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Creating Life in the Lab: How New Discoveries in Synthetic Biology Make a Case for the Creator (Reasons to Believe) Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Reasons to Believe
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801072093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801072093
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

What does the creation of artificial life-forms mean for the Christian faith?

Each year brings to light new scientific discoveries that have the power to either test our faith or strengthen it--most recently the news that scientists have created artificial life-forms in the laboratory.

Biochemist and Christian apologist Fazale Rana, for one, isn't worried. In Creating Life in the Lab, he details the fascinating quest for synthetic life and argues convincingly that when scientists succeeded in creating life in the lab, they unwittingly undermined the evolutionary explanation for the origin of life, demonstrating instead that undirected chemical processes cannot produce a living entity.

"Like it or not, a brave new world replete with synthetic biology is now upon us. Rana's book will equip lovers of the truth to think Christianly in defense of that which corresponds to reality."--Hank Hanegraaff, president, Christian Research Institute; host, Bible Answer Man broadcast

"Beautifully details how intelligent divine planning--rather than unguided naturalistic processes--best explains the emergence of first life."--Paul Copan, professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University; author, Is God a Moral Monster?

"As Fazale Rana puts it in his significant new contribution to the growing literature on synthetic biology, to generate, sustain, and manipulate a living entity requires the intense involvement of highly intelligent beings. Rana's analysis is achieved with clarity and scientific rigor."--Kenneth Boa, president, Reflections Ministries

"An excellent resource for understanding in detail current developments in synthetic biology and origin-of-life research."--Vern S. Poythress, professor of New Testament interpretation, Westminster Theological Seminary

Fazale Rana (PhD, Ohio University) is executive vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons To Believe. He is the author of The Cell's Design and coauthor of Origins of Life and Who Was Adam?

About the Author

Fazale Rana (PhD, Ohio University) is vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons To Believe. He is the author of The Cell's Design and coauthor, with Hugh Ross, of Origins of Life and Who Was Adam? Rana lives in Southern California.

More About the Author

Fazale (Fuz) Rana, the son of a Muslim scientist, serves as the vice president for science apologetics at Reasons To Believe. His research in biochemistry provided him with the initial evidence that life must have been created. A personal challenge daring him to read the Bible led him to the scriptural evidence that the Creator is the God of the Bible.

Fuz attended West Virginia State College (WVSC) as a Presidential Scholar. There he earned a BS degree in chemistry with honors. He completed a Ph.D. in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry at Ohio University, where he twice won the Donald Clippinger Research Award. His postdoctoral studies took him to the Universities of Virginia and Georgia. Before joining Reasons To Believe, Fuz worked for seven years as a Senior Scientist in product development for Procter & Gamble.

Fuz has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals including Biochemistry, Applied Spectroscopy, FEBS Letters, Journal of Microbiology Methods, and The Journal of Chemical Education. He has made presentations at twenty international scientific meetings and co-authored a chapter on antimicrobial peptides for Biological and Synthetic Membranes. In addition, he holds one patent.

Today Fuz travels widely speaking on science and faith issues at churches, business firms, and universities. He also participates in the weekly webcast, Creation Update, and has made guest appearances on The John Ankerberg Show, Harvest Show, and Newsmakers (hosted by Jerry Rose on The Total Living Network). In addition, Fuz currently lectures for the Master of Science and Religion program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University.

Customer Reviews

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Rana provides a compelling argument that the research points to an intelligent designer at work.
P. Sanderson-Green
If you have little background on the subject, you might want to start by reading the appendix so that the rest of the book makes more sense.
Richard L. Deem
Rana describes origin history, breakthroughs, and controversies by describing both sides of the story.
logicalfaith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Deem on January 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Fazale Rana, Reasons To Believe's biochemist scholar, has written a timely book, Creating Life in the Lab, that examines human attempts to create artificial life forms in the laboratory. With Craig Venter's announcement of having created an artificial bacterium, news sources have been busy speculating what is next.

Two approaches have been taken toward creating life in the lab. The bottom-up strategy has attempted to identify biochemical pathways and self-replicating molecules that could have been involved in the formation of the first life form. The top-down strategy has attempted to identify minimal requirements for life and then synthesize the DNA required to produce that life.

Venter's group, Synthetic Genomics, Inc., set out a strategy to produce the world's first synthetic organism using a top-down approach using the "simple" bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium. Synthetic Genomics "knocked-out" individual genes to determine what genes were required for the organism to grow and reproduce. They determined that 380 of the 480 genes were essential. They synthesized pieces of the DNA, chemically linked the pieces together, then used the cellular machinery of yeasts to link the larger pieces together. Then came the hard part - getting the DNA into a cell. Actually, that process could have been much more difficult. Synthetic Genomics specifically chose a bacterium that doesn't have a cell wall. Nearly all bacteria are surrounded by a thick cell wall that protects the bacteria from damage. However, certain intracellular parasites, like Mycoplasma genitalium, lack a cell wall, which facilitates their intracellular lifestyle. However, even with the lack of a cell wall, initial attempts to transplant the foreign DNA into related Mycoplasma species failed.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Martin Troyer on February 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I recently was able to obtain a copy of the new book, Creating Life in the Lab, by Fazale Rana. This book is fascinating on two levels. First, it gives a comprehensive review of the state of the art of Origin of Life research and the questions it seeks to answer, such as:

* What is Life?
* How does life operate at its most fundamental level?
* How did life begin?

I liked this quote from Origin of Life researcher Antonio Lazcano, "Life is like music; you can describe it but not define it." But the best definition I saw was "It's alive if it can die!"

Second, this book addresses the moral, philosophical, and religious worldview implications of creating life. Many people have wondered, "Will the creation of artificial and synthetic life-forms mean that there's no need for God, as the Creator?" Dr. Rana's answer is an emphatic "No!" In fact he successfully argues that this work actually provides evidence for the need for a Creator of life.

The Frankenstein quotes that preface each chapter are highly appropriate. Like Dr. Frankenstein, scientists have been obsessed with discovering nature's secrets. Now, it appears that they may be on the brink of cracking the secret of the creation of life. Some of these researchers are even trying to create "life as we don't know it". I think this is very exciting, ... and a bit scary. Will they lose control, like the good doctor, and pay a terrible price, or will we reap the blessing of these new discoveries? Only time will tell whether we meddling in the affairs of God or are just following in His footsteps.

This book describes in detail the two main Origin of Life research approaches: top-down vs. bottom-up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Sanderson-Green on October 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is essentially a review of the state of origins of life research detailing work that's been done, methodology employed, short comings of the research and the implications of the research outcomes. Rana provides a compelling argument that the research points to an intelligent designer at work.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Cecil Phillips on March 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This author supports the case against a long series of random chemical accidents and natural selection as the basis for the orgin and evolution of life. He argues forcefully that the sequence of chemical reactions necessary to create life is so complex that it could not possibly happen without some kind of intelligent guidance. This is the same conclusion reached by other scientists using other analytical tools,including Stephen Meyer, Richard Johnson, and Michael Behe.

However, in my opinion Rana goes too far in concluding that a supernatural entity (Creator, God) must be providing the guidance. That is not science, but literally a leap of faith. Just because science has not yet found all the answers does not mean we must give up the search. Instead, the remaining mystery should spur more vigorous and open-minded scientific research. The possibility remains that the necessary design capabilities reside within the organisms themselves, even within cells.

The book digs deeply into biochemistry, more than I could follow. I have no reason to doubt his credentials and accuracy in that field, but I would have preferred to see back-cover reviews by other scientists, not religious leaders. The amount of religious commentary in and about the book is not helpful to the credibility of Rana's chemical case.
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