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Creation  Volume 35Issue 1 Cover

Creation 35(1):38
January 2013

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Dazzling DNA

Huge study highlights stupendous design in human DNA

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dazzling-dna

©iStockphoto.com/MarsBars | ©iStockphoto.com/Osuleo

Less than 2% of the DNA codes for proteins; the rest turns out to be like a huge control panel, with millions of switches that turn protein-producing genes on or off.

This is an exciting time to be a creationist! Following pilot studies published in 2007,1 the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project has now published some 30 papers of phase two, revealing that most of our DNA is functional and effectively killing the evolutionary idea that nearly all our DNA is ‘junk’.

The research involved over 440 scientists in 32 institutes performing over 1,600 experiments.2 They found that over 80% of the human DNA does something, although the details of what it does mostly remain to be determined. Less than 2% of the DNA codes for proteins; the rest turns out to be like a huge control panel, with millions of switches that turn protein-producing genes on or off. And different cells have different switch settings, because they need different parts of the DNA to be active.

Discover magazine’s website reported:3

“And what’s in the remaining 20 percent? Possibly not junk either, according to Ewan Birney, the project’s Lead Analysis Coordinator and self-described ‘cat-herder-in-chief’. He explains that ENCODE only (!) looked at 147 types of cells, and the human body has a few thousand. A given part of the genome might control a gene in one cell type, but not others. If every cell is included, functions may emerge for the phantom proportion. ‘It’s likely that 80 percent will go to 100 percent,’ says Birney. ‘We don’t really have any large chunks of redundant DNA. This metaphor of junk isn’t that useful.’”

Evolution needs ‘junk DNA’

Many evolutionists don’t like the findings.

Even with the most favourable assumptions, evolutionists could not account for more than a tiny amount of the human DNA, so they have long claimed that 97% or more of it is useless leftovers of evolution—‘junk’. In contrast, based on the premise that we were created by a super-intelligent Creator—‘fearfully and wonderfully made’—creationists have long questioned the idea that we have mainly useless DNA. In 1994, founder of Creation magazine Carl Wieland wrote,

“Creationists have long suspected that this ‘junk DNA’ will turn out to have a function.”4

Many evolutionists don’t like the findings. One blogged on Scientific American’s website that he doubted the death of junk DNA and complained about the “public damage” done by ENCODE publicity.5 Damage to what? Surely not science? Atheism? Giving three reasons why evolution requires lots of junk DNA, he concluded that the finding of 80% (+) functional must be wrong/misreported. But junk DNA is dead and this blog only shows that evolution should die with it.

“Far from finished”

Scientists have a huge job ahead to work out what specifically all this active DNA does. Much will undoubtedly be very important, other parts less so. It presents an enormous task. Geneticist Rick Myers remarked, “We are far from finished. You might argue that this could go on forever.”6

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. See, Williams, A., Astonishing DNA complexity update, July 2007; creation.com/dnaupdate. Return to text.
  2. See overview papers in Nature 489, 6 September 2012. Return to text.
  3. Yong, E., ENCODE: the rough guide to the human genome, in the ‘Not Exactly Rocket Science’ blog; blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2012/09/05/encode-the-rough-guide-to-the-human-genome/ Return to text.
  4. Wieland, C., Junk moves up in the world, Journal of Creation 8(2):125, 1994. Return to text.
  5. Jogalekar, A., Three reasons why junk DNA makes evolutionary sense; blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2012/09/13/three-reasons-to-like-junk-dna, 13 September, 2012. Return to text.
  6. Nature 489, p.48. Return to text.

(Also available in Russian)


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Readers’ comments
L. S., New Zealand, 20 January 2014

We always used to tell our kids "God does not make junk. It's always for a purpose."

Like our appendix. We are told we don't need it because we don't eat cellulose stuff like grass. But in North Korea people are scavenging for grass and bark to eat. During the famine in China people also ate grasses. I believe The appendix helps to sort out this strong stuff.

Don Batten responds

See Appendix shrieks 'creation'! and the related reading therein. The old chestnut that the appendix is a useless left-over of our evolution does not hold stand up to scrutiny, either it being useless or its pattern of occurance fitting the evolutionary story.

R. D., United Kingdom, 20 January 2014

Of course the more fanatical anticreationists shall desperately try to hold onto junk DNA even as the concept disintegrates before their eyes. It was always one of their best arguments against creation. ENCODE is just one more nail in the coffin, and doubtless many more remain to be hammered in in the coming decades.

Of course, down the line evolutionists will just come-up with more impossible explanations once the findings become undeniable, just like with previous things which would supposedly have falsified evolution if they were ever discovered (wheels in bio-organisms, soft-bodied organisms fossilised, fossil record lacking transitions between major taxa, hundreds of "living fossils", etc). But come what may, the anticreationist argument (ie, "why would God create most of the genome functionless?") is dead in the water. The evolutionary paradigm might still be a long way from being discarded, but small steps and all that.

james p H., Australia, 20 January 2014

Dr Don....what abt this recent discovery of a "double-coded"/embedded DNA language?

(Univ of Washington--/published in "Science" last Dcmbr.....not sure if they are involved with ENCODE [?])

are you going to cover that?

seems to me like its almost a "TKO" for Intelligent Design?

Don Batten responds

This discovery was connected with the ENCODE project. They found transciption factor binding sites within protein-coding sequences (exons). These sites are where specific proteins called transcrition factors bind to regulate whether the exon is to be copied to mRNA so that the protein can be made. Dual function code is not a new discovery, only this particular type of dual function (or 'duon'). Grand scale multiple-functions for DNA sequences were reported from phase-1 of the ENCODE project: Astonishing DNA complexity uncovered (referred to in the related reading for my short article)

And yes, all this should be a TKO against evolution. In reality, the scientific evidence should have been seen off evolution long ago, but something that is so foundational to the anti-God religion of naturalism (nature is all there is) is not open to scientific refutation.

Den B., United Kingdom, 20 January 2014

You just need to type in a search for 'junk DNA' and the good old internet brings up a multitude of sites claiming there's 98% junk in humans. Myth and deliberate deception take a lot of blows before they lay down to die, some never seem to. Most people still believe we've got 99% ape DNA and have a stack of vestigial organs.

We might ask where now for an evolutionary theory of the gaps? Somehow i think it'll find a few gaps to hide it. Unlike Christian researchers there will always be an evolutionists desperate enough to lie and their work will spread round the world while the truth puts on its boots. Oh that all sounds a bit depressing eh? One truth and one heart at a time I guess.

Thanks for your work.

Don J., United States, 20 January 2014

I think researchers have only hit the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg as far as their understanding of DNA functionality is concerned. After finding out that all of the DNA does something, I predict the understanding of the depth of the task domain encoded within will have scientists marveling at the compactness of the system.

Aleksandar K., Croatia, 20 January 2014

You wrote: "Even with the most favourable assumptions, evolutionists could not account for more than a tiny amount of the human DNA, so they have long claimed that 97% or more of it is useless leftovers of evolution—‘junk’." What are those favourable assumptions? Do evolutionists have something else other than duplication+mutations to account for the increase in genome that is required for microbes to transform to bugs and horses? Since that has no validity and still remains a dogma, why does the AMOUNT of genetic material pose a problem? Evolutionists aren't usually bothered by such "insignificant" details. Are they?

Don Batten responds

For the 'most favourable assumptions' and the problem, see: Haldane's dilemma has not been solved.

There is nothing other than mutations (duplications are type of mutation) to account for the new DNA instructions needed for evolution from microbe to microbiologist to happen.

Evolutionists also have to have lots of junk DNA because otherwise the number of mutations occurring would have already caused 'error catastrophe' and we would be extinct. See: Dr John Sanford, plant geneticist: 'evolution impossible'.

Also, if genomes in general are full of functional DNA, where is the room for mutations to create new functions? And as this 'experimental' region gets smaller and smaller, the scope for mutations to do their thing for evolution shrinks more and more.

Evolution should already have been discarded as a 19th Century anachronism, but it won't be because it is the creation myth of secularism/atheism.

Charlie M., United States, 20 January 2014

Humans are the only sentient beings equipped with enough intelligence to consider the possibility that they do not know everything. For them to achieve that objective would place them in league with God. If that were possible, man would then have the ability to formulate God's "Grand Design" and could replicate His awesome Creation utilizing their own blueprints and materials and without a god to assist them. They have become their own god. Of course, if Jehovah God had included His blueprints as an addendum to the Book of Genesis, I am confident these scientists might refer to them for an occasional tweak.

How frustrating it must be for the atheistic-evolutionist to feel outsmarted by trying to figure out how a "nothing" exploded into a "something" which then, after billions and billions of years, and purely by coincidence, caused life to form in some primordial goo. Think of how much easier their quest would be if they would trust in the Lord to help them with their research.

God's ways are not our ways. But there are answers in His Book, the Holy Bible. To discover those answers, however, requires the reader to know and have a personal relationship with the Author. The Holy Bible is the only book I have knowledge of where this is a prerequisite, unless it is your personal diary. Even then, can you trust and have faith in your own diary. Do you really know yourself?

Luke M., Australia, 21 January 2014

Is it possible this so called junk DNA is useful during the reproduction process? In a sense during an initial fusing process?

I'm not a scientist so I was wondering if you guy's would know more into this direction.

Don Batten responds

Indeed, see The lingering death of junk DNA, which reports on a study of mice where the researchers found that a certain class of 'junk DNA', comprising a 1/3 of the mouse genome, is involved in embryo development. If you think about the complex sequence of events that changes a single-celled egg into a complex organism with hundreds of different cell types in different organs, all in the right places, the programming for this has to be somewhere, and it appears to be in the 'junk'.

Walt E., Australia, 23 January 2014

Proverbs 25:2 says, 'It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings'.

Can you imagine how much The God, our God, has concealed... for us to find? ...

Teddy M., New Zealand, 23 January 2014

Junk DNA, flat earth, etc. People are going to believe what they want to believe. The fact that there is a field of academic endeavour called the 'philosophy of science' should, at face value, raise an eyebrow. But it doesn't.

Egil W., Norway, 23 January 2014

Thanks for very good information.

If the 97% of supposed `junk DNA`was a verification of evolution, and at least(!) 80 % is actually usefull, it sounds to me that that line of evidence for evolution is now utterly falsified on purely scientific grounds, that is, by so failing to pass an actual test of meeting a prediction or expectation of what to find.

Since evolution is still held as the only scientific explanation of life in media and academies, can we assume the evolutionists don`t read their own conclusions, or merely that they can`t allow themselves to follow evidence where it leads?

If this had anything to do with science, evolution should have gone from textbooks since 2007.

Because it failed.

(again)

Sorry, evolutionists, you were wrong all the time.

Don Batten responds

Indeed, evolution has been falsified in virtually every area of study. The fossil record should have been sufficient a long time before 2007, for instance. We might think of Haldane's prediction half a century ago that evolution could not make a wheel or a magnet (both are present in living things).

Most of the scientists involved in the ENCODE project would pay lipservice to evolution, but it is irrelevant to their actual experimental science, which, if they thought about it much, should raise serious questions in their minds as to their background worldview that is evolutionary. When it comes to our deep-seated beliefs about where we came from and what life is all about, scientists can be as blind as anyone else, perhaps even more so, because of the pride factor in 'knowledge', being the 'knowing ones' (1 Corinthians 8:1). But there is also a rule of the game today that means if you are to be part of the club, you cannot contradict evolution if you want to remain a member of the club (search for Expelled on creation.com). I think there are also a lot of scientists who know that evolution has no legs in their own field of study, but think that elsewhere it holds up and therefore it is just a bit of a mystery in their field. Such a major all-encompassing worldview (religion) cannot be overturned with even such a powerful finding as the functionality of the 'junk DNA'.

DoWon M., Australia, 24 January 2014

It is sad that our school lectures are being revised for what is good to evolutionist.... In the other hand, they keep arguing about newly discovered FACT that proves creation is right...

Florin M., United Kingdom, 25 January 2014

Is there a list on creation.com with ‘evolutionary blunders’? That is teachings that evolutionists used to hold dear as supporting their theory, but were subsequently proved wrong (by other evolutionists)? Junk DNA could probably be added to the list.

I was also wondering whether that list could be included into the school textbooks, for students to be aware of them. An apology from the evolutionists will be in place on that page – for teaching our children non-science/myths in a science book. I won’t fuss if they refuse to include the apology...

Don Batten responds

A new article coming up soon on creation.com is called "Arguments that evolutionists should not use". This might be close to what you are seeking. Also, check out Evolution harms science and society and also Dr Sanford's lecture on how evolution has harmed science.

15 Questions for evolutionists might also be helpful.

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