possible to create a new religion, or a major variant, in virtual space? Is it inevitable?

One of the problems is that many people in virtual worlds are there to forget about the real world and any spiritual matters they may otherwise be concerned with. And there is a tendency of many involved with technology to be fairly secular, with religions instincts channeled into the wondrous magic of the latest gadgets and the next wave of advancements.

Blake Wake went exploring what religious areas that do exist in Second Life recently. Early results with photos and comments are in the Metaverse set on flickr.