Skip to comments.Intelligent Design and the Death of the "Junk-DNA" Neo-Darwinian Paradigm
Posted on 06/16/2007 1:09:15 AM PDT by balch3
Two recent news articles are discussing the death of the junk-DNA icon of Neo-Darwinism. Wired Magazine has an article pejoratively titled "One Scientist's Junk Is a Creationist's Treasure" that emphasizes the positive point that intelligent design has made successful predictions on the question of "junk-DNA." The article reports:
[A] surprising group is embracing the results: intelligent-design advocates. Since the early '70s, many scientists have believed that a large amount of many organisms' DNA is useless junk. But recently, genome researchers are finding that these "noncoding" genome regions are responsible for important biological functions.
The Wired Magazine article then quotes Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer explaining that this is a prediction of intelligent design that was largely unexpected under neo-Darwinian thought:
"It is a confirmation of a natural empirical prediction or expectation of the theory of intelligent design, and it disconfirms the neo-Darwinian hypothesis," said Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.
The Wired Magazine article openly and unashamedly confuses intelligent design with creationism, but it does admit that ID proponents are making positive predictions about the scientific data:
Advocates like Meyer are increasingly latching onto scientific evidence to support the theory of intelligent design, a modern arm of creationism that claims life is not the result of natural selection but of an intelligent creator. Most scientists believe that intelligent design is not science. But Meyer says the opossum data supports intelligent design's prediction that junk DNA sequences aren't random, but important genetic material. It's an argument Meyer makes in his yet-to-be-published manuscript, The DNA Enigma.
Another article in the Washington Post similarly discusses the death of the junk-DNA paradigm of Neo-Darwinism:
The first concerted effort to understand all the inner workings of the DNA molecule is overturning a host of long-held assumptions about the nature of genes and their role in human health and evolution. ... The findings, from a project involving hundreds of scientists in 11 countries and detailed in 29 papers being published today, confirm growing suspicions that the stretches of "junk DNA" flanking hardworking genes are not junk at all. But the study goes further, indicating for the first time that the vast majority of the 3 billion "letters" of the human genetic code are busily toiling at an array of previously invisible tasks.
(Rick Weiss, "Intricate Toiling Found In Nooks of DNA Once Believed to Stand Idle," Washington Post, June 14, 2007)
The Washington Post article explains that scientists are finally "being forced to pay attention to our non-gene DNA sequences." What were the consequences of their failure to suspect function for junk-DNA? The article explains how there may be real-world medical consequences of the failure to presume function for non-coding DNA:
But much of it seems to be playing crucial roles: regulating genes, keeping chromosomes properly packaged or helping to control the spectacularly complicated process of cell division, which is key to life and also is at the root of cancer. .... [S]everal recent studies have found that people are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes and other diseases if they have small mutations in non-gene parts of their DNA that were thought to be medically irrelevant.
Could neo-Darwinism have stopped science from investigating the causes of these medical problems?
Intelligent Design has Long Predicted This Day Proponents of intelligent design have long maintained that Neo-Darwinism's widely held assumption that our cells contain much genetic "junk" is both dangerous to the progress of science and wrong. As I explain here, design theorists recognize that "Intelligent agents typically create functional things," and thus Jonathan Wells has suggested, "From an ID perspective, however, it is extremely unlikely that an organism would expend its resources on preserving and transmitting so much junk'."  Design theorists have thus been predicting the death of the junk-DNA paradigm for many years:
As far back as 1994, pro-ID scientist and Discovery Institute fellow Forrest Mims had warned in a letter to Science against assuming that 'junk' DNA was 'useless.'" Science wouldn't print Mims' letter, but soon thereafter, in 1998, leading ID theorist William Dembski repeated this sentiment in First Things:
[Intelligent] design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term "junk DNA." Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as "junk" merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a recent issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar describes how "non-coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development." Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it.
(William Dembski, "Intelligent Science and Design," First Things, Vol. 86:21-27 (October 1998))
In 2002, Dr. Richard Sternberg surveyed the literature and found extensive evidence for function of certain types of junk-DNA and argued that "neo-Darwinian 'narratives' have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes." Sternberg concluded that "the selfish DNA narrative and allied frameworks must join the other icons of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory that, despite their variance with empirical evidence, nevertheless persist in the literature.
Soon thereafter, an article in Scientific American explained that the introns within genes and the long stretches of intergenic DNA between genes ... were immediately assumed to be evolutionary junk. John S. Mattick, director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia was then quoted saying this might have been one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.
The next year, in 2004, pro-ID molecular biologist Jonathan Wells argued that "The fact that junk DNA is not junk has emerged not because of evolutionary theory but in spite of it. On the other hand, people asking research questions in an ID framework would presumably have been looking for the functions of non-coding regions of DNA all along, and we might now know considerably more about them."
Then in 2005, Sternberg and leading geneticist James A. Shapiro conclude that one day, we will think of what used to be called junk DNA as a critical component of truly expert cellular control regimes. It seems that day may have come.
It seems beyond dispute that the Neo-Darwinian paradigm led to a false presumption that non-coding DNA lacks function, and that this presumption has resulted in real-world negative consequences for molecular biology and even for medicine. Moreover, it can no longer seriously be maintained that intelligent design is a science stopper: under an intelligent design approach to investigating non-coding DNA, the false presumptions of Neo-Darwinism might have been avoided.
 Forrest Mims, Rejected Letter to the Editor to Science, December 1, 1994.
 Richard v. Sternberg, "On the Roles of Repetitive DNA Elements in the Context of a Unified Genomic Epigenetic System," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 981: 154188 (2002).
 Wayt T. Gibbs, The Unseen Genome: Gems Among the Junk, Scientific American (Nov. 2003).
 Jonathan Wells, Using Intelligent Design Theory to Guide Scientific Research, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, 3.1.2 (Nov. 2004).
 Richard v. Sternberg and James A. Shapiro, How Repeated Retroelements format genome function, Cytogenetic and Genome Research, Vol. 110: 108116 (2005).
So they predicted that there are things that we don’t know and offered no clue as to what they were?...
That’s a brilliant prediction.
Please tell me how, how does one "embrace a result"?
Agree with, yes I'll go with that, but embrace?? come on...
You embrace your wife, your child, your mother/father not a freakin idea/result/(fill in the blank)
In case anyone is curious. A functional definition of Junk DNA is “a section if DNA for which no function is known”.
In other words to “predict” that some of it might do something is not a prediction at all.
Junk DNA: Noncoding regions of DNA that have no apparent function.
The term “junk DNA” is a disparaging one, expressing some of the disappointment felt by geneticists when they first gazed upon sizable segments of the genetic code and, instead of seeing one wonderful gene after another, they saw a few exons surrounded by vast stretches of “junk DNA.”
Exons are the regions of DNA that contain the code for producing the polypeptide molecules that make up protein. Each exon codes for a specific portion of the complete protein. In humans and some other species, the exons are separated by long regions of junk DNA.
However, junk DNA has been found to be even more conserved than protein-coding regions of the DNA in humans and other mammalian species. The extent of conservation indicates that there is some function for junk DNA that remains to be determined. Junk DNA may prove not to be junk.
Not really, the evo answer to the following question is: JUNK
The question: What is this apparently useless chain of DNA?
Evolutionary theory relied on this being true for 50 years now
Creationism never did.
It is another example of genuine science once again proving evolutionary science is JUNK.
More desperate babbling by the ID-iot crowd. “Junk DNA” is a journalists term.
I just cant help but lump evolutionist together with global warming believers, they have their own religion going.
But I guess its simply easier to say "Look, the Scientists were wrong, therefore, it was Adam and Eve afterall!"
All I want to know is, am I their father or not their father!
When I saw “Junk-DNA” in the title I thought that it was an article about the Houston Crime Lab.
4. To take up willingly or eagerly: embrace a social cause.
5. To avail oneself of: "I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn't embrace" (Henry James).
“Please tell me how, how does one “embrace a result”?
Agree with, yes I’ll go with that, but embrace?? come on...”
I believe it’s an example of analogous predication. In other words, you don’t literally “embrace a result”, rather you assume a relationship with respect to a result that is analogous in some way to the relationship you assume when you physically embrace a loved-one.
I am not an expert in this, but I was always disturbed by the term “junk DNA.” We are only just beginning to understand DNA. It seems presumptous to call a sequence “junk” just because you don’t see its function. To determine that something is useless you first have to know that which is useful. Are the spaces between these words something useful or are they useless? Would someone who was never exposed to reading and writing understand the usefulness of empty spaces between words? Or would the spaces be seen as useless “junk?”
Journalists did not invent the concept of “junk’ DNA. Journalists only repeated what the keepers of the false religion of evolution told them. :)
Another steaming pile from the anti-science Discovery Institute.
If anyone is laboring under the delusion that the Discovery Institute has the furtherance of science anywhere in their thoughts, all they need to do is read the Institute's Wedge Strategy.
And one of the greatest lies is that ID is science. Here is what the wedge document says:
We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.Get that part, "replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions?" Just think of all the sciences that would be "replaced" under such a system:
Get used to it. Here is a news flash for you: Science is not defined as that which confirms atheistic materialism.