Pokemon and Christianity

By: finessefully

Mar 11 2011

Category: Uncategorized

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I recently had a theological discussion with a friend about the game called ‘Pokemon’ (pronounced poh-KAY-mon). I was shown a website that illustrated the evils of Pokemon from a Christian perspective, however, it was entirely inaccurate. I searched the internet later for ‘Christianity and Pokemon’ and was given many an article describing how demonic and evil it is. Did they have solid facts to back up those claims? No. I am writing this today to explain to those of you who may be wary of letting your son or daughter into this imaginary world of Pokemon. I write from experience, and am a Bible-believing Christian.

What is Pokemon?

A pokemon is a creature existing in a fantasy world, where people live alongside them, somewhat similar to how we have animals as pets. These pokemon have natural abilities, such as the ability to breath fire (like a dragon), live underwater (like a fish), use electricity (think electric eel), or use poison (like a snake). People can capture them (that is, store them) in a little contraption called a pokeball. It is a small, hollow, typically red and white colored sphere. Using some sort of mirror-and-light technology of that world, a beam of light may come out of the ball, shrink the pokemon, and bring it into the ball. It is then kept in a person’s pocket, bag, or belt. The pokemon can come back out again at the push of a button.

The concept of Pokemon revolves around one idea, pokemon battles. This may cause some of you to be wary, but please, let me explain. When two people meet who both have pokemon, they may have a ‘pokemon battle’. They are differ from version to version (that is, the T.V. show, the video games, and the lesser known Manga, which is a Japanese comic book). In the T.V. show, it is typically a friendly match, with standard rules. One trainer decides which of their pokemon they are going to use, and brings them out of their pokeball.

Next, they tell their pokemon to attack. ‘Tackle’, ‘bite’, ‘ember’, ‘razor leaf’, and ‘thundershock’ are some moves a pokemon might know. These attacks do not kill the other pokemon, rather, make them pass out, or ‘faint’. A fainted pokemon must be returned to its pokeball, and may be healed in a place called a ‘pokemon center’, where they have a machine to do so.

The pokemon battle of their own free will, and consider it their job. It is silly to compare a pokemon battle to a cock or dog fight, because pokemon are shown to have nearly human-level intellect, despite being unable to speak.

Each pokemon has a certain ‘type’ that determines what sort of ‘moves’, or attacks, it may know. Fighting type pokemon, for example, typically use physical attacks like punches and kicks. Their type makes them weak against certain kinds of types, and strong against other types. I will provide a table at the bottom to show each type match-up.

If you win a pokemon battle, your pokemon gains ‘EXP’, or experience points. If a pokemon gains enough EXP, it can go up a level, that is, become stronger. The higher the level of a pokemon, the stronger it will be and the better moves it can know.

If a pokemon has gained enough levels, it may go through a transformation known as ‘evolving’. This is not the same thing as Darwin’s theory of evolution. Evolution in the pokemon world is akin to a person aging, but for them, it happens all at once. Usually, they become stronger, faster, and bigger than they were before. It is not at all related to Darwin’s theory, so don’t worry about that.

The goal of pokemon is to battle with certain people called ‘gym leaders’. Each gym leader is stronger than anyone the player has yet faced, and if they defeat the gym leader, they are rewarded with a little piece of metal called a ‘badge’. The badge is not magical, and simply serves as a way for others to recognize that the player has gotten stronger. In the games, it also ‘unlocks’, so to speak, the ability for pokemon to be stronger in strength, speed, defense, etc.

Once the player has beaten all eight gym leaders in the game, they may move on to the Elite Four. They must be beaten all in a row, without break, and are the most difficult opponents yet. Defeating all four of them brings the player to the final boss, or the ‘Pokemon Master’. He/she is, with some exceptions, the strongest opponent in the game, and it is the player’s goal to defeat them in battle.

The second goal of Pokemon is to fill out a ‘pokedex’, or an electronic pokemon encyclopedia. For each pokemon the player catches, its information is automatically recorded in the pokedex. For each game, there is a given amount of pokemon they aim to collect.

If a player manages to complete either or both goals, the game is pretty much over. The player may then restart the game, get a new one, or stop playing altogether. I assure you, however, that these goals are both incredibly difficult, and thus are not simply blown past.

Where did Pokemon begin?

Pokemon began in Japan, thanks to a man named Satoshi Tajiri, who enjoyed collecting bugs as a child. He came up with different ways of catching them, and his childhood hobby would soon morph into a franchise called Pokemon.

Where do Pokemon get their abilities?

Some people would argue, here, that their power is demonic. Not so. That would be akin to calling an electric eel or a penguin demonic. On the contrary, their powers can all be explained using the chemistry and biology of that world, as there are different chemicals and elements in that ‘world’ than in ours.

What are some concerns regarding Pokemon?

So, after writing all this, have I come to the conclusion that Pokemon is completely innocent? Nope.

Of all seventeen types, there are some known as ‘Psychic’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Dark’, and ‘Poison’ types, however, both dark-type and poison-type aren’t half as bad as their reputation suggests.

There are some (very, very few, I might add) NPCs (that stands for ‘non-player characters’, also known as computer players) in a few of the games that have the title ‘Channeler’ or ‘Medium’ in front of their name.

In the games Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, there is a false ‘creation’ theory (it is, however, clearly depicted as a myth).

There is an actual death of a Pokemon (mentioned, not shown) in the games Red, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, and LeafGreen.

There are Pokemon graveyards (where ‘spirits’ are mentioned) in the games Red, Blue, Yellow, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. The most prominent ones are in the first six mentioned.

In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, the villain is determined to create a perfect world without God’s help. However, he is clearly depicted as evil and there is no question that what he is doing is wrong.

In the T.V. show, there are some run-ins with all I’ve previously mentioned.

In the Manga (comic book), there are somewhat darker themes, and I’d recommend it for teens rather than children.

So Pokemon is evil then?

While it isn’t perfect, it’s far from being an ‘evil, demonic tool devised to destroy our children’. Rather, it is a pastime that parents may be slightly wary of letting their kids enjoy.

I was raised to know the difference between right and wrong, and if that difference is clearly instilled in your child, they will have no problem seeing the issues of the games and separating themselves from it while still enjoying them. None of the aforementioned issues, by the way, at all invite one to worship or destroy anything. It’s just a game.

I’ve heard reports that children become exceedingly violent after becoming exposed to Pokemon, and I have seen absolutely no proof of that. If your child is prone to copying every action or word they see or hear, then you will probably want to keep them away from Pokemon (not to mention football, most television shows, and most movies).

If you set clear boundaries as to what is okay and what is not okay, you needn’t be afraid for your child. It can keep them occupied, give them a hobby, or even just a fun little thing to do with their friends. The problems listed above are minimal and scarcely show up.

For example, tell your children you do not want them to catch or use psychic type pokemon. It may keep them from completing their pokedex, but when faced with the decision of not playing the game or not catching those pokemon, they will choose the latter.

Some games with only the first two problems mentioned are Silver, Gold, Crystal, HeartGold, and SoulSilver.

Type Match-Ups:

Fire; strong against bug, steel, grass, and ice; weak against ground, rock, and water.

Water; strong against fire, ground, rock; weak against electric and grass.

Grass; strong against ground, rock, and water; weak against fire, flying, bug, ice, and poison.

Electric; strong against flying and water; weak against ground.

Normal; strong against nothing; weak against fighting, immune to ghost.

Fighting; strong against normal, rock, and dark; weak against flying and psychic.

Flying; strong against fighting, bug, and grass; weak against electric, ice, and rock, immune to ghost.

Poison; strong against grass; weak against ground and psychic.

Ground; strong against rock, fire, and poison; weak against grass, water, and ice, immune to electricity.

Rock; strong against fire and flying; weak against fighting, ground, steel, water, and grass.

Bug; strong against psychic, dark, and grass; weak against flying, fire, and rock.

Ghost; strong against other ghost-types and psychic; weak against other ghost-types and dark, immune to fighting and normal.

Steel; strong against rock and ice; weak against fighting, ground, and fire, immune to poison.

Psychic; strong against fighting and poison; weak against bug, ghost, and dark.

Ice; strong against grass, flying, dragon, and ground; weak against fighting, rock, steel, and fire.

Dragon; strong against other dragon-types; weak against other dragon-types and ice.

Dark; strong against psychic and ghost; weak against fighting and bug, immune to psychic.

Conclusion:

I’ve enjoyed Pokemon since I was very young, and have still remained a strong Christian. However, it all comes down to personal conviction and what God gives for you to do. Whether you, your friends, your relatives, or your children participate in the games depends on the conviction the Holy Spirit gives you. I’m not going to try and tell you what’s the best thing for you to do. I’m just laying out the facts.

So pray; ask God to help you decide. It isn’t the end of the world if you say no; and you aren’t going to be possessed by demons if you say yes. Still, let the Bible and the Holy Spirit be your guide.

God bless!

(If you have any questions, please comment, and I will address them as soon as possible.)

 

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