Not only the public debate about science but even the way scientists conceive their own work is to some extent determined by cultural images. In the case of synthetic biology, literary figures like the Golem of Prague and its successors, such as Frankenstein's monster, seem to suggest themselves. This article reconstructs some cognitive structures underlying the surface of metaphorical thinking and shows how talking about synthetic biology as similar to Golem-making obscures important ontological, pragmatic, and ethical differences.