Last year, biologist Craig Venter created the first artificial cell. Or did he? Apparently he was able to manufacture a genome and stick it in a bacterial cell which had its DNA neutralized or removed. Many news outlets claimed that he created the first synthetic life form.
The creation of a living cell from scratch would be no small feat considering the billions of atoms and thousands of proteins, and hundreds of lipids and carbohydrates that would have to be put in the correct place. If we used a cooking analogy, it would be like constructing a single cookie one speck of flour and one speck of sugar at a time….that would be some cookie and it would take a long time to get every single speck of flour, sugar, baking soda, salt all in the right place.
However, that is not what Venter did. So did he really create the first synthetic life form?
One of the nations leading bioethicists, Arthur Kaplan has inferred that this is the end of the idea that life has a spiritual dimension or a “vitalism"; an idea that has persisted in philosophical biology for hundreds if not thousands of years.
1 How did Venter make his genome and insert it into the bacterium? How did he remove the original DNA?
2 Did he create a living cell? Share your view.
3 Is this the end of vitalism?