We here all the time from the evolutionists that the human genome and, by extension, the rest of the genomes of organisms, are riddled with junk DNA. This junk is considered non-functional. While the ENCODE project found a function for many of these supposed junk sequences, the evolutionists have strongly objected to these findings on the grounds that the ENCODE project used the wrong definition of function. Regardless, there are theoretical questions at play here which are much more interesting. Here we will discuss the theoretical possibility of a completely functional genome.
In order to understand what would be required for a functional genome, we need to understand what such a genome would entail. For a genome to be fully functional, every nucleotide at every location would have to have at least one function. Given DNA can be read from multiple starting points and from multiple directions, most likely most nucleotides would have multiple functions. Such a genome would have to exist from the beginning of a kind or species since no beneficial mutations have ever been observed, and thus a genome can only run down.
Mutations are a huge theoretical problem for a fully functional genome. Most mutations are deleterious and thus would quickly degrade the genome were they to occur. Given that mutation rates are fairly rapid for most organisms, the genomes should degrade fairly quickly.
However, evolutionists have an idea we have briefly discussed previously when we wrote about Haldane’s dilemma, known as neutral theory. Neutral theory was proposed as a potential solution for Haldane’s dilemma. It presumes that there have been many more mutations than we actually have seen. However, most mutations are neutral in that they have no effect on the genome in any way. Logically this is only possible if a like for like substitution of a nucleotide occurs. The genome is far too complex for any other type of mutation to have a neutral effect.
If neutral theory is accurate, and there is quite a bit of dispute over this, then from an evolutionary perspective, it is possible for a genome to arise that is completely functional. Further, it is possible for such a genome to remain at close to full functionality for long periods of time as the mutations it experiences would be wholly or completely neutral, changing basically nothing about the functionality of the genome.
Of course, from a creationist perspective, we expect genomes to have high levels of functionality. This expectation is why we were not surprised by the ENCODE results that claimed the genome was at least eighty percent functional and one of its lead researchers speculated that the eighty percent would rise to one hundred percent with further research. Of course, evolutionists hate this because their dogma expects that evolution produces junk, and ENCODE demonstrated that most of the genome was not junk.
However, a better question for a creationist would be: how much of the genome is still functional? After all, we know our God does not make junk so the genome would have been fully functional in the beginning, but what about now, after six thousand years of mutational decay? Are the originally created genomes still fully functional? The answer is likely no for a couple of reasons.
Since the fall, the original created kinds have speciated and many have undergone at least one, if not several population bottlenecks where the original genetic diversity dropped rapidly. These events would have made it much easier for mutations to accumulate in a population, even potentially coming to characterize a given population. What this means in practice is that, because of speciation, each species has built up mutations different from members of the same baramin. Thus each species has a mutational load that is deleterious to its survival.
Further, the concept of genetic entropy comes into play. When the genome is copied, mistakes are made. Usually, these mistakes are corrected but sometimes they slip through. When they do, they contribute to the mutational load a species carries. If an organism collects too many mutations, they will go extinct, just like the human H1N1 flu virus did. Thus genetic entropy is the running down of a genome from a better starting point to a more deteriorated level.
Should we expect the human genome or any other genome to be fully functional after six thousand years of decay? Probably not. Genetic entropy means that all genomes will be more or less degraded over time. The better question would be: how much of the human genome is the bare minimum that must be functional for us to survive? Given the genome is running down, that question has far more relevance than what percent was functional to start with because it puts an absolute lifespan on every species, not just humans. Humanity’s absolute lifespan is ticking down and there is nothing we can do, short of massive scale genetic editing, to stop it.
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