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Hebrew DNA found in South America? [OPEN]
Mormon Times ^ | Monday, May. 12, 2008 | By Michael De Groote

Posted on 02/14/2009 6:41:48 PM PST by restornu

Was Hebrew DNA recently found in American Indian populations in South America? According to Scott R. Woodward, executive director of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, a DNA marker, called the "Cohen modal haplotype," sometimes associated with Hebrew people, has been found in Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia.

But it probably has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon -- at least not directly.

For years several critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of the Book of Mormon have claimed that the lack of Hebrew DNA markers in living Native American populations is evidence the book can't be true. They say the book's description of ancient immigrations of Israelites is fictional.

"But," said Woodward, "as Hugh Nibley used to say, 'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.' "

Critic Thomas Murphy, for example, wrote in one article about how the Cohen modal haplotype had been found in the Lemba clan in Africa. The Lemba clan's oral tradition claims it has Jewish ancestors.

Murphy then complained, "If the (Book of Mormon) documented actual Israelite migrations to the New World, then one would expect to find similar evidence to that found in a Lemba clan in one or more Native American populations. Such evidence, however, has not been forthcoming."

Until now.

So will Murphy and other critics use this new evidence of Hebrew DNA markers to prove the Book of Mormon is correct? Probably not. But neither should anyone else.

Why?

According to Woodward, the way critics have used DNA studies to attack the Book of Mormon is "clearly wrong." And it would be equally wrong to use similar DNA evidence to try to prove it.

This is because "not all DNA (evidence) is created equal," Woodward said.

According to Woodward, while forensic DNA (popularized in TV shows like "CSI") looks for the sections of DNA that vary greatly from individual to individual, the sections of DNA used for studying large groups are much smaller and do not change from individual to individual.

Studies using this second type of DNA yield differing levels of reliability or, as Woodward calls it, "resolution."

At a lower resolution the confidence in the results goes down. At higher resolution confidence goes up in the results.

Guess which level of resolution critics of the Book of Mormon use?

The critics' problem now is what they do with the low-resolution discovery of Hebrew DNA in American Indian populations.

For people who believe that the Book of Mormon is a true account, the problem is to resist the temptation to misuse this new discovery.

Woodward says that most likely, when higher-resolution tests are used, we will learn that the Hebrew DNA in native populations can be traced to conquistadors whose ancestors intermarried with Jewish people in Spain or even more modern migrations.

Ironically, it is the misuse of evidence that gave critics fuel to make their DNA arguments in the first place. According to Woodward, the critics are attacking the straw man that all American Indians are only descendants of the migrations described in the Book of Mormon and from no other source.

Although some Latter-day Saints have assumed this was the case, this is not a claim the Book of Mormon itself actually makes. Scholars have argued for more than 50 years that the book allows for the migrations meeting an existing population.

This completely undermines the critics' conclusions. They argue with evangelic zeal that the Book of Mormon demands that no other DNA came to America but from Book of Mormon groups.

Yet, one critic admitted to Woodward that he had never read the Book of Mormon.

Woodward also sees that it is essential to read the Book of Mormon story closely to understand what type of DNA the Book of Mormon people would have had. The Book of Mormon describes different migrations to the New World. The most prominent account is the 600-B.C. departure from Jerusalem of a small group led by a prophet named Lehi. But determining Lehi's DNA is difficult because the book claims he is not even Jewish, but a descendant of the biblical Joseph.

According to Woodward, even if you assume we knew what DNA to look for, finding DNA evidence of Book of Mormon people may be very difficult. When a small group of people intermarry into a large population, the DNA markers that might identify their descendants could entirely disappear -- even though their genealogical descendants could number in the millions.

This means it is possible that almost every American Indian alive today could be genealogically related to Lehi's family but still retain no identifiable DNA marker to prove it. In other words, you could be related genealogically to and perhaps even feel a spiritual kinship with an ancestor but still not have any vestige of his DNA.

Such are the vagaries, ambiguities and mysteries of the study of DNA.

So will we ever find DNA from Lehi's people? Woodward hopes so.

"I don't dismiss the possibility," said Woodward, "but the probability is pretty low."

Woodward speculated about it, imagining he were able to identify pieces of DNA that would be part of Lehi's gene pool. Then, imagine if a match was found in the Native American population.

But even then, Woodward would be cautious. "It could have been other people who share the same (DNA) markers," said Woodward about the imaginary scenario.

"It's an amazingly complex picture. To think that you can prove (group relationships) like you can use DNA to identify a (criminal) is not on the same scale of scientific inquiry."

Like the Book of Mormon itself, from records buried for centuries in the Hill Cumorah, genetic "proof" may remain hid up unto the Lord.


TOPICS: General Discusssion; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bolivia; bookofmormon; brazil; cohenmodalhaplotype; colombia; decalogue; dna; helixmakemineadouble; israel; lds; loslunas; mormon; tencommandments
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1 posted on 02/14/2009 6:41:48 PM PST by restornu
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To: Adam-ondi-Ahman; America always; Antonello; Arrowhead; asparagus; BlueMoose; ComeUpHigher; ...

CTR


2 posted on 02/14/2009 6:42:10 PM PST by restornu (“God became man, so that man might become God.” — Early Christian Proverb)
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To: restornu
'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.'

HAHA that guy is two sticks of insense away from being Deepak Chopra.

3 posted on 02/14/2009 6:46:01 PM PST by exist
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To: restornu

"Zeit nisht meshugge. Loz em gaien... Abee gezint"

4 posted on 02/14/2009 7:08:46 PM PST by Vaquero ( "an armed society is a polite society" Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: restornu
This isn't any evidence for LDS. There were huge numbers of Sephardic Jews who fled the Inquisition and went to South America. When the Inquisition followed them to South America, many fled the cities and intermingled with native populations. Over time, the vast majority assimilated.

This is all very well-documented. They didn't come from Jerusalem. They came from Spain and Portugal. And it's not just certain tribes in the Amazon. Large swaths of northern Mexico have the same pattern. The city I was born in, Monterrey, was founded as a refuge for Jews fleeing the Inquisition. And even today, there are large traces of Jewish DNA (and Jewish cooking -- you don't see pork in most Monterrey cuisine) in the population of Monterrey.

5 posted on 02/14/2009 7:20:49 PM PST by ChicagoHebrew (Hell exists, it is real. It's a quiet green meadow populated entirely by Arab goat herders.)
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To: ChicagoHebrew

My husband’s family is from Vallecitos and Rio Arriba in Northern New Mexico. There is evidence of the Sephardic Jewish language called Ladino being spoken there.

It is believed that the Sephardic Jews when expelled from Spain in 1492 were some of the earliest arrivals in the New World from Spain. My father-in-law has been told that his native tongue is almost perfect Castillian Spanish.


6 posted on 02/14/2009 7:39:20 PM PST by colorcountry (To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: ChicagoHebrew; Religion Moderator

Caucus threads are closed to any poster who is not a member of the caucus.
For instance, if it says “Catholic Caucus” and you are not Catholic, do not post to the thread. However, if the poster of the caucus invites you, I will not boot you from the thread.
The “caucus” article and posts must not compare beliefs or speak in behalf of a belief outside the caucus.


7 posted on 02/14/2009 8:00:39 PM PST by restornu (“God became man, so that man might become God.” — Early Christian Proverb)
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To: colorcountry; Religion Moderator

What are you doing on an LDS Caucus thread?


8 posted on 02/14/2009 8:10:23 PM PST by restornu (“God became man, so that man might become God.” — Early Christian Proverb)
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To: restornu; Religion Moderator; ChicagoHebrew

I wanted to tell ChicagoHebrew about my familial jewish link. It that really a problem resty - If so, moderator I guess I can pm my story to chicago Hebrew instead of posting here. I thought it was interesting = that’s all.


9 posted on 02/14/2009 8:21:03 PM PST by colorcountry (To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Religion Moderator
This is an excerpt from the op:

Woodward says that most likely, when higher-resolution tests are used, we will learn that the Hebrew DNA in native populations can be traced to conquistadors whose ancestors intermarried with Jewish people in Spain or even more modern migrations.

Since this discussion is about my husband's family who IS Mormon (and so am I, truth be told) I think I should be granted the right to comment on this portion of the post. This post brings up the subject and should rightly not be a caucus thread IMO.

10 posted on 02/14/2009 8:25:26 PM PST by colorcountry (To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: colorcountry

Is this not being hypocritical you renouce being LDS and this is a close thread!


11 posted on 02/14/2009 8:28:59 PM PST by restornu (“God became man, so that man might become God.” — Early Christian Proverb)
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To: restornu

Restornu,

I am colorcountry’s husband. I am LDS. If you have her posts removed I will repost it again. I have every right to do so I am a New Mexico Hispanic AND I am LDS.

I wish you would quit being so petty and vindictive. It isn’t very Christian of you.

Religion moderator. Would you allow a post about Native American Indian DNA to be discussed under cloak of a religion “caucus” and disallow Native Americans the right to discuss the issue? This is insulting!


12 posted on 02/14/2009 8:33:09 PM PST by Ozokerite Boryslaw
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To: Religion Moderator
Apologies to you. I meant to post to you in my previous post.
13 posted on 02/14/2009 8:34:35 PM PST by Ozokerite Boryslaw
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: colorcountry; restornu

Since the article raises the issue of Hebrew DNA, Jewish descendents - then they have an interest in speaking for themselves. The caucus will not be broken but expanded to Hebrew/LDS.


16 posted on 02/14/2009 9:45:22 PM PST by Religion Moderator
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To: restornu
Ho, Ho, Hey Hey, lets talk DNA

part 1 The Book of Mormon and New World DNA
part 2 The Book of Mormon and New World DNA
Part 3 The Book of Mormon and New World DNA

Book of Mormon and DNA evidence - From Fair Wiki

Then, there is my posting on "Does DNA from Indians prove anything about the Book of Mormon?"

This issue has been hashed and rehashed so many times on this forum. I hope everyone can keep civil and just agree to disagree.
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No... Really, Stop laughing! It wasn't meant as a joke! (O.K. Maybe it was.)
17 posted on 02/14/2009 11:11:48 PM PST by DelphiUser ("You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think")
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To: Ozokerite Boryslaw; colorcountry
My congratulations, I was not aware that CC's Hubby was a Freeper. I commend you on your support of your wife, it's important in every marriage.

Maybe you should post for her on Caucus forums; CC has made a name for herself here that does not fit well with posting on forums for active LDS.

Either way, it's not my problem, the RM will sort it out (I never want to be a MOD and definitely not an RM! Luckily, I'm in no danger, LOL!)

Again, Kudos for supporting your wife, that is as it should be and I commend you for it. Since I have not seen you before (even though your handle says it was created in 2005), welcome to Free-republic!
18 posted on 02/14/2009 11:19:29 PM PST by DelphiUser ("You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think")
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: Tennessee Nana

Placemark


20 posted on 02/15/2009 5:41:46 AM PST by Tennessee Nana
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