New study: function found for beta-globin pseudogene that was labeled “junk” during Dover trial

Casey Luskin tells us about a new study in Evolution News.


A new paper in Genome Biology and Evolution argues that the famous beta-globin pseudogene is functional. Why is this pseudogene famous?

Well, it’s been Exhibit A — literally, offered as evidence in a court case — for critics of intelligent design who argue that our genome is full of useless, functionless junk, and therefore can’t be a product of design. Near the beginning of his testimony on the very first day of the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, Brown University biology professor Kenneth Miller testified to the court that the beta-globin pseudogene is “broken, and it has a series of molecular errors that render the gene non-functional.” (Day 1 AM, p. 79.) He further told the court:

And the fact that all three of these species have matching mistakes leads us to just one conclusion, and that’s the same conclusion that Charles Darwin predicted almost a century and a half ago, and that is that these three species share a common ancestor. Matching mistakes are evidence of common ancestry. (Day 1 AM, p. 81)

In his 2008 book Only a Theory, Miller is even more explicit in asserting that this pseudogene refutes intelligent design. He writes that “A detailed analysis of the beta-globin pseudogene shows a series of mutations have rendered it nonfunctional” (p. 102). In Miller’s view, that takes care of ID:

The gorilla and chimpanzee pseudogenes have exactly the same set of molecular errors [in their beta-globin pseudogene] … There’s no escaping the implication of these matching mistakes, and there’s no point in arguing that six identical mistakes could have turned up independently in three unrelated species. The only sensible interpretation is that the original errors developed at random in a single common ancestor of these three species. In a court of genetic copyright law, any motion that a designer could claim originality for the human genome would be tossed out in a flash. (pp. 102-103)

Now a new paper in Genome Biology and Evolution, “Evolutionary Constraints in the β-Globin Cluster: The Signature of Purifying Selection at the δ-Globin (HBD) Locus and Its Role in Developmental Gene Regulation, argues that the beta-globin pseudogene is not broken, but in fact performs an important function in regulating gene expression.

Remember, Darwinists are still reeling from the ENCODE study that found that the non-coding DNA that they said was 100% junk was actually 80% functional. The trouble is that they are always letting their philosophy of naturalism get in the way of their science. They assume that nature is all there is. They assumed that everything is not designed. Then they are quick to say that things that aren’t junk are junk, in order to confirm their assumption. Problems occur later when good science comes along and proves their philosophical assumption of naturalism wrong. Do they then give up the philosophical assumption? Heck no – that’s their religion! But they ought to give it up if they were honest, and stick with the science instead. Too much bad religion among the Darwinists – that’s the problem.

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