Virtual Religions and Real Lives - FAKKIR

Virtual Religions and Real Lives

FAKKIR.XYZ | JURNAL – There is a palpable tension evident in the juxtaposition of “virtual religions” with “real lives.” What might a virtual religion look like? In the twenty-first century the phrase “virtual reality” is understood to refer to simulated environments created by software in which people using special equipment interact with other people and computer-generated entities, both in game situations and in more open-ended “virtual worlds.” It is undeniable that there are religions operating in cyberspace, examples of which are the Amaterasu Omikami Grand Shinto Shrine and the Mormon Meeting Hall found in the online virtual world Second Life (Stagg and Farley 2011).

Online ritual workings by Pagan covens and virtual pilgrimages to Christian shrines are accessible via Google, and there are religions that are primarily online communities, lacking formal structures in the so-called meat world (assumed to be the site of the “real lives” of the participants). Yet it is doubtful that these can be neatly classified as “virtual religions,” just as it is increasingly hard to disentangle offline from online lives. This chapter discusses a particular grouping of religions that emerged starting in the late 1950s and are based on existing fictions or inventions of the founders, which have been termed “invented religions” (Cusack 2010). It is argued that invented religions and Posthumanism reject both Judeo-Christian religion and Enlightenment rationalism, and point toward an undifferentiated reality, not composed of binary opposites, that is best approached by partial, open-ended theories and methods. (In this chapter the terms Humanism, Transhumanism, and Posthumanism are capitalized as being akin to religions, but transhuman and posthuman are lowercased as being general adjectives).

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