Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
SyntheticHow Life Got Made$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Sophia Roosth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226440323

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226440637.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 June 2022

Life by Design: Evolution and Creation Tales in Synthetic Biology

Life by Design: Evolution and Creation Tales in Synthetic Biology

(p.21) Chapter One Life by Design: Evolution and Creation Tales in Synthetic Biology

Sophia Roosth

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 1, “Life by Design,” tracks early experimental efforts to model and engineer genetically simplified T7 viruses in the laboratory of Drew Endy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 2000s. Judeo-Christian tropes of creation shape synthetic biologists’ descriptions of this work. By identifying themselves as both agents able to “evolve” life and as animals subject to evolution, synthetic biologists imagine themselves in epistemologically ambiguous territory when they design living systems. Weaving evolutionary tales with biblical ones, they cast themselves as figures simultaneously unnatural, natural, and supernatural. The chapter places this account within the context of arguments over creation and intelligent design that were then prominent in American political discourse, and uses those debates to clarify how synthetic biologists were thinking about what it means to, as they put it, “intelligently design” life.

Keywords:   intelligent design, creation, design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Drew Endy, MIT

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.