Intelligent Design

Venter’s claim on “Creation”

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It took 20 skilled people working for a decade, and an estimated $40 million of funding, but the outcome is spectacular. It is described as “a defining moment in the history of biology and biotechnology” by Mark Bedau, editor of the journal Artificial Life. The BBC News headline was succinct: ‘Artificial life’ breakthrough announced by scientists. The Economist declared: “Artificial life, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, has arrived“. The research paper claims to have made a synthetic cell, and uses the word “creation” in the title.

“We refer to such a cell controlled by a genome assembled from chemically synthesized pieces of DNA as a “synthetic cell”, even though the cytoplasm of the recipient cell is not synthetic. Phenotypic effects of the recipient cytoplasm are diluted with protein turnover and as cells carrying only the transplanted genome replicate. Following transplantation and replication on a plate to form a colony (>30 divisions or >10^9 fold dilution), progeny will not contain any protein molecules that were present in the original recipient cell.”

For more, go here.

7 Replies to “Venter’s claim on “Creation”

  1. 1
    Sooner Emeritus says:

    ID proponents want to testify in Dover II that ET could have engineered life on earth. Yet they take great offense at the suggestion that humans could engineer life. This seems a tad inconsistent to me.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Off topic hot off the press:

    X-Ray Diffraction Microscope Reveals 3-D Internal Structure of Whole Cell
    Excerpt: Researchers identified the 3-D morphology and structure of cellular organelles, including the cell wall, vacuole, endoplasmic reticulum, mitrochondria, granules and nucleolus. The work may open a door to identifying the individual protein molecules inside whole cells using labeling technologies.,,,”This is the first time that people have been able to peek into the 3-D internal structure of a biological specimen, without cutting it into sections, using X-ray diffraction microscopy,” Miao said.

    I didn’t see a video with the article just a picture, hopefully a video will be forthcoming shortly

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    off topic this is a cool site that shows some good videos:

    Cellular animation

    Animated Cambrian animals:

  4. 4
    EndoplasmicMessenger says:

    @Sooner Emeritus

    Offense? I think you need to re-read the article. Concern is not the same thing as offense.

  5. 5
    Phaedros says:



    I think the problem is with Venter’s hubris and misrepresentation of what he actually accomplished.

  6. 6
    David Tyler says:

    Sooner Emeritus @ 1
    Yet they take great offense at the suggestion that humans could engineer life.

    As EndoplasmicMessenger has pointed out, this is not what is being expressed. Venter and colleagues can be commended for their research achievements, but not for the spin that is being put on what they have actually done. As Heather Zeigler points out: “Exciting for biochemists, but advancements in laboratory technique and technology are hardly the stuff of headlines.”

    What has been done is to show the potential for assembling a genome from its component parts (with some cosmetic mods) and introducing it to a cell that has had its genome removed. The take-home message for this concerns the importance of intelligent agency. What the research team have not done is to introduce any new functional information to the components: they have re-formed a living cell, not made an artificial one. It is here that legitimate concerns should be expressed.
    Those approaching the research from an evolutionary vantage point are routinely underplaying the information content of living things. They rarely admit that they are working mostly in the dark, preferring only to talk about those areas where we do have an initial insight into the complexities of life. Consequently, reaching goals is always a much harder task than had been anticipated – by researchers, by funding agencies and by society at large. We need a new emphasis on the information content of living things, and it looks to me as though the only people who can give a lead in this area are those who operate within an ID framework.

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    Sooner Emeritus:

    Venter’s achievement is exquisitely technical, not substantial. He has not engineered anything, just found the practical technique to copy a whole bacterial genome instead of part of it. His experiment just shows two things:

    a) That you can copy a whole bacterial genome (interesting, but not so suprising).

    b) That you can “fecundate” (if you allow me the term in this context a bacterial species with the genome of a very similar species. That’s interesting, but it could be realized with a natural genome, and nothing would have changed.

    IOW, as others have already stated, Venter’s research is interesting but fundamentally not very important for our understanding of life. As a techinque, it can however be very useful for future experimentation.

    But the general excitement about the creation of artificial life is completely unwarranted.

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