Autism: Another Example of Evolution Misleading Science with Tragic Results
by Dr Jerry Bergman
The major source of genetic variety that Darwinists claim enables evolution to occur is the accumulation of mutations. Since 99.9 percent are near neutral or harmful, a major concern is the deterioration of the genome. Darwinists have long considered that the harm caused by this large number of mutations is blunted due to the fact that an estimated 98 percent of the DNA is useless ‘junk DNA.’ Thus, most harmful mutations, the theory goes, will not cause mutational meltdown because most will occur in the junk DNA, causing no harm. Junk DNA has also been considered a major source of raw material for evolution. It can be gradually modified by genetic drift, or mutations, the thinking goes, to eventually become functional.
In humans, only about 2 percent of our DNA actually codes for proteins. Thus for decades the other 98 percent was considered junk DNA. As Pennsylvania State University biology professor and researcher in computational genomics, Wojciech Makalowski, wrote:
For decades, scientists were puzzled by this phenomenon [of junk DNA]. With no obvious function, the noncoding portion of a genome was declared useless or sometimes called “selfish DNA,” existing only for itself without contributing to an organism’s fitness. In 1972 the late geneticist Susumu Ohno coined the term “junk DNA” to describe all noncoding sections of a genome, most of which consist of repeated segments scattered randomly throughout the genome.
He adds the observation that, because most of the DNA was considered useless, it strongly discouraged research on this 98 percent. Even the “term ‘junk DNA’ repelled mainstream researchers from studying noncoding genetic material for many years. After all, who would like to dig through genomic garbage?”
Furthermore, as recently as seven years ago, Professor Jogalekar argued that junk DNA fits in perfectly with evolution. He found it astonishing that it is so difficult for “people to accept that much of DNA must indeed be junk. … junk DNA shouldn’t shock us at all if we accept the standard evolutionary picture” which he describes as follows:
The standard evolutionary picture tells us that evolution is messy, incomplete and inefficient. DNA consists of many kinds of sequences. Some sequences . . . don’t do anything at all. Many of these sequences . . . are defective and dysfunctional genes from viruses and other genetic flotsam, inserted into our genome through our long, imperfect, and promiscuous genetic history. If we can appreciate that evolution is a flawed, piecemeal, inefficient and patchwork process, we should not be surprised to find this diversity of sequences with varying degrees of function or with no function in our genome 
Fortunately, for creationists this has now changed as science is finding more and more uses for this so-called junk DNA. Professor Makalowski writes:
Thankfully, though, there are some clochards who, at the risk of being ridiculed, explore unpopular territories. And it is because of them that in the early 1990s, the view of junk DNA, especially repetitive elements, began to change. In fact, more and more biologists now regard repetitive elements as genomic treasures.
As time went on, some, if not most, of this DNA turned out be critical. This subject is of special interest to me because, almost 20 years ago, I predicted in print, based on a creation worldview, that uses would be found for most, if not all, of the so-called junk DNA. I wrote then, quoting Sagan and Druyan, who stated
“Some, maybe even most, of the genetic instructions must be redundancies, stutters, untranscribable nonsense . . . [which prove that] deep imperfections [exist] at the heart of life.” This view also supports the position that evolution is a blind, purposeless process except if it facilitates an organism’s ability to pass on its genes.
I ended with this prediction:
Various known and possible functions of non- coding DNA [exist] . . . . The research reviewed in this paper has caused a number of investigators to conclude that the hypothesis, that large amounts of DNA are nonfunctional, may be erroneous. As research continues to elucidate the structure of the genome, it seems that most DNA will be found to have a function.
My predictions have now been vindicated. One of the latest functions for “junk DNA” is its requirement for normal neurodevelopment. As a result, abnormal neurodevelopment “can result from mutations in the noncoding regions of the human genome.” The study published in the leading journal Nature Genetics
demonstrated that mutations in so-called ‘junk’ DNA can cause autism. The study is the first to functionally link such mutations to the neurodevelopmental condition and the first clear demonstration of non-inherited, noncoding mutations causing any complex human disease or disorder.
Their team analyzed whole genomes of 1,790 individuals with autism and their unaffected parents and siblings. These individuals had no family history of autism; thus the genetic cause of their condition was likely spontaneous mutations rather than inherited mutations. The researchers also concluded that non-inherited, noncoding mutations in DNA once thought to be junk can cause, not just autism, but many other human diseases. The other 98 percent of the human genome is not junk but helps to regulate when and where genes make proteins.
Uncovering which noncoding mutations cause disease is very complex for several reasons. A single person may have dozens of noncoding mutations, most of which are unique to the individual. Professor Troyanskaya and her colleagues at Princeton used a machine learning model to predict how a given sequence affects gene expression which opened up the door to understanding the functions of the once labeled junk DNA.
Unintended Side Effects
Until now many theories have existed as to the cause of autism. One which has become popular was derived from the observation that a rise of vaccines in young children appeared to be correlated to a similar rise of autism. As a result, many people concluded that vaccines were the cause of autism, and the aggressive anti-vaccines movement arose. Anti-vaccination believers claimed it was especially the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine that caused autism. One review concluded
Despite significant progress in the study of the epidemiology and genetics of autism, the etiology and pathophysiology of this condition is far from being elucidated and no curative treatment currently exists. Although solid scientific research continues in an attempt to find explanations and solutions, a number of nonscientific and pure myths about autism have emerged. Myths that vaccines or mercury are associated with autism have been amplified by misguided scientists; frustrated, but effective parent groups; and politicians.
One website publishes what they called a “body count”, meaning those preventable deaths in the United States caused by not accepting vaccines, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, from 2007 to 2015 a total of 9,028, and the number of serious preventable illnesses caused by not taking vaccines, was 152,763 during the same period. These two sources to date are widely considered to be very reliable.
Given this information, the fact that the ‘junk DNA’ designation clearly discouraged research into the function of so-called junk DNA, delayed determining the connection between DNA mutations and autism, which then allowed the conclusion that vaccines were a major, or the major, cause of autism. In turn, this movement grew, discouraging use of vaccines that, according to CDC reports, resulted in close to 10,000 deaths and over 150,000 cases of morbidity (preventable illness).
Further Research Needed
It is not claimed here that the sole answer to autism is noncoding DNA. Many families believe that their experience is not being considered by their doctors or researchers. Many children grow to be about 2 or 3 years or so like “normal” kids, then they are given multiple vaccines in one day. And it seems about this time “normality” leaves the children and they regress. They stop talking, stop being social, start withdrawing, start OCD behaviors, and lose most of their previous gains. Some feel it is more than coincidental that many children begin autistic behavior after being vaccinated for the umpteenth time or with many vaccines in one day. Not all mutations occur before birth, and some may occur after birth as well. The relationship, if any, between innate and external mutations needs to be evaluated. Comparing children in areas that lack most or all of the vaccinations received by children in the West could help us understand the issue better. The rates of autistic kids in those cultures should to be compared with our rates. Research needs to continue on this topic as, no doubt, several factors affect the development of autism.
 Makalowski, Wojciech. 2019. What is junk DNA, and what is it worth? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-junk-dna-and-what/?redirect=1.
 Makalowski, 2019.
 Jogalekar, Ashutosh. 2012. Three reasons why junk DNA makes evolutionary sense. September 13. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/three-reasons-to-like-junk-dna/?redirect=1.
 Makalowski. 2019.
 Bergman, Jerry. 2001. “The Functions of Introns: From Junk DNA to Designed DNA.” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. 53(3):170-178. September.
 Bergman, 2001, p. 171.
 Bergman, 2001, p. 177.
 Summer, Thomas. 2019. New causes of autism found in ‘junk’ DNA. May, 27.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190527111726.htm.
 Jian Zhou, et al. 2019. Whole-genome deep-learning analysis identifies contribution of noncoding mutations to autism risk. Nature Genetics, May 27; DOI: 10.1038/s41588-019-0420-0.
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 Davidson, Michael. 2017. Vaccination as a cause of autism—myths and controversies. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 19(4): 403–407. December. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5789217/ Vaccination as a cause of autism—myths and controversies
 Davidson, p. 403.
 McCarthy, Jenny. https://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com.
Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at several colleges and universities including for over 40 years at Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.