What is Truth? The emergence of Virtual Reality (John 14:6)

It is here… the beginning of true virtual reality.  All of our favorite gaming companies are investing huge amounts of money into this emerging technology which is finally landing in the arms of eager consumer this year.  And with this comes the dawn of a new age of not just gaming, but the world of entertainment as a whole.  I wasn’t a believer until I personally donned a Sony VR headset myself and took the technology for a spin, and I can say with all conviction that I entered into the experience full of doubts and criticism and walked out fully embracing this as the logical next step in entertainment.  Immersive, responsive, and most importantly FUN, this is the beginning of what was simply a childhood dream after watching TRON or the holodeck experiences on Star Trek, or for the newer generation reading a novel such as Ready Player One.  The future truly is now and to be honest, I’m not certain we are ready for it.

The future truly is now and to be honest, I;m not certain we are ready for it. 

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who oversaw the corrupt process that ended with Jesus’s execution, asked a famous and relevant question that still echoes throughout the annals of time, “What is truth?”  And with the dawn of this technology, that question may become harder to answer than at any other time in human history.  If you are reading this blog, then it is safe to say you are a fan of technology and gaming just as I am, and your excitement likely rivals mine in seeing these advancements in our beloved medium.  The applications are limited only by our imagination and I for one want a front row seat… but there is a catch to all of this.  There are so many people that I talk to and interact with on a regular basis that are already using gaming as an unhealthy means of escapism from their real life and actual problems instead of the healthy diversion it can be when balanced properly with God, family, work, and real world friendships.  Is it possible that this technology, while a valuable and incredible evolution in entertainment and much more, will make actual Truth even more difficult to discern?

I will say that in my initial hands on demo of the new Sony VR tech I was quite aware that what I was hearing was being piped in through a surround sound headset, and as the visor subtly pressed against my glasses I was also slightly taken out of the moment as I felt the encumbrances of this technology quite tangibly.  But then something happened… as the tech demo found its rhythm I lost track of all of the real world trappings around me and truly melded with what was happening around me… the pavement raced by me, buildings grew as I moved towards them, objects I grabbed and threw reacted within the environment… it truly created the long-awaited promise of suspension of disbelief. I walked out of that room realizing the game had in fact CHANGED.

I walked out of that room realizing that the game had in fact CHANGED.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus entered the world’s stage and did the unimaginable… He claimed to be the Creator God in human form in the midst of a culture that was adamant that He was not.  He ignored the easy path of an omnipotent conquering hero and chose to be an 8-bit hero in a VR generation, limiting His use of His powers to moments when they would teach a critical life lesson rather than simply display His mastery of the elements.  He chose substance over style and thus was able to loudly proclaim in John chapter 14, “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by me”.  In this world that continues to find new ways to blur the lines between what is real truth and what is merely virtual reality, Jesus boldly stands and dares to state unequivocally that if you are looking for what is real, what is true, what is eternal… you will only find it in HIM.  All other so-called truths, no matter how deceiving they may be to our external senses, must bow before the ultimate truth that is Christ.

As I exited the demo and reacquainted myself with the real world, I considered the virtual reality of our lives here in this space.  The dream world of VR is what we are actually experiencing in our day to day lives here on earth… an immersive and seemingly realistic experience that in the moment feels all too real, the sound and lights blinding our senses to the real world that will emerge once we remove this clumsy headset that is our current physical bodies.  In Ecclesiastes 12:7 Solomon informs us that the dust that makes up our our physical bodies will return to dust again, and it is our spirit which will return to God who gave it to us in the first place.  The amount of time we spend carrying about this dust as a covering is very similar to the short time I spent in that virtual world… it all seemed so real, it’s promptings so urgent, and for a short period it made me lose track of both time and place as I embraced the experience.  But it wasn’t REAL, it was merely a skillfully crafted illusion meant to simulate the real world I already inhabit.  And much the same way, this present life is just a short experience in which we flail about attempting to learn how to control the avatar that is our body, fighting with the controls at times, fighting with our fellow participants at others as we attempt to figure out the reason why we are here.

What is truth, or more appropriately WHO is Truth? 

Like a game without a tutorial, we struggle, we fight, we experiment as we attempt to find our way.  Trial and error in the gaming world leads to losses of lives and lessons learned, but in our real day to day lives these result in broken homes, damaged souls, and every form of pain imaginable.  And yet the answer to the question from the beginning still stands the test of time… “What is truth?” is answered in the very person Pontius Pilate was questioning.  Truth personified stood in front of him that day, the only Truth any of us can ever truly know.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but it was the bloodied and beaten Man who was standing in control that day as the Roman governor tried to balance the dreams of his wife with the demands of the populace.  He not only knows the truth but He IS the Truth, His words are Truth, and as we dive down the rabbit hole that will continue to challenge our understanding of reality ever further He stands as the only point of contrast that separates fact from fiction.

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