Is SPORE an advertisement for Intelligent Design?

Disclaimer: I’m not an on-line game player (not since playing on-line chess occasionally while I was stationed overseas), so I haven’t played “Spore.” Maybe I will, but I doubt it.

The first things I heard about the game Spore focused on the evolution aspect of the game, and made it sound as if the game was a computer simulation of evolution and natural selection. I didn’t see how that kind of long-term, random mutation simulation could be any fun to play, but it turns out that’s not the focus of the game at all. It’s a game that lets the player act as God, guiding the actions and development of little creatures in the computer.

So I wondered if the game might be a subtle advertisement for Intelligent Design as an alternative theory to evolution. I couldn’t imagine that was the case — not since the game has a tie-in to a National Geographic video. But the ID possibility remained: after all, the player is presumably intelligent. And the player’s intelligence apparently guides the actions of a virtual creature that normally would be acting without volition (i.e., by stimulus-response and “instinct,” however that developed.)

I went to the Spore web site to see if my suspicions were correct. On the “What is Spore?” page, the opening text is, “How will you create the universe?” Then the page enjoins the player to “create and guide your creature through five stages of evolution.”

But life on the virtual planet doesn’t spring out of the local primordial ooze, nor does it give the player the option to “create” life — instead, life arrives inside a meteorite in a computer version of panspermia. So maybe Spore isn’t the best advertisement for ID, since it doesn’t address the central idea of where that life really came from.

I’ll leave the answer to that question up to God.

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