Craig Venter Cuts Deep… All The Way To The Genes
In an incredibly fun interview with Der Spiegel, Craig Venter talks about the genome, synthetic life, public vs. private science funding, and… Francis Collins.
SPIEGEL: Many fear what might happen if humans craft new life forms. They repeatedly say that you are playing God …
Venter: Yes, and I find them frightening. I can read your genome, you know? Nobody’s been able to do that in history before. But that is not about God-like powers, it’s about scientific power. The real problem is that the understanding of science in our society is so shallow. In the future, if we want to have enough water, enough food and enough energy without totally destroying our planet, then we will have to be dependent on good science.
SPIEGEL: Some scientist don’t rule out a belief in God. Francis Collins, for example …
Venter: … That’s his issue to reconcile, not mine. For me, it’s either faith or science – you can’t have both.
SPIEGEL: So you don’t consider Collins to be a true scientist?
Venter: Let’s just say he’s a government administrator.
Now Venter has beef with Collins because of their human genome rivalry, but really Venter is kind of a bad-ass anyway. This is also an amazing line:
Venter: There is currently no reason for us to synthesize human cells. I am, for example, a fan of the work that was done a short time ago that led to the decoding of the Neanderthal genome. But we don’t need any more Neanderthals on the planet, right? We already have enough of them.
I’ll just say I’m happy this guy doesn’t talk like a… government administrator. Awesome.