The Human Genome Project was a great success in advancing our knowledge of DNA, but nearly a decade later, the scientists are finding out there is much more to the story.
Scientists are now finding a complex system instructing DNA called the epigenome. (from the Greek, epi, having the nuance of "over" or "above.") "The epigenome refers to the entire coordinated system of 'control information' that resides above and beyond the bare DNA sequences." (54) The authors liken the epigenome to the director of the DNA orchestra.
The authors focus on two areas: the latest news from the world of DNA, and how science stumbled upon the control system of our DNA. The theme of human health is emphasized throughout the book.
The authors reveal the complexity of the cell. Human DNA has 3.1 billion letter-pairs, the equivalent of 14,000 books of 250 pages each. Some plants have even more, such as the Paris japonica, having the record at 149 billion letters per cell. Even a species of wheat has five times as much DNA as the human cell. But the biggest surprise? The record is held by a single-cell species, Polychaos dubium, with about 670 billion letters of DNA. And Darwin knew nothing of it.
What is the role of the eipgenome system? Its central function is to control the expression of DNA. But the picture is not complete. Research on the epigenome is accelerating, and scientists around the world are delving into both the molecular structure and the functional roles of the epigenome's sections and layers." (69)
One ongoing mystery has been how a stem cell, specifically, a fertilized human egg cell, can differentiate into all the types of tissues in the body. The epigenome has been shown to be the key. In the developmental stages, each cell is directed to its unique use of the DNA files by the epigenetic system.
Each human carries some two hundred versions of the epigenome. The diversity is needed because humans have at least that many cell types (blood, skin, nerve, bone, etc.). "It is now clear that each cell type has a unique set of epigenetic software, whose instructions are tailored precisely for that cell." (74)
The authors conclude their book with and investigation into the relationship between the epigenome and evidence for a creator. They note that the epigenome "overflows with examples of irreducible complexity..." (114) I'll let you read the book and find the rest of their evidence. You'll also find information on the relationship of the epigenome and DNA to Darwinism. Overlapping messages in some genes caused one scientist to declare that their existence is "virtually impossible by chance." (123) You'll also find out that pseudogenes have a function after all.
In the end, the authors report, "Thus, a reasonable conclusion is that an intelligent being was the source of life." (141) Whether you agree or not, you might want to read this book before you make up your mind for good.
This book is an excellent introduction to the ongoing studies of the complexity of the cell.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.