Monday, February 11, 2008

And on the 8th Day, Todd said "Let there be junk DNA!" Not!

Stephen Matheson of Quintessence of Dust has a really nice, empirical refutation of the commonly held creationist claim that research on "junk DNA" has been repressed suppressed repressed suppressed by scientists.

Why do creationist's think "junk DNA" is so important? Well, they claim that "junk DNA" is evidence of Todd's handywork - non-coding yet conserved sequences of nucleotides that they claim scientists claim cannot be accounted for by natural selection. There are many problems with this line of logic, not least of which is the fact that "junk DNA" is an overly simplistic, archaic, and misleading term. As scientists began to realize that stretches of so-called "junk DNA" were functionally important, (even if they don't code for a protein) the idea that they were "junk" went out the window and their existence can readily be explained by natural selection. These stretches have been studied so intently in fact that whole new classes of non-coding DNA have been discovered. As Stephen points out very nicely with a little bit of research is that we are dealing with a problem of semantics - creationists are using the term "junk DNA" in a way that scientists no longer do.

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