The creationists get very excited whenever a group of scientists publish evidence for function in junk DNA and they could hardly contain themselves when the ENCODE preliminary results were published in 2007 because the ENCODE Consortium said that most of the human genome was functional. You will recall that the creationists fell hook line and sinker for the ENCODE publicity hype in September 2012 when the ENCODE leaders came right out and said that their analysis of the entire genome shows there is almost no junk in the human genome.
The creationists, just like the ENCODE leaders, were very resistant to all of the scientific evidence for junk DNA. Both groups showed a remarkable ignorance of four decades of work leading to the conclusion that our genomes are full of junk DNA [see ENCODE, Junk DNA, and Intelligent Design Creationism ]. Creationists, and even some scientific opponents of junk DNA, quote Jonathan Wells' book The Myth of Junk DNA as an authority of the issue.
Now, I wrote a pretty extensive review of The Myth of Junk DNA showing where mistakes were made and why the evidence still favored lots of junk DNA in our genome [The Myth of Junk DNA by Jonathan Wells]. That was in 2011. Here's how Jonathan Wells responded ... [Jonathan Wells Sends His Regrets].
Oh, one last thing: “paulmc” referred to an online review of my book by University of Toronto professor Larry Moran—a review that “paulmc” called both extensive and thorough. Well, saturation bombing is extensive and thorough, too. Although “paulmc” admitted to not having read more than the Preface to The Myth of Junk DNA, I have read Mr. Moran’s review, which is so driven by confused thinking and malicious misrepresentations of my work—not to mention personal insults—that addressing it would be like trying to reason with a lynch mob.The ENCODE Consortium has decided that it had better backtrack a little on the subject of junk DNA. Their recent PNAS article (Kellis et al., 2014) pretends that the publicity hype of September 2012 never exisisted and, even if it did, they may have been right to conclude that 80% of our genome is functional. It all depends on how you define function. Apparently they have just discovered that lots of scientists define it in a way that the ENCODE Consortium overlooked in September 2012.
Now they just want to make sure that everyone knows they have done their homework and they acknowledge that there's a wee bit of a controversy—but they weren't wrong! They just have a different way of defining function.
This puts some of the creationists in a difficult position. Some of them are actually willing to conceded that there's a lot of junk DNA in our genome while other are only willing to concede that the case for function may not be quite as rock solid as they thought.
Here's how an anonymous creationist explains the backtracking of the ENCODE Consortium on Evolution News & Views (sic): Defining "Functional": The Latest from ENCODE.
He/she starts off with the obligatory snipe at "Darwinists" and the obligatory misrepresentation of the case for junk DNA. He/she is referring to the Kellis et al. paper ...
First, the paper is a remarkably restrained and balanced response to some of the rather intemperate criticisms of ENCODE from hard-core Darwinists who insist that (a) ONLY an evolutionary approach yields valid information about functionality, (b) evolutionary theory necessarily implies that most of our DNA is junk, and (c) junk DNA provides evidence that Darwinian evolution is a fact. In other words this paper is a model of rational and civil scientific discourse, in contrast to what we have come to expect from some hard-core Darwinists.(See the quote above from Jonathan Wells for an example of "a model of rational and civil scientific discourse.")
The Evolution News & Views post concludes with ...
The authors conclude that all three approaches must be taken into account, though a simple intersection of the three (which would include only DNA sequences that meet the test of functionality for all three approaches) would be far too restrictive. Unfortunately, the authors do not specify exactly how the three approaches could be integrated to yield a single reliable estimate of the percentage of functional DNA.Believe it or not, that last sentence ("So the debate continues") is pretty remarkable considering that the creationists have steadfastly refused to admit that there is a scientific debate. Over the past decade, they have consistently claimed that the evidence is in and it shows that
So the debate continues.
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic but it looks to me like some creationists are actually disagreeing with Jonathan Wells. Stay tuned.
Kellis, M. et al. (2014) Defining functional DNA elements in the human genome. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) April 24, 2014 published online [doi: 10.1073/pnas.1318948111 ]