Are bioinformaticians gods?

By Grant Jacobs 25/02/2012 16

Apparently, when asked by Stephen Colbert on the subject of man-made life ’What makes you think you can do a better job with life and genetics than God?’, Craig Venter replied ’We have computers.’

I’m wondering what bioinformaticians make of that.

We’re the ones with the computers in biology…*

Does this make us gods? :-)

Or, following Colbert’s question more closely, better than gods.**

Should all experimental biologists bow deeply towards the computational biologist’s office upon entering and leaving the lab?

Clearly this is a weekend, this god  is very bored and wants to be amused. Please do indulge.


* Well, mostly.

** Atheist pendants might argue that this doesn’t amount to much. Shush!


In a similar vein, on Larry Moran’s blog, Sandwalk, there is this sound-bite: ’There will be no difficulty in computers being adapted to biology. There will be luddites. But they will be buried.’ – Sydney Brenner. (See ‘Quotations’ on the bottom left.)

And, oh yeah, I have been considering changing my name to The Bioinformatic. This so that CIHR, CathVWXYNot? and her readers might  consider me a deity. Cath Ennis, she of quick wit, must rank high for the truly deistic title of silliest science blogger (see ‘About CathVWXYNot?’ at the end of her posts. In the nicest way, there’s plenty of nonsense over there.

16 Responses to “Are bioinformaticians gods?”

  • Any time I think I might be a bit clever I remember how long I can spend tracking down a missing semicolon.

  • Paul,

    You’re referring to semicolons as used in programming code, right?

    I have to admit that at first I thought you were referring to English then realised you probably mean code and perhaps I ought to ask to clarify for other reader’s sakes. Or my sake, but you never say a god didn’t already know 😉 Omnipresence and all that deistic goodness.

    (Speaking of which, I’ve just noticed a missing right bracket in my post. Sigh.)

  • I don’t even want to think about how many semicolons are missing from my English. Yes, I was referring to my awful code.

  • HA. I misplace those too. Now lets see how may reCAPTCHA’s it takes this time (definitely not omnipotent).

  • HA. I misplace those too.


    Now lets see how may reCAPTCHA’s it takes this time (definitely not omnipotent).

    Yeah, they’re tricky sometimes. I have the luxury of being logged into the backend so I don’t have to type them. If you press the recycle button—the one with the two arrows chasing each-other—it’ll bring up a new challenge. Try pressing it a few times until you get something more palatable. Hope that helps eases the pain a little.

  • Geonet tells me that the latest aftershock you had ~20 minutes ago was a 4.3 off the coast of Bottle Lake Plantation area. Don’t suppose you feel those much out your way?

  • Hi Ben,

    Hey, we can grant ourselves whatever status we like. The privileges of high position in religion, of course. But naturally, you don’t want to upset your betters. So demi-god. At least it’s better than altar boy. We can leave that for the wannabes.

  • “but don’t tell the bioinformaticians I work with that I said so”


    “and thanks for the mention! Much appreciated”

    It’s deserved – it’s a good thing there are some blogs around that do a lighter take on things :-)

  • The problem with that statement is that there is no god and that there is no intention behind evolution.

    Understanding biology and engineering solutions to problems arises most of all from purely human curiosity and/or compassion.

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