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Evolution: the Game

on January 6, 2007
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Der Spiegel: “Simulating Evolution in a Computer Game

A computer game based on simulating evolution? Now we’ve heard it all! An article from Germany’s Der Spiegel reviews this latest evolutionism-based form of entertainment, called Spore, and authored by the “inventor” (as the article describes him) of such well-known games as SimCity and The Sims. The article describes the game’s premise:

Life on earth will begin again later this year, at the dawn of time. Nothing will exist except an empty planet in an empty universe, facing a godlike player sitting at his PC. A tiny single-cell organism will appear, swimming along through the water, ravenous enemies in hot pursuit.

This game is merely an emblem of the increasingly evolutionism-dominated culture we live in.

From there, the game-called “an advanced simulation ... that mixes computerized randomness with the laws of biology”-allows the single-celled organism to “evolve” all the way to the status of space-faring civilization, replete (potentially) with planet-conquering spaceships.

Of course, this game is merely an emblem of the increasingly evolutionism-dominated culture we live in, as evolutionary themes work their way outside of science textbooks and into our televisions and computers. No doubt many evolutionists hope the game will help soften young minds to evolutionary concepts. (For more on this topic, see Remote Control.)

Another worry are the misleading descriptions of the game floating around. For instance, the Spiegel article, given only a cursory read, might lead one to believe that the game actually simulates completely random mutations in some representation of the genetic code-similar to computer programs that supposedly “prove” evolution (see Weasel words). Of course, the truth is that the “evolution” of organisms in Spore is guided by the player, who will modify organisms’ appendages, etc., by using a simple interface to change existing organisms. As the Spiegel article explains, “A player can determine which life forms emerge from his single-cell organism ... he can straighten the spines of new generations, shape mouths and allow his creations to grow limbs and multiple heads.” It’s only after this user-guided “evolution” that the computer figures out how fit an organism is-and, therefore, determines whether a population survives. An in-game screenshot from Wikimedia clearly shows that the evolutionary process in Spore is far more similar to biblical creation-with the “creator” choosing from various types of eyes, noses, appendages, etc.-than molecules-to-man Darwinian evolution.


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