Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Playing God in Frankensteins Footsteps: Synthetic Biology and the Meaning of Life

van den Belt, Henk

Journal Information:
Vol. 3, Num. 3


This paper looks at synthetic biology and the way in which it problematizes dynamics like life and non-life, the natural and the artificial, the evolved and the designed, and even the material and the informational. Scientists engaged in this type of research often have to answer criticisms of playing God or acting as a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein, and so the author here tries to not just lay out these arguments and their counterarguments but understand and deconstruct them. Interestingly enough, it is not liberal theologians but secular organizations that more often make charges about scientists playing God, leading the author to believe that the field and its research does not offend so much the God of the Bible as a deified Nature. The anthropocentric nature of criticism, however, suggests that microbial work will continue to be accepted, as long as it has no direct effect on the quality or spirituality of human life.