Help Me Here: Artificial Life in the Lab??


Perhaps some of my more scientific friends could help me with this story because I’m not quite certain what to make of it at this point. Artificial Life. Here are a couple of questions.

First, is he serious about this being used to ‘combat global warming’?

Second, are there any ethical issues concerning what he has ‘created’ (shouldn’t he say, ‘what I have evolved’? I mean, he didn’t really create it did he? Seriously.)

Mr Venter said he had carried out an ethical review before completing the experiment. “We feel that this is good science,” he said. He has further heightened the controversy surrounding his potential breakthrough by applying for a patent for the synthetic bacterium.

What does ‘feeling’ have to do with it? I’m sure there are others who ‘feel’ this is ‘bad science’. ‘Feelings’ should have nothing to do with whether or not this is ethical, good, or even science.  

Third, how is it ‘a new life form’ if it starts out by being ‘transplanted into a living bacterial cell’?

Fourth, is this guy really naive enough to believe this statement he made:

Mr Venter believes designer genomes have enormous positive potential if properly regulated. In the long-term, he hopes they could lead to alternative energy sources previously unthinkable. [My emphasis.]

Nothing has ever been properly regulated. This is wishful thinking.

Fifth, explain this statement:

“We are not afraid to take on things that are important just because they stimulate thinking,” he said. “We are dealing in big ideas. We are trying to create a new value system for life. When dealing at this scale, you can’t expect everybody to be happy.”

What ‘thinking’ does he hope to stimulate? What is the ‘big idea’ here? What is the new ‘value system for life’ he hopes to create? Seriously, what would this sort of work do to help the world live better, happier, and with more value for life? I think it is too bad we don’t consider humans people created in the image of God instead of products of changes incurred climbing ‘mount improbable.’ Then we wouldn’t need a new ‘value system’. But what is the ‘value system’ he hopes to create?

Sixth, is this in any way another attempt by man to ‘play God’? Does this story say anything to us about what we really think about life, God, and Darwinian evolution? If yes, what? If no, why?

Well, I’d really appreciate any feedback you could give me. I’m up in the air on this one so I’m asking for a little guidance. Thanks.


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