New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies

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  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>Simon in Oz Feb. 2014</p>\n<p>A few quick responses on the essay. Unfortunately I don\'t have the resources of a PR company and an army of apologists at my disposal so its pretty rough. [Reference http://lds.org/topics]</p>\n<p>[For information on Simon http://www.exmormon.org/whylft125.htm]</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nThe conclusions of genetics, like those of any science, are tentative, and much work remains to be done to fully understand the origins of the native populations of the Americas.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nThe DNA science is not tentative or inconclusive. It is consistent with scientific conclusions about Native American origins from numerous other scientific disciplines.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nScientists theorize that in an era that predated Book of Mormon accounts, a relatively small group of people migrated from northeast Asia to the Americas by way of a land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska. These people, scientists say, spread rapidly to fill North and South America and were likely the primary ancestors of modern American Indians.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nThe truth is that Native Americans have occupied the New World for at least 13,000 years. This is an indisputable fact that the LDS Newsroom overlooks. They widely colonised North and South America for TEN THOUSAND years before Lehi allegedly arrived. For over a century mainstream archaeologists, geneticists and anthropologists studying Native Americans have believed there ancestors migrated from Asia across dry land (Beringia) exposed during the last ice age. The DNA evidence suggests a slightly earlier arrival date of about 16,000 years ago. It hasn’t changed things much.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nThe Book of Mormon itself, however, does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied. In fact, cultural and demographic clues in its text hint at the presence of other groups.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nThe claim of the first sentence is demonstrably false.<br />\n2 Nephi 1:8-9 \"And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.\"<br />\nWe are not told what the cultural and demographic clues are. But we are meant to accept the “clues” and overlook the scripture above.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nAt the April 1929 general conference, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency cautioned: “We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon … does not tell us that there was no one here before them [the peoples it describes]. It does not tell us that people did not come after.”</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nI find it hard to pay attention to the words of a member of the First Presidency from 85 years ago because the words of many, more recent, prophets are RINGING IN MY EARS.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nAt the present time, scientific consensus holds that the vast majority of Native Americans belong to sub-branches of the Y-chromosome haplogroups C and Q and the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups A, B, C, D, and X, all of which are predominantly East Asian. But the picture is not entirely clear. Continuing studies provide new insights, and some challenge previous conclusions. For example, a 2013 study states that as much as one-third of Native American DNA originated anciently in Europe or West Asia and was likely introduced into the gene pool before the earliest migration to the Americas. This study paints a more complex picture than is suggested by the prevailing opinion that all Native American DNA is essentially East Asian.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nThe 2013 study in question was on nuclear DNA (not mitochondrial or Y-chromosome) isolated from 24,000-year-old remains recovered in Siberia. It was observed that about one-third of the individuals DNA originated in Europe or West Asia. That is not very surprising for someone living 24,000 years ago in Siberia and it certainly does not challenge any of the conclusions derived from mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA.</p>\n<p>I hate to be picky but Native American DNA is essentially Siberian, not East Asian.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nWhile Near Eastern DNA markers do exist in the DNA of modern native populations, it is difficult to determine whether they are the result of migrations that predated Columbus, such as those described in the Book of Mormon, or whether they stem from genetic mixing that occurred after the European conquest. This is due in part to the fact that the “molecular clock” used by scientists to date the appearance of genetic markers is not always accurate enough to pinpoint the timing of migrations that occurred as recently as a few hundred or even a few thousand years ago.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nClearly, this section of the essay was written (or at least approved) by Rodney Meldrum, who is making a small fortune on the back of misleading molecular clock claims. In the early years of dating using DNA there was considerable debate about which method was the most accurate. The debate has been resolved for 15 years but Rodney Meldrum insists on dragging out a paper from 1998, the peak of the debate, and using it as evidence that dating is unreliable. Meldrum doesn’t understand the science he writes about. He is a snake-oil salesman exploiting elderly Mormons.</p>\n<p>The “Near Eastern DNA” being referred to here is the Native American mitochondrial X lineage. LDS scientist Ugo Perego, who has undoubtedly helped in the writing of the essay, has dated Native American X lineages using very robust modern methods, and it arrived in the New World about 15,000 years ago. I wonder how Perego felt about the essay undermining his own research?</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nScientists do not rule out the possibility of additional, small-scale migrations to the Americas. For example, a 2010 genetic analysis of a well-preserved 4,000-year-old Paleo-Eskimo in Greenland led scientists to hypothesize that a group of people besides those from East Asia had migrated to the Americas. Commenting on this study, population geneticist Marcus Feldman of Stanford University said: “Models that suggest a single one-time migration are generally regarded as idealized systems. … There may have been small amounts of migrations going on for millennia.”</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nScientists are well aware that many small-scale migrations have occurred and may even still occur in sub-Arctic populations. The Bering Strait is not a complete barrier to migration (if you have a kayak or two) and Eskimo/Inuit groups have crossed in both directions over recent millenia. This is what the 2010 Paleo-Eskimo paper was about and that is the context of Marcus Feldman’s comments. He wasn’t talking about Amerindian migrations down south.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nOne reason it is difficult to use DNA evidence to draw definite conclusions about Book of Mormon peoples is that nothing is known about the DNA that Lehi, Sariah, Ishmael, and others brought to the Americas.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nNo. The problem is all that Asian DNA (99.5%) which arrived in the Americas in excess of 15,000 years ago. The only non-Asian DNA (0.5%) is either European or African and derived from post Columbus admixture. We don’t see any orphan DNA lineages which may have come from somewhere else. It is also ridiculous to claim that we know nothing about the likely DNA lineages of the Book of Mormon founders. They came from the Middle East so they would have carried Middle Eastern DNA lineages, which are well characterised.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nIn addition to the catastrophic war at the end of the Book of Mormon, the European conquest of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries touched off just such a cataclysmic chain of events. As a result of war and the spread of disease, many Native American groups experienced devastating population losses. One molecular anthropologist observed that the conquest “squeezed the entire Amerindian population through a genetic bottleneck.” He concluded, “This population reduction has forever altered the genetics of the surviving groups, thus complicating any attempts at reconstructing the pre-Columbian genetic structure of most New World groups.”</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nYes, the genetic landscape was changed but are we to believe that Lamanites died out at a much higher rate than other Native Americans? Over a thousand DNA lineages have been determined from pre-Columbian ancient remains. All the lineages to date come from Asia.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nMoreover, the shuffling and recombination of autosomal DNA from generation to generation produces new combinations of markers in which the predominant genetic signal comes from the larger original population. This can make the combinations of markers characteristic of the smaller group so diluted that they cannot be reliably identified.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nTwice in the last 3 years scientists have discovered hidden ancestors in our autosomal DNA. They discovered that people in non-African populations have a small percentage (1-4%) of Neanderthal DNA in their genome. Then more recently it was discovered that Melanesians and Australian Aboriginals carry a small proportion of DNA from Denisovans, a related hominid species that lived in Asia. These small proportions of “foreign” DNA entered our lineage 30-40 thousand years ago. If Middle Eastern DNA entered Native American populations in the last 3 thousand years there is no reason to believe that Middle Eastern markers would disappear completely.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nGenetic profiles may be entirely lost, and combinations that once existed may become so diluted that they are difficult to detect. Thus, portions of a population may in fact be related genealogically to an individual or group but not have DNA that can be identified as belonging to those ancestors. In other words, Native Americans whose ancestors include Book of Mormon peoples may not be able to confirm that relationship using their DNA.</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nThis is complete nonsense. If people are genealogically related they MUST share genetic material, especially autosomal DNA.</p>\n<p>LDS Newsroom<br />\nAs Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed, “It is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.”</p>\n<p>SGS<br />\nThen why the essay?</p>\n<p>The Book of Mormon makes scientifically testable claims that science has continuously shown to have no basis in fact. The DNA evidence has exposed the true ancestry of Native Americans with amazing clarity and also, unfortunately for the LDS Church, the dubious history of the Book of Mormon.</p>\n<p>_________________</p>\n<p>blackholesun<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies</p>\n<p>Great response Simon. One question though, didnt the 2013 Nature study report that the DNA found in Siberia was 100 percent West Asian, and that it was then inferred that one third of Native American DNA had West Asian roots based on an later admixture of the ancestral West and East Asians populations (possibly in Siberia before coming to the Americas)?</p>\n<p>Not that any of it supports the BoM narrative, it still doesn\'t.</p>\n<hr />\nmy2cents<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nHere is a comment from the SLTrib article this morning.\n<p>“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” --Carl Sagan</p>\n<p>Spot on Carl, and Simon, too.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>amos2<br />\nWell, I for one am relieved...<br />\n...that the church\'s \"answers\" to their great apostasy, which have been heralded for a few years as \"coming soon\", from the top, like it was going to be a big, new, decisive, comprehensive program likened to a \"rescue\"...</p>\n<p>...is just trite stuff copied and pasted from FAIR/FARMS onto obscure LDS Newsroom pages...that even an amateur exmo can crack.</p>\n<p>Geez talk about anticlimactic.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>zeezrom<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nAs recent as 2005 I was taught by a 35 year old (at the time)Mormon missionary from Poland that American Indians are the descendants of Lamanites who decended from Lehi\'s rebel kids Laman/Lemuel etc.</p>\n<p>All detailed and told of in the Book of Mormon. Wow I thought, so I read the Book of Mormon. Duh! lol</p>\n<p>At that time her Book of Mormon and mine even had that Introduction that said so.</p>\n<p>What a farce it all turned out to be.</p>\n<hr />\nYup<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nMormonism:\n<p>\"Reality is the real enemy -- fantasy comes first!\"</p>\n<hr />\nseeking peace<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies\n<p>I woke up this morning and told my husband I wish that Simon would answer this crazy LDS essay--ask and ye shall receive! I will copy this and keep it handy in the odd chance that anyone in my family mentions this essay. I appreciate so much the time you took to write this and clarify a very \"unreadable\" explanation from the PR department on BofM DNA!</p>\n<hr />\nfacsimile3<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\n[We are not told what the cultural and demographic clues are. But we are meant to accept the “clues” and overlook the scripture above.]\n<p>The funniest part about those \"clues\" is that they are typically *inferred* where the BoM text is unrealistic. Two examples:</p>\n<p>1. Joseph Smith has the tiny Lehi/Ishmael family colony constructing a temple like unto Solomon\'s, which is VERY unlikely for a small community of less than 50 people--a number which generously assumes unmentioned members in Lehi\'s party like servants. Instead of admitting that Joseph Smith made a mistake and wrote something stupid, the CLEAR answer is that there must have been large numbers of natives to assist with the construction. Conveniently, this explanation also attempts to bring the fictional story inline with science, but at the expense of the text itself which Simon cited above in 2 Nephi.</p>\n<p>2. The same goes for the Sherem/Jacob confrontation. The text seems to describe a large community scenario where the two men had not previously met, but had only heard of one another. Jacob was a first generation colonist, so how could the Lehi/Ishmael family have matured into a large society so rapidly? Instead of admitting that Joseph Smith erred by placing the early-colony anti-Christ confrontation in a large community/multiple-community scenario, we instead are forced to assume that the small family colony immediately merged into a pre-existing culture. OF COURSE, THAT FLIES IN THE FACE OF REASON TO HAVE A NON-LEHITE NATIVE DEFENDING THE LAW OF MOSES AGAINST JACOB\'S CHRISTIANITY (apologists truly are magnificently shameless a-holes).</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Been There<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nIf the church is so confident about the Book of Mormon and all these genetic assertions, why not have its flagship university and scholars produce a scientific paper that can be presented to the world for peer review?</p>\n<p>Instead of having the church\'s Newsroom talking to LDS members, why not have the best Mormon scholars expressing themselves to the world\'s scientific community - to Oxford and Columbia, and Harvard and Princeton!</p>\n<p>Since these highly-esoteric matters are best understood by experts, why not appeal to those people who have the greatest knowledge and credibility!</p>\n<p>(silence)</p>\n<p>Obviously, Public Relations is the safest avenue.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>gungholierthanthou<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nThe apologetic standard is, and has been for 60 years, \"plausibility.\" This paper meets that standard. So have the other essays.</p>\n<p>By meeting the plausibility standard, rather than telling the truth or dealing in probabilities, the people in the church who want an avenue to continued belief, rather than having the real truth shut that avenue off completely, get to have their hairline crack of plausibility.</p>\n<p>Since science deals in probabilities rather than absolutes, apologists will always be able to supply hairline cracks of plausibility, and those who want the gospel to be true will have just enough to stay attached.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>blueorchid<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nThank you Simon. I have been waiting for your take on the DNA essay. Your book is such an important part of my re-education.</p>\n<p>Shame I have to read everything twice to understand it when it come to this technical jargon but it is so worth it because if I were still TBM and had read only the essay, I would have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker and probably have been very smug about it. The apologist essay just throws in a lot of intimidatingly important words and phrases like frosting a rotten cake.</p>\n<hr />\ngemini<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nWhat is so sad about the essay is that my extended family will just eat it up as \"so scientific\" when they don\'t understand a bit about science. But if it came from the LDS website it MUST be true. It is just sickening to me.\n<hr />\n<p>closer2fine<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nThey were able to do these things because they quickly joined with the existing peoples.....silly. This is one of the \"subtle clues\" referred to.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>closer2fine<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nPerfect..... this is the well framed explanation I\'ve been looking for to explain why so many continue to believe, even though they claim to \"know about\" the difficult issues.</p>\n<p>This is why I still believed even though I was somewhat aware of things like the DNA issue, multiple first vision accounts, polygamy, ect.</p>\n<hr />\ncloser2fine<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nYes they are doing back bendovers trying to explain why there is no dna evidence for the Lamanites..... So where are all the Lamanite descendants that the Book of Mormon commands us to bring the gospel to? Isn\'t that one of the main reasons for the book? Genetic bottleneck my arse. If the BoM commands us to convert the Lamanites, then we should be using more dna studies trying to locate them. Come out come out wherever you are.\n<hr />\n<p>Tal Bachman<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nGungholierthan thou - I respectfully disagree that the standard for Mormon apologetics is \"plausibility\". It has sunk to the level of \"remotest possibility\", and the burden of proof has turned from \"showing Mormonism to be true\", to \"denying that any evidence eliminates that remotest possibility that Mormonism *might* be true\".</p>\n<hr />\n<p>PolygamyPete </p>\n<p>Exactly. It\'s like criminal trial. \"Plausibility\" would be when the jury thinks there is a reasonable doubt\" as to the defendant\'s guilt. But the Church\'s defense now hangs on that implausible thread of evidence that is now only believable by the defendant\'s loyal family members (TBMs) who refuse to believe that their father/brother/husband (the Church) could possibly be guilty, despite the overwhelming evidence supporting a guilty verdict.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>roland<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nGreat response Simon. Wish I had have listened to you 15 years ago talking in your office. It is incredulous that these anonymous essays gloss over basic scientific facts, make broad assumptions that are designed to lead people away from critically thinking about serious topics of discussion.</p>\n<p>Favourite line of the essay is that the BOM is more spiritual than historical. Not what I have been taught at church. Unfortunate for TSCC that DNA can provide an historical record of humanity, population movements and lineages.</p>\n<p>Thanks for the response.</p>\n<p>Roland in OZ</p>\n<hr />\n<p>nationalnewscampaign<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nThank you, Simon. Not just for this post but for your book on the topic some years back.</p>\n<p>It gave me peace.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>verilyverily<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nYES thank you Simon. You went to a lot of work. We appreciate it.</p>\n<p>Everything that comes out is unfortunate for TSCC....Oh poor TSCC, NOT! Lying assholes.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>elbert<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nThanks, Simon.<br />\nWhy the essays indeed. If The Power of God was in action, why the spectacles, why the plates, why indeed. DNA is the killer but the BoM had died long before, suffocated by its own weight: a Joseph will come along; Columbus will discover America; it\'s all Lamanites; there\'s an extra set of plates; JS didn\'t clarify that he ran with the plates under his arms and the sword of Laban and spectacles and Liahona in his back packets, etc, etc.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>moira<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nMy molecular biologist says \"it is all scientifically valid\" whatever that means. He hasn\'t gone into detail.</p>\n<hr />\nPeter Humpty<br />\nRe: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies<br />\nAny scientific DNA from before 400ad found in bones around Cumorah NY? That for sure would have to have been from the BoM people wouldn\'t it? Seems like simple proof for LDS to booster their claims.\n<p>\"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org\"</p>\n', created = 1493450580, expire = 1493536980, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:87f266f4210578b8ac72677576662e08' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

Simon in Oz Feb. 2014

A few quick responses on the essay. Unfortunately I don't have the resources of a PR company and an army of apologists at my disposal so its pretty rough. [Reference http://lds.org/topics]

[For information on Simon http://www.exmormon.org/whylft125.htm]

LDS Newsroom
The conclusions of genetics, like those of any science, are tentative, and much work remains to be done to fully understand the origins of the native populations of the Americas.

SGS
The DNA science is not tentative or inconclusive. It is consistent with scientific conclusions about Native American origins from numerous other scientific disciplines.

LDS Newsroom
Scientists theorize that in an era that predated Book of Mormon accounts, a relatively small group of people migrated from northeast Asia to the Americas by way of a land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska. These people, scientists say, spread rapidly to fill North and South America and were likely the primary ancestors of modern American Indians.

SGS
The truth is that Native Americans have occupied the New World for at least 13,000 years. This is an indisputable fact that the LDS Newsroom overlooks. They widely colonised North and South America for TEN THOUSAND years before Lehi allegedly arrived. For over a century mainstream archaeologists, geneticists and anthropologists studying Native Americans have believed there ancestors migrated from Asia across dry land (Beringia) exposed during the last ice age. The DNA evidence suggests a slightly earlier arrival date of about 16,000 years ago. It hasn’t changed things much.

LDS Newsroom
The Book of Mormon itself, however, does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied. In fact, cultural and demographic clues in its text hint at the presence of other groups.

SGS
The claim of the first sentence is demonstrably false.
2 Nephi 1:8-9 "And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever."
We are not told what the cultural and demographic clues are. But we are meant to accept the “clues” and overlook the scripture above.

LDS Newsroom
At the April 1929 general conference, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency cautioned: “We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon … does not tell us that there was no one here before them [the peoples it describes]. It does not tell us that people did not come after.”

SGS
I find it hard to pay attention to the words of a member of the First Presidency from 85 years ago because the words of many, more recent, prophets are RINGING IN MY EARS.

LDS Newsroom
At the present time, scientific consensus holds that the vast majority of Native Americans belong to sub-branches of the Y-chromosome haplogroups C and Q and the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups A, B, C, D, and X, all of which are predominantly East Asian. But the picture is not entirely clear. Continuing studies provide new insights, and some challenge previous conclusions. For example, a 2013 study states that as much as one-third of Native American DNA originated anciently in Europe or West Asia and was likely introduced into the gene pool before the earliest migration to the Americas. This study paints a more complex picture than is suggested by the prevailing opinion that all Native American DNA is essentially East Asian.

SGS
The 2013 study in question was on nuclear DNA (not mitochondrial or Y-chromosome) isolated from 24,000-year-old remains recovered in Siberia. It was observed that about one-third of the individuals DNA originated in Europe or West Asia. That is not very surprising for someone living 24,000 years ago in Siberia and it certainly does not challenge any of the conclusions derived from mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA.

I hate to be picky but Native American DNA is essentially Siberian, not East Asian.

LDS Newsroom
While Near Eastern DNA markers do exist in the DNA of modern native populations, it is difficult to determine whether they are the result of migrations that predated Columbus, such as those described in the Book of Mormon, or whether they stem from genetic mixing that occurred after the European conquest. This is due in part to the fact that the “molecular clock” used by scientists to date the appearance of genetic markers is not always accurate enough to pinpoint the timing of migrations that occurred as recently as a few hundred or even a few thousand years ago.

SGS
Clearly, this section of the essay was written (or at least approved) by Rodney Meldrum, who is making a small fortune on the back of misleading molecular clock claims. In the early years of dating using DNA there was considerable debate about which method was the most accurate. The debate has been resolved for 15 years but Rodney Meldrum insists on dragging out a paper from 1998, the peak of the debate, and using it as evidence that dating is unreliable. Meldrum doesn’t understand the science he writes about. He is a snake-oil salesman exploiting elderly Mormons.

The “Near Eastern DNA” being referred to here is the Native American mitochondrial X lineage. LDS scientist Ugo Perego, who has undoubtedly helped in the writing of the essay, has dated Native American X lineages using very robust modern methods, and it arrived in the New World about 15,000 years ago. I wonder how Perego felt about the essay undermining his own research?

LDS Newsroom
Scientists do not rule out the possibility of additional, small-scale migrations to the Americas. For example, a 2010 genetic analysis of a well-preserved 4,000-year-old Paleo-Eskimo in Greenland led scientists to hypothesize that a group of people besides those from East Asia had migrated to the Americas. Commenting on this study, population geneticist Marcus Feldman of Stanford University said: “Models that suggest a single one-time migration are generally regarded as idealized systems. … There may have been small amounts of migrations going on for millennia.”

SGS
Scientists are well aware that many small-scale migrations have occurred and may even still occur in sub-Arctic populations. The Bering Strait is not a complete barrier to migration (if you have a kayak or two) and Eskimo/Inuit groups have crossed in both directions over recent millenia. This is what the 2010 Paleo-Eskimo paper was about and that is the context of Marcus Feldman’s comments. He wasn’t talking about Amerindian migrations down south.

LDS Newsroom
One reason it is difficult to use DNA evidence to draw definite conclusions about Book of Mormon peoples is that nothing is known about the DNA that Lehi, Sariah, Ishmael, and others brought to the Americas.

SGS
No. The problem is all that Asian DNA (99.5%) which arrived in the Americas in excess of 15,000 years ago. The only non-Asian DNA (0.5%) is either European or African and derived from post Columbus admixture. We don’t see any orphan DNA lineages which may have come from somewhere else. It is also ridiculous to claim that we know nothing about the likely DNA lineages of the Book of Mormon founders. They came from the Middle East so they would have carried Middle Eastern DNA lineages, which are well characterised.

LDS Newsroom
In addition to the catastrophic war at the end of the Book of Mormon, the European conquest of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries touched off just such a cataclysmic chain of events. As a result of war and the spread of disease, many Native American groups experienced devastating population losses. One molecular anthropologist observed that the conquest “squeezed the entire Amerindian population through a genetic bottleneck.” He concluded, “This population reduction has forever altered the genetics of the surviving groups, thus complicating any attempts at reconstructing the pre-Columbian genetic structure of most New World groups.”

SGS
Yes, the genetic landscape was changed but are we to believe that Lamanites died out at a much higher rate than other Native Americans? Over a thousand DNA lineages have been determined from pre-Columbian ancient remains. All the lineages to date come from Asia.

LDS Newsroom
Moreover, the shuffling and recombination of autosomal DNA from generation to generation produces new combinations of markers in which the predominant genetic signal comes from the larger original population. This can make the combinations of markers characteristic of the smaller group so diluted that they cannot be reliably identified.

SGS
Twice in the last 3 years scientists have discovered hidden ancestors in our autosomal DNA. They discovered that people in non-African populations have a small percentage (1-4%) of Neanderthal DNA in their genome. Then more recently it was discovered that Melanesians and Australian Aboriginals carry a small proportion of DNA from Denisovans, a related hominid species that lived in Asia. These small proportions of “foreign” DNA entered our lineage 30-40 thousand years ago. If Middle Eastern DNA entered Native American populations in the last 3 thousand years there is no reason to believe that Middle Eastern markers would disappear completely.

LDS Newsroom
Genetic profiles may be entirely lost, and combinations that once existed may become so diluted that they are difficult to detect. Thus, portions of a population may in fact be related genealogically to an individual or group but not have DNA that can be identified as belonging to those ancestors. In other words, Native Americans whose ancestors include Book of Mormon peoples may not be able to confirm that relationship using their DNA.

SGS
This is complete nonsense. If people are genealogically related they MUST share genetic material, especially autosomal DNA.

LDS Newsroom
As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed, “It is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.”

SGS
Then why the essay?

The Book of Mormon makes scientifically testable claims that science has continuously shown to have no basis in fact. The DNA evidence has exposed the true ancestry of Native Americans with amazing clarity and also, unfortunately for the LDS Church, the dubious history of the Book of Mormon.

_________________

blackholesun
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies

Great response Simon. One question though, didnt the 2013 Nature study report that the DNA found in Siberia was 100 percent West Asian, and that it was then inferred that one third of Native American DNA had West Asian roots based on an later admixture of the ancestral West and East Asians populations (possibly in Siberia before coming to the Americas)?

Not that any of it supports the BoM narrative, it still doesn't.


my2cents
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Here is a comment from the SLTrib article this morning.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” --Carl Sagan

Spot on Carl, and Simon, too.


amos2
Well, I for one am relieved...
...that the church's "answers" to their great apostasy, which have been heralded for a few years as "coming soon", from the top, like it was going to be a big, new, decisive, comprehensive program likened to a "rescue"...

...is just trite stuff copied and pasted from FAIR/FARMS onto obscure LDS Newsroom pages...that even an amateur exmo can crack.

Geez talk about anticlimactic.


zeezrom
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
As recent as 2005 I was taught by a 35 year old (at the time)Mormon missionary from Poland that American Indians are the descendants of Lamanites who decended from Lehi's rebel kids Laman/Lemuel etc.

All detailed and told of in the Book of Mormon. Wow I thought, so I read the Book of Mormon. Duh! lol

At that time her Book of Mormon and mine even had that Introduction that said so.

What a farce it all turned out to be.


Yup
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Mormonism:

"Reality is the real enemy -- fantasy comes first!"


seeking peace
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies

I woke up this morning and told my husband I wish that Simon would answer this crazy LDS essay--ask and ye shall receive! I will copy this and keep it handy in the odd chance that anyone in my family mentions this essay. I appreciate so much the time you took to write this and clarify a very "unreadable" explanation from the PR department on BofM DNA!


facsimile3
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
[We are not told what the cultural and demographic clues are. But we are meant to accept the “clues” and overlook the scripture above.]

The funniest part about those "clues" is that they are typically *inferred* where the BoM text is unrealistic. Two examples:

1. Joseph Smith has the tiny Lehi/Ishmael family colony constructing a temple like unto Solomon's, which is VERY unlikely for a small community of less than 50 people--a number which generously assumes unmentioned members in Lehi's party like servants. Instead of admitting that Joseph Smith made a mistake and wrote something stupid, the CLEAR answer is that there must have been large numbers of natives to assist with the construction. Conveniently, this explanation also attempts to bring the fictional story inline with science, but at the expense of the text itself which Simon cited above in 2 Nephi.

2. The same goes for the Sherem/Jacob confrontation. The text seems to describe a large community scenario where the two men had not previously met, but had only heard of one another. Jacob was a first generation colonist, so how could the Lehi/Ishmael family have matured into a large society so rapidly? Instead of admitting that Joseph Smith erred by placing the early-colony anti-Christ confrontation in a large community/multiple-community scenario, we instead are forced to assume that the small family colony immediately merged into a pre-existing culture. OF COURSE, THAT FLIES IN THE FACE OF REASON TO HAVE A NON-LEHITE NATIVE DEFENDING THE LAW OF MOSES AGAINST JACOB'S CHRISTIANITY (apologists truly are magnificently shameless a-holes).


Been There
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
If the church is so confident about the Book of Mormon and all these genetic assertions, why not have its flagship university and scholars produce a scientific paper that can be presented to the world for peer review?

Instead of having the church's Newsroom talking to LDS members, why not have the best Mormon scholars expressing themselves to the world's scientific community - to Oxford and Columbia, and Harvard and Princeton!

Since these highly-esoteric matters are best understood by experts, why not appeal to those people who have the greatest knowledge and credibility!

(silence)

Obviously, Public Relations is the safest avenue.


gungholierthanthou
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
The apologetic standard is, and has been for 60 years, "plausibility." This paper meets that standard. So have the other essays.

By meeting the plausibility standard, rather than telling the truth or dealing in probabilities, the people in the church who want an avenue to continued belief, rather than having the real truth shut that avenue off completely, get to have their hairline crack of plausibility.

Since science deals in probabilities rather than absolutes, apologists will always be able to supply hairline cracks of plausibility, and those who want the gospel to be true will have just enough to stay attached.


blueorchid
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Thank you Simon. I have been waiting for your take on the DNA essay. Your book is such an important part of my re-education.

Shame I have to read everything twice to understand it when it come to this technical jargon but it is so worth it because if I were still TBM and had read only the essay, I would have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker and probably have been very smug about it. The apologist essay just throws in a lot of intimidatingly important words and phrases like frosting a rotten cake.


gemini
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
What is so sad about the essay is that my extended family will just eat it up as "so scientific" when they don't understand a bit about science. But if it came from the LDS website it MUST be true. It is just sickening to me.

closer2fine
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
They were able to do these things because they quickly joined with the existing peoples.....silly. This is one of the "subtle clues" referred to.


closer2fine
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Perfect..... this is the well framed explanation I've been looking for to explain why so many continue to believe, even though they claim to "know about" the difficult issues.

This is why I still believed even though I was somewhat aware of things like the DNA issue, multiple first vision accounts, polygamy, ect.


closer2fine
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Yes they are doing back bendovers trying to explain why there is no dna evidence for the Lamanites..... So where are all the Lamanite descendants that the Book of Mormon commands us to bring the gospel to? Isn't that one of the main reasons for the book? Genetic bottleneck my arse. If the BoM commands us to convert the Lamanites, then we should be using more dna studies trying to locate them. Come out come out wherever you are.

Tal Bachman
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Gungholierthan thou - I respectfully disagree that the standard for Mormon apologetics is "plausibility". It has sunk to the level of "remotest possibility", and the burden of proof has turned from "showing Mormonism to be true", to "denying that any evidence eliminates that remotest possibility that Mormonism *might* be true".


PolygamyPete

Exactly. It's like criminal trial. "Plausibility" would be when the jury thinks there is a reasonable doubt" as to the defendant's guilt. But the Church's defense now hangs on that implausible thread of evidence that is now only believable by the defendant's loyal family members (TBMs) who refuse to believe that their father/brother/husband (the Church) could possibly be guilty, despite the overwhelming evidence supporting a guilty verdict.


roland
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Great response Simon. Wish I had have listened to you 15 years ago talking in your office. It is incredulous that these anonymous essays gloss over basic scientific facts, make broad assumptions that are designed to lead people away from critically thinking about serious topics of discussion.

Favourite line of the essay is that the BOM is more spiritual than historical. Not what I have been taught at church. Unfortunate for TSCC that DNA can provide an historical record of humanity, population movements and lineages.

Thanks for the response.

Roland in OZ


nationalnewscampaign
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Thank you, Simon. Not just for this post but for your book on the topic some years back.

It gave me peace.


verilyverily
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
YES thank you Simon. You went to a lot of work. We appreciate it.

Everything that comes out is unfortunate for TSCC....Oh poor TSCC, NOT! Lying assholes.


elbert
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Thanks, Simon.
Why the essays indeed. If The Power of God was in action, why the spectacles, why the plates, why indeed. DNA is the killer but the BoM had died long before, suffocated by its own weight: a Joseph will come along; Columbus will discover America; it's all Lamanites; there's an extra set of plates; JS didn't clarify that he ran with the plates under his arms and the sword of Laban and spectacles and Liahona in his back packets, etc, etc.


moira
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
My molecular biologist says "it is all scientifically valid" whatever that means. He hasn't gone into detail.


Peter Humpty
Re: New Essay: Book of Mormon And DNA Studies
Any scientific DNA from before 400ad found in bones around Cumorah NY? That for sure would have to have been from the BoM people wouldn't it? Seems like simple proof for LDS to booster their claims.

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"