Mar 02

Did Scientists Create Artificial Life? 

Here is the recording for the 02 March 2008 satsanga.

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Recently in January 2008, there was request for some comments on the claim of some scientists about “a major step towards creating the first ever artificial life form” on the forum. Thus we would be happy to offer some thoughts on this topic of profound relevance the Krishna Consciousness movement.

Dan Gibson, Ph.D., et al. has published this work online in the Science Journal. According to the paper, this team comprised of 17 researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) has created the largest man-made DNA structure by synthesizing and assembling the 582,970 base pair genome of a bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium JCVI-1.0. Further the publication has claimed that in the next step, which is ongoing at the JCVI, the team will attempt to create a living bacterial cell based entirely on the synthetically made genome.

However the fact remains that the question of life is far from being answered by the recent claims of this group even though it has managed to hog the limelight all over the world. Several critics who are publishing articles in newspapers and magazines all over the world have also accepted this fact. The world must have a proper critic of the question of life. Our Gurumaharaja said, we should not believe everything that is being passed off in the name of knowledge. Gurumaharaja dedicated his entire life in carrying out the instruction of Srila Prabhupada to preach “Life comes from Life.”

It is a fact that nowadays there is no unanimous agreement in the scientific world about the question of artificial life. For eg, Carl Zimmer says, “there is a lot we don’t understand about life, of course, but Venter’s project isn’t going to answer all the questions … But what does doing this really signify? What does it teach us about life that we didn’t know before? …The scientists didn’t assemble the fragments of DNA by themselves, nor did they program robots to do so. Instead, they injected the fragments into E. coli, and let the bacteria do the job themselves. Eventually, it turned out that E. coli could only build up a quarter of the genome. The scientists don’t quite know why. So they injected those big chunks of Mycoplasma DNA into yeast. Lo and behold, the yeast were able to finish up the job for the scientists. They don’t quite know how the yeast did their own biochemical magic either. I would assume that God would have this kind of stuff figured out….Out of 382 genes that the scientists have identified as potentially essential, 110 of them are absolute mysteries. Scientists have almost no idea what they’re for. … Scientists have gotten very good at manipulating genes — at copying them or using them to make biotechnology products like insulin — but they still know relatively little about how genes work together in living things. “

HH Bhakti Madhava Puri Swami

The question was discussed in our last BI Satsanga which is organized everyday Sunday 6 PM India time worldwide on Skype. HH Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja (Dr. M. A. Marchetti), explained the technical difficulties that are today inherent in modern science towards explaining life, inspite of the extensive research by the scientists all over the world, including the Venter Institute. After discussing basic terminologies that are relevant to the question of artificial life, Maharaja explained, that,

  1. It is quite a feat to synthesize the DNA molecule. Of course creating DNA molecule itself is not life. It is only one part of the living organism. But all it is a chemical process. It is not a creation of life in the sense of the term. 
  2. How much the DNA molecule contributes to the bacteria or a living entity, it is uncertain. Because they can take out that DNA and replace it with another, completely different in another bacterium. So it is uncertain that how much that DNA effects the life force in the bacterium.
  3. It is like replacing the heart with a plastic heart. They can’t put the heart in a machine and expect the machine to become alive. So it is not the heart that is making it alive. Life is already there.

HH Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja (Dr. M. A. Marchetti) explained that Srila Prabhupada gave us the Vedantic conception that life comes from life. Maharaja also explained that our HDG Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami (Dr. T. D. Singh), carried this message of Srila Prabhupada all over the world and also to the best men of science like leading scientists of the world. HDG Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami (Dr. T. D. Singh) explained to all of us that life is completely transcendental to the assembly of molecules and it is never a by product or emergent product of molecular interactions. HH Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja (Dr. M. A. Marchetti) also explained that scientists should give credit to God. Just as after the Morse code was invented, the first message sent by Samuel Morse, was, “What had God wrought.” Thus he has given credit to God.

You may visit http://my.podcast. com/Satsanga to know the details about joining process for the online ‘Weekly Satsangas’. All past Satsanga MP3s month wise can be found below:
Satsanga MP3s: March 2008
Satsanga MP3s: February 2008
Satsanga MP3s: January 2008
Satsanga MP3s: December 2007
Satsanga MP3s: November 2007
Satsanga MP3s: October 2007
Satsanga MP3s: September 2007
Satsanga MP3s: August 2007
Satsanga MP3s: July 2007

All Glories to all Sadhus, Guru and Vaisnavas.
Your humble servants
Purushottama Jagannatha Das &
Sushen Das



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