Off the planet!
Shifting the problem into outer space
One of Australia’s best-known scientists has written that our own DNA may contain hidden ‘alien’ messages from space. Writing in New Scientist, Professor Paul Davies, from the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney, believes that a cosmic greeting card could have been left in the so-called ‘junk DNA’ contained in every human cell.1
Some think we are Martians
Davies, like many other evolutionary scientists and many non-scientists, feels certain that life must have evolved elsewhere in the universe. It is a natural conclusion, if one believes that life could have evolved so readily here on the earth. It is reasoned that if the universe is billions of years old, then extraterrestrials might be older, and thus more advanced, than our own human species. At present, ‘all things space’ and the hunt for extraterrestrials are extremely popular—being fueled by SETI’s (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) search for alien transmissions and NASA’s exploration of Mars. Never being one to shy away from publicity, Paul Davies has even suggested that life on Earth actually came from Mars in the first place.2
His novel DNA idea would help solve problems for those who believe in cosmic and biological evolution. He implies that one of the reasons groups like SETI have never discovered an intelligent coded message from space is that human beings are presently too primitive to understand messages from aliens who could be using technology that is far in advance of our own. He explained, ‘Leaving artifacts for humans to find once they are sufficiently evolved—like the obelisk in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey—might be a more attractive strategy. But ensuring the survival of such an artifact over possibly millions of years would be difficult.’ 1
He suggests that incorporating such messages into the human genome would allow them to be copied and maintained over huge periods of time until we could eventually develop sufficient technology to understand them. He adds, ‘One way to do this might be to deliver alien viruses which could infect cells with message-laden DNA.’ 1
Sadly, because Davies begins with the wrong assumptions, his ideas resemble science fiction more than science fact. For years, creationists have pointed out that organizations such as SETI waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money looking for coded messages from space, while they overlook the life on our own planet that contains abundant complex coded information in DNA.3
—a source of greater intelligence to have put the information there in the first place. Recognizing the implications of this code, many famous scientists, like Sir Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of DNA’s molecular structure, sadly suggested that the immensely complex information was put there by aliens billions of years ago.4 This suggestion, in effect, is no answer at all because it does not solve the problem of ‘first life’. After all, who created those alleged aliens, and so on?
Not-so ‘junk DNA’
Webphoto and services,
In this scene from the science-fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, a group of astronauts look onto an excavation site on the moon where an alien artefact has been located. The movie’s plot describes the object as having been planted in the far distant past by mankind’s alien ‘creators’ to be found only when humans had ‘evolved’ to a sufficiently advanced level, beyond 'religious prejudices', to find and understand our true heritage.
Many evolutionists have claimed that so-called ‘junk DNA’ is a leftover from our evolutionary past.5 This is similar to the spurious claim about ‘vestigial organs’, such as our appendix.6 Along with over 100 other organs, the appendix was mistakenly thought to have no practical use in the human body. The term ‘junk DNA’ came about because, unlike ‘normal’ DNA, it does not code for proteins. Quite simply, scientists had not identified any of its uses. But just because no function was known, doesn’t mean there is no function. Recent discoveries have shown many uses, and more are being discovered all the time. One example is the ability of so-called ‘junk DNA’ to jump to chromosomes with broken strands of DNA, slip into the break and repair the damage—an essential function in keeping the whole cell viable.
Davies’ idea would provide a powerful, but fanciful, way to explain the prevalence of ‘junk DNA’, which has been a stumbling block to the idea of human evolution. Because this non-coding DNA appears to occupy up to 98% of the genome, the process of natural selection would favour creatures that did not have to waste resources processing a genome filled with 98% junk. Quite simply, according to ‘survival of the fittest’ schemes, the ‘junk’ shouldn’t be there. However, in a veiled acknowledgment that they don’t understand everything, Davies’ suggestion perhaps helps evolutionary biologists to ‘hedge their bets’.
Evolutionists are increasingly being confronted with the enormous complexity of DNA and, thus, the mystery of the origin of life itself. Davies’ fictional use for ‘junk DNA’ actually highlights the current ignorance about these details; yet ironically, he and his colleagues are still sure that evolution is true.
Also, Davies’ idea only creates other questions. Why would aliens put hidden messages in our DNA anyway? Once again, we see how presuppositions play a part in interpreting the evidence, even to the extent of crediting unseen and unproven aliens with the incredible ‘power of creation’ that is due God. Rather, the Bible tells us that creation reveals God as the awesome Creator (Romans 1:20).
It also tells us why people conjure up make-believe stories to deny Him. Verse 21 adds, ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.’
References and notes
- Are there alien messages in our DNA strands? 9 Aug 2004 <http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=31&art_id=qw1092026521143B252>, 4 Jan 2007. Return to text
- It’s true, men really are from Mars, 30 Oct 2002 <www.guardian.co.uk/spacedocumentary/story/0,2763,822094,00.html>, 4 Jan 2007. Return to text
- Gary Bates, SETI—coming in from the cold of space, <http://www.creation.com/article/551>, 27 August 2004. Return to text
- Bates, G., Designed by aliens? Creation 25(4):54–55, 2003, <http://www.creation.com/article/125>. Return to text
- Researchers are regularly discovering more and more roles for so-called ‘junk’ DNA. See Sarfati, J., DNA: marvellous messages or mostly mess? Creation 25(2):26–31, 2003, <http://www.creation.com/article/145>. Return to text
- Ham, K. and Wieland, C., Your appendix: it’s there for a reason, Creation 20(1):41–42, 1997;<http://www.creation.com/article/709>. Return to text