Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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If faith alone doesn’t do it for you… try the bible in VR?

Bible VR
If faith alone doesn’t do it for you… try the bible in VR?

The world of the bible, one might reasonably argue, was the original virtual reality. It was immersive and engrossing and occasioned some repeat customers. It was only a matter of time until someone was going to strap a Google Cardboard headset to a stranger’s face and call it a VR rendition of the good book.

The someone in this case is Bible VR, a company that would have you know:

Traveling to the Holy Lands of the Bible is a great expense for many. Not anymore. With Bible-VR people of faith can walk where Jesus walked. Listen to sermons from pastors they thought not existed. Pray with people of faith from all over the world. All from a smartphone and a pair of virtual 3d glasses.

This is all a bit like the promotional tour for that Russell Crowe movie Noah (2014), where books “inspired by the major motion picture” were sold at the front of every big bookstore. Good thing nobody had tried writing that book before! If at once you don’t succeed and all that…

a periodic question that ties religion to technology

To an extent, the theological dilemmas posed by Bible VR are not really new. Every generation has to reckon with how it will depict religious figures. The severity of this dilemma ebbs and flows—once the party line had been set on stained glass windows, for instance, there wasn’t all that much to figure out—but this is a periodic question that ties religion to technology.

Some may find comfort or faith in Bible VR, which is fine and good. But what is faith—or maybe belief is a better word—if a piece of technology can fully immerse you in a past world. The technology is not there yet, but the day may well come. And at that point, what is the point of faith? Or, more to the point, what and whom are you putting your faith in? A developer. The creators of Bible VR may be right that their work can bring people together in prayer, but if that is true they will also have underestimated its power.

Find out more about Bible VR on its website.

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