How The Junk DNA Hypothesis Has Changed Since 1980

As someone who has studied the concept of “junk DNA” for over twenty years, I am dismayed by two statements that appear repeatedly on various blog sites discussing evolution. No, I am not referring to arguments of the form “the onion has six times more DNA than do mammals; therefore, there is no deity,” that are invariably followed by terms of disparagement hurled at anyone who even marginally departs from the Darwinian perspective. Rather, my consternation stems from a half-truth and a false fact that are recycled ad nauseum by those who apparently believe that, despite all the genomic and transcriptomic data that have been obtained only in this decade–data that have overturned a number of trenchant assumptions–a certain hypothesis Read More ›

Guy Walks Into a Bar and Thinks He’s a Chimpanzee: The Unbearable Lightness of Chimp-Human Genome Similarity

I am often struck by how the topic of evolution in general, and chimp/human ancestry in particular, can be an immediate conversation opener that just as quickly becomes a conversation closer. Mind you, I don’t go around buttonholing people at, say, my favorite lounge (this music will conjure up the atmosphere) about some phylogenetic arcana — at least, I try not to do so. But for some strange reason, there exist individuals of good will who apparently feel called upon to “raise my consciousness” about some Darwinian facts that I’ve presumably gotten wrong. Not just a bit wrong, but astoundingly wrong. You see, to their way of thinking, I am in dire need of reeducation and they are there to Read More ›

Shoddy Engineering or Intelligent Design? Case of the Mouse’s Eye

We often hear from Darwinians that the biological world is replete with examples of shoddy engineering, or, as they prefer to put it, bad design. One such case of really poor construction is the inverted retina of the vertebrate eye. As we all know, the retina of our eyes is configured all wrong because the cells that gather photons, the rod photoreceptors, are behind two other tissue layers. Light first strikes the ganglion cells and then passes by or through the bipolar cells before reaching the rod photoreceptors. Surely, a child could have arranged the system better — so they tell us. The problem with this story of supposed unintelligent design is that it is long on anthropomorphisms and short Read More ›

When “Junk DNA” Isn’t Junk: Farewell to a Darwinist Standard Response

In the Darwinist repertoire, a standard response to evidence of design in the genome is to point to the existence of “junk DNA.” What is it doing there, if purposeful design really is detectable in the history of life’s development? Of course this assumes that the “junk” really is junk. That assumption has been cast increasingly into doubt. New research just out in the journal Nature Genetics finds evidence that genetic elements previously thought of as rubbish are anything but that. The research describes tiny strands of RNA, previously thought to be junk, that now turn out to play a role in gene expression. Another finding by Dr. Geoff Faulkner shows that “retrotransposons,” a further variety of “junk” as the Read More ›