Skip to comments.Book of Mormon/DNA evidence
Posted on 01/04/2011 3:45:06 PM PST by Paragon Defender
DNA samples taken from modern Native Americans do not match the DNA of modern inhabitants of the Middle East. Critics argue that this means the Book of Mormon's claim that Native Americans are descended from Lehi must be false, and therefore the Book of Mormon is not an ancient record as Joseph Smith claimed.
See also: Source(s) of the criticism
Few criticisms of the Church have received as much media attention as this criticism, with so little thought and science being applied to the question. DNA attacks against the Book of Mormon account fail on numerous grounds.
It is important to realize that critics of the Book of Mormon base their arguments on DNA data that has never been shown to be even relevant to the issue of Book of Mormon genetics, let alone conclusive. Such critics have cobbled together DNA data gathered from unrelated studies to produce arguments with the appearance of scientific weight but having no real significance. No genetic studies have been designed and performed to test the hypothesis that Native Americans were of Lehite descent and that this inheritance is detectable today.
DNA issues can be complex for the non-specialist (especially those who were in high school more than twenty years ago, before much of the modern understanding of DNA was available). A number of excellent articles are available on this topic.
For those interested in general introductions to DNA science:
These articles discuss the feasibility of testing various hypotheses using the Book of Mormon and DNA:
A variety of geographic models have been suggested for the Book of Mormon. Some geographic models introduce other difficulties for the DNA attacks.
Critics have claimed that DNA tests mean that all Amerindians cannot be "Lamanites," and even some Church authors have conceded this point too readily.
Some have tried to use a genetic group called haplotype X2a as proof of the Book of Mormon, but the science at present cannot support this.
Regardless of the geographical model used, efforts to date at "testing" the Book of Mormon through the use of genetic data encounter a number of problems and issues that should be considered. The remainder of this page discusses issues which must be considered regardless of the geographical model being used.
Genetic attacks on the Book of Mormon focus on the fact that Amerindian DNA seems closest to Asian DNA, and not DNA from "the Middle East" or "Jewish" DNA. However, this attack ignores several key points.
Lehi and his family are clearly not Jews. They belong to the tribe of Manasseh (Alma 10:3, 1 Nephi 5:14), and married into Ishmael's family, the tribe of Ephraim. These tribes were carried away captive by the Assyrians, and did not contribute greatly to the current genetic mix of the Middle East.
Furthermore, the Middle East is located at the crossroads of three continents, and has seen a great deal of immigration, mixing, and intermarriage. To use modern Middle Eastern DNA as the "standard" against which to measure what Manasseh and Ephraim DNA must have been like 2600 years ago is extraordinarily sloppy science.
Articles which consider that "Asian" DNA and Lehite DNA may actually correspond due to an earlier common source:
Identifying DNA criteria for Manasseh and Ephraim may always be beyond our reach. But, even identifying markers for Jewsa group that has remained relatively cohesive and refrained from intermarriage with others more than most groupsis an extraordinarily difficult undertaking.
One author cautioned:
Articles which discuss the various criteria (and the difficulties involved) for identifying "Jewishness" via DNA include:
Mitochondrial DNA is passed only from mothers to their children. It has been used in attacks on the Book of Mormon, and yet even known Jewish populations do not share mtDNA.
So, known Jewish groups cannot be linked at all by mtDNA studies, and yet the critics would have us believe that two of the lost tribes (Ephraim and Manassehfrom whom we have no 'control' or 'reference' samples to compare to) can be ruled out as ancestors of the Amerindians via mtDNA testing?
Articles which discuss difficulties in using mtDNA:
Y-chromosomes are only spread from father to son; the female line does not carry them at all. These markers have also been used by critics to "prove" that the Amerindians cannot be descended from Lehi.
Despite claims that Y-chromosome data do not support Book of Mormon claims, there are some markers which should be considered in another light:
Articles which discuss Y chromosome issues:
Murphy uses the "Lemba" as an example of a group proven to be Jewish via DNA testing. But, this example is misleading. The Lemba were identified as Jewish because of a marker called the "Cohen modal haplotype." This marker is carried by about half of those who claim descent from Aaron, Moses' brother, and only 2-3% of other Jews.
But, the Book of Mormon does not suggestand in fact seems to excludethe idea that Levites (the priestly family of Aaron) were among the Lehi party. Without priestly families, one would not expect to find the Cohen modal haplotype! Yet, only 2-3% of modern Jews from non-priestly families (to say nothing of Ephraim and Manassehremember, Lehi and company are not "Jews") can be identified by this test. Are these 97-98% of modern Jews then not Jews because the genetic test is negative for them? Excluding the Nephites on the basis of such a poor test that we would not even expect them to pass (since they do not include Levitical families) shows how far the critics will twist the evidence to find fault.
Articles which discuss Cohen modal haplotype issues:
Approximately ninety percent of the Amerindian population died out following contact with the Europeans; most of this was due to infectious disease against which they had no defense.
Since different genes likely provide different resistances to infectious disease, it may be that eliminating 90% of the pre-contact gene pool has significantly distorted the true genetic picture of Lehi's descendants. Studies of pre-Columbian human remains have not shown any extinct haplotypesas one would expect given the small contribution made by a Lehite colony. Gene frequency, however, could well have been altered by such a dramatic die-off, suggesting that caution should be used in assuming that modern Amerindian populations are an identical match for pre-Columbian gene frequencies.
Critics often over-look the Jaredites, and assume (as in the hemispheric models type 2 and type 3) that the Jaredites can have contributed nothing of consequence to the Lehite DNA picture.
But, it is not clear that this must be the case. Some LDS have believed in a total eradication of the Jaredites, others have argued that Jaredite remnants survived and mixed with the Lehites. Bruce R. McConkie, while believing that the majority of Amerindian descent was from Israel (i.e. Lehi, Ishmael, and Mulek) nevertheless wrote:
The Jaredites are complete genetic unknowns. They cannot be Israelites, since they pre-date Israel. Some authors, such as Hugh Nibley, long ago argued that they were of Asian origin.
Articles which discuss the relevance of Jaredite issues:
It should be remembered too that many sectarian critics use DNA science in a sort of "suicide bombing" attack on the Church. The fundamentalist Christian critics are happy to use DNA as a stick to beat the Book of Mormon, but do not tell their readers that there is much stronger DNA evidence for concepts which fundamentalist Christian readers might not accept, such as:
And, despite being inconsistent with DNA data, fundamentalist critics do not call on their congregations to abandon such literalistic Biblical concepts as:
The critics are often hypocriticalthey claim the Saints should abandon the Book of Mormon on flimsy, dubious science, and yet do not tell their audience that they should (by the same logic) abandon religious beliefs of their own that have much more DNA evidence against them.
Discussions of this ironic twist are found in:
DNA attacks against the Book of Mormon are ill-advised, a "contrived controversy." Various geographical models introduce issues unique to each model, but the DNA data is no where as conclusive as the critics claim, regardless of the geographical model chosen.
Critics tend to opt for the most naive, ill-informed reading possible of the Book of Mormon text, and then cry foul when the Saints point out that they have given much thought to these issues and come to more nuanced conclusions that are more faithful to the Book of Mormon text than the critics' poorly-considered caricatures.
Critics do not provide the "whole story" of the DNA data, and seem to want to use the certainty which DNA provides in modern crime-solving as a springboard to trick the Saints, the media, and investigators into thinking that their historical DNA conclusions are as solid.
The Church's statement on the matter of DNA is succinct and accurate:
In fact, DNA data tells us nothing which we did not already know from archaeological dataat present, the human settlement of the Americas is thought to date thousands of years before the advent of Lehi. Many of these settlers have links to east Asia. None of this is news, and none of it threatens the Book of Mormon's status as authentic history.
But, the critics hope that their listeners will be awed by the banner of DNA science, and conclude that something more impressive is going on. Informed members of the Church have not been persuaded by their tactics, and much has been written to help non-specialists understand the "numerous and complex" issues in the fascinating and valuable science of genetics.
Gentlemen...don your white lab coats and proceed forth...
First axion of holes. When you are in one - stop digging!!!
Make that “axiom”.
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Yes current Middle Eastern DNA may not be a perfect match for the applicable tribe from 2600 years. But it should be a closer match than current DNA from Asia shouldn’t it be - if the Mormon claims are correct? I don’t know much about this but in just reading this it looks like a weak case being presented by these Mormons. Where is THEIR DNA evidence or any evidence for that matter to back up their claims? Bizarre.
Remarkable, not a single scientific journal cited within all this balderdash and dead electrons the post created.
Primer on DNA and the origions of the Amerindians:
Other important studies include:
And regarding the nepharious Haplogen X:
Folks, the bottom line is smith and mormonism for well over a century (even to present day) have claimed that the Amerindians of the new world were descended from lehi, et al.
DNA studies are just another nail in the coffin for the bom and the cult of mormonism. Add this to the other evidenc -
Linguistic studies show no evidence of hebraic or egyptian sources for any Amerindian language.
Archaeology shows no evidence PERIOD of an advanced hebraic/egyptian/middle eastern culture practicing mosaic worship with advanced metallurgical skills, horses, old world crops, chairiots, etc. All archaeological evidence to date shows cultures quite different.
Mormon apologists have developed over two dozen different theories to identify the bom lands. These range from the whole hemisphere, central americal, baja california, malaysian pennesula and even africa.
One last point. Mormon apologists fall further behind the DNA evidences against the bom. Using what is called admixture mapping, researchers observe thousands of variant SNPs (pronounced snips for single nucleotide polymorphisms) revealing the subtlest influences on an individuals genetic makeup. “snips” don’t die out as MtDNA might in people groups - is it more broadly passed.
So grab your barf bag for the spin that FAIR (and PD) is putting out for consumption.
False claim, false book, false all around.
Precursor to Scientology really. Yep.
There’s basically no trace of any semblance of Middle East language, culture, architecture, or anything else in the Americas. If the conquistadors had found anything like that they’d have written it up and we’d know about it.
DNA attacks against the Book of Mormon account fail on numerous grounds, just like Global Warming has recently caused cooler winters.
The one-page introduction to the Book of Mormon, which gives a brief overview of its contents, was added in 1981 when the LDS Church released a revised text of the Book of Mormon. The introduction was written by Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, at the time considered to be one of the churchs most prominent theologians. The introduction stated, After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.
New editions published by the LDS Church, however, will no longer include the phrase principal ancestors. They instead will read that the Lamanites are among the ancestors of the American Indian. This new alteration has already appeared in copies of the Book of Mormon published by Doubleday.
DNA has brought more then one charlatan to justice.
Nope, them dumb sons of bitches woulda turned it over to the Christian priests with them and then THEM dumb sons of bitches woulda burned it all. (No, this isn't a defense of Momonism - just a criticism of the dumb sons of bitches that destroy archeological history)
Nonetheless I kind of have to like the happy endings in movies like Gibson’s ‘Apocalypto’ where the white honkeys arrive in ships and put an end to all the cannibalism and devil worship and what not...
So you are charging that the scientists are cooking the books, shifting the numbers, in order to show that NO middle eastern dna is present in the Amerindian population?
LOL, you should be aware that mormon founded Sorenson Inst - a leading firm doing these kind of DNA studies - have published in professional journals the same results? Even mormon geneticist Ugo Perego (a contributor to FAIR) has concurred stating "DNA of Lehi and his party has not been detected in modern Native American populations ".
Global warming indeed.
LDS morons? Wow, nice religious tolerance there buddy. You must be proud.
Any word yet on the curse of Cain folks getting new DNA ???
You know that nice “white and delightsome” type...