Faith Awakened is Grace Bridges's novel that puts her unique twist on a virtual world. I asked her how her work compares with The Matrix, which is probably the most widely-known story universe featuring virtual reality. She first made it clear to me that she came up with her story idea long before the Matrix ever came out, then she added:
"The Matrix has Neo in the dream world and then he is woken up to reality, where he mostly remains. In Faith Awakened, both stories are told in parallel, alternating and do not meet until the end.
In the Matrix, the crux of the matter is when Neo takes the red pill, wakes up in the pod and is 'birthed' into the real world. In Faith Awakened, the turning point is when they ENTER virtual reality.
My overarching concept is that God would be even more real to the people inside virtual reality; the spiritual world comes closer perhaps due to a certain level of sensory deprivation. The suits are sensory, but it can't really compare to the real world."
Grace's comment made me realize that Matrix unconsciously assumes that there is no spiritual world. Or rather, it confuses a digital reality existence with a world of the spirit, since Neo's mastery of the digital gives him a power and status that is clearly intended to be Messianic and quasi-spiritual.
What's unique about Grace's concept is her assumption of the reality of the spiritual, so that even if people were disconnected from the physical world around them and thrown into a digital life, even if the spiritual had no place in the programming of digital reality, it would nonetheless intrude upon the "reality" of people receiving all their sensory inputs from an inevitably-less-than-perfect computer system. No matter the programming, they would still perceive a need for God--and further, would perhaps perceive, at times, God Himself.
This begs the question for me of what really is real? How do we know our sensory inputs right now actually are what we think they are? Especially if you rase the issue, as Grace has done in her novel, of memory loss. Perhaps we were something else, knew it, but since have forgotten. Perhaps all of us as human beings need to be reawakened to realize who we really are.
Perhaps the world of the spiritual, treated as imaginary by some, is actually more real than anything else...
Grace's thought-provoking tale is available at the Splashdown Faith Awakened link. And find Grace at: