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Religion Meets Virtual Reality: Christianity-Themed VR Demo Scheduled For Easter (nbcnews.com) 90

"Anyone looking to experience God in a brand new way will soon have his or her chance -- virtually," writes NBC News, reporting on "a new immersive faith-based virtual reality experience...part of a larger project created by L. Michelle Media called Mission VR." An anonymous reader writes: The company was founded "to create a signature virtual reality environment -- a faith world of sorts -- where dynamic, never before seen, Christian lifestyle stories and experiences could have a home." Demos have been timed to coincide with this weekend's Easter celebration, while the official launch happens later this spring. Viewers will apparently experience biographical stories combining VR applications and YouTube videos to showcase the power of belief. "Up until now, we've only been able to watch Christianity from a third person perspective -- preached sermons, music videos, interviews, even reality shows..." says the founder of Mission VR. "This is the future of Christian programming."
But one reverend told NBC that VR worlds could be dangerous because they "may take people from community and from the incarnational aspects of Christian life... [W]e always run a very serious risk that the medium overtakes the message... What we must do is guard against the use of technology through market logic where people become brands and all things spiritual become commoditized."
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Religion Meets Virtual Reality: Christianity-Themed VR Demo Scheduled For Easter

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  • This is bullshit. Even if God isn't real, community is, and that's pretty much all I can say about that.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I guess it's comforting when your boy is raped because at least it was done by the member of a community.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So in this VR world, are the Pyramids grain stores?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's been a really cool 3D visualization of the Sistine Chapel [vatican.va] out for some time now. It's a great way to appreciate it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm certain that when all your religious holidays have been preempted with massive consumer frenzies, you're message has been already overtaken.
    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to eat this chocolate bunny butt first.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      seeing as christian holidays are all designed around preempting pagan holidays this just seems fair. Besides, all religious holidays are based on myths and lies believed by the gullible so that the moneyed priests can stay in power over them. Fear of death is NOT a good reason for allowing yourself to be brainwashed. We've had "alt-facts" for millenia, it's called religion.
      --
      Steve (AC because I haven't bothered to register in all these years)

      • by Rolgar ( 556636 )

        When I was considering becoming a priest, I was told the starting salary was 14k after earning 2 masters degrees. Moneyed priesthood indeed.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @10:11AM (#54244717)

    In one way, this could help religion by providing people with a religious experience or even a very realistic recreation of religious events, connecting people to the origins and mythology.

    In another way, religions could view it as a threat. I've read several times that psychedelic drugs were often suppressed by religions because they provided people with a transcendental experience not controlled by the religion. I can see someone producing a slick VR religion program that's not endorsed or controlled by mainstream religions being seen as a big threat.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just as the catholics adopted Easter (a pagan festival) as a way of aquiring more worshippers , so shall they do for Virtual Reality.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Putting faith in God is great. Putting your faith in claims that other humans make about God is stupid.

      When you put your faith in the Bible, and your church's interpretation of the Bible, you aren't putting your faith in God. You are putting your faith in the humans that wrote the Bible, the humans that translated it to English, and the humans who tell you how to interpret it.

      You can't get around this with the "all scripture is God-breathed" argument...that claim is made by humans. And, as every Christia

  • Prayers don't work (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    and people come to realize that they wasted time perfecting a skill that doesn't work. How to salvage the situation? Create a VR game where prayers do work!

    • and people come to realize that they wasted time perfecting a skill that doesn't work.

      Actually, prayer does work [huffingtonpost.com]. It's basically a form of meditation.

      • it works for some people. it never worked for me. i always felt like i was in an IRC channel by myself, and i had to keep chatting and getting no reponses until the surly priest supervising us was satisfied.

        isn't there a clinical medical diagnosis for people who talk to imaginary voices, and who hear a response?

        • it never worked for me. i always felt like i was in an IRC channel by myself, and i had to keep chatting and getting no reponses until the surly priest supervising us was satisfied.

          Prayer/meditation isn't about "getting responses", it's about inducing a particular state of mind, one that is objectively observable and seems to have benefits for many people.

  • Tweester (Score:5, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @10:59AM (#54244893) Journal

    They've also built a virtual-Messiah twitter account. It's first tweet was, "I drew much bigger crowds than Moses. Believe me."

  • Holy VR! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @11:06AM (#54244923)

    Tried it out but I'm not sure I did it right.

    *At the crucifixion*
    Me> Bro, that looks painful, you need some help?
    J> Uhh... I'm dying fo-
    Me> I hear ya! Let me just equip a hatchet and-oh here we go.
    J> No, you don't understand I'm daying for your-
    Me> For my help, yeah dont' worry just gimme a few more seconds! I'll cast resurrect if you don't make it.
    J> That's noooOOOT-
    Me> TIMBER!
    *Game segfaults*

  • "This is the future of Christian programming."

    Or am I?
  • ...a faith world

    Nonsense is so entertaining. Okay, not really.

  • If this technology shows promise in spreading the Good News and making more disciples of Jesus Christ, then we will use it. Just like the printing press, radio, and internet before it. if it's just a distraction or poor use of resources, as I suspect it is, we'll just go with what works.
  • by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @12:29PM (#54245271) Journal

    Mystical is in your head. Reinforce something and....
    https://thehumanist.com/magazi... [thehumanist.com]

    In recent years Persinger set out to investigate so-called âoemysticalâ experiences under controlled laboratory conditions. He got volunteers to wear a helmet fitted with a set of magnets through which he ran a weak electromagnetic signal. Persinger found that the magnetically induced seizures in the temporal lobes generate the same sort of hallucinations and mystical experiences reported by epileptic patients. Four in five people, he says, report a âoemystical experience, the feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or nearâ them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits. âoeThatâ(TM)s in the laboratory,â Persinger notes, referring to subjectsâ(TM) knowledge of a controlled environment. âoeHow much more intense might these experiences be if they happened late at night, or in a pew in a mosque or synagogue?â

  • I suspect they'll "forget" to model 2 Kings 2:24, or any of the other awkward moments. https://www.kingjamesbibleonli... [kingjamesbibleonline.org]
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @02:52PM (#54245681)

    I grew up in a Christian home, so I’m one of those people who rebelled against their up-bringing, etc., etc. People like me also get riled up by Christian fundamentalists, like those weirdo creationists who are the poster chldren for cherry-picking evidence. Personally, it’s more important to me to experience the excitement of a new scientific discovery than to derive some kind of false comfort from an ancient philosophy. Nevertheless, I can see its value for others.

    The truth is that we all live in a world of delusions. Even in science, we know that the latest and greatest or most advanced theories are just approximations of reality, so we choose to apply what we know now as if it were true because it gets the job done. Improved versions of the theories in the future may or may not get the job done better. (Relativity and QM don’t always improve over Newtonian physics, because the added complexity is usually not worth the often immeasureable improvement in accuracy.)

    In many ways, religion is effective as a meditative philosophy. Things like yoga, martial arts, Buddhism, etc. all come with psychological/spiritial/traditional baggage beyond the practical effects of teaching discpline, exercise, and other things. But people actually NEED a basis for finding emotional comfort and psychological stability, and religions often get the job done (even if they’re mosty fictional). Do we pick on people for reading fantasy novels, watching Star Trek, and playing video games? It’s all the same.

    As Richard Dawkins has said, compared to “certain” relgions, Christianity is relatively benign. And choosing between one “relatively benign” religion and another is like choosing between Karate and Kung Fu and also indulging in the quasi-religious philosophies that come with them. 6 of one, half dozen of another. What difference does it make which delusion you choose? The value in choosing one is the comfort or practical value it brings you. And for many peolpe, they are involved in their religion primarily to belong to a community, with the beliefs being secondary.

    Yes, there are those prominent people that turn religion into a weapon, tell you all about how you’re going to hell if you don’t believe EXACTLY as they do, etc. Well, there are “scientists” who regularly engage in fabrication and falsification. Computers have no positive or negative moral aspect per se, but there are people who utilize them to commit crimes. We don’t disavow something just because some assholes abuse it. And we don’t completely disavow something just because it contains ideas we realize are inaccurate.

    When we want to pick on Christians, maybe the first representative we think of is Ken Ham. Yeah. He’s a bad guy. (He doesn’t mean to be, but he causes a lot of damage.) Instead, why not think of Kenneth Miller? Despite being a devout Catholic, he has been one of the most vocal opponents to religious bullshit impinging on science since the 1970s. We could all use him as a role model. And BTW, he benefits from his religion.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      I found what you wrote very insughtful until I came to the part about Computers have no positive or negative moral aspect per se, which I agree with.
      It seems like you're making an analogy between computers and religion in that respect, and there I have to disagree, since all religions start out fundamentally telling you to give up at least some part your freedom/free will. No computer I've ever used requires that. (Well, except for Microsoft products).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I have to disagree, since all religions start out fundamentally telling you to give up at least some part your freedom/free will. No computer I've ever used requires that. (Well, except for Microsoft products).

        Ever tried a shared system? :) Religions (and societies) consists of multiple people with colliding interests. So do the user pool of a shared computer system. Hence, a need for limitations and contracts is created. The social patterns of human behaviour are applicable to all domains with people or agents of them in them (DRM is an agent of the copyright holder in our machines without limitations set by the operator, which is scary and simply wrong). Then the processes or algorithms of the faith or traditio

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      As Richard Dawkins has said, compared to “certain” relgions, Christianity is relatively benign.

      Very relatively benign. Nowadays, that the savage fundamentalists are kept in check. You do not have to go so far into the past to see how extremely deleterious Christianity has been, and can still be. People like Ted Cruz in power would strive to bring back such times.

  • ...

    What we must do is guard against the use of technology through market logic where people become brands and all things spiritual become commoditized.

    ... with the advent (deliberate pun) of rock and roll Christian music.

    My upbringing taught that religious music was a deliverance of gospel and the performer would have objected vehemently to any attention to self via admiration or applause because the gift was presented by God Himself.

    Now it's a goddam industry [beliefnet.com].

  • Those self-appointed men of God have long used technology to perpetuate their scamming.
  • I can see artistic merit in a Christian VR experience. Of course my wish would be a VR experience of one of the great old world Cathedrals while a chorus sings Gregorian chant. If it were well done it would have enough artistic merit standing on its own to be a worthy experience regardless of one's religiosity.

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