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Can scientists 'create' life yet?

  1. Dec 7, 2004 #1
    The statement was posed to me that, "After all this time, and with all this knowledge, scientists still cannot create life in a laboratory." This was followed with the usual, "Therefore, creationism is true."

    Do scientists have the ability to create 'life' of any kind? Are they working on it?
     
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  3. Dec 7, 2004 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    Scientist have created viruses, but they are not generally thought to be really alive. Craig Ventner's group is working on extracting the DNA from a bacterium and replacing it with artificial DNA, and thus producing a new bacterium. So far, that's the closest science has come to creating life.


    It's just a claim of ignorance that if scientists can't yet duplicate the complicated chemistry of life that therefore life requires a divine act to generate it. If you study what is really known about that chemistry you come away with a repect for how intricate it is, and a clear understanding that it is, at bottom, just chemistry.
     
  4. Dec 7, 2004 #3
    Not really, no. They can synthesize organic molecules, but they have yet to make them into something as simple as a bacterium.
     
  5. Dec 7, 2004 #4

    Janitor

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    How complex were the chemicals that they started with? I am curious. Did they literally synthesize nucleic acids 'from scratch,' for instance?
     
  6. Dec 8, 2004 #5
    After all this time scientists can't make a million dollar TV only cost $1. Therefore god exists.
     
  7. Dec 8, 2004 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    I believe they synthesized short lengths of nucleic acids ("oligonucleides") and used enzymes to hook them together.
     
  8. Dec 8, 2004 #7
    But they hadn't been able to make them work as they work in a cell. Besides, how would they be able to manipulate so many reactions simultaneously?
     
  9. Dec 8, 2004 #8

    Phobos

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    Sorry to get off topic, but I'll just point out the weak argument.

    First, that is kind of a God of the Gaps argument. "We don't understand X, therefore God created X." Before science, this included just about everything...like why the sun rises in the morning (thanks Apollo, Ra, etc.) So each time science figures something out, that God of the Gaps gets smaller.

    It's also a false dichotomy. "If X is false, then Y is true." No, there may be other options. You still need to prove Y.
     
  10. Dec 9, 2004 #9
    I read somewhere that scientist succefully assembled an amoeba from parts taken from several other amoebas, and it (the new amoeba) worked just like the originals..

    As for the argument that if we can't create life in the laboratory, then creationism is true - an elementary school student can't do calculus, but it doesn't mean it can't be done.
     
  11. Dec 9, 2004 #10

    matthyaouw

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    So they assume that if we can't replicate a few million/billion years worth of evolution in a matter of years, it can't be done... what odd logic.
     
  12. Dec 9, 2004 #11
    Science cannot create life. It can only produce. That is the nature of reality itself.
     
  13. Dec 9, 2004 #12

    selfAdjoint

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    Your authority for that pretty wild claim?
     
  14. Dec 9, 2004 #13

    Nereid

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    selfAdjoint: do you have some links about Ventner's work?

    Janitor: it doesn't really matter what they chose to start with; all the chemicals they used (AFAIK) as inputs are known to be capable of being made, from scratch. It's a bit like many drug manufacturing processes ... they take extracts of living things as inputs, rather than make them, because it's cheaper and faster.

    Drayakir: getting as far as artificial viruses is a pretty amazing result! Ventner's team is confident they can make a 'bacterium', which will, of course, be capable of 'living' independently of further manipulation. Just how this will be done, and when, ... let's read the links (or do our own Googling).

    matthyaouw: note that what Ventner et al are doing isn't (directly) related to how life may have begun (abiogenesis) ... IMHO, that's a much more challenging topic for scientists (and maybe no one alive today will see it solved).

    dekoi: if the Ventner team does make a successful bacterium, in what sense will they have not 'created' life?
     
  15. Dec 9, 2004 #14
    Well, yeah, I wish I could create viruses. But would it be able to do all the functions that a living bacterium could?
     
  16. Dec 9, 2004 #15

    Janitor

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    Given that even the most complex viruses in nature are simpler than a bacterium, I would say the answer to your question is "no."
     
  17. Dec 9, 2004 #16

    iansmith

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    It is not Ventner, I think it is Venter. It is the same guy that founded TIGR and privatized the human genome project.
     
  18. Dec 10, 2004 #17

    selfAdjoint

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  19. Dec 11, 2004 #18
    Synthetic Biology in "Nature"

    There is an interesting "news feature" from Nature on synthetic biology. It is: Starting from scratch by Phillip Ball. Nature 2004;431:624-6.
     
  20. Dec 12, 2004 #19

    honestrosewater

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  21. Dec 12, 2004 #20
    Science cannot create life. Its can alter/change life, but cannot create it.
     
  22. Dec 12, 2004 #21

    selfAdjoint

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    This is the same claim that dekoi posted a couple of days ago on this thread. I asked for a defense of that bald statement then, and I'm asking for it again. Have you any reason, other than personal conviction, to believe this is true?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2004
  23. Dec 19, 2004 #22

    Astronuc

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  24. Dec 19, 2004 #23

    arildno

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    As yet, scientists can't create Mount Everest either.
    It doesn't follow that there is some mysterious, "uncreatable" substance hidden away in the heart of that chunk of rock, though.
     
  25. Dec 19, 2004 #24

    cronxeh

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    We cant create or destroy matter. However we can manipulate it, put together quarks and make protons, neutrons and electrons. We can further arrange the structure of these things into elements, then react these elements together creating chains of molecules. Further reactions will yield nucleic acids. You can react it further and polymerize it. Few processes further you will get your DNA (or RNA if you wish). Where you go from there is up to your imagination.

    the fine print: *such technology is 10-20 years away*
     
  26. Dec 19, 2004 #25
    ive read conspiracy theories that have said that the government has already succeded in creating life, but thats just whistle blow, and for the argument that we can create life, well here goes.
    if a creator did give life to this planet and or life to the entire universe, then we wouldnt really be creating life, because we would already be using the tools to which were created by another source. from the metal we use to build the machines, to the actual chemical fundamentals that make "life", along with other things that we probably dont know how to manipulate, therefore we cant create life yet.
    what are we saying when we say create life. are we saying create a body, or creating a mind, body and soul, because although the mind and soul have yet to be proven to be false or true, there is still the possibility that they exist outside the body but still interact with the body(this is what i believe) and if this is true, then we would have to know how to create all three of these. so when we say create life, what are we saying?
    i mean we're still unraveling stuff about the human body all the time

    we have to first define life, and that is far from being easy, but do we have to define life to be able to create it, maybe not and now im thinking to hard :yuck:
     
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