Well, I woke up yesterday morning to news headlines on television (and then seeing many of the same claims in newspaper and web reports) that scientists had supposedly made some sort of life in a laboratory. For instance, Science News blarred that the scientists used “a made-from-scratch genome,” which was not made “from scratch” at all—the reporter gives a false impression as to what really happened.
Going back a couple of years, in February 2008, AiG commented on this same sort of research headed by the same scientist stating (see Getting a Life?):
According to media reports, a team of researchers is on the verge of creating artificial life. DNA specialist Craig Venter, president of the J. Craig Venter Institute in the U.S., is “poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form [a synthetic chromosome] on Earth,” reported the UK’s Guardian.In 2007, Dr. Georgia Purdom wrote this related article along with this article on synthetic life. And in 2008, this article, “‘Creating’ Life in the Lab,” appeared on AiG’s website.
Dr. Georgia Purdom, a geneticist at Answers in Genesis–U.S., observes that, in this instance, life is not being created from “scratch”—it is being “rebuilt.” In assembling this man-made chromosome, scientists (using their intelligence, it should be noted) use a sequence that is modeled after a preexisting bacterial chromosome, which uses preexisting DNA bases. Then they place the chromosome into a preexisting bacterial cell.
In other words, concludes Purdom, all the components already existed. She adds that these components were created instantaneously by God, not through the many years of toiling by scientists.
So what is this latest piece of news that has created headlines around the world? An article from Science Express states:
For 15 years, J. Craig Venter has chased a dream: to build a genome from scratch and use it to make synthetic life. Now, he and his team at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland, and San Diego, California, say they have realized that dream. In this week's Science Express (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.1190719), they describe the stepwise creation of a bacterial chromosome and the successful transfer of it into a bacterium, where it replaced the native DNA. Powered by the synthetic genome, that microbial cell began replicating and making a new set of proteins. (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5981/958)However, some of the popular media printed headlines that made it sound like something new had been created—giving the distinct impression that man had created life in a laboratory. For example, “It’s Alive! Artificial DNA controls life” was the headline for an MSNBC article.
For what these scientists really accomplished, I urge you to go to today’s News to Note article on our website that will give you the details.
But, basically, we could put it this way:
Scientists (in what is obviously a significant technological achievement—well, for man it is anyway) took an existing bacterium and copied its genetic information (that God Created), based on the genetic code God created, using intricately designed machines, and yeast cells (that God created). They spent $40 million and used the research skills of 20 highly qualified and intelligent scientists over 10 years. They copied this information and then reconstructed the genome, inserting the equivalent of a “name tag”’ and then, after taking out the DNA, inserted the “synthetic” genes into another already-existing bacterium, so that the complicated machinery of the living bacterium (that God had created) could then enable this cell to live and replicate—as per the instructions on the genes that God put there in the first place and that these scientists copied!
Now the lead scientist for this project, J.Craig Venter, who is considered one of the leading scientists of the 21st century, does not claim what has been done has anything to do with the origin of life. He has certainly accomplished an incredible technological achievement—though, there are obvious ethical implications that no doubt will be discussed for years to come.
However, some of the popular media has tried to use this to (falsely) insinuate that scientists have basically created life in a lab. That is simply not true. All they have done, as I have stated, is copy the DNA God had already created. If scientists want to “create” their own life, they need to go and make their own code system—their own “DNA”! As I say, if you want to make this an origin of life issue, then go and get your own DNA!
Colorado Conference Begins TomorrowThis Sunday and Monday, Dr. Jason Lisle and I will be speaking at an AiG conference at Calvary Chapel South Denver (Littleton) in Colorado. You can obtain all the details from the event page.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,