If I were God (and here I feel compelled to assure you that I have no pretensions of grandeur), but just supposing I were God …
And there was nothing else around except us (God seems to be plural so at least wasn’t lonely) …
And I had this urge to go “crazy with creativity” as Paul Blakey wrote, what would I have made? And when I had made whatever it was, would I have looked over each day’s craziness and said: “It is good.”?
As far as I know, the position of God is not vacant at the moment, and even if it was I don’t think I would apply (the film “Bruce Almighty” is enough to put anyone off!). However, Philip Rosedale, creator of Second Life, had a chance to emulate God by creating a world, a 3D online digital world. He is quite modest, saying: “all we’ve created is a platform, an almost empty world; where we got lucky is in the fact that you came along and breathed life into it. If Second Life is a world at all, it’s because you’ve created it.” [Michael Rymaszewski, Second Life, the Official Guide, (Wiley 2008), pg iii] There is an echo here of Genesis 1v2 (NRSV):
The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
God didn’t stop at the basics, but went on to create light, sky, earth, seas, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, animals and finally, people. The people were only placed in the world when God had made everything he wanted to make. They were given a task: ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’ (Genesis 1:28) The difference with SL is that was left as the formless void and it is the people who have created the content of the 3D online world in which they live. Quoting Philip Rosedale again, from the point of view of the residents: “SL works as if you were a god.” (ibid, pg 5). God gave humans creativity and they have certainly used that in the world of SL.
Much of what you can see if you visit is an imitation of what we can see in the offline world. (Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery. I wonder in this case if it’s a form of worship of our Creator.) There are lots of animals around, dogs, cats, horses, which are programmed to move around, to eat and respond to commands from their owners. Some are breedable – they are fruitful and multiply in the words of Genesis. Not content with imitation, new animals have also been created such as meeroos.
The people in SL are also fruitful and multiply. New people join the world all the time of course, and some choose to be represented by child avatars and join SL families. Some couples have ‘prim babies’ which are programmed to grow and develop as a real baby would.
For the gardeners there is the joy that God’s promised thorns and thistles, which caused problems for Adam, are not an issue in SL. If you plant a garden it stays as you plant it (I wish my offline garden was the same). If having stationary flowers is boring, it’s possible to have ‘plant pets’ which need to be watered and which grow over time.
But everything in the garden is not rosy. The creativity of the people who populate SL can be used to bring to life some of the less wholesome aspects of human beings: prostitution, gambling, theft, rape, bestiality, identity theft, intellectual property theft and so on. Some of the more adult activities are confined to a separate continent to offer protection to those who wish to avoid some aspects of SL. As Regina Lynn says
The truth is, anywhere people gather, we bring all of our potential with us — for love, for sex, for community and creation, and for violence and destruction, too.
God started his brand new world with just one commandment to constrain the humans he placed there: ‘Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you shall eat of it you shall die.’ I don’t know how many rules there were when Second Life first began but the Terms of Service now run to many pages. Those who break the rules too much can indeed die in SL terms: their accounts can be deleted and that avatar ceases to exist.
If I were Philip Rosedale, creator of SL, I wonder if I could look at the crazy creativity of Second Life and say, “It is good”?