Synthetic biology and the Bible

I’m reading J. Craig Venter’s book, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life. Venter is a scientist, a genetic engineer. In year 2010, he and his colleagues became the first to successfully create “synthetic life.”

Not an easy task, in light of the fact that Venter first had to achieve genome sequencing which involved sequencing millions of genes to decipher their codes. Scientists now can take genes from a simple organism, write a new code, and construct a synthetic genome that creates living proteins.

Venter sees the possibilities of creating organisms that can eat carbon dioxide. Others wonder: Are these scientists trying to be God? What if someone creates a monster? This situation gets a little scary, a bit divisive. So, I look to divine Science for insights.

Frist off, throughout his book, Venter stresses the ethics necessary in this phase of biological research.

Secondly, the “synthetic” product is not anything “new.” A synthetic product is an artificial imitation, or copy, of something that already exists. The genes used to produce synthetic materials already exist.

Granted the manipulation of those genes may seem a bit egocentric, however thought barriers are being broken and humankind is being forced to look beyond themselves. Although Venter believes life is of the material/physical construct, he admits that DNA synthesis is error-prone, and that genes alone cannot define life, because environment also plays a role.

Humankind has also admitted life is more than that which is attached to the fluctuating substance we call matter.

These admittances push the question, What is Life? What is a substantial life? Is life  tactile to the physical senses? Or is life metaphysical? Is life from matter or Spirit?

The whole scenario of trying to find life in matter has been repeated over and over again throughout history. Humankind has tried to mimic God by generating, yet what we create always dies while God still lives. We are taught that the heart or brain and genes are the source of life, but not completely.

Looking to our genes as a source of life, or security, is misleading, unless it circles back around to God. Remember Jesus, who said, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”

Will the day come when synthetic biology can originate what they call “life” from a stone? Many doubts.

Maybe synthetic biology can originate life from dry bones, but again the idea is not original.

In Ezekiel we read about the valley of dry bones. The prophet writes, “And he [God] said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” (ESV)

Living from the standpoint that Life is complete, we spend less time trying to create something and more time enjoying the good already created.

We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “There can be but one creator, who has created all. Whatever seems to be a new creation is only the discovery of some distant idea of Truth; or else it is a self-division of mortal thought. The human mind is not an originator, but is a mime, attempting to mimic the divine infinite.

“The multiplication of a human sense of persons and things is neither creation nor revelation. A temporal thought, like an atom of dust thrown into the face of spiritual immensity, is dense blindness instead of a scientific eternal consciousness of creation.”


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