Slimes

Slimes are, collectively, the most common creature in Terraria even more so than bunnies or even zombies (though its debatable once you include their skeleton brethren) In common woodlands, Slimes are green or blue. Yellow and Red Slimes appear underground. In deep caves there are Black Slimes and Large Mother Slimes. Jungles have robust Jungle Slimes, and the Underworld has Lava Slimes. Desert Slimes are sandy. Snowy areas feature Ice Slimes, and Snow and Jungle both have Spiker counterparts who will spit ice or venom (respectively) rather than simply trying to nuzzle the player to death.

It’s a mean nuzzle. It’ll totally explode a bunny.

At one point, I had figured Slimes were a good case study for intelligent design (and they may well still be), though I had a difficult time following the logic of other intelligent design ideologists such as The Discovery Institute.* I had figured the argument was something like the Babel Fish in that Slimes are immensely useful. They roam around absorbing critter-meat and other dross (often coins) and are attracted to the player. Slimes will attack, but not very effectively except in numbers, and when killed drop gel which is both edible and flammable, and makes a component for basic lighting.

Lighting is a very critical element of Terraria play.

Slime is food and fire. Mana from Heaven.

As of 1.3, this is literal. There are occasional slime storms, in which Slimes fall in mass from the sky, usually requiring the player to take shelter. Eventually King Slime falls and drops a machine (a crafting station) which allows gel to be converted to slime-blocks, with which all the furniture can be crafted (some specific items require additional materials). Slime chests look to me like the blue plastic recycle bins. So to me this screams of some higher order of intelligence raining down materials to us, that we may speed our way to civilized advancement.

The problem is, we don’t have evidence of this engineering (other than that Terraria is a computer game, constructed by a team of programmers and developers who specifically made the game and its rules for the enjoyment of its players, including the many species of Slime). Most of the forests are covered in trees which can be cut down to make wood, which can also be crafted into full furniture sets. Different breeds of tree (from different biomes) yield different kinds of wood, which modify the style of the furniture crafted. And given that trees make the other half of the torch equation (one gel + three wood = three torches) one might use my slime argument to suggest that trees are also intelligently designed. Or that the usefulness of Slimes lends no indication as to its status as a designed creature.

Then, one would think that in this era, we’d know what a designed organism looks like, as we have plenty of them. The clementines I get from the produce market in five-pound bags are easy-to-peel, tasty, and amazingly consistent in their size, shape and color. Wild citrus fruits tend to be seedy and less sweet and either a whole lot of rind pith or a menace to peeling efforts. On the other hand, we happened upon the mandarin orange early in our fruit breeding and is an ancestor of most of our commercial citrons, including the common orange.

Then there’s our dogs, some big enough to pull a load and others small enough to live in a handbag. Dogs are so socialized to humans that they start getting sad if they aren’t adequately acknowledged for too long. Exploiting this (half-evolved, half-bred) need for constant approval, we train dogs to track game (or criminals), to herd livestock, to detect illnesses and contraband, to pull loads across thousands of miles, as soldiers, as personal assistants, and as companions. More importantly, we’ve bred them so that they’re ridiculously adorable, and find it difficult to not adopt them into our homes and feed them and help them stay warm.

Maybe that’s the critical difference between a slime and a tree: The tree is content to sit there, and you have to make special tools to dismantle it for use. A slime seeks you out and forces you to open it up and use its contents. It’s like modern bananas that we can compare to a soda can, in contrast to its large, seedy, pulpy ancestor. The slime is the soda can that follows you home.**

* Well, I did, but I wasn’t able to make the leap of faith that The Discovery Institute writers could — Their effort to find Intelligent Design was to seek out evidence of irreducible complexity an asset of a life form that was so sophisticated that evolving by chance was unlikely or required a step that would have been filtered out via natural selection. (A good example would be a long segment of Macbeth encoded in sloth DNA in ASCII. There’d be no reason for it, and it’s highly improbable.)

Applied to actual specimens, irreducible complexity turned into a fiftieth shade of argument from ignorance, which was to posit because we couldn’t understand how a given trait evolved via natural selection, it simply didn’t or couldn’t. And no long passages of literary works appeared in anyone’s DNA ever (that we’ve found so far). Last I checked, the Discovery Institute has continued to praise organism features that they personally cannot imagine evolving from simpler forms while still pushing their campaign to teach kids too young to understand the particulars of evolution that the whole theory is wrong for equally incomprehensible reasons. Usually to the detriment of their future pre-med college careers.

** Still, our biologists wouldn’t accept this as grounds that Slimes are designed. Cats, including large cats, are known to be overly easy to domesticate. A saucer of milk (and continued feedings) will score you a cheetah right off the savanna. And anthropologists are pretty sure the wolves started this cooperative hunting relationship thing with humans. Still, tracing slime origins might shed some light as to how they came to become Slimes before falling to Terraria.

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