Unto His Own Image God becomes man: Venter creates synthetic life , reads one headline. One among many, many such boomings of the news about scientist Craig Venter’s synthesis of a new bacterium.

A correspondent of Megan McArdle’s observes:

I am getting bombarded with the Venter “crated life” stuff today and, eh. I think it was a big deal when (seven years ago?) they made their “minimal” genome, and you could see where they were going then. But this isn’t such a big deal now becuase well, it’s what we do all the time: you pop in a new bit of DNA, sometimes one you made by solid state synthesis, and replace stuff that’s in the cell already. OK, they replaced everything. But it’s different in scale not kind whatever Venter says.

Which seems about right. Why has the popular press lifted up Venter’s bacterium instead of, say, such recent work as the creation of a 21-amino-acid mouse ?

If I had to take a guess, I say that it has something to with the perception that Venter somehow shows God isn’t necessary for creation—the possibility, in other words, of ironic headlines like the one above.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

Loading...

Show 0 comments