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God of the GapsWhere Does Weight Go?

Junk DNA

Posted: September 8, 2016 (12:56 PM) by CalvinDude
While it is becoming more in vogue to refer to the sections of DNA that "don't appear to do anything" as "noncoding DNA", I'm still young enough to remember the claim that it was "junk DNA." We've moved away from the term "junk" recently because it turns out that a whole lot of "junk" DNA happens to be important DNA that really does do stuff.

But I want to look at this from another aspect. Darwinists often claim that junk DNA is evidence that evolution must be true, and even more specifically that evolution cannot have been guided by an intelligent being. After all, if God was designing DNA, why would He have made so much of it into junk DNA that does nothing?

This is especially impactful given that the actual genes in DNA that encode DNA accounts for only approximately 1.2% of the human genome. The other 98.8% encodes the pirates who don't do anything. (Yes, my daughter watches VeggieTales. All the time. Every day. How did you know?)

So why would God, if He was designing the human genome, make 98.8% of it worthless? Well, as we mentioned above, scientists are actually discovering some uses for lots of DNA that was previously considered junk DNA. But even with those discoveries, there's a lot of it that still appears to do nothing. Is that evidence that there is no intelligence involved here?

Or, conversely, does this indicate intelligence after all?

Consider computer programmers for a moment. When writing code, programmers often put things into comments. Comments are not read by compilers; they are ignored. These programming comments give information to the programmers who can understand the code, but if your only understanding of computer programming was looking at input in and the results given, then you would soon conclude that the majority of programs out there contain massive amounts of "junk code" that literally does nothing. Ironically, it is programs that are well-commented that tend to run the most smoothly; those with no comments whatsoever, despite having no "junk code", are those that run into the most problems because people cannot troubleshoot errors easily.

But of course the argument can be made that God doesn't need to put comments in His DNA code. He's smart enough to know better than that. But my above argument is only to demonstrate that the existence of non-coding DNA does not automatically mean we can assume that there is no intelligence involved in the formatting of it.

But I will go ahead and take it a step further here too. The job of DNA is, at its most basic, to control the structure of organisms so they can develop, grow, and reproduce. During its lifetime, an organism is in an environment that can, and often does, cause damage to parts of DNA. Where it becomes most relevant in evolutionary theory is during the reproduction phase, since that's what supposedly drives the diversification of species (after which, Natural Selection can then act upon the organisms to winnow out the less-fit species). But the fact is that mutations occur all the time. When your skin cells get bombarded with the sun's radiation, it can cause mutations inside individual skin cells. This could even be the way certain forms of skin cancer begin. Our diets also can impact cells in our digestive tract, etc.

The point is, there are many ways that a mutation could be introduced into DNA. Now the thing with programming is that all it takes to crash a computer is a simple error in the code. A single incorrect punctuation mark caused Mariner 1 to veer off course so badly it had to be destroyed less than 5 minutes after launching in 1962, leading Arthur C. Clarke to describe it as "the most expensive hyphen in history" in The Promise of Space. The same is true with DNA, in that a single mutation can cause a protein to not be formed, which could easily result in the death of the organism. In fact, nearly all mutations are going to be bad for any organism.

So suppose you were trying to transmit a program from Earth to, say, Jupiter. And you knew that there was some sort of anomaly in Jupiter's atmosphere that would randomly corrupt single bits of data here and there during your transmission. One technique that you could use to mitigate your chances of corrupting useful data is to put a ton of data in the comments of your program, so that the corrupted data will end up being in a section that doesn't impact the functionality of the program itself. In point of fact, if you have a far larger amount of "noncoding" data, the odds are much more likely that the corruption will occur there rather than in a useful part of code. In fact, if you were to, say, make 98.8% of your code be "non-useful", then you only have a 1.2% chance that a mutation would hit something vital in your code.

Naturally, one could say that the code is "junk" but in reality, such code is protecting the vital nature of the rest of the useful code--the parts that are needed for the program to work.

In the same way, someone designing DNA and wanting to ensure humans survived could easily have padded out DNA with "junk" solely to ensure that fewer individuals get hit with horrific mutations during their lifetime. It still happens from time to time, of course; and we see people with genetic disorders or who develop problems from mutated genes and such. But they are relatively rare, precisely because the vast majority of mutations that could impact us do so in "junk" areas where nothing gets hurt.

Suddenly, "junk" DNA doesn't seem so stupid after all, does it?

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God of the GapsWhere Does Weight Go?
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