I no longer have the time to build things in Minecraft. So exploring servers has become something of a hobby of mine. In all my time in other peoples’ worlds, there is a common theme in almost all them. No matter what server I traverse—there are churches, altars, monuments, and temples. If Minecraft servers are still around 30,000 years from now, I think our descendents will perceive us to be worshippers.
When I start a new game of Minecraft I can’t help but think about the Big Bang Theory. I traverse a world whose seas and caverns, mountains, flowers, and monsters were randomly generated shortly after I click “start a new game”. Starting afresh is a wholly different experience from exploring an abandoned server. No matter how far I traverse, I will not find torches or shelters or tools—only the “natural” products of a closed system. It is a world governed by codes that set limits to how high I can climb and how low I can dig. No matter how far I walk there are no altars or monuments or steeples. It is the sort of experience that makes the religious imagery in Chauvet seem naïve. . . .
I suppose it is possible to view Chauvet merely as a natural history museum. I will admit to being a biased voice on spiritual matters, but I am struck by the divine terms with which women and men of science describe the paintings of Chauvet. Whatever the origin of the universe and the life that inhabits it, it is clear both from Chauvet and even games like Minecraft and Proteus that people have a long history of discontentment with the natural world. Science can give us a rough estimate of when the artists of Chauvet lived but it cannot give account for spirit embodied in them.