Friday, May 21, 2010

Create life? Check.

Scientists have now created life. A bacteria cell has been engineered and assembled by humans without any such organism existing previously, which now opens the possibility of creating new forms of life. The potential to create algae that can turn carbon dioxide into fuel, or many other possibilities to fit our needs has become a reality, and corporations have begun the scramble to harness this technology and use it to not only create an edge in areas such as the energy market, but also make a lot of money in the meantime with new and more efficient ways of doing things once confined to narrow and specific methods. The science of Dr. Frankenstein (the man who created the monster. The monster was not named Frankenstein, nor did he get an M.D. degree) is now becoming a reality.

Whoa, what? Isn’t God the only person that can do such a thing? Isn’t this a threat to our faith in the one, true God that created the heavens and the earth?

One of two things could be potentially hazardous to Christian theism in this work:

We’re breaking some role God ordained for Himself, not for humans to participate in. Never before this point has humanity been able to create new forms of life, which other than God, evolution was doing through genetic mutations and such. A breach in our preordained role would be a sin, thus these scientists should be shunned and any work similar to it should be called a sin.

God in fact does not exist, or if God does exist then the power to create life in this way is not unique to God, and this one thing that we worshipped God for- one of the many things God does- is now not so special and we can be less amazed at this aspect of His character.

Neither of these are true, nor are they threats to Christian theism.

God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. We are doing that. The only difference is that it’s not specifically the call to make more humans. God created us in His image, a divine image, that creates in a way no other creature does. All that’s happening is our role as stewards of creation in supporting life on this planet and ensuring its continuation is being exercised.

This brings up other issues like stem-cell research, where humans are manipulating life and using it for their own ends. While this is manipulating life in a sense, it is not what stem-cell research is on a fundamental point: stem-cell research is manipulation of already existing life while this is creating life where life did not exist. The difference is crucial.

But are we playing God in this kind of work?

Another difference must be noted. The scientists merely assembled a new organism using a unique sequence never before seen of the four proteins that make up DNA: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. The question is: who made these four proteins? Who made life in the first place? It was God. Creatio ex nihilo is the name of this part of God’s work in creations. God created out of nothing. These scientists are creating life out of already existing materials.

A question that arises in this work that I’d like to see answered is whether scientists could create another human being in this way. A human being created in the divine image would be a controversial achievement to say the least. I’m sure the discussion of first causes and such would arise, but it must be noted that humans can create another human in the divine image. But that’s a different discussion altogether.

Is it dangerous what scientists are doing? Does it fit within the proper role of humanity in Christian theism?

1 comment:

Stresspenguin said...

My concern is the unregulated use of new organisms within the ecosystem.