Thursday, 26 August 2010

The resurrection of a dead gene?

Juan de Flandes: Resurrection of Lazarus. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Some evolutionists believe in a rather different kind of resurrection.

Joel Kontinen

Recently, the New York Times featured an interesting resurrection story, embedded into a Darwinian wordview that otherwise basically denies the supernatural. Gina Kolata writes:

The human genome is riddled with dead genes, fossils of a sort, dating back hundreds of thousands of years — the genome’s equivalent of an attic full of broken and useless junk. Some of those genes, surprised geneticists reported Thursday, can rise from the dead like zombies, waking up to cause one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy. This is the first time, geneticists say, that they have seen a dead gene come back to life and cause a disease.”

She was referring to a paper published in Science that discussed the origin of Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD). The NYT version of what the paper says is considerably more vivid than the matter-or-fact reporting in Science.

The belief in the resurrection of dead genes stems from the view that humans are full of vestigial organs and our genome is mostly made up of junk, leftovers from a Darwinian process.

When Darwinian biologists found that most sections of our DNA did not code for proteins, they assumed that they were junk. However, when they learned more about these introns, some were ready to change their minds.

In 2003 Scientific American quoted John Mattick, a molecular biologist at the University of Queensland, who stated that the failure to recognize the importance of introns ”may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” He went on to say: ”What was damned as junk because it was not understood may, in fact, turn out to be the very basis of human complexity.”

Recently, Nature also admitted that junk DNA is a misnomer.

The idea of a resurrected gene is based not on science but on Darwinian mythology.


Gibbs, Wayt W. 2003. The unseen genome: gems among the junk. Scientific American 289:5, 26–33 (November 2003).

Kolata, Gina. 2010. Reanimated ‘Junk’ DNA Is Found to Cause Disease. The New York Times (19 August).

Lemmers, Richard J. L. F. & al. 2010. A Unifying Genetic Model for Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy. Science 329: 5994. (20 August)