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Friday, 21 May 2010

Creator Man???

One of the major news items of the week has been the announcement that a 'maverick' scientist has 'created' a living cell!

The Scotsman newspaper reported as follows:

"To create the man-made cell, Dr Venter's team started by mapping the genome – an organism's entire genetic make-up – of a bacterium called Mycoplasma mycoides. Another team then used this code to recreate the genome in a synthetic form, using chemicals rather than biological material.

These chemical blocks were pasted together by Dr Venter and his colleagues to create a complete synthetic copy of the original genome. This artificial material was then placed into another type of bacterium, which had its own genetic material taken out, creating a synthetic cell – though only the genome was synthetic.

Dr Venter and his colleagues created a code, similar to Morse code, to "write" within the DNA itself. They used the sequence of four DNA chemicals – thymine, guanine, cytosine and adenine – as a code for any letter, number or punctuation mark.

Using the code, the team included the names of the study co-authors, an e-mail address and even philosophical quotes, as a distinctive "watermark" on the synthetic genome.

Dr Venter likened the synthetic chromosome – the collection of genetic material – to new "software" which then "booted up" the cell. Driven by the new genome, the bacteria took on the appearance and behaviour of the original cell, generating different proteins and multiplying. Describing the achievement in the journal Science, Dr Venter said: "This is the first synthetic cell that's been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome."

Now I am no synthetic biologist, but I do notice a couple of anomalies in this report. It seems to me that this is not the creation of life, but the use of other life-forms to modify a chemical amalgam! Yeast, an even more erudite article in the same newspaper informs, was used to paste the chemical blocks together - and yeast, as any baker knows, is a living organism; the resulting material was then inserted to a living cell - which, if I understand it at all, it then took over, in a similar ('though not identical) fashion to the way in which a parasite takes over its host body.

Creation, in the strict sense of the first origination of being out of nothing, does not come within the scope of science. Therefore, I continue to be perfectly happy to accept that the universe - all that is contained in the space-time continuum that is our dimensional experience - "... was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen." (Heb 11:3).

Some may seek to 'play God' - but He is still on the throne!

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