As they promised, Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationism, has posted a more detailed response than their very preliminary “no big deal” reaction that we first wrote about. Today it’s the lead item in AIG’s News to Note, May 22, 2010 (“A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint”). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Don’t let a headline like “It’s Alive” fool you. Despite some misleading news reports, life has not been made from scratch in a laboratory.
Scientists have assembled a bacterial chromosome (using intelligence and a multi-million dollar lab) patterned after an existing bacterial chromosome. But all the components already existed. They were not created from scratch; instead, a bacterium was simply rebuilt.
This repeats their “no big deal” line from yesterday. Let’s read on:
Regardless of some hyped press reports, this research (brilliantly executed as it was) has nothing to do with evolution in the molecules-to-man sense. Dr. Georgia Purdom, a molecular geneticist on our Answers in Genesis (AiG) staff, notes that there has merely been an alteration within a kind (at the family, genus, or species level). Even the researchers have acknowledged that this first synthetic cell is more a re-creation of existing life — changing one simple type of bacterium into another.
Oh, this is a mere “re-creation of existing life.” That’s nothing! It’s only micro-evolution, folks. Not macro. Just diddling around within a biblical “kind.” Nobody transformed a toad into a dog. We continue:
Ultimately, declares Dr. Purdom, this kind of genetic engineering is “like taking the hard drive of computer #1 and putting it into computer #2 that has had its own hard drive removed. So effectively computer #2 becomes computer #1.”
Cute analogy. But to make it relevant to the claims of creationists, don’t forget that for centuries, they’ve insisted that only the gods can do such things. Here’s more:
Dr. David Menton (PhD, biology), another researcher with AiG, echoed Dr. Purdom’s conclusions, adding that the research was a form of “genetic plagiarism.” Just as a student might copy someone else’s work, in a sense, so too have these researchers, declares Dr. Menton: they have taken God’s created handiwork and refashioned it.
Maybe so. But if mere humans can do such things, maybe there’s nothing supernatural about the whole business. Oh, wait. They’ve got that covered in their next paragraph — in a way:
The components assembled in making this synthetic life were created instantaneously 6,000 years ago by the Creator God (Genesis 1). The work of brilliant scientists using millions of dollars of resources still have not produced anything near a new life form from scratch. Human intelligence and high-power computers can’t produce it; moreover, the mindless process of evolution — even given billions of years — would not be any more efficacious.
In other words, Venter hasn’t yet created an entire universe. He can get back to AIG when he does, and maybe then they’ll acknowledge his efforts. But because he hasn’t yet accomplished the whole Oogity Boogity show, he hasn’t impressed them. AIG is a tough crowd to please.
One last excerpt:
For technically inclined readers, here is Dr. Purdom’s summary of what the research group did:
No thanks. We appreciate the creationists’ efforts to explain it all to us, but if the folks at AIG don’t mind, we’ll just carry on as we always have — without their help.
Update: See Creationists React to Venter’s Breakthrough, Part 3.
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