Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Slashdot | MIT Making Computer Parts from DNA

Slashdot | MIT Making Computer Parts from DNA

Read the article, then read this guy's response. It's great!

So - humans playing God, synthesizing life from its basic components. Hubris, or something better?

Without stating a position either way on the existence (or nonexistence) of God, what better way to glorify a Creator than by showing Him we've learned some of His tricks?

(Allow me one assumption here: the assumption that if God exists, He's not a copyright lawyer, and will be flattered by our success, rather than whomping us with a Deistic Millenium Copyright Act violation notice in the form of a 20-mile-wide asteroid.)

God: I created you by breathing life into dirt.
Man: Cool trick, God. We've learned to do the same thing.
God: Cool trick. Now try it from first principles.
Man: What do you mean?
God: Well, next time, make your own dirt.

And before you point out - correctly - that with a sufficiently large energy input we could indeed synthesize all the components that make up "dirt" out of hydrogen, you haven't solved the problem. Ultimately, it comes down to this:

God: Look, I appreciate the flattery, and I encourage you to keep at it. But read the job description -- you qualify for My job when you derive a universe capable of evolving intelligent life based on the setting of a small number of physical constants, and you can have My job when your resume' includes experimental proof in the form of a portfolio that includes your worshippers.

We hairless apes still have a bit of work to do.

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