Many of you have heard the news, which PhysOrg reported a few days ago: Scientists create first living organism that transmits added letters in DNA ‘alphabet’. You can read it all to familiarize yourself, but briefly, they say:
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.
Here’s a link to a news article in Nature: First life with ‘alien’ DNA, which you can read without a subscription. That one begins like this:
For billions of years, the history of life has been written with just four letters — A, T, C and G, the labels given to the DNA subunits contained in all organisms. That alphabet has just grown longer, researchers announce, with the creation of a living cell that has two ‘foreign’ DNA building blocks in its genome.
We weren’t sure what to write about it, so we decided to wait for the creationist reaction, and now we have it. This is from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (ol’ Hambo’s online ministry), and the author is Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, a creationist gynecologist. Her article is New Letters for Life’s DNA Alphabet Build on God’s Design. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Can genetic engineers—by building a bacterium that speaks an unearthly tongue—reenact ancient evolution in the laboratory? Have they demonstrated that evolutionary abiogenesis—life from non-life—really happened?
Uh, Dr. Mitchell: Nobody is making that claim, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to argue against it. Let’s read on, as she boldly accepts that challenge:
Genetic engineering has taken a giant leap forward. Nature reports Floyd Romesberg’s Scripps Research Team has coaxed a bacterium to incorporate a bit of foreign language into its DNA. Though this foreign word means nothing to the bacterium as yet, writing a meaningful instruction using the two new letters is the next step. Once that hurdle is overcome, genetic engineers may rewire microbes to build biological products like pharmaceuticals and biofuels. In so doing they are capitalizing on God’s great biological design seen in all life on earth.
Then she spends a few paragraphs explaining what DNA is, and what the researchers have done and what they say about it. We’ll skip what she says because there are better sources for that information. Instead, we’ll jump to the fun stuff:
But has this research demonstrated anything supporting either abiogenesis or the notion that increasingly complex forms of life can evolve through natural processes? Indeed not!
They didn’t show how to how to cure cancer either. They’re obviously a bunch of bozos! She continues:
Is the engineering of a bacterium that imports and copies novel nucleobases a picture of the ancient evolutionary process some scientists imagine spawned DNA-dependent life in the first place? Does this research open the door to show how evolutionary abiogenesis — life from non-life — could have happened? This research illustrates quite the contrary. These designer cells, as Romesberg says, store increased information. They do not create it.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! All those silly researchers did was demonstrate the principles of creationism! Here’s more:
Synthetic biology must operate within the context of the living systems God designed, utilizing the same patterns, information systems, biochemistry, enzymes, and cellular structures. Evolutionary biologists, unwilling to see the integrated biochemical uniformity of life is the result of a wise Creator’s design, attribute it to common descent from a hypothetical Last Universal Common Ancestor of all living things. Yet in so doing they propose that life evolved from non-living elements through natural processes — a clear violation of all experimental biology’s law of biogenesis.
Ah yes, the mythical law of biogenesis. That’s debunked in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims: Pasteur and other scientists disproved the concept of spontaneous generation and established the “law of biogenesis” — that life comes only from previous life. Moving along:
They further imagine that simpler living things can through natural processes acquire the information to evolve into more complex kinds of living things, even though this process has never been observed.
Yeah, right. Except that the process is well understood and has been observed. Copies of genetic material that can occur during reproduction are the stuff from which new capabilities can emerge, because a duplicate gene can then mutate to provide a new function — see ICR: Full Blown Reality Denial, about how E. coli developed the ability to digest citrate, and see also How One Gene Becomes Two Different Genes, about how Antarctic eelpout developed the ability to survive in frigid waters. Here’s another: Fungi That Can Eat Polyurethane. Our favorite example is described here: Creationism and Nylon-Eating Bacteria, which discusses bacteria that can digest certain byproducts of nylon manufacture, even though those substances didn’t exist before the invention of nylon in 1935.
The creationist gynecologist isn’t done yet. Here’s another excerpt:
Intelligent designers can invent new languages. Computer engineers do that. An intelligently designed computer algorithm can do that. Even a sci-fi geek can do that, as evidenced by Trekkies who speak Klingon. If scientists were to invent a new genetic code and then manage to create synthetic analogues for all of life’s processes, would that demonstrate abiogenesis? No it would not, because information would still be supplied, not randomly have come into existence on its own as molecules-to-man evolution would demand.
Did you get that? Even if scientists invented a totally new form of DNA and created absolutely synthetic life, the creation scientists still wouldn’t be impressed. This is from the creationist gynecologist’s final paragraph:
And if we want to understand the molecular origins of life we must look to the historical record supplied by the intelligent Creator of all life. The history of our origins in God’s Word is consistent with what we observe in the study of living things. Molecules-to-man evolution simply is not.
So there you are. The creation scientists at AIG don’t see anything of interest here. Nothing science can ever do will impress them. So why does anyone bother to debate them — or even talk to them?
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