NewScientist.com reported a month ago that Craig Venter was close to producing synthetic life in the form of a bacteria with a custom designed DNA (article). Some people may argue that this this demonstrates that the origin of life does not require the existence of God. However, this misses some obvious problems.
First, synthetic life requires an intelligent designer. In this case the designer is a scientist. Nonetheless, far from eliminating the logical necessity of God for the existence of life, this demonstrates the role of a designing intelligence. Second, even if Venter did succeed in accomplishing his goal, he still would not create life. The article at NewScientist.com explains that the custom designed DNA would be inserted into an existing bacterial cell which has been stripped of its original DNA. This is not creating life; it is modifying life. Both this procedure, and Venter’s goal to construct synthetic self-assembling ribosomes, depend on pre-existing life from which to work. This reminds me of a parable that my philosophy professor once told in class:
A group of scientists decide that they have advanced to the point where they no longer need God, and so they choose a representative to go to God and tell him to just go away. The chosen representative goes to God and says, “We have developed the ability to perform many miraculous things. We do not think we need you anymore, and so why not just go away and leave us alone?” God listens and then says, “Okay. Let’s have a man-making contest.” The scientist says this would not be a problem, but then God says, “now, we will do this like I did it in the old days.” The scientist says “no problem” and then bends down to pick up a handful of dirt,” to which God replies, “No, you go get your own dirt.”
No matter how advanced science becomes, it still works from pre-existing materials and pre-existing scientific laws. Even if humans could create new life, it would nonetheless beg the question of the origin of the original life. Claiming that science has eliminated the necessity of God is like the moon claiming to illuminate the night while ignoring the fact that its light is merely a reflection from the sun (article). Eventually one must face the reality of an eternally existing and ultimate creator.
Science is, without a doubt, a valuable pursuit. However, rather than challenging the rationality of believing in God, further advances in science instead demonstrate the genius of God’s design and provide further reasons to believe in Him (see post here).”The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).