Posted by jlwile on March 23, 2010
You would think by now that even evolutionists would finally admit that there is very little (if any) DNA in a living organism that could be described as “junk DNA.” However, they are still out there doing it. For example, in a rather pathetic attempt to refute Dr. Stephen C. Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell, evolutionary biologist Dr. Francisco Ayala made the following statement:
There are also lots and lots of DNA sequences that are nonsensical. For example, there are about one million virtually identical Alu sequences that are each three-hundred letters (nucleotides) long and are spread throughout the human genome. Think about it: there are in the human genome about twenty-five thousand genes, but one million interspersed Alu sequences; forty times more Alu sequences than genes. It is as if the editor of Signature of the Cell would have inserted between every two pages of Meyer’s book, forty additional pages, each containing the same three hundred letters. Likely, Meyer would not think of his editor as being “intelligent.” Would a function ever be found for these one million nearly identical Alu sequences? It seems most unlikely.
But the fact is that functions have been found for these Alu sequences and other sequences like them. It is amazing that an evolutionary biologist doesn’t seem to know this.
These Alu sequences are part of a wider grouping of genetic elements called “Short Interspersed Nuclear Elements (SINEs).” They have been demonstrated to have many, many functions in the genomes of many, many organisms. In fact, Meyer catalogs five lower-level genomic formatting functions, four species-specific higher-level genomic formatting functions, and five species-specific RNA coding functions. Thus, it is Ayala’s claim, not the Alu sequences, that is nonsensical.
My point is not so much that Ayala is demonstrably incorrect. It is broader than that. There are large parts of the genome of every organism for which we cannot directly specify a function. However, the fact that we don’t understand the function doesn’t mean there is no function. Evolutionists used to confidently tell us that the human appendix has no function simply because they couldn’t determine one. However, we now know that the human appendix certainly does have a function, as creationists always claimed. Thus, the fact that we don’t know the function doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
So…is there some other way to determine whether or not parts of an organism’s genome are functional? I think so. The reason the cell can use the information encoded in DNA is that a process called transcription makes a copy (actually, a negative image) of the information, and that negative image is then carried out of the cell’s nucleus. Well, it is hard to imagine that a cell would waste all the energy required to make the negative image of a section of DNA and carry it out of the nucleus if that section of DNA isn’t useful.
This is the genius behind project ENCODE. The researchers in this project are finding out which parts of the human genome are transcribed. Assuming that the cell would not waste the energy to transcribe useless bits of information, the argument is that whatever is transcribed actually has some use and is definitely not “junk.”
Well, what has ENCODE found? In 2007, the group published its first major results. Here’s what the researchers say:
The new data indicate the genome contains very little unused sequences and, in fact, is a complex, interwoven network. In this network, genes are just one of many types of DNA sequences that have a functional impact.
In other words, most of the human genome is functional. This is yet another failed prediction of evolution. Evolution first predicted that organisms should be littered with useless organs. Indeed, Darwin likened such useless organs to the silent letters in a word – they tell you things about the word’s origin but serve no function. When that prediction was falsified, evolution predicted that the human genome would be littered with junk DNA. Project ENCODE seems to have falsified that prediction. Indeed, the data are telling us that the concept of “junk DNA” should, itself, be junked.