by Bill Nugent
In 2003, the mapping of the human genome (human DNA) was completed but the medical breakthroughs in treatment of disease promised by the genome project have been few. How could this be? We have the blueprints for the human body all spelled out. Although we have some new drugs and a few new genetic therapies we don’t have the revolutionizing of medicine that some pundits promised.
The reason is that biological researchers have found yet another layer of encyclopedic human design information that lies separate from the DNA yet instructs the DNA on how to function. This newly discovered super-layer of design information is called theepigenome. The name “epigenome” is derived from the Greek word “epi” which means “above,” “over,” or “outer,” and is added as a prefix to “genome” hence “epi-genome.”
As if the DNA molecule was not complex enough, we now have another layer of complexity called the epigenome! This makes the secular materialist claim that the first living cell formed by random collisions of atoms even more untenable!
Biologist Richard Sternberg has done groundbreaking research on epigenetics. In order to make Sternberg’s research accessible to the layman, authors Thomas E. Woodward and James P. Gills have written a new book titled The Mysterious Epigenome: What Lies Beyond DNA (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, USA).
What Sternberg and other biologists and geneticists have found is that the DNA molecule, with all its myriad complexity and precise nucleotide base pair sequencing, is merely like a computer hard drive. The epigenome is like the software that instructs and enables the DNA hard drive to execute commands to form proteins, RNA and other cell components and to build the cell.
The epigenome guides the expression of genes which is the ability to switch genes on and off. This enables the differentiation of cells from the embryonic state to the more than two hundred cell types in the human body. Each of us has roughly sixty trillion cells and each of these cells requires the epigenome to tell the DNA which genes are to be expressed and how and when.
The following explanation of the role and structure of the epigenome is quoted from page 93 of Woodward and Gills’ book:
“[T]he living cell possesses vast riches of life enabling codes, which go far beyond the spiral thread of DNA itself. Information, in a diversity of usable forms, is lodged in virtually every corner of the cell, from the outer cortex to the centrosome, with its system of microtubules, to the histomes, with their decorated tails, to the methylation patterns attached to DNA. The mutual integration of these systems and layers of information is a marvel to behold. Unraveling these complex relationships will surely occupy the diligent study of biologists for decades to come.”
Biologists affiliated with the Seattle based Discovery Institutehave emphasized that the new discoveries related to the epigenome enhance the concept of the irreducible complexity of the cell. Irreducible complexity is a concept that biologist Michael Behe explained in his book Darwin’s Black Box. Irreducible complexity is the claim that all of the components of the cell must be present and functional in one place at one time and be assembled correctly for the formation of the first living cell. It requires an Intelligent Designer (Creator) to do this.
Needless to say, the presence of the astoundingly complex epigenome strains the credulity of any conceivable Darwinian mechanism for the natural, unguided formation of the first living cell. Darwinism has been dealt a heavy blow by this emerging field of epigenetics. Darwinists have never been able to adequately explain how DNA and RNA, which are extremely complex molecules, could ever form by the churning of atoms in the primordial soup. How can they even begin to formulate a mechanism on which to base a claim for the random formation of the epigenome? These new developments should cause many more researchers to jettison Darwinism altogether.
Woodward and Gills put it this way in their book: “This higher level of integrated complexity adds an additional dimension of apparent design to anyone who is not closed off to such a possibility by their personal worldview or metaphysical commitments.” (pp. 113-114)
As the case for philosophical atheism and materialism falls apart, many in our secular society are taking another look at Christianity. The Bible teaches that God reveals Himself through nature. The complex nature of the cell certainly argues for the need of a Creator. However there are many faiths that claim to speak for the Creator. Bible based Christianity is different from all other faiths in that it presents rational proofs of its verity in the form of the many hundreds of Bible prophecies and their fulfillments. No holy book of any other faith can even remotely match the Bible’s record of prophecy and fulfillment of prophecy. Consider also the many thousands of miracles that have occurred in the name of Christ down through history and even today. Christianity is a faith but not a blind faith.
Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel, came in fulfillment of over 300 Old Testament messianic prophecies. The prophecies predicted that Christ would suffer and die, taking upon Himself the penalty of our sins and then rise from the dead bringing forgiveness and eternal life to all who call upon Him. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus today to receive forgiveness of sins!
Much of the information in this article is from a review of Woodward and Gills book titled “Tom Woodward’s ‘The Mysterious Epigenome:’ Effectively Popularizing Richard Sternberg’s Revolutionary Thesis” published on the Intelligent Design page of www.evolutionnews.org.