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Intelligent design vs. Darwinism: Junk DNA as the genes’ antique shop?


Scene: The antiques road show: “You’re telling me this old book is worth $10 000 to a collector?” (Faints)

One often hears the claim that researchers’ belief in the myth of junk DNA (the garbage heap of evolution that most of our genes supposedly are, because they do not apparently code for anything) did not retard scientific progress.

Usually, the claim shores up Darwinism (or neo-Darwinism), which the junk factor was said to demonstrate. Devout Catholic Darwinist Kenneth Miller, for example, called it “a sea of nonsense.”

From a design perspective, that idea is highly suspect.

Richard Dawkins has also called it that.

A friend points me to this startling admission:

“Although catchy, the term ‘junk DNA’ for many years repelled mainstream researchers from studying noncoding DNA. Who, except a small number of genomic clochards, would like to dig through genomic garbage? However, in science as in normal life, there are some clochards who, at the risk of being ridiculed, explore unpopular territories. Because of them, the view of junk DNA, especially repetitive elements, began to change in the early 1990s. Now, more and more biologists regard repetitive elements as a genomic treasure ( 4, 5).” (Wojciech Makalowski, “Not Junk After All,” Science, Vol. 300(5623): (May 23, 2003). )

So swearing allegiance to Darwin, vs. design, wasted a lot of time.

Here’s an explanation of how junk became junque.

Now, can anyone point to ID-friendly or non-Darwinian scientists who had the confidence to make this prediction before it was confirmed? If they didn’t, it shows how lack of confidence can lead to lost opportunities.

Yes, absolutely, HughJass. One way of looking at it is to consider the relative value of information. Here in Toronto today, no one cares much what features and benefits are advertised on a flyer hung on doorknobs, shilling a new kind of soup. But 200 years from now, that information might be of critical importance to someone doing her PhD. So what to me was just recyclable paper will be to her precious information lost. Still, I can't help that. I can't live under a mountain of unrecycled trash.O'Leary
March 18, 2009
12:22 PM

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