Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Creating A New Life Form And Playing god

It has finally happend (a couple months ago), humans have figured out how to replace the DNA of a living organism with a synthetic code. Basically, a team of scientists created a synthetic DNA sequence and took a bacteria (Mycoplasm) and replaced this bacteria's DNA with the synthetic sequence. This is extremely exciting and could open the door to many possibilities. Creating an organism to do virtually anything that we can think of through replacing a simple bacteria's DNA sequence with any that we choose.

After I read about J. Craig Venter in Scientific American and what he and his team of scientists accomplished, I was amazed. Here is a little info on what exactly he accomplished (from here):

"Craig Venter, the pioneering US geneticist behind the experiment, said the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and even manufacture vaccines." (If you want to see the actual PUBLISHED research, it can be found here)

However, there is another reason I brought up this exciting scientific discovery. To quote from Andrew Brown's blog:

"Craig Venter's production of an entirely artificial bacterium marks another triumph of the only major scientific programme driven from the beginning by explicit atheism. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, was a militant atheist, who refused to accept a job at a newly founded Cambridge college if it had a chapel, and who invented molecular biology partly to prove there was nothing special or mystical about life: it was just the behaviour of complex chemicals acting in accordance with the normal laws of nature."

In fact, this idea is exactly what Arthur Caplan of Scientific American declares. He says, "When the hybrid bug began to reproduce (The Mycoplasm with the new DNA), it became the first artificial organism, putting to rest the ancient and tenacious conceit that only a deity or some special power can create the spark of life."

I think this is possibly one of the most foolish statements I have ever heard, or, at the very least, vague and purposefully misleading. As amazing as Venter's "creation" is, it is not the "creation" of life. Taking a fully functioning bacteria that already has the ability to reproduce and replacing it's DNA so that it changes function and creates different proteins is not "creating new life," it is altering already existing life.

Man can not and probably never will be able to create life. We do not understand how life is created, we do understand many complexities of life, but not the creation of life. To declare that this is the "creation of life" is very misleading. In essence, what Venter did is take a computer and replaced the microchip. He created his own microchip to replace a natural microchip that was already found in the computer. This is an outstanding discovery and innovation. However, it is not the creation of a whole new computer. It is the utilization of an already existing computer.

When a man can grow a living organism from non-living materials then we can declare to have created life. However, replacing the chromosomes in a living organism with different DNA is not "creating" new life. It is AMAZING and remarkable, but not a real creation.

Also, it is not like he created a new coding process or anything of the sort. He sequenced DNA in such a way that the organism would created proteins that he wanted that organism to create and would function in a manner that he wanted this organism to function in. He is able to MANIPULATE nature, but not create anything in nature. There is a difference and I think we must realize it. If someone is able to take inorganic elements and create a living organism, I will be the first one to admit that man can create life, but until then I will wait. I am unsure why people are jumping to the conclusion that this man has "created" life.

Anyone think I am wrong and this is the "creation" of life? If so, can you explain why this is the creation of life?


Garnel Ironheart said...

I actually met a scientist who worked with this team and he assured me that the newspapers oversensationalized their findings.
Basically what they did was a process called recombinant DNA but on a more total scale than anything previous.
As the joke about this goes, the scientists go to God and say "Guess what? We created life too!"
"Oh," says God, "and how did you do that?"
"Well we took some dirt..."
"Hang on," say God, "you didn't create your own dirt?"
Using elements God created and the brains God gave them....

E-Man said...

What bothers me about this whole thing is that these people CLEARLY have an agenda. They are always trying to disprove G-D through science. This is why so many religious people refuse to believe in evolution, because these atheist scientists keep trying to say, "See, this disproves G-D and anyone who believes in G-D is an idiot."

None of these scientific discoveries disprove G-D, they help us better understand nature, a tool which G-D invented.

Also, I have been so disappointed with Scientific American since they always have articles that bash religion in some way. I much prefer Discovery magazine that stays neutral to religion. That is what science is, neutral to religion, it does not prove nor disprove G-D. It can prove or disprove mystical beliefs though.

Yeshivish said...

What these scientists really need to do is create life without doing anything. If they ever do create life, which I doubt they ever will, all they have done is prove that life needs to be created by someone. Just imagine, a bunch of scientist sitting in a lab waiting for life to spontaneously generate.

E-Man said...

excellent point Yeshivish!