|Feature Article - November 2012|
|by Do-While Jones|
Junk is evidence of sophisticated adaptability, not chance.
Last month, we didn’t give the articles about junk DNA all the attention they really deserve. We simply noted that evolutionary thinking had hindered scientific research in that area. 1 We didn’t want to go into detail about everything the ENCODE project had discovered, and we still don’t. We don’t want to get so technical that the majority of our readers get overwhelmed. We do, however, want to say more about the topic.
Our only point last month was that evolutionists were surprised to discover that junk DNA isn’t junk—it has a purpose. On the other hand, creationists have always thought that junk DNA does have a purpose—scientists just hadn’t figured out what the purpose was. Because evolutionists thought there wasn’t any information in junk DNA, they didn’t bother looking for it. Their evolutionary bias stood in the way of the advancement of science. Now that evolutionary scientists know what creation scientists have always known, much more research will be done on junk DNA (we really need a new term for “junk DNA” now) and more will be learned.
Everybody has a bias. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our past experience biases how we look at new situations. The bias is bad only if it prevents us from seeing the truth. If our bias helps us look at a problem from a different angle, and that angle makes the truth more apparent, then bias is a good thing.
I have an engineering background which gives me an engineering bias. I began my career working in telemetry. That job involved taking information from many sensors on a Sidewinder missile, combining information from all those data sources into a single data stream, and transmitting that data stream to a ground station so the missile designers could analyze how the missile performed during a test flight. In other words, my first job had to do with collecting, encoding, transmitting, and decoding information.
Later, I designed seekers for several guided missiles. That job involved creating an image from an infrared sensor, detecting the location of the target in that image, and transmitting that location to the guidance section of the missile. Again, the job was to collect, encode, transmit, and decode information.
When microprocessors were invented, I wrote programs that used them to process information in various weapons systems. One of those systems was a radar that could tell the difference between radar returns from a soldier sneaking through the jungle and radar returns from leaves being blown by the wind. I was awarded a patent for that algorithm.
Later, I moved into “foreign material exploitation,” where I reverse engineered weapons designed in other countries. Working from whatever I had, however it was obtained, I had to figure out the purpose of every part, and how they all worked together. I quickly learned that every part of a foreign weapon system had an important function, even if it wasn’t immediately apparent to me.
Here’s the point of all this personal background: For decades, my life was dedicated to every aspect of information transmission and processing. So, naturally, I look at the DNA molecule as an information system of foreign design—not some random combination of chemicals that just happened to do something by accident. When I look at the DNA molecule, I see a very sophisticated information encoding system, not meaningless junk.
Evolutionists have been biased to think that everything happened by chance. So, when evolutionists saw portions of the DNA molecule that aren’t immediately apparent, they saw junk. They weren’t looking for meaning, so they didn’t find meaning.
The “junk” in DNA isn’t really junk—it is pseudo-junk. That is, it looks like junk, but it isn’t.
Perhaps the most interesting way to see how to recognize pseudo-junk from real junk is to stroll down memory lane and compare DNA to HTML.
HTML is the HyperText Markup Language. 2 It is used to transmit web pages over the Internet. To the untrained eye, it looks like it contains a lot of junk—but it doesn’t. So, let’s explore HTML and see what it tells us about how to tell junk from obscure information.
When I first started working with computers, text files contained nothing but text. That is, a text file contained letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and three formatting characters (Carriage Return, Line Feed, and Tab). There was no unnecessary junk in a text file. Every character had meaning.
When printed, a text file looked like it came out of a typewriter. All the characters were the same color, in the same font, and the same size.
As printers became capable of printing different colors, fonts, and pictures, it became desirable to mark up text in such a way as to tell the printer how to display the text. Tags were invented to do this. Tags were enclosed in angle brackets, telling the printer that the text between the tags should be shown as bold, or italic, or a different size, et cetera. The first HTML specification was published on November 24, 1995.
If you are reading the HTML version of this article, please use your web browser to look at the page source. (If you are using Internet Explorer, pull down the View menu and click on Source.) You will be able to read this article with minor difficulty because the text is cluttered with “junk.” The junk contains no information about the subject matter; but it does contain information about how a printer or web browser should display the subject matter.
In the same way, DNA molecules contain information about which proteins the cell should build. That’s all the information that geneticists have typically cared about. But the DNA molecules also contained “junk” telling the cells when and how to build the proteins. The DNA molecule contains more formatting information than subject information. Until recently, geneticists did not understand the formatting information, and, thinking that the DNA molecule developed by chance, thought that most of the DNA molecule was meaningless junk. They were wrong.
But there is another, more important observation we would like to make using the HTML analogy.
The HTML standard was only a year old when we started publishing this newsletter. There were no software tools for creating HTML back then. When the first HTML tools appeared shortly thereafter, they were very hard to use, and didn’t work very well. So, I used a simple text editor to insert all the HTML tags manually when publishing the first Science Against Evolution articles—and I still do that today.
Now there are slick web development tools which create HTML automatically. If you use your browser to look at the page source for most modern web pages, the page source is almost impossible to read, isn’t it? It is almost all “junk.” That “junk” is actually Java scripts, Cascading Style Sheets, and who-knows-what-else, which adapt the formatting to many different kinds of browsers. All that junk makes the web page much more visually appealing than our simple Science Against Evolution web pages; but all that junk makes it almost impossible to find the information in the page source. (It also makes the web page slower to load using a dial-up Internet connection, which is why I still create the HTML by hand.)
Here’s the point we have gone to so much trouble to make: All the extra junk in a modern web page isn’t evidence that the web page is the result of bumbling, inefficient, random chance—it is evidence of adaptable design sophistication. All the extra junk in the DNA molecule isn’t evidence of bumbling, inefficient, random chance—it is evidence of adaptable design sophistication.
The recognition that junk DNA isn’t really junk has devastating implications for the so-called “molecular clock” that evolutionists use to determine how long it has taken for particular species to evolve. The molecular clock depends on the assumption that junk DNA has no purpose. Since junk DNA does have a purpose, it invalidates the clock. Here’s why:
Evolutionists assume, for example, that there was an unknown common ancestor of both apes and man which lived some time in the past. When the human/ape lineage supposedly split, it was because of differences in the functional DNA; but both lines inherited the same junk DNA. As time went on, random changes to non-junk DNA made the critter more or less able to survive. Harmful changes to functional DNA would be quickly eliminated by natural selection, so it is impossible to tell how many mutations there actually were. The coding portions of the DNA could not be used to determine the number of generations because nearly all mutations were eliminated by natural selection.
But since junk DNA supposedly has no purpose, random mutations to the junk sections of the DNA don’t affect survival. Therefore, “harmful” mutations weren’t harmful (because they had no effect) and weren’t removed by natural selection. Therefore, all mutations continue to accumulate in the junk regions of the DNA molecule, giving a supposedly accurate count of the number of mutations since the split. Knowing the mutation rate, and the unfiltered number of mutations, one can supposedly tell the time since the species diverged.
The fallacy is that junk DNA certainly does have a purpose, and harmful mutations to the junk DNA regions will be eliminated by natural selection. Therefore, one can’t really determine the number of mutations that have occurred over the years.
(Of course, the other fallacy is the false assumption that there actually was a common ancestor—but evolutionists won’t even consider that.)
So, evolutionists now try to accommodate the fact that natural selection does affect the mutation rate by trying to take that into account. But, tinkering with the clock doesn’t solve their problems, as we shall see in this month’s Evolution in the News column, “Tinkering With the Clock.”
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Disclosure, October 2012, “Another Man’s Junk”,