ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

Virtual Reality and Worms

Comments on God’s program for human existence.

Some recent American movies treat the theme of virtual reality. This is a phrase that is becoming more popular as a result of ever more sophisticated computer simulations of reality, whether for training purposes or for games.

In two of these movies, The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor, the protagonist discovers the world he lives in isn’t real at all, but a computer simulation. In the latter movie, the main character discovers even he himself isn’t “real,” but an ultra-sophisticated computer program.

Of course, all of creation is a kind of program of the divine programmer, so in one sense these fantasies aren’t so absurd as they may first seem.

When it comes to computers and computer programs, from time to time there is something close to worldwide panic when some clever and malicious computer programmer devises and releases a “virus” or a “worm.”

Computer viruses are subtle programs that infiltrate the operating system of a computer or a computer network and alter, wipe out, or destroy valuable and perhaps irreplaceable records.

The expression “worm” is sometimes used to describe an even worse type of destructive program that modifies and adjusts itself to new situations as it pursues its destructive path.

In the modern world, it seems that we have begun to live in a kind of virtual reality, a fantasy universe. That is to say, all over the world, people are becoming used to operating their lives with systems that seem to have departed completely from the designs of the divine programmer.

For example, the sweeping movements of this past century from communism to consumerism all seem to be based on the wrong notion that the most important thing in life is attaining material goods and having free access to them.

Every so often we begin to hear about a new kind of “right,” but most of these have little at all to do with those inalienable rights that are part of God’s very design for human nature.

Waves of violence crash through societies all over the world. Thousands of people are killed, maimed or injured in the name of national or ethnic superiority, although we were all created equal in dignity by the one Creator.

We don’t seem to be living in the real world anymore. Real values are being overridden by unreal ones, logic is being replaced by illogic. Even our information about the world around us and the people in it is being systematically distorted by much of the mass media.

How did these “viruses” make their way into God’s program for human existence?

Where did the “worm” come from that seems to be replicating itself in new and subtle ways in its course of evil and destruction?

Beneath the apparently simple and figurative story that opens the Bible is the profound answer – so familiar that we hardly pay credence to it anymore.

Meanwhile, the worm turns!

Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General of CNEWA

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