Religion in Second Life

A sincere religious community is developing within the synthetic atmosphere of Second Life.

Leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim sites estimate about 1,000 avatars teleport into churches, synagogues or mosques on a regular basis. Hundreds more list themselves with Buddhist, pagan, Wiccan and other groups.

The extracted video, both beautiful and eerie, gives me the willies, and I’m not exactly sure why. On one hand, it’s no more or less odd than any other simulation of the real world that takes place within the game. On the other, religion is all about community, and the religious community in 2L is virtualized – people never meet, and yet they do. Not sure what that means for things like religious involvement in local charities (are there soup kitchens in 2L too?), but I suppose it’s not so different than a drive-in church.

Thinking now of Europe’s great cathedrals and the centuries of hard labor it took to build them. Since Second Life is so heavily construction oriented (everyone’s both an architect and a contractor), will avatars set themselves to toil and construct some of the grandest and most ornate places of worship ever conceived?

Parallel question: Is Second Life a game, or is it something else? I know what Wittgenstein would say, but I’m not sure even the Second Life community itself have an answer to that one. If it is a game, what would that say about engaging religion within it? Perhaps “It’s only a game if you treat it like one.”

Music: Jim White :: Wayfaring Stranger

6 Replies to “Religion in Second Life”

  1. Second Life is created by Linden Labs and the Environment within second life is created by the Users.

    Does this mean they worship Linden Labs as the Creator, or have the Major religions finally admitted that All of Humanity is the Creator, and not an Invisible Man.

  2. Daniel, it’s an interesting question. By removing all of reality by one level, Man becomes God. So what/whom are they really worshipping in there? Hrmmm…

  3. I appreciate how Second Life enables one to develop new friendships that would be next to impossible in real life. I posted a brief summary of my experience meeting a Muslim on my blog, zurrealworld.

  4. Beautiful story, Z. I was interested to hear you use the phrase “put me at odds with” based on your different religious upbringings. As you talk more, does the relationship feel like something that can’t continue due to different upbringings?

  5. Thanks, shacker. Good question. The short answer is no, our friendship is strong. I’ll consider this and expand on my experience another day. There have been bumps in the road, to be sure…

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