Junk Is the Essence of Mankind
Christians may proclaim “God don’t make no junk” but evolutionists boast of our junky heritage. Erika Check wrote in Nature this week,1 “It’s the junk that makes us human.” She was referring to non-coding DNA, long considered “junk DNA.” There is growing awareness that these sections of unclear function are involved in the regulation of the coding genes. She explains with a design analogy:
Anyone who has ever put together self-assembly furniture knows that having the right parts is important, but what you do with them can make or break the project. The same seems to be true of the vast amounts of DNA in an organism’s genome that used to be labelled as junk. Studies now indicate that this DNA may be responsible for the signals that were crucial for human evolution, directing the various components of our genome to work differently from the way they do in other organisms.
The findings seem to bolster a 30-year-old hypothesis that gene regulation – not the creation of new genes – has moulded the traits that make us unique.
Of the human non-coding regions that differ the most from other animals, most lie near genes coding for brain cell function. Figuring out what these regions do is a new treasure hunt for geneticists: one researcher said, “Here we have a way of discovering new biology.” See also Michael Balter’s write-up on this topic in Science Now.
1Erika Check, “It’s the junk that makes us human,” Nature 444, 130-131 (9 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444130a; Published online 8 November 2006.
Report card: for finding a new promising path of research, A. For finding it by accident, C. For avoiding the discovery because of decades of calling it junk, F. For saying “it’s the junk that makes us human,” go to the Principal.