Junk DNA – Does it disprove design?
So-called junk DNA, is DNA that does not code for proteins. There are four principle types of junk DNA. Introns are internal segments within genes that are removed at the RNA level. Pseudogenes are inactivated by an insertion or deletion. Satellite sequences are short repeats. And interspersed repeats are longer repetitive sequences, mostly derived from mobile DNA elements. Darwinists often cite such junk DNA as evidence for the grander claims of the theory of evolution, asserting that such junk DNA makes little sense within the framework of intelligent design. But is this a fair statement?
Contrary to Darwinian claims, recent scientific discoveries have shown that the nonprotein-coding regions of the genome direct the production of RNA molecules that regulate the use of the protein-coding regions of DNA. Cell and genome biologists have also discovered that these supposedly non-protein-coding regions of the genome perform functions such as the following:
- Regulation of DNA replication
- Regulation of transcription
- Marking sites for programmed rearrangements of genetic material
- Influencing the proper folding and maintenance of chromosomes
- Controlling the interactions of chromosomes with the nuclear membrane
- Controlling RNA processing, editing, and splicing
- Modulating translation;
- Regulating embryological development
- Repairing DNA
- Aiding in fighting disease.
Junk DNA – Is Darwinism a science-stopper?
Neo-Darwinism holds that new biological information arises as the result of a process of mutational trial and error, predicting that there will be a tendency for nonfunctional DNA to accumulate in the genomes of eukaryotic organisms. The theory of intelligent design, on the other hand, predicts that most of the nonprotein coding sequences in the genome should perform some biological function.
This is one area in which intelligent design, far from being a science-stopper as Darwinists often claim, actually encourages scientific endeavor. From a Darwinian perspective, we expect a lot of useless DNA. Conversely, if organisms are designed, then we should predict as much as possible of DNA to exhibit function. Interestingly enough, in this situation, it is the claims of Darwinism -- not intelligent design -- which is responsible for acting as a science stopper, discouraging researchers from looking for functionality of so-called ‘junk DNA’.
Junk DNA – Conclusion
To conclude, junk DNA, far from being useless remnants leftover from past evolutionary permutations, as materialistic models assert, the non-protein-coding DNA directs the use of other information in the genome. This is one of many areas where intelligent design -- contrary to the often made criticisms -- makes scientific predictions which can be, and indeed have been, verified by experimentation and the scientific enterprise.
At any rate, it is entirely plausible within the framework of intelligent design for what used to be functional/coding DNA to have lost its respective functions, possibly due to a mutational inactivation. Either way, such an argument can no longer be used as a legitimate critique of intelligent design as a scientific model or in an effort to substantiate Darwinian claims.