In part 1 of my review of the year's top 10 evolution & intelligent design news stories I covered #10 down to #6. Today I shall cover story #5 down to story #1. The story rankings come from the leading news portal for stories of this kind, which is Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views. If you follow that link and locate the last 10 days of 2012, then you will find a fuller treatment of each story. I shall offer my own comment here, but not reproduce all the additional weblinks provided at ENV.
#5, Publication of the Gorilla Genome
30% of the gorilla genome -- amounting to hundreds of millions of base pairs of gorilla DNA -- contradicts the standard supposed evolutionary phylogeny of great apes and humans. This groundbreaking news came to light in March 2012 with the publication of the sequence of the full gorilla genome. There's much more to this story.
#4, Academic Freedom Legislation in Tennessee
On April 10, 2012 Tennessee enacted an academic freedom bill that protects teachers when they promote critical thinking and objective discussion about controversial science issues such as biological evolution, climate change and human cloning. At least ten states now have statewide science standards or laws that protect or encourage teachers to discuss the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution.
#3, Ediacaran Fossils Lived on Land
I reported on this story just a week ago here at CP. A new study published in the journal Nature provides a serious setback to those who have argued that there were ancestors to the new Cambrian animals--the so-called Ediacaran fauna. These mysterious creatures had previously been hailed as helping to provide the "solution to Darwin's dilemma" -- namely the lack of Precambrian fossils showing how the Cambrian period animals evolved. A documentary (Darwin's Dilemma) made a few years ago summarized well some of the problems with this alleged "solution to Darwin's dilemma." Now there are even more reasons to identify Darwin's theory as deeply flawed due to the Cambrian explosion.
#2, Thomas Nagel's Mind & Cosmos
ENV's editor's note: The defection from Darwinism of atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel, joined with his respectful evaluation of arguments for intelligent design, was huge news this year. The appearance of his new book Mind & Cosmos, published by Oxford University Press, was a major development and caused William Dembski to reflect on "what it might take for intelligent design to win the day."
#1, ENCODE Project Buries "Junk DNA"
Here is the top story of 2012. We will give more details here because this is truly a landmark event in the history of modern biology.
A remarkable research paper entitled "An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome" appeared on September 6, 2012 in the leading science journal Nature. It has confirmed intelligent design theory even though the authors may remain Darwinists. I will explain how.
The DNA in every living cell stores digital code that directs the sequencing of amino acids in protein construction. Proteins are the most important kind of biologically functional molecules. They make up most of the basic physical structures and enzymatic functions in cellular life. The problem of life’s origin is essentially the problem of how biological information came into being (and how it came to be stored in DNA, RNA, etc.).
Until the last few years, Darwinists have frequently claimed that most of DNA contains the junk left over from an unguided evolutionary process. They cited this as evidence for evolutionary theory and often used it to ridicule proponents of intelligent design theory. Intelligent design advocates predicted we would discover function for the vast majority of what Darwinists had called junk. Although there have been an increasing number of reports over the past decade of the discovery of function for more and more of DNA, the September 6, 2012 research paper in Nature reports that we now can say with confidence the "vast majority" of the human genome is functional. This constitutes an amazing confirmation of intelligent design theory and the dismantling of one of the Darwinist’s most effective arguments over the past few decades.
Think about the above paragraph in this blog. I originally typed that paragraph on my Mac in Microsoft Word. I then uploaded it to the blog website. This paragraph actually originated in my mind, was sent through my brain to activate nerve fibers that contracted muscles, which caused a certain sequence of keyboard strokes (letters in the English alphabet, spaces, punctuation, etc.). After several other chosen clicks and keyboard strokes, it was uploaded. From keyboard strokes to text on the blog, the data that originated in my mind was stored as digital code and sent digitally though the Internet.
What is the only cause operating today that produces new functional information, such as the digital code that directs the assembly of airplane parts that support the function of flying?
Answer: Intelligent Agents
How does this observation help identify intelligent design as the best explanation of the origin of DNA’s digital code, which directs the assembly of the cellular components needed for life? “The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity,” so wrote information theorist Henry Quastler. [The Emergence of Biological Organization (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 16.] Conscious activity is intelligent design. Intelligence is the only cause known by experience today to produce the kind of effect (functional information which is necessary for the origin of life) under investigation. All the rival theories utilize causes (random events or repetitious events determined by natural laws) that are known to be inadequate for the job, and so this further identifies intelligent design theory as the best explanation of life’s origin.
Welcome to the information age. The evidence for the intelligent design of life continues to accumulate quickly in our lifetime.
Let’s return to that groundbreaking paper in Nature that reports the "vast majority" of the human genome is not junk. As Jonathan Wells points out in The Myth of Junk DNA, Darwinism behaved like a “science stopper” for the decades during which it inhibited scientific research that would have discovered the function of the so-called “junk DNA” sooner than has been the case. Intelligent design is a truly rigorous scientific research program that has been vindicated yet one more time by the recent article in Nature that puts the (nearly final) nail in the coffin of "junk DNA." Listen to a podcast about this story here.