The Metaverse: Digital World or Digital Deception?
Talking to unicorns, surfing with extraterrestrials and having coffee with dead relatives. All these experiences and more would be possible in the new virtual world called the Metaverse. This new platform seeks to “evolve social connection beyond 2D,” according to a Facebook post advertising it.
On October 28, Facebook officially changed its corporate name to Meta in an effort to “overhaul the corporation’s identity to reflect its broader ambitions,” according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The goal is to build a network of online interaction known as the “Metaverse.” He hailed the Metaverse as the company’s “North Star” and stressed this will be the computing platform of the future. “It is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do,” he said. “From now on, we’re going to be Metaverse first, not Facebook first.”
According to Zuckerberg, the Metaverse will add virtual reality (VR) technology to the Facebook app, becoming what he called the “embodied internet.” The Metaverse is envisioned as a parallel digital world that can exist alongside users’ reality.
Participants can possess one or more identities by creating their own life-like avatars that navigate the virtual realm. By becoming part of a shared, 3D virtual environment, users can play games, conduct business, go to concerts, buy virtual clothing or even go on virtual trips to Paris. The possibilities are endless and can include virtual time travel (traveling to different decades, times in history and interacting with members of the Metaverse community).
In a video, Zuckerberg explains the Metaverse this way:
“And you’re going to be able to do almost anything you can imagine – get together with friends and family, work, play, shop, create, as well as entirely new categories that don’t really fit about how we think about computers or phones today. We believe the Metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet. We’ll be able to feel present, like we’re right there with people, no matter how far apart we actually are. We’ll be able to express ourselves in new, joyful, completely immersive ways and that’s going to unlock lots of amazing experiences….Imagine you put on your glasses or headset and you’re instantly in your home space – parts of your physical home recreated virtually – it has things that are only possible virtually and it has an incredibly inspiring view of whatever you find most beautiful.”
The video ends with Zuckerberg’s avatar changing his virtual clothes and entering a space-like world where he converses with a large friendly robot and several friends.
If one wants a glimpse into what the Metaverse could look like, just watch the movie Ready Player One, which features action-packed adventure in a virtual world. Of course, you could also watch the Matrix to see the consequences of living in this fake utopia.
So, how does one get into this Metaverse? Well, it starts by having the right tools. Facebook is spending at least $10 billion this year to bring its vision to life by creating AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) hardware and software.
The company is developing a new high-end VR headset codenamed “Project Cambria,” featuring cameras with high-resolution, full-color video. The device will incorporate face and eye tracking, as well as sensors to make the experience realistic and, as Zuckerberg says, “to create a better social experience.”
Full body tracking would be achieved through Spark AR that applies special effects to twenty different body points. In addition, Project Nazare is developing lightweight, AR glasses that will include “hologram displays, projectors, batteries, radios, custom silicon chips, cameras, speakers, sensors to map the world around you, and more.”
After Zuckerberg officially announced Facebook’s corporate name change, The World Economic Forum posted an article titled, What is the Metaverse and why should we care? The article stated that though the Metaverse is not developed yet, “it could be the next evolution of the internet….The idea is that ‘extended reality’ – the combination of augmented, virtual and mixed reality – will become a key medium for social and business engagement.”
The article continued, “The Metaverse is also expected to have a strong connection with the real-world economy – and eventually become an extension of it. In other words, the Metaverse must have the ability for companies and individuals to participate in economic activity in the same way they do today. Simply put, this means being able to build, trade and invest in products, goods and services.”
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, finally, will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships. It is already changing our health and leading to a ‘quantified’ self, and sooner than we think it may lead to human augmentation. The list is endless because it is bound only by our imagination.”
The Metaverse ties in with Schwab’s idea about fusing our “physical, digital and biological” identities. Certainly, becoming immersed in a digital reality could be considered a stepping stone to this transhumanist dream.
Facebook isn’t the only Big Tech company creating a Metaverse. Microsoft already has a platform called Mesh and Nvidia Corp (a gaming tech developer) is working on creating an Omniverse that provides 3D environments. Cell phone companies like Verizon are excited about the prospects of the Metaverse as they hype 5G connections that can enable it. The push is on to get people completely interconnected with artificial intelligence and technology.
In essence, the Metaverse is a place to escape reality by jumping feet first into cyberspace. You can leave your real life behind and enter a world of your own making. Some even believe it can be a religious experience.
Mark Pesce, the developer of the VRML code (virtual reality modeling language) has stated, “Without the sacred there is no differentiation in space. If we are about to enter cyberspace, the first thing we have to do is plant the divine in it.” Pesce is also known as a technopagan, which means he follows a belief system focused on the spiritual side of technology. This belief holds that digital environments (such as VR) can only be understood through the use of magical concepts. An article in Wired explained it like this: “Magic is the science of the imagination, the art of engineering consciousness and discovering the virtual forces that connect the body-mind with the physical world.” Many technopagans believe the Internet is capable of having its own spirit to which people can connect.
The Metaverse was a hot topic at TransVision 2021 this October. Transhumanists gathered in Spain where Belgian VR specialist Phillipe van Nedervelde explained that VR and the pagan practice of astral projections enable a “full existence inside a virtual world….Maybe we will become mind uploads into Metaverses, rather than avatars,” Van Nedervelde said, “and there we will be able to form meta-mind groups, or hive minds.”
Is your mind spinning yet? The good thing is God’s mind is never spinning. He knows exactly what lies in the brains of those who seek to bypass His plans for this earth. The word meta can mean beyond or transcending, but those behind this platform cannot fathom what God has planned for this world, which transcends their wildest dreams. Though Meta’s logo is the infinity symbol, it falls far short of the restoration coming through the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21).
Despite Zuckerberg’s stated intentions, the Metaverse will not connect humanity; rather, it will make us less human as it strives to remake our image through the technology man creates. God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27) to connect with Him through the world He created (1 John 1:1-10). He did not design us to become immersed in fantasies, where we forget who we are, and who He made us to be.
So, how should we pray when it comes to those who want to create or enter these virtual, yet void worlds?
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Pray for Jesus to touch the hearts of those who are drawn to this platform by showing them what is REAL and truly TRANSFORMATIVE – God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for people to see these platforms for what they are – a matrix of digital control that will leave them empty.
Pray for protection over the young, who are targeted for these metaverses.
The tech giants can create all the metaverses they want, but we know the truth – there’s a New Heaven and a New Earth coming and unlike the virtual world, it’s THE REAL DEAL.
Pray: Lord Jesus, you are the Creator of the universe and everything You made is good. Help others realize that connection with a virtual world can never replace true connection with You. Please reveal the deception hidden within these new digital platforms.
Your turn: What is your impression of the Metaverse? How should Christians respond to this new platform? Share in the comments below.
Angela Rodriguez is an author, blogger and homeschooling Mom who studies the historical and biblical connections between Israel and the United States. You can visit her blogs at 67owls.com and 100trumpets.com. Her latest book, Psalm 91: Under the Wings of Jesus, was released in June. (Photo by Getty Images.)
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