Remember the dark days of vestigal organs? You know, back when there was a list of 180 vestigal organs? Or remember the days of junk DNA – when repetitive DNA, large regions of non-protein-coding DNA, and all sorts of mobile DNA were assumed to be non-functional simply because the investigators had assumed Darwinism rather than design?
And there’s lots more DNA that doesn’t even deserve the name pseudogene. It, too, is derived by duplication, but not duplication of functional genes. It consists of multiple copies of junk, “tandem repeats”, and other nonsense which may be useful for forensic detectives but which doesn’t seem to be used in the body itself. Once again, creationists might spend some earnest time speculating on why the Creator should bother to litter genomes with untranslated pseudogenes and junk tandem repeat DNA. … Can we measure the information capacity of that portion of the genome which is actually used? We can at least estimate it. In the case of the human genome it is about 2% – considerably less than the proportion of my hard disc that I have ever used since I bought it. [Copied from Research Intelligent Design which cites: Richard Dawkins (1998) “The Information Challenge.” the skeptic. 18,4. Autumn 1998.]
Well, it seems that those people who “spent earnest time speculating on why the Creator should bother to litter genomes with untranslated pseudogenes and junk tandem repeat DNA” have been the real winners in the past (and likely upcoming) decade of genome research.
In any case, it seems despite the repeatedly failed efforts to assign vestigality to a range of structures, some people keep pursuing the case.
What can be more innocuous than gene counting? Well, it seems a set of researchers want to revise downward the number of genes in the human genome. I’m not big into counting genes, especially as regulatory regions (you know – “Junk DNA”) seem to be as important as the genes themselves. However, what is interesting is the method these people are using to determine that an open reading frame is not a gene:
Scientists on the hunt for typical genes… have traditionally set their sights on so-called open reading frames… This method produced the most recent gene count of roughly 25,000, but the number came under scrutiny after the 2002 publication of the mouse genome revealed that many human genes lacked mouse counterparts and vice versa. Such a discrepancy seemed suspicious in part because evolution tends to preserve gene sequences — genes, by virtue of the proteins they encode, usually serve crucial biological roles….
To distinguish such misidentified genes from true ones, the research team… developed a method that takes advantage of another hallmark of protein-coding genes: conservation by evolution. The researchers considered genes to be valid if and only if similar sequences could be found in other mammals – namely, mouse and dog
So, the reason that a given gene is suspected of not really being a gene is not because of an empirical analysis of the gene itself, but rather because it doesn’t fly with evolutionary theory!
Now, of course, they mention other possibilities:
the genes could be unique among primates, new inventions that appeared after the divergence of mouse and dog ancestors from primate ancestors. Alternatively, the genes could have been more ancient creations — present in a common mammalian ancestor — that were lost in mouse and dog lineages yet retained in humans.
And then we get:
If either of these possibilities were true, then the orphan genes should appear in other primate genomes, in addition to our own. To explore this, the researchers compared the orphan sequences to the DNA of two primate cousins, chimpanzees and macaques. After careful genomic comparisons, the orphan genes were found to be true to their name — they were absent from both primate genomes. This evidence strengthened the case for stripping these orphans of the title, “gene.”
So again, not additional empirical evidence about the structure/function of the gene itself, just more talk about evolution. If there is no evidence that it evolved, it can’t be a gene! This is yet another way that Darwinism is impeding research.
So, how many genes do they propose removing from the catalogs based on Darwinism? 1? 2? 10? 100? No, it turns out they want to remove 5,000. And not only that, “this work provides a set of rules for evaluating any future proposed additions to the human gene catalog.” Oh great. That’s just what we need – Darwinism to be the official rule book for analyzing the genome.
And of course, no research on Darwinism would be complete without tagging it with a little circular reasoning at the end:
the research reveals that little invention of genes has occurred since mammalian ancestors diverged from the non-mammalian lineage.
Let’s see, we’ll drop 5,000 reading frames from the gene list because they don’t match our evolutionary expectations (they are too innovative), and then come to the conclusion that there hasn’t been any innovation in mammals.