Icons of Evolution Home of Biologist and Iconoclast Jonathan Wells

The Myth of Junk DNA


According to the modern version of Darwin’s theory, DNA contains a program for embryo development that is passed down from generation to generation; the program is implemented by proteins encoded by the DNA, and accidental DNA mutations introduce changes in those proteins that natural selection then shapes into new species, organs and body plans. When scientists discovered forty years ago that about 98% of our DNA does not encode proteins, the non-protein-coding portion was labeled “junk” and attributed to molecular accidents that have accumulated in the course of evolution. Recent books by Richard Dawkins, Francis Collins and others have used this “junk DNA” as evidence for Darwinian evolution and evidence against intelligent design (since an intelligent designer would presumably not have filled our genome with so much garbage). But recent genome evidence shows that much of our non-protein-coding DNA performs essential biological functions.

The Myth of Junk DNA is written for a general audience by biologist Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution. Citing some of the abundant evidence from recent genome projects, the book shows that “junk DNA” is not science, but myth.


“In The Myth of Junk DNA, Jonathan Wells draws together published evidence over the past decade which clearly pulls the rug from under the concept that the majority of the human genome is ‘junk DNA’ (functionless DNA). Breathtaking discoveries since the publication of the Human Genome Project in 2001 have demonstrated that most, if not all nuclear DNA is transcribed.

The proponents of Darwin’s theory claim that junk DNA provides evidence for Darwinian evolution as it represents molecular accidents which are the indelible signatures of evolutionary histories. This argument now has been turned on its head.

I strongly recommend The Myth of Junk DNA, a lucid account of the evidence that junk DNA has many diverse biological functions. It is an important reference source with an excellent bibliography and notes. The Myth of Junk DNA clearly demonstrates that the concept of junk DNA is now dead.” Norman C. Nevin, OBE, MD, Professor Emeritus in Medical Genetics, Queen’s University, Belfast

“Jonathan Wells has clearly done his homework. In The Myth of Junk DNA, he cites hundreds of research articles as he describes the expanding story of non-coding DNA—the supposed ‘junk DNA.’ It is quite possibly the most thorough review of the subject available. Dr. Wells makes it clear that our early understanding of DNA was incomplete, and genomics research is now revealing levels of control and complexity inside our cells that were undreamed of in the 1980s. Far from providing evidence for Darwinism, the story of non-coding DNA rather serves to increase our appreciation for the design of life.” Ralph Seelke, Ph.D., Professor of Microbial Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Wisconsin-Superior

“Citing hundreds of peer-reviewed articles which show that more and more of the genome is functional, Jonathan Wells delivers a powerful and carefully researched broadside against the ‘junk DNA hypothesis.’ Even biologists who firmly reject the notion of intelligent design must surely acknowledge on the evidence presented in this timely book that appealing to ‘junk DNA’ to defend the Darwinian framework no longer makes any sense.” Michael Denton, Ph.D., Medical Geneticist and Author of Nature’s Destiny

“This is an excellent and in-depth discussion of several key points of the subject of ‘junk-DNA.’ The author shows for many prime examples still advanced by leading neo-Darwinians that the ‘Darwin-of-the-gaps’ approach doesn’t function or is at least doubtful.” Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Department of Molecular Plant Genetics Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (retired)

“There is a box in the biological sciences into which all evidence must be placed. That box is called Darwinian evolution. In The Myth of Junk DNA Jonathan Wells tells the intriguing story of ‘junk’ DNA—the idea that non-protein coding DNA, which accounts for the majority of the DNA in the genome, is non-functional and without purpose; the result of the unguided purposeless process of random mutation and natural selection that produced it. In recent years, however, numerous researchers—not necessarily opponents of Darwinian evolution or advocates of intelligent design—have discovered many functions for non-protein coding DNA, which are thoroughly reviewed by Wells in this book. Unfortunately, in their effort to keep the ‘junk’ label attached to non-protein coding DNA so that it remains in the box of Darwinian evolution, a number of prominent Darwinists continue to insist, in spite of the recent results to the contrary, that it is largely left-over waste from the evolutionary process. As Wells clearly demonstrates in his book, this dogmatic commitment inhibits the scientific process. Science needs to be guided by objective evaluation of the evidence, and scientists should not allow their thinking to be arbitrarily restricted by dogmatic ideas. We need scientists who think outside the Darwinian box. Wells’s book not only informs its readers of very recent research results, but also encourages them to think objectively and clearly about a key discovery in biology and to approach biological research with more creativity. It is a great read.” Russell W. Carlson, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia

“For years, Darwinists have claimed that most DNA is left-over detritus from failed evolutionary experiments. This ‘junk DNA’ has been offered as evidence for Darwinism and evidence against intelligent design. The only problem with the claim, as Jonathan Wells shows in this fascinating book, is that it’s not true. Careful scientists have known for some time that the non-coding regions of DNA have all manner of function, so it is surprising to see prominent Darwinian scientists and their spokesmen continue to push the party line. Now that the evidence against the junk DNA story is indisputable, its defenders will want to beat a hasty retreat. The Myth of Junk DNA will make it hard for them to cover their tracks.” Jay Richards, Ph.D., Co-Author, The Privileged Planet, and Editor, God and Evolution



Download the endnotes for The Myth of Junk DNA.

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