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Creation 35(1):38, January 2012

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Dazzling DNA

Huge study highlights stupendous design in human DNA

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dazzling-dna
The major international ENCODE research project junks the idea of ‘junk’ DNA
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

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; http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/three-reasons-to-like-junk-dna/, 13 September, 2012. Return to text.
  6. Nature 489, p.48. Return to text.

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