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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Junk DNA not Junk after all?

Much of the composition of DNA has been derided as "junk" by evolutionists who insist that this is yet another proof that DNA is an evolved blueprint (there is an oxymoron for ya) rather than a designed one. But as we learn more about DNA....

Revealing Purpose in "Junk" DNA
by Frank Sherwin, M.A.*

Chromosomes are compact linear entities in the nucleus of the cell. They are composed mainly of DNA, some RNA, and proteins called histones. People have been created with 23 matched pairs (46 total) of chromosomes. Years ago, scientists discovered that only about three percent of the human genome (the complete set of DNA inherited from the father and mother) is comprised of genes--about 35,000 of them. The remaining 97 percent was given the unscientific title of "junk" because secular biologists felt that over evolutionary time the DNA had lost its function. This useless DNA was the foundation for the secular argument that the genome was not designed.

Creation scientists countered--as they did with other alleged vestigial organs and tissues--that just because we don't know the function at the present, that doesn't mean the DNA doesn't have some important function. One need only look at the tonsils and appendix that were once taught by Darwinists to be vestigial but are now known, thanks to good scientific research, to serve important functions in the human body.

Sadly, the title "junk DNA" stuck, and hundreds of thousands of biology students and laymen were taught--incorrectly--that the trillions of cells in our body had mostly vestigial or useless genetic material (DNA) that served no function. Today, it is more correct to say that some sections of DNA are non-coding, but are not junk and have an important function.

For example, it has been discovered that some of the formally "useless" DNA actually controls embryos. An article in Developmental Cell magazine1 by Barbara Knowles and others examines the surprisingly high level of DNA called transposable elements (TEs) in the maternal transcriptome in mouse eggs and initial cleavage embryos. TEs or "jumping genes" are a number of types of DNA pieces found in virtually all life forms. They function as promoters (specific areas of a DNA molecule containing sequences required for critical function) for a number of RNA molecules. This scientific research counters the evolutionary assumption that many repetitive TEs in the human genome are useless. "I think a lot of 'junk DNA' has a function, and in a weird way it's controlling gene expression," stated Dr. Knowles.

Cells also contain introns, non-coding sections of DNA that are spliced out of the messenger RNA (mRNA) strand before it leaves the nucleus of a cell to become translated in the cytoplasm. This splicing technique is quite complicated and requires enzymes and energy. Such a complex performance led many to suspect that introns have a control function.2

Creationists continue to state that God doesn't make junk. Instead, we have been "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 137).


1. Hardman, H. 2004. [PSA for Peaston, et al., in Developmental Cell, 2004 7:597606] "Junk" DNA may be very valuable to embryos.

2. Sterner D. A., Carlo T., Berget S. M. 1996. Architectural limits on split genes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A 93: 15081-15085.

*Frank Sherwin is a zoologist and seminar speaker for ICR.


Anonymous said...

Exactly how is the discovery that some parts of "junk" DNA have a function supposed to be an argument against the theory of evolution?

And what percentage are they talking about here anyway? Have creationist scientists suddenly discovered that all of junk DNA has a function?

Because if scientists only discovered that a few percent of junk DNA have a function, that is entirely compatible with the theory of evolution, but the amount of remaining "junk" DNA remains a huge problem for creationists.

-- creeper

Lava said...

no response by radar? on this blog, don't we count that as an admission of the other person being right?

Anonymous said...

Now now, Lava, that standard only applies to persons other than Radar. (IIRC, he once declared victory due to nobody else responding after as little as 48 hours, but since Blogger doesn't show dates, only times of day on the comments, I can't look up where that happened.)

The standard operating procedure for Radar himself is to ignore uncomfortable questions or deflect them by responding to strawman versions of them (see the Ice Core Man post), then wait a Suitable Time, and then declare victory.

-- creeper

radar said...

yeah, blah blah blah. I am very busy with fantasy football drafts, since I am commissioner in three leagues and moderator in at least 5 more, plus being involved in ten ongoing fanatasy baseball leagues that are approaching the end. I still managed to post within a week of the last one. Once I get the drafting done I will have more time.

Then again, evolution is fantasy science so I shouldn't ignore it entirely.

"Exactly how is the discovery that some parts of "junk" DNA have a function supposed to be an argument against the theory of evolution?

And what percentage are they talking about here anyway? Have creationist scientists suddenly discovered that all of junk DNA has a function?"

Scientists keep discovering more and more uses for "junk" DNA so the percentages keep changing and always moving upwards, so therefore it remains to be seen. it is entirely possible that all such "junk" DNA has a function other than those portions rendered useless by mutation.

Keep in mind that genome mapping and study are still in the opening stages and the findings are no where near even the first version of final.

Anonymous said...

The question stands: exactly how is the discovery that some parts of "junk" DNA have a function supposed to be an argument against the theory of evolution?

It's not all that rare that parts of so-called "junk DNA" are found to have functions, and it doesn't conflict with the theory of evolution.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

Yes it does conflict with evolution. You are saying that 'junk' DNA is proof of evolution, and that, if 'junk' DNA has a function it doesn't disprove evolution. Ummm... Yes it does, because you are using it as proof.
If I say 2+3=7 and it is proven that 2+3=5, then I can not say that 2+3=7 still. Think about it. Also, as it is being proven that 'junk' DNA does in fact have a function than it is all the more proof for creation. In case you didn't know, creation is the exact opposite of evolution and any proof against evolution is proof for creation.

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