The elegance of the human genome shows design at work in the universe
By Julie Borg
(WNS)–A discovery by Swiss scientists assigns a purpose to previously misunderstood portions of human DNA and evidences the work of complex, precise design in the universe.
Within the human body are millions of mysterious little pieces of genetic material called jumping genes. For a long time, scientists considered these little hoppers to be useless bits of junk DNA. But the recent discovery in Switzerland shows these far-from-useless jumping genes, scientifically called transposable elements or TEs, play a vital role in human physiology.
The researchers hail their discovery, published in the journal Nature, as evidence of an evolutionary process of “previously unimagined complexity and elegance in genetics.”
But Cornelius Hunter, author and professor of biophysics and computational biology at Biola University, says the complexity and elegance that evolutionary scientists keep discovering points to precise design in our universe, not random evolutionary processes.
Scientists call TEs “jumping genes” because they jump around and seem to randomly insert themselves into the human genome, the map of our DNA that contains all of the instructions for our genes. Although scientists suspected these little acrobats might play a role in regulating genes, the question of how and why remained a mystery.
The Swiss researchers discovered a specific family of 350 different human proteins, called KZFPs, that partner with TEs to form a vital, precise, and fine-tuned network that regulates turning genes off and on throughout human development and in all human tissue. These networks “likely influence every single event in human physiology and pathology,” Didier Trono, head of the research lab, said in a statement.
Even more surprising to the researchers, this regulatory network is unique to humans. “This paper lifts the lid off something that had been largely unsuspected: The tremendous species-specific dimension of human gene regulation,” Trono said.
The researchers claim they can trace the origin of KZFPs back to a fish that evolved 400 million years ago. But Hunter believes their discovery actually demolishes the theory of evolution in at least three ways.
First, the study shows how precisely our world is designed. Evolutionists say the universe arose by chance and many genetic mutations are just happenstance occurrences. For that reason, evolutionists expect many things in the world not to work very well, Hunter wrote on the Discovery Institute’s blog, Evolution News. But what these researchers discovered shows how explicitly our world is designed. TEs “are exquisite, finely tuned, highly functional molecular machines that contradict evolutionary expectations,” Hunter wrote.
Second, the study demonstrates adaptation cannot account for all of the complexity in nature. The researchers state TEs and KZFPs evolved independently of one another. But that does not explain how they could form the network necessary to regulate genes because neither TEs nor KZFPs would have served any adaptive purpose in the beginning. Yet, they persisted and became vital to human life. “Simply put,” Hunter wrote, “evolution must have created evolution in a most unlikely … set of circumstances. That’s serendipity, not science.”
Third, this study contradicts the theory of evolution’s assertion that all living organisms arose millions of years ago from one common ancestor. The researchers admitted they had not expected to find that KZFP-TE networks were specific to humans. For those networks to evolve from a common ancestor and then become specific to humans, proteins and genetic elements would have had to evolve from random mutations and then construct an entirely new set of instructions for genetic regulation in humans, Hunter explained. “This is astronomically unlikely, no matter how many millions of years are available,” he said.