More on Artifical Life

Author: Stephen Caesar, Associates for Biblical Research
Subject: Apologetics
Date: 06/04/2003

In previous columns, I’ve discussed the idea of the Cosmos as one huge computer program created and programmed by a Master Designer. I also discussed the fact that, with the phenomenal advancements in computer science, human designers can now create and program computers that act like living organisms and that can create other machines. These designers have claimed that this proves evolution: once you create and program a supercomputer, it will “evolve” the way living creatures supposedly did. One team even created computerized “genetics” imitating DNA, the building blocks of life.

However, as complex and advanced as these technological creations are, their human designers admit that they pale in comparison to the complexity of natural things like the human brain. This is powerful inference for a Creator and Programmer of the Cosmos and all living things. If supercomputers created by man are LESS complex than things in nature, then it stands to reason that the MORE complicated phenomena needed a Creator as well.

One of the most significant advancements in this field is the creation by humans of machines that can build other machines. In November 2000 Scientific American reported:

“Brandeis University researchers [Hod Lipson and Jordan Pollack] report that they have designed and built the first robot that can design and build other robots. (In earlier efforts, replicating machines had been simulated only on computers and on special integrated circuits.) The offspring are plastic trusses (like Tinker Toys) propelled by pistons and controlled by simple neural networks. The mother bot is a computer running a genetic algorithm, which draws up plans through trial and error, and a 3-D printer, which can create small plastic sculptures of any shape. The researchers could (almost) leave the system to work at night and come in the next morning to see artificial inchworms crawling around their lab. They still had to strap on motors and connect wires, but—in a reversal of roles—the robot told the humans what to do” (Musser 2000: 26).

Researchers are not only creating digital “life,” but are copying the Creator by programming these creations in such a way as to get them to act like DNA. The latest trend is, according to Science News, “to harness the multitude of cellular activities, which go beyond the capacity of silicon devices,” these devices being the “cells” of artificial life-forms (Klarreich 2003: 267). As always, these computer programs that imitate cells require intelligent design:

“Digital circuits, the building blocks of modern computers, encode bits of information in zeros and ones and then manipulate them in exact, controlled ways….[A]s cells regulate their activities and respond to the environment, they use many of the same tricks that go into digital circuits, such as on-off switches and feedback loops….Just as electrical engineers wire together transistors—the basic on-off switches of silicon chips—into complicated circuits, researchers are now stringing together genes and control centers in novel combinations to build what they call genetic circuits, in which the output protein of one gene regulates the next gene”  (Ibid.).

Despite their extreme complexity, these circuits pale in comparison to the real thing. Science News reported that it’s “far easier to describe the schematics of these circuits than to build them for operations inside a cell,” and further noted that these artificial imitators of DNA came into being by “trial and error” (Ibid. 268). According to Ron Weiss of Princeton, creating artificial life functions is “a continual process of simulation, refinement, simulation, refinement, until it works” (Ibid.).

If artificial life takes so much refined designing by an intelligent creator, and this artificial life is LESS complex than natural life, then how could natural life have come into being without refined designing by an intelligent Creator?



Klarreich, E. 2003. “Digital Cells.” Science News 163, no. 17.

Musser, G. 2000. “Dawn of a New Species?” Scientific American 283, no. 5.


Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at


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