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Artificial DNA, Actual Design

If aliens from another world were to visit Earth, their arrival would generate headlines and major buzz. In fact, if such a momentous event ever occurred, it would be hard to imagine anyone talking about anything else.

Perhaps it’s not all that surprising, then, that researchers from Scripps Institute in La Jolla, CA, garnered headlines in May of 2014 when they announced the creation of the first-ever organism to utilize “alien” DNA.1 This type of advance not only captures the public’s imagination but also raises a number of urgent concerns, including two related to the origin of life:

  • If humans can create artificial life in the lab, does that mean God is not necessary to explain the genesis of life?
  • Does this type of advance make evolutionary explanations for the origin of life more reasonable?

In light of these challenging questions, it is ironic that the accomplishments of the Scripps Institute scientists point to the necessary role of a Creator for bringing into existence the first life on Earth. This advance required significant effort by highly trained and highly skilled researchers. More importantly, it required ingenuity on the part of the investigators, who based their research strategy on decades of accrued knowledge and understanding of biochemistry.2

The bottom line: groundbreaking work in synthetic biology consistently demonstrates that without the direct intervention of intelligent agents, life cannot arise from “inanimate” matter.

For a more detailed discussion of this work, check out the article “Creation of the First Organism with Artificial DNA and the Case for Intelligent Design.”

  1. Ewen Callaway, “First Life with ‘Alien’ DNA,” Nature News, posted May 7, 2014, doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15179.
  2. Denis A. Malyshev et al., “A Semi-Synthetic Organism with an Expanded Genetic Alphabet,” Nature (May 7, 2014): doi:10.1038/nature13314.