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Can man play God? – Anurag Kanaujia

Man has always been trying to solve the riddles of nature in an effort to understand natural processes. There had been numerous instances in the past when people came up with interesting and complex explanations for natural phenomenon.In the process of development of civilization many diseases had also evolved and some had been causing threat to the entire civilization. These were tackled and many similar battles were won. In this regard, some of the most remarkable discoveries that had come since the beginning of the century were the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming, Pasteurization and Germ theory of disease by Lewis Pasture, Natural selection by Charles Darwin, Miller’s experiment, Sequencing of the human genome, Cloning of cells, artificial organ development, synthesis of artificial DNA and many more. But the most outrageous and perhaps the most desperate quest for biologists of this age has been to create life from the basic building blocks. Right from the discovery of artificial intelligence to regeneration of organs, numerous remarkable medical discoveries have come with the advancement of life sciences. Scientists have gone to the extent of synthesizing peptides and isolated proteins. They have sequenced 98% of the human genome and understood the basic template of life, and are now using it produce genetic medicine. But still there lies a small gap which is creating the pulse that is the essential characteristic of life. Despite the technological advances in creating and supporting forms of life, these components can not be kept together to create a cell. They will rather form a soup which will be useless. If this seemingly small hurdle can be crossed by, then man will not be any different from God.
Stem cell research has introduced a fascinating aspect in life sciences. Stem cells can be differentiated to produce any kind of cell (i.e. nerve cells, liver cells, epidermal cells, blood cells etc.). These cells have shown a promise for treatment of various diseases and producing artificial body parts, of which the most successful approach is the hematopoietic stem cell transplant to cure leukemia patients. The opinion that biotic materials cannot be synthesized in laboratory, was shattered when urea was synthesized by Friedrich Wöhler in 1800’s, this changed the whole dimension of biology and led to synthesis of polypeptides by using amino acids and then DNA in laboratory. Biotic nano-robots are being prepared and cells are being cloned and test tube babies are being produced. Artificial blood has been prepared and heart surgeries have attained significant success today. Cure of lethal diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis have been archived and several diseases like polio has been eradicated. Man successfully landed on moon in 1969 and is planning to move to other planets and settle there.
But the problem today is to understand and generate the pulse of life in a non living body. Even after having every essential component required for life it is still not possible to create a single living cell artificially. Biologists are trying to find ways to supplement life. Physics is trying to find a way to predict the future and Chemistry is dealing with the nature of chemical substances. Once these questions are answered the significance and charm of research in science may be diminished. But the question is can this be done? Is it possible to do so? A lot of attempts have failed and several other are being pursued. Viruses can be used to get this extremely important information of being potentially alive as they are said to be on the line of living and non-living since they perform metabolic activities when inside a host and remain dead when no host is available. A lot of trials have been made to reproduce Mammoths from their frozen cellular remnants but they have not succeeded since there are no organisms which can accept their DNA and produce new mammoths i.e. this species has undergone reproductive isolation. On the other hand,organisms like cockroaches, horseshoe crab, tortoise and crocodiles provide a ray of hope as these species are evolutionarily conserved and considered as living fossils.
Human psychology is to see people with special qualities as God and expect that his problems will be solved by them. This can be considered as the most important cause for existence of numerous religions in the world. Man has always been compared to God and worshiped by people as God. Greek kings were called Pharaohs who were believed to posses divine powers. In Catholic religion, Pope is considered to be the closest to God. In the present times doctors, scientists and engineers are compared with God as they devote their life for the betterment of humankind. The concept of God is a creation of human mind and to agree on the physical existence of God can not be justified . So, if tomorrow someone is able to build life out of its pieces, can he be considered as God?


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