In Response to Michael Skinner: Epigenome DOES NOT PROVIDE NEW INFORMATION to the DNA
by Harun Yahya
On the website of AEON digital magazine, Darwinist Professor Michael Skinner came forth with a new evolutionary account. In his article dated November 9th, 2016, Skinner suggested that neo-Lamarkism and neo-Darwinism should be combined under “Unified Theory of Evolution” and the alleged effect of epigenetics analyzed from this perspective. Trying to incorporate the obsolete theories from the 1800’s into the science of epigenetics is a futile attempt. Epigenetics is a field that demonstrates the perfection in the functioning of the DNA in a more comprehensive way, and it is such a complex as well as precise mechanism, which no evolutionary claims of “chance” could ever account for.
In this article, we will elaborate once again on what epigenetics is, and we will show that environmental factors do not add any new genetic information to the organism by presenting scientific proofs.
DNA Code System in Which Information is Written
Today, based on advancing technology, we can better understand DNA and how it works. The content of human DNA is a sea of knowledge that we can barely fit in a thousand-volume encyclopedia. Intermolecular reactions, how interactions between chemicals occur are all written in this giant databank. Of course, the smallest piece of information available, whether it is a letter, a sign, or half of a sentence, is interpreted as the message from an intelligent individual. When one sees three pieces of stone in a desolate desert placed on top of one another or arranged in an orderly fashion, the person immediately realizes that it is a message left by an intelligent individual. DNA encoded by molecules also points to the existence of a superior intelligence. Just as any sign that is a product of intelligence excites the explorers and motivates them to seek out the owner of that information, the scientist is also obliged to search for and find the intelligence that wrote the DNA. DNA is a living code system operating so perfectly that it cannot be explained by the materialist philosophy through blind coincidences.
Selective Use of Information
There is a nonstop flow of information from the DNA into the cell. What is surprising, however, is that the coded information is selectively transmitted within DNA. For example, in the human body there are about 1 trillion cells forming different tissues and organs. What renders cells different from each other despite having exactly the same DNA is that different genes in the DNA are turned on based on the tissue they are located in. For this purpose, when necessary, the DNA keeps certain genes activated, and when not, it keeps them inactivated. Genes are regions of the DNA that encode proteins. The production of different proteins causes the cell to behave differently, acting as cells with completely distinct roles such as neurons or in other words nerve cells, liver, pancreas, muscle or skin. This control mechanism, which is aware of the environment, conditions and needs of the cell, keeps the required genes turned on while keeping the others off. Here, we come across once again God’s artistry in His creation of this system with atomic precision.
Let us examine the delicate work here with an example. A neuron in the brain does not produce insulin secreted by the pancreatic cell; on the other hand, the pancreas cell does not produce electrical signals like a neuron, either. So, what determines this? Why is the gene encoding insulin production suppressed in all other cells? How is a pancreatic cell aware of the fact that it is not located in the brain, but in the ventral cavity? How does it know in the dark among 25.000 genes that a specific gene is the one encoding insulin production and how can it turn on and read that gene? Now let us briefly examine how this mechanism which is the topic of epigenetics function.
Epigenome: the molecular brain ruling the DNA
Today it is understood that what determines life is not merely the DNA codes. The field of genetics that study the DNA has come to the following significant conclusion: There is a system over the DNA that governs it. Today, this system called the ‘epigenome’ is studied by epigenetics, the branch of science that makes research on it. In fact, ‘epi’ means ‘above’, which refers to the governing mechanism that has influence over the genome, in other words the DNA.
The epigenome concept, in short, means the activation of the genes needed according to time and environmental needs, and the production of the relevant proteins by deciphering the information written there. For example, during the development of the embryo inside the mother’s womb, stem cells multiply ceaselessly but in the meantime every single cell knows what type of a cell it will turn into. Some are turned into nerve cells, others become red blood cells in the form of a disc, while some others are formed into long filaments acting as muscle cells.
How is it possible for the DNA molecule to direct a stem cell in the darkness of a billionth of a meter size spot to turn into a heart cell which has the capacity to pump a 10-thousand tanker loads of blood and produce its own electricity through its lifetime?
Scientists initiated the Human Genome Project with a budget of millions of dollars just to carry out research for revealing this marvelous development in the human body. However, the secret of how an embryonic cell gets decided to turn into a heart cell is not revealed yet. The part that is unraveled brings forth the amazing details of God’s artistry in His creation.
Every cell contains the information of the entire body in its DNA. And a cell may function as part of the heart, pancreas or brain according to the directives it receives. During the development of the embryo, trillions of cells are aware of their roles without any complication and the entire body is formed perfectly through an astounding planning. How do the embryonic cells, turn into other types of cells? This is the topic of research of epigenetics.
How blood is to be pumped, how kidneys will filter the blood, how insulin will balance the glucose levels in the body, and all other information pertinent to the functioning of our organs are coded on the DNA. Yet, once a stem cell turns into a red blood cell, it only uses the information that describes how it will transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. The red blood turns off all the other data that are present in its DNA but are of no use. What activates certain parts of the DNA, but keeps others inactive is some chemicals found outside the DNA helix. These chemical compounds that are made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms are extended along the DNA helix. Their duty is to turn on and off the various parts of the DNA to allow for the activation of the related information on the DNA. In this process, the DNA is in place of a computer uploaded with 920-volume encyclopedia data, while the epigenome is a superb computer program that is capable of activating this stunning information on the DNA. Without the epigenome, DNA is of no use while without DNA, the epigenome is of no use either.
God has created genetics as such an intricate and breathtaking system that every step of this process functions without flaw. There is no place for even a single error or random decision in this process. However, evolutionists claim that all this punctilious operation occurs out of “coincidence.” There is no rationality in alleging that such a mechanism of superior intelligence and precision came to happen through evolution. Claims of evolution can never account for the biochemical information found on the epigenome, or the accurate pinpointing of this data to take part in the production process.
The allegation that the information in DNA appeared out of “coincidence” as claimed by evolutionists has now been completely confuted by the astonishing evidence conferred by science. In fact, what is question here is a mechanism that understands what the organism needs at that moment and then knows in which codes that need is written. This mechanism is capable of finding those codes in the wrapped up, double helix DNA chain to decipher them later. This delicate molecular process, of course, cannot be explained in any way by unconscious mechanisms that function randomly. It is very clear that the correct decision, the correct choice and the correct production steps that we observe in the epigenome constitute explicit evidence for the existence of the All-Knowing Intelligence and Power that encompasses everything. That power and intelligence belongs to God, our Almighty Lord, the Creator and Protector of all the worlds.
Can Epigenome Create New Information?
By means of the epigenome, it was discovered that the genes of an organism turned on depending on the conditions might remain activated for 10 to 100 generations. But it should not be forgotten that no new information is created here. The epigenome is merely a regulation process regarding the inclusion of the genes that already exist in the production or their withdrawal from it. However, the evolutionists claims that, in the face of changing conditions, the organism invents new solutions, and it does this by producing new genes. However, the science of genetics has shown us that no such mechanism exists. Variations resulting from the turning on and off of genes lead to changes only within the existing genetic information of that species. In no way does this mean that the species goes through change. Although the species undergoes variations based on environmental conditions, they are still able to mate with the members of the same species and bear new offspring. However, a member of the current species is formed through this reproduction, a new species does not occur.
CONCLUSION: Another Blow on Evolution Through the Epigenome
The epigenome is nothing more than the turning on and off of the existing genes in the DNA. In this case, epigenetics as a branch of science falsifies the claims of evolution, to the argument that organisms improve themselves over time. The genetic information is just as perfect as it was in the moment the organism first emerged, and related parts of this data is turned on for use when required. This means that the DNA code ensures that the organism operates itself in changing conditions through an intelligent system found in the epigenome. In this context, it is clear that epigenome is a program created by our Almighty Lord.
Michael Skinner has taken the groundless arguments of Lamarck and Darwin in 1900’s based on the old-fashioned understanding of science of the time as reference and made a serious mistake with his unified theory of evolution. What is more, he attempted exploiting genetics and epigenetics, the branches of science that prove God’s creation of all livingness with clear-cut evidence, as a basis of his blunder. However, Dr. Francis Collins, one of the leading geneticists of our world who was the director of the Human Genome Project and made the most comprehensive research on the DNA, stated in his own words that his discoveries made him “feel closeness to the Creator.” His words are another testament that there is no place for coincidence in genetics, and this perfect regulation seen in the epigenome.