Scientists have announced that they have actually created the world’s first entirely synthetic organisms with bodies entirely developed from scratch. And with this discovery, the church and several other groups are accusing the lab of playing God. The entirely genetically manufactured beings are no doubt going to be under some controversial scrutiny for quite some time. But will the projections of a plague that could wipe out all life on Earth prove to be true? Or are they themselves manufactured?
A computer was used to design the first entirely synthetic organisms, and the creatures in turn can now reproduce and spread. But some are projecting a doomsday scenario that will ultimately land mankind in a world similar to the scenario depicted in the Charlton Heston film “The Omega Man.” Of course this is an extreme scenario, but the logic goes that a purely synthetic organism does not share a common ancestry with any other life on Earth. It is, in essence, the first organism ever to be scrutinized that has been proven to be completely alien to any other bacteria. Others are hailing this as one of the greatest achievements science has ever undertaken. The development of an entirely synthetic creature would bring us one step closer to understanding the development of life in nature.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the Vatican has voiced its apprehension for the experiments. Biship Domenico Mogavero spoke with the Italian Newspaper La Stampa declaring that scientists were “Pretending to be God and parroting his power of creation.” He went on to say that doing so was “an enormous risk that can plunge men into a barbarity.” Of course several attempts at genetic tampering have been demonstrated in the past as being potentially incredibly barbaric such as when the Nazis undertook their Eugenics program in an attempt to develop their so-called master race on Earth. Such programs led to thousands of babies being born in the “lebensborn” program. And the descendants of many of these barbaric programs live with the tragedy even today. And there was also the holocaust, which saw millions of people murdered for several reasons, but one of them was arguably science and the genetic engineering programs involved.
Of course, as with most scientific debates there is also a considerable amount to be gained from utilizing programs such as this. The creation of new organisms could potentially allow those with lost limbs recover them and it could lead to the cures for several diseases. Of course any such use for human augmentation would need to be closely studied with utmost scrutiny, lest they eventually lead to a new genetically developed disease capable of wiping all life on Earth out. And with that statement does indeed come the prospect of creating new diseases that have the potential of wiping out all life in a given region or even the entire world. Genetic doomsday devices such as these could potentially end all life on Earth as we know it and leave behind nothing more than a shell of what was once a great and quickly developing species known as humanity.
Of course these arguments are happening years before they could come even close to having the outcomes that are most feared. The conflict between religion and science seems largely to be centered around the question “Do we have the right?” Do we have the right to create synthetic life in a lab? Could we control said life if we made it entirely from scratch? Do the benefits outweigh the risks in a way that is appreciable enough to take that leap into dark places? Or will we continue to study things of which we have no real understanding haphazardly until it ultimately claims our lives?