junk DNA

Thoughts on “The Myth of Junk DNA”

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I really enjoyed this book, and was pleased at how much I learned about current research in this area. What is meant by “junk” DNA refers to the part of the human genome that doesn’t code directly for a protein. Proteins are the machines that do all the work in the cell. With only 1.5% of the human genome coding for protein, that leaves a lot of junk around, apparently serving no purpose, looking like old viruses, and has been a source of proof for Neo-Darwinists and ridicule for Intelligent Design.

The book’s premise is simple and straight forward: it spends a chapter referring to statements made by prominent Neo-Darwinists using “junk” DNA to support evolution (going so far as to make theological comments on a God or Creator that would make such junk, even). The book then advances in a tour de force of example after example from mainstream journals showing the functionality of “junk” DNA. It has been shown that the other non-coding “junk” DNA is both conserved between species and widely transcribed. According to evolutionary theory alone, these two facts alone show probable function. Pseudogenes, Introns, repetitious DNA, elements that appear derived from virus (ERV), those parts that were thought to be functionless is being found to have important roles within the cell.

I think the information in the book is presented well and is at an understandable level, but I do have a degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, so some of it may come off as too technical. The Neo-Darwinist argument goes something like this: “if most of human DNA is junk, then Darwinism is true and ID false; most of human DNA is junk; therefore Darwinism is true and ID false.” In my opinion, this book thoroughly discredits the myth that “junk” DNA is “flotsam and jetsam”. Drawing an inference to Intelligent Design is advanced in the last chapter, and the answer is left up to the reader. My own opinion is that, as the human genome explored and more data is generated, the evolutionary argument will transition to a “Darwin of the gaps” position.