Science and religion are often cast as warring factions in the pursuit of truth, the battle grounds ranging from education to the Houses of Parliament. The latest conflict is coming from the world of video games, with the most recent instalment in the popular Pokémon franchise.
Pokémon Black and White were released on the 4th of March this year in Europe. Players capture and train Pokémon in a bid to make them stronger. Once reaching a certain level of strength some of these Pokémon are able to “evolve” into a more powerful form, with an animation to show the instantaneous change of one form to another. It is not surprising that this inclusion of evolution has enraged segments of the religious community – what is surprising is that prominent scientists, particularly biologists, are raising complaint to its use as well.
Fred Felps, a Baptist minister from Houston, Texas, tweeted on the day of release that “…it is unbelievable that a children’s interactive game would so openly flout the word of the lord.” Reporters have been in contact with other members of his church and found similar views to be expressed by the congregation.
“You expect me to believe that Charizard would develop both a flaming tail and wings by dumb luck? Such a design must be the work of a creator,” stated one elderly woman who wished not to be named.
A devotee of the church, Will Paley, wrote in a letter to his local paper “if one were to find a Pokédex and investigate its complex inner workings, one would come to the natural conclusion that it had an intelligent designer. The same can be said when examining the dynamic cellular structure of Ditto, the canons which integrate into the back of a Blastoise, the singing ability of Jigglypuff or any of the other wonders of Kanto.”
Felps is apparently soon to be lobbying the company responsible for these games, Game Freak, with the aim of “Pokémon: Fundamentalist White” to be released as an alternative explanation for the creation of Pokémon species. Analysts have predicted that the game will involve a seven day introductory cut scene in which each ‘mon is created and placed in their habitat.
Science would like to fight!
The annoyance from the scientific community stems from the way in which evolution is portrayed in the games. A prominent lecturer at Imperial College London claims her lectures have been interrupted by students questioning the level required to allow the first fish to crawl out onto land and become amphibians.
The questions are not just contained to biological sciences though. “Kids these days don’t care about rock strata, they only care about how they can get their hands on thunderstones.” John Burgess, a geologist, informed reporters.
The Obama administration’s new initiative into solar power has received a letter suggesting that the study of Bulbasaur may be of use, as these Pokémon store sunlight for evolution.
What do the children think of this? We asked a group of 5-13 year olds – most had accepted Pokémon evolution as scientific fact. One pupil did briefly question the fossil record, suggesting that “Kabuto and Omanyte are not enough.” The final student answered with “Pikachu is the best, zap zap zap…” accompanied with the child pinching his own cheeks.
So, Pokémon evolution: fact or fiction? Please send us your opinions and we’ll return next week posing the questions: ‘Can an infinite number of Mankeys produce the works of Shakespeare?’ and ‘Cloning, what did we learn from Mewtwo?’