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It was only last week that I read what first appeared to be the kind of headline you see when walking out a supermarket checkout, like “Man Has Two-Headed Baby” or “B-52 Found on Mars.”
But this headline, “Scientist Clones Himself,” was real. Samuel Wood, a researcher at Stemagen Corporation in La Jolla, Calif., plucked cells from his skin and injected them into donated eggs that had been treated to remove their own genetic material.
The eggs developed into very early stage embryos that were genetically identical to the scientist’s own DNA. It wasn’t the first time that scientific pride overtook scientific ethics – a cloned human embryo was created at Newcastle University in Great Britain, although it survived just a few days.
Dr. Wood, on the other hand, cloned himself for the express purpose of extracting the resulting embryo’s stem cells, killing “himself” in the process.
It gets scarier and scarier: Two teams of researchers have been licensed to create a hybrid cow/human embryo for use in medical research to cure human diseases. The license was granted because the scientists said there was a shortage of human embryos for research.
The hybrids are 99 percent human and under the license would have to be destroyed within two weeks. In essence, the research teams have been granted a license to create a class of sub-humans to be grown as parts to be used as raw material for medical research.
Yesterday, the Associated Press published a story in which it claims: “U.S. Scientist Close to Creating Artificial Life.”
In this particular episode of “Frankenstein Lives On,” “celebrity scientist” J. Craig Venter’s laboratory produced a study published in Science that trumpeted: “Through dedicated teamwork we have shown that building large genomes is now feasible and scalable so that important applications such as biofuels can be developed,” said Hamilton Smith.
Ventner became a “celebrity scientist” by championing the creation of artificial life forms as a cure for human illness and global warming.
His researchers had “dedicated the last several years to designing and perfecting new methods and techniques that we believe will become widely used to advance the field of synthetic genomics,” he added.
Here’s what Ventner’s team accomplished. They took the DNA from bacteria that causes venereal disease and inserted a synthetic genome sequence.
“The chromosome,” says the AP, “which Venter and his team has created is known as Mycoplasma laboratorium and, in the final step of the process, will be transplanted into a living cell where it should ‘take control,’ effectively becoming a new life form.”
The AP report reminds me of the joke in which a scientist challenged God, claiming that science could now replicate His work and create a man out of the “dust of the earth.” This time, God accepted the challenge. The scientist showed up at the appointed place and time and began to gather together some clods of earth.
“No fair,” God says. “You have to make your OWN dirt.”
All the experiment did was manipulate existing life, in this case a bacteria that causes venereal disease. But the life existed before Ventner’s team “created” it.
Am I the only one who thinks it strange that otherwise brilliant men could dedicate their lives to proving the scientific theory that no intelligent Creator was necessary to create life by trying – and failing – to create even the most simple life form from nothing – yet claim the real McCoy was nothing more than the product of time and chance?
The Apostle Paul described it like this: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
One doesn’t have to be a theologian to recognize the irony there. Even some scientists can no longer ignore the obvious.
Observed Robert Jastrow, founder of the Goddard Space Center, “For the past 300 years, scientists have scaled the mountain of ignorance, and as they pull themselves over the final rock, they are greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Or, as poet Joyce Kilmer put it, “Poems are made by fools like me. But only God can make a tree.”
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