It is the stuff that movies are made of. A scientist secludes himself in a mysterious lab and comes up with the formula that makes a non living thing come alive. But for the scientists and researchers at the Scripps Research Institute (SRI) that possibility is no longer a figment of the imagination.
For some time now the world has been aware of the scientific process of cloning; producing an animal or part thereof has been the moot for much sociopolitical and ethical debates. Now, the pioneering gurus at SRI are claiming that they are making almost daily progress in crossing the Rubicon between the inanimate and the animate. Using their test tubes, the scientists have been able to produce living organisms that are capable of exponential reproduction and therefore sustain its species.
Although the lab professors have to provide very meticulously controlled environment for the molecular life processes to survive, Dr Gerald Joyce is more than confident that as long as they continue working it is really just a matter of time before the world has its own actively living, self reproductive life form that has man as its creator. That invokes certain feelings of condemnation, particularly among many persons who do believe that humans are trying to become like God Himself by attempting to create life.
And that might be a solid ground for a critical decision; after all, man had to leave Eden because he wanted to “become like God” and so ate of the forbidden fruit. Is it a fair statement to say that man even today has not given up the gambling quest to become as knowledgeable as God?
There are some educators who believe that the folks at SRI have already created life already; however, Dr Joyce is of the modest view that because the only form of life that we know is what we see on Earth then more work has to be put into the ongoing synthesizing of the inanimate so that whenever the official pronouncement is given, there will be no fashionable grounds for doubt or disbelief.
I suspect that the moment that the final breakthrough comes will not be made public right away. Obviously, the realization that man has created a living being that is able to exist on its own in a normal earthly environment is going to have never seen implications for the way that all seven billion people live on this earth. Like so many other breakthroughs that possess almost infinite socio-economic and political ramifications all the nations of the world would want to have the ability to create new life in their own corner. If these procedures and PR are not handled properly, the stage may be setting for a new age war of deadly proportions.
As it is now, many of us less scientifically endowed and knowledgeable persons are interacting with genetically modified edible goods and we don’t even know it. When we attempt to ascertain the organic nature of a lot of things that we import and use in our kitchens, it is often very difficult to come to a definite conclusion. It is not just the pursuit of life within a lab that is the moot here. The larger, and probably more consequential, issue is the boundary that our scientists will draw the line at and say beyond this accomplishment we will not pursue any more discoveries.
Finally, in every instance where a life-changing discovery, invention or breakthrough is made, for whatever noble purpose, there is always another human being lurking in the shadows of the good guys to usurp and manipulate the item by putting it to a negative use. These are considerations that we must take seriously now and insist that those who lead and make decisions look into with all immediate transparency and accountability.