While the latest video-game craze, "Spore," touts the theory of evolution, taking gamers from a single-celled organism to complex civilizations, some say it also promotes God and intelligent design.
The traditionally contrasted themes are both represented in the game, according to game innovator Will Wright, the creator of the wildly popular "Sims" game.
"In Spore, basically, the theme of it is the complete view of life – from its early origins through evolution. But at every level, the player is creating something," Wright told ABC News.
In an interview with USA Today, meanwhile, Wright said the world created by players is "definitely not a creationist universe," but admitted the game had "aspects of intelligent design" because it puts the gamer in the "role of an intelligent designer."
Players start the game with the task of feeding a single-cellular amoeba that eventually lays an egg after it has consumed enough blob-like nutrients in its 2-D world. The egg allows gamers to edit their simple organism into a more complex creature - with seven legs, one eye and purple skin if they so desired.
At each egg stage, players can further "evolve" their creatures to have different body structures, physical capabilities and even bigger brains – all of which affect the creatures' abilities and personalities in the game. Through the creature, the players' objective is to spawn an offspring, run a city, dominate a planet and eventually, conquer other worlds and galaxies created by other players.
The intelligent design community has offered a somewhat positive view of the game, saying it supports their cause.
"Anyone can see that Spore is not really about evolution by the Darwinian mechanism; it's about evolution by intelligent design," Casey Luskin with Discovery Institute, a leading intelligent design think tank, wrote on the group's affiliated blog Evolution News & View.
Proponents of intelligent design (I.D.) claim that life originated from an "intelligent designer" but accepts evolution as changes over time. This view contrasts with neo-Darwinian theory of evolution which purports that evolution is based on natural selection resulting from random mutations.
The game even refutes many Darwinist objections to I.D., argued Luskin, including one objection that says detecting design requires knowledge about the designer.
"Browsing on YouTube I can find hundreds if not thousands of Spore creatures that were designed by people whose real names, parents' names, and tribes of origin I know nothing about. We don't have to know who the designer is, or who spawned the designer, to be able to detect design," wrote Luskin.
Luskin said he knows two video-game developers affiliated with Spore that are "pro I.D.," according to a writer for Slate.com.
On the internet, many gamers – both Christian and non-Christian – have come to the defense of Spore from online critics who suggest the evolution theme is anti-Christian.
Benjamin Cormack, writing on the gaming Website GotGame.com suggested Spore may even help players understand, in a small way, the heart of God.
"As you guide and care for your creations, you may actually develop an almost parental sense of pride in watching them grow, kind of like children or sea monkeys," he wrote.
One Christian gamer by the name of "Crocodile_Key" wrote on the GameSpot.com forum that being Christian and loving Spore doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.
"I was raised a Christian, and will always be a Christian...This does not make me a hypocrite," wrote the gamer.
He acknowledged that while the game does contain evolution in its theme, he concluded its presentation is not offensive.
"It is a game designed to have fun and create with our imaginations."
After years of anticipation, Spore was released on Sept. 4 in Australia and the Nordic region and released the next day in Europe, Japan, South America and New Zealand. The game was released on Sept. 7 in North America and Asia Pacific territories.
In addition to being one of the most highly-anticipated games in recent years, Spore is also well on its way to becoming the most illegally-downloaded game ever, racking up more than 500,000 downloads on BitTorrent sites.