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Austin Cline

Scientists Create Artificial Virus

By November 13, 2003

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A common argument heard from creationists is that human beings are unable to create life; therefore, it is unreasonable to think that life originated through any natural means. Yes, it's absurd to think that that would qualify for someone as a good reason to believe in gods, but for some reason it does. Now, however, those same people will have to find a new argument because scientists have managed to create an artificial virus.

Unlike previous successes at creating life from "parts" of other living things, this time scientists have created life from scratch. With just 14 days of work and synthetic genes, they created a bacteria-eating virus in the lab, according to Yahoo News:

The Phi-X174 bacteriophage was developed from its genetic code. ... The work was led by Craig Venter, the head of the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), who has also been closely involved in work on mapping the human genome sequence. ... "With this advance it is easier to imagine -- in the not-too-distant future -- a colony of specially designed microbes living within the emission-control system of a coal-fired plant, consuming its pollution and its carbon dioxide, or employing microbes to radically reduce water pollution or to reduce the toxic effects of radioactive waste," [US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham] said.

Aside from the fact that it casts aside many standard creationist arguments, this is a very exciting scientific development, as Abraham explains above. There is a very real potential for scientists to create all sorts of organisms for very specialized purposes - eating radioactive waste, eating toxins, and so forth. Of course, there are also dangers here - can they be sure that the life they create won't mutate into something else? I'm not sure, but they had better be.

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Comments

Technically a virus isn’t alive. The real biggie will come when Craig Venter creates his artificial organism.

October 31, 2008 at 2:39 am
Isaac(2)

Yeha, this is cool, but who made the model for the bacteriophage? Anyone can build a Lego set, bet the person who designed Legos(ie. God) and the sets are amazing.

November 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm
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