Who needs God when you have biologists?

Yes, I’m being very sensationalist – but this still freaking awesome. Craig Venter’s research team has officially created the first artificial organism. The complexity of this endeavour is mind boggling – a genome isn’t a simple thing – which makes this very technically impressive. But in addition to being able to say “Look what we can do!”, this also has a number of large implications for future projects. Now that we can make our own genomes, we can create artificial organisms specialized for fuel production, insulin production, etc… How neat is that?!

PZ has a more scientific summary, and Jerry Coyne has a very good “quick guide” for the not so biologically inclined readers.

I do like Coyne’s response to those that are wondering if biologists are “playing God”:

But what creationists cannot get around is the increasing demonstration that life is merely an immensely complicated chemical reaction. Venter’s team made a genome able to direct and support life using off-the-shelf nucleotides and some other reagents. Eventually, in a few decades, they’ll be able to make a fully living bacterium in the same way. And then we will have played God, at least the way religious people mean it. …Life is just complex chemicals—nothing more, nothing less.

Biology is awesome*!

*Obviously not a biased statement.


  1. LiamW says

    You seem to imply without coming out and saying (is that redundant) a tangential but greater message here: this is why humans are by and large credulous and tend to believe claims (in all areas, not just mating) while critical thinking and skepticism have to be learned skills.

  2. LiamW says

    Oh nuts, that was meant for your other post. Can you delete this? I can’t seem to. :( Sorry

  3. says

    First the start with bacteria. Then it’s protozoa. Before you know it, it will be glow in the dark squids. This is how a genetically modified Chtulhu will come to rule the world. Mark my words.

  4. says

    I’m no believer in the almighty or religious doctrine in general, but I’ve liked to believe there’s more to me than chemical reactions, that something other than electric whatchahoozits make my mind and “self” EXIST.. For me, this is relatively depressing news.

  5. Alexrkr7 says

    Yeah, I’m sure the creationists will hang up their coats and call it quits now. You know, being the open and honest people they are.@Jason: Sorry to hear about your existential crisis, reality is a bitch sometimes.

  6. Zenlite says

    You think that’s depressing, look up Spatio-Temporal Determinism.Anyways, the thing to think about is this: Does learning that you are just an incredibly complicated chemical machine in any way change your day to day life or the meaning you feel in your interactions with others? It didn’t for me.

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