The recent Pokemon GO craze has been breaking records. In its first week it became the most downloaded app on the App Store of all time. According to Wikipedia, the average daily usage of the app on Android devices in July 2016 exceeded Snapchat, Tinder, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, Pokémon are creatures who live in the wild and alongside humans. They are raised and instructed by their owners (called “Trainers”). Through struggle, battle, and triumph, Pokémon eventually evolve into stronger Pokémon.
People like me who grew up playing the Pokemon games or watching the animated series will recall just how central the subject of evolution was. Evolution was an assumed and largely re-imagined part of the Pokemon world. Once your Pokemon evolved they would emerge with completely new forms and new found powers. This was essential if you hoped to stand any chance of achieving the ultimate goal of a "trainer," namely, becoming a Pokemon Master.
Some people might argue that influences of Darwinian evolution have been purposely weaved into the Pokemon narrative, perhaps to further a secular agenda. Others might say that the influence is largely superficial and we should read no further into it.
But is there a direct link between Darwinian evolution and Pokemon? If so, what kind of message did this send to the youth culture?
DARWIN'S THEORY AND POPULAR CULTURE
Perhaps no other theory to emerge out of the scientific realm has had more of an influence on the moral, cultural and spiritual fabric of Western society than Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Many highly influential figures in popular culture today hail Darwin's theory as a death blow to the claims of the Bible or even to the reality of a creator. Such figures include Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Peter Atkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. They also connect Darwinism with atheism and it's not difficult to see why.
The full title of Darwin's pioneering work on the subject is, 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life'
Suffering, competition, triumph and death are all essential parts of Darwinian evolution. This is in stark contrast to the biblical account of creation which states that death and struggle in nature are a result of the fall of mankind (Romans 5:12, Romans 8:21-23). The obvious implications of Darwin's theory are grim. Arguably, our whole existence is about survival and overcoming competition. We are ultimately no different to the beasts within the animal kingdom. Sadly, this has had a profound influence on popular culture and perhaps even, the Pokemon franchise.
“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”
― Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species, p.244
2 BE A MASTER
As mentioned earlier, one of the central goals of Pokemon trainers is to become a Pokemon Master. The only way this can happen is for you to engage in relentless competition and triumph over your enemies so your Pokemon can evolve. See a connection? For example, consider the following lyrics from one of the most memorable songs in the Pokemon animated series, '2 Be a Master.' (Koch Records)
So you want to be a Pokemon Master?
I got to be the one the only one who can
Withstand the test 'n be the best
I got to strive keep up the drive
Be a Master
It's all about the evolution of Pokemon...
...Are you ready to meet and defeat... The Elite?
Can I expect survival against your Rival?
...To be a Master... Pokemon Master
I will be writin' a brand new chapter
To be a Master... Pokemon Master
I will be strivin' to the greatest Master.
Your whole purpose as a Pokemon trainer is to be better than your competitors. Not just doing your best but literally better than others. The strongest Pokemon flourish and evolve. The weak are defeated and largely forgotten. It's that simple. Obviously, this is a very negative message for kids growing up in an increasingly secular culture.
Such concerns were raised by the Childcare Protection Act in their review of Pokemon: The Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back (1999). Consider the following quotes below:
"Speaks to evolution and not to Creation"
"Lots of anger in rivalry"
"I suspect the most influential properties of the Pokemon craze are power over and control of others..."
The Bible says, 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.' (Matthew 5:44) The mind of Christ is to think of others above yourself (Philippians 2:3-5). This does not fit with Darwinism. Struggle, competition and the desire to be superior to others is a result of the fall.
But is Pokemon guilty of actively promoting this? Has Pokémon been used to condition young people into embracing Darwinism and its atheistic implications?
What do you think? Share your comments below!