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"Viral Genome Junk Hits the Trash" - More Trash from our Jeff

Jeffrey P. Tomkins babbling over at the "Institute" for Creation "Research" again.

As usual, original in black, and my comments in red.

Evolutionists ('evolutionist' is defined as "a person who believes in the theories of evolution and natural selection". Anyone who has been convinced by the evidence therefore cannot be an 'evolutionist'. It's not a matter of belief.
) have long claimed (shown) that human chromosomes were infected with many different viruses over millions of years, which then multiplied in the genome. Then, as some of these sections of virus-like DNA were shown to be functional, evolutionists claimed they had become "tamed" like the domestication of wild animals. When virus-like DNA were first discovered, it was thought the majority of them would prove to be junk—until now.

Ah. The Big Lie technique. See "The Case for Junk DNA".

DNA sequences called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are abundant in mammalian genomes. The ERV sequences initially got their name because they showed strong sequence similarity to known viruses. Then evolutionists proclaimed the animal genomes evolved to their present state, in part by repeated infection with viruses initially deemed part of an organism's "junk" DNA.

As research on ERVs progressed, it became apparent that many of these genomic features are not junk, but important for the mammal's survival, such as placental development. (1) Many other ERVs were found to be specifically regulated by cell type. (2) These ERVs contain special sequences that act like genetic switches in the genome by binding regulatory proteins (transcription factors) that control genes. (2)

The last thing you want in every nuclear cell of your body is a fully functioning ERV! Evolu Real working scientists managed to recreate a working virus, Jurassic Park style, from a family of human ERVs. Read about it here.

Real working scientists also found that certain components of certain ERVs perform useful, sometimes even vital functions. And guess what, their findings add to the evidence for evolution!

Of course regulators of viral origin are specific to cell type. They would not be selected for otherwise, just like native regulators! And, of course, retroviruses need to integrate their own transcription factors - otherwise they would not get transcribed. They are also re-transcribable themselves, unlike native promoters - something that only makes sense as a requirement of the retroviral replication cycle. Now if you drop a promoter anywhere in the genome, it has a good chance of promoting the transcription of some native DNA. Natural selection will take care of whether that is a good thing and consequently, whether it is to be conserved or not.

Now a new study shows many other ERVs across the genome play key roles in controlling immune responses, another important process necessary for the survival of mammals. (3) More specifically, this new research shows that ERVs regulate genes that produce pro-inflammatory signaling molecules released upon infection. This crucial system is called the innate immune response and genes regulated by ERVs associated with this biological network are called innate immunity factors. When ERV elements associated with these genes were inactivated in the laboratory, the production of innate immunity factors stopped—a simple but elegant experiment unequivocally demonstrating functionality. Obviously a mammal would get sick and have difficulty surviving without ERVs regulating their genome.

More of the same. That "ERVs are all junk" has never been a part of the evidence for common descent that they provide. Creationist article after article points to function that real scientists, not signatories to the Answers in Genesis Statement of Faith, have found and published. Creationist point to it to divert from the overwhelming evidence that ERVs derive from retroviruses. As such, they are deeply dishonest.

In a recent article, I go into more detail about ERVs and why the evolutionary story is completely backwards when it comes to explaining their presence in the genome. (4) In brief, these elements are clearly part of the original created genomic blueprint for each creature and not the result of numerous viral infestations over eons of time. As I and several other creationist researchers have proposed, it's far more likely that ERVs were part of God's original genomic blueprint for different kinds of animals and humans, and that external viral genomes were derived from human and animal ERVs only after God cursed the creation for man's sin. This began a process of degeneration and corruption, yet His amazing handiwork is still seen in fully functional genomes.

This idea, promoted by a coterie of creationist promisers-not-to-be-objective-about-the-evidence (see the statement of faith linked to above) has been demolished by fellow creationist Todd Wood

Really. You are not even trying, Jeff. It must be easy money, turning out this sort of trash. I don't have a Ph.D., but if I did, it would make it even harder for me to look myself in the mirror if I abused my talents as you do.


1. Lavialle, C. et al. 2013. Paleovirology of 'syncytins', retroviral env genes exapted for a role in placentation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 368 (1626): 2012.0507. 
2. Pavlicev, M. et al. 2015. Detecting endogenous retrovirus-driven tissue-specific gene transcription. Genome Biology and Evolution. 7 (4): 1082-1097.
3. Chuong, E. B., N. C. Elde, and C. Feschotte. 2016. Regulatory evolution of innate immunity through co-option of endogenous retroviruses. Science. 351 (6277): 1083-1087.
4. Tomkins, J. P. 2015. Viral Genome Junk Is Bunk. Acts & Facts. 44 (4): 12. 


  1. Weird - looking at Tomkins' litany of science-related essays, I do not see a single one that actually examines his own position. all I see are embellished nitpicking of actual research, spun to look like it is something it is not.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Please note, dear reader, that it was Mark Wise who removed his comment, and not me.