Hopefully everyone has heard at least a little bit by now about the first "synthetic bacterium", a copy of an existing bacteria which was created with synthetic DNA. Pretty exciting stuff. What I'm finding interesting is the negative response to the experiment, of course being led by religious institutions and ethics committees. PZ Myers was kind enough to compile a quick reference list of the most ridiculous responses here, but I wanted to write specifically about one response which I felt was exceptionally ridiculous.
Given the effort that went into the synthesis of the total M. genitalium genome, it's hard to envision how unintelligent, undirected processes could have generated life from a prebiotic soup. Though not their intention, Venter's team unwittingly provided empirical evidence that life's components, and consequently, life itself must stem from the work of an Intelligent Designer.
Yes, that popping sound was my head exploding. I hate creationist arguments, mainly because they're often so convoluted that they become difficult for me to argue against. Not because they contain even a small measure of validity, but rather it's hard for me to fathom their position enough to rouse a response. So let me break this down to it's simplest form - the bacterium was designed, which is proof that the universe is designed.
One thing being designed is not proof of everything being designed. I don't understand why people even believe this argument, let alone feel confident sharing the position with others, it seems so blatantly illogical. If a building is painted, is that proof that anything with color is also painted? I hesitate to believe that even my own analogy is accurate, that's how baffling this kind of logic is to me.
In a forum I frequent, someone is trying to argue the same position, only their argument isn't the the bacteria is man made, therefore the universe was also designed, their argument seems even more rudimentary and absurd - Anyone can tell just by looking at it that Stonehenge was designed, therefore the universe, being obviously far more impressive, was also designed.
Obviously, if you didn't know that Stonehenge was man made, it might occur to you that it might have been, but you would be making an assumption. There are plenty of occurrence in nature that are just as, if not far more, wondrous that are not man made. The whole argument is based on a huge, simplistic assumption - that one instance or even a million instances of design is proof of everything in the universe being designed.
This argument boils down to a kind of pleading. "Of course the universe is designed! Just LOOK at it!!" I spend a little time being sad every time I'm reminded that people who confidently argue with this kind of thinking exist. I guess that's why we have warning labels on lighters telling us they can cause burns.