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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

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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.

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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: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Fazale Rana has written/cowritten other books such as The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry, Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off, What Darwin Didn't Know, etc.

He wrote in the first chapter of this 2011 book, "The very real prospect of scientists' creating life in the lab... raises all sorts of theological and ethical questions... one can't help but ask, 'Is it right for human beings to play God?'... 'How should we balance the potential benefits of this emerging biotechnology with the real possibility of danger?' For many Christian theists, the genesis of novel life-forms by human hands raises other troubling questions... These questions, concerns, and implications have not been lost on atheists and agnostics... These mysteries have motivated my research as a biochemist. They've also motivated me to write this book... I'm convinced ... [that] the successful attempts to modify and even make new life in the lab will compellingly demonstrate that life's origin and transformation could not have happened apart from the work of an intelligent agent." (Pg. 20-21)

He provides a very thorough survey of modern origin-of-life researches. He also admits, "This is not to say that researchers haven't produced self-replicating molecules.
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