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Comments about ‘LDS Church posts topic page on Book of Mormon and DNA studies’

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Published: Friday, Jan. 31 2014 5:00 p.m. MST

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Max
Charlotte, NC

This is a great idea and I am glad they have done this. I have actually seen claims that DNA has proven the Book of Mormon to be false. These claims are obviously directed at those who don't understand DNA and are not familiar with the Book of Mormon. Anyone who knows much about DNA understands that it does not have that kind of power. Yes, it can be very useful in analyzing crime scenes but, as others have pointed out here, it does not have a very impressive record of linking even KNOWN relatives.

EW
HENRIETTA, NY

The definition of faith is to believe in something which is not seen, which is true. We cannot grow spiritually if we can rely on reason alone. Faith is a choice, a step towards spiritual growth, and becomes a power in our lives. Spiritual knowledge and physical knowledge are complementary, but are not acquired by the same means. Physical knowledge is obtained by reason and logic, the scientific method, etc. Spiritual knowledge begins with a leap of faith, "like a seed, if planted it will grow", "seek and ye shall find." People who choose not to take a leap of faith themselves should not ridicule those that do as somehow inferior, when in reality they are limiting their own knowledge by limiting their means of acquisition.

JonathanPDX
Portland, Oregon

@The Scientist = Nice try, but all the Church is admitting to is that it doesn't know.

Naturally, everyone knows science has ALL the answers to everything, right? ;-)

There is still a lot to learn about so many things, not only regarding DNA, but many other aspects of not only the human genome, but every other scientific discipline.

Man's science is primitive, and trying to find answers to complex DNA patterns from thousands of years ago without a full comprehension of all the facts is like trying to cut a diamond with a rock hammer.

Eventually, man will understand that the purest religion IS the purest science. God works using laws as HE understands them, not as man understands them. As Albert Einstein observed, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Perhaps by combining both research AND faith, we will eventually come to a better understanding of our past, present and future.

The Scientist
Provo, UT

Think man,

Indeed, the actual wording was "the Lamanites... are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”

For literally millions of Mormons, who joined the Church or gained their "testimonies" by reading and praying about the book, their understanding was fundamentally based upon this conception of the ancestral relationship between Lamanites and Native Americans.

This alleged connection contributed to the plausibility of the book, increasing the likelihood that "investigators" would have a confirming spiritual experience. As such, because even Church leaders have admitted that Lamanites were NOT "the principal ancestors of the American Indians", their "testimonies" of the "truth" of the BOM and the LDS Church were fundamentally erroneous.

After all, according to Mormon doctrine, can you get a spiritual confirmation of the truth of something that is not true?

Classic Mom
Grants Pass, OR

Ah yes. The test of infallibility. Basically the claim is if a prophet or other religious leader makes a mistake, he is not a prophet or didn't receive revelation. "Therefore" if we can find a mistake or a learning curve for someone - that person couldn't have been a prophet or ever been in contact with God. If that were true, we've never had a prophet on the earth. The Bible records the learning curves and chastisements of prophets since the beginning. Moses, Peter, Job to name a few. They all messed up. There is not an institution secular, educational, gov't, religious or otherwise that can claim the benchmark of infallibility. It is a false, contrived benchmark which has no precedent and a standard no one can claim. It's like saying none of Einstein's discoveries can be given any credibility because he made mistakes in some of his personal theories... There is a difference between revelation, doctrine, canon and their best guesses.

skeptic
Phoenix, AZ

The Mormon church should be helping people to discover and learn the truth, and not be a party to those who wish to cover it up or rationalize it away. As time goes on, and with new technology and sources of information people are learning more and more of the truth for themselves and might feel that they have been duped by those they trusted. It is wrong that people be send to their graves with false information when thy could have lived the truth during their life time.

AllBlack
San Diego, CA

I can't shake the feeling that this is too little too late.

We have being on the receiving end of this DNA disproves the BoM since around 2003 odd. And since until today there was mostly silence. It's good that they are now reacting but they also need to react online because if one searches for DNA and BoM most if not all links are to critical sites all which claim that scientific evidence disprove the book with DNA. And some comedians have been on this bandwagon for years, mostly since Romney started running for potus.

Anyways, glad they are finally responding. However the comment above saying that "A November article in the National Geographic Daily News states "Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe" is probably much more valuable today than any formal response on a website.

Just my opinion off course.

AllBlack
San Diego, CA

Actually after googling those national geographic words listed in comment by San Diego
Orem, UT, I'm both surprised and reassured.

The actual title is: ""Great Surprise"—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins" and the subtitle is: "Oldest human genome reveals less of an East Asian ancestry than thought".

My thoughts are now, as someone with a scientific -or rather a practical engineering background- that scripture which states that foolish are those who trust in the wisdom of men ie 2 Nephi 9:28-29.

Now that some evidence is showing up that tends to concur with the BoM narrative I wonder if those comedians (especially ones on HBO) will now say: Oh, now I think the BoM could be right? could be true?

I wont be holding my breath.

LeDoc
SLC, UT

The problem seems to be that the church has spent years defining things in absolute black and white terms. The copy of the BoM in my hand this minute says, "these people were the principal ancestors of the American Indians". There isn't a lot of wiggle room in that statement. A similar cases exists concerning blacks and the priesthood. For years it's been said that it was God's will; it was all His plan. Now comes a modern interpretation and says the "prophet" was just a product of his times. This isn't the middle ages where you could just go round up all the books that say things you don't want heard and burn them.It's easy to see where some would say the church is having credibility issues and that those issues might have something to do with stories of people leaving the church.

Mr.Glass
Salt Lake City, UT

@Kirk R Graves: Not true. There is absolutely no credible evidence that backs the Book of Mormon stories as a historical account. Given that the Book of Mormon clearly says there were supposed to be lots of inhabitants in America who came from the Middle East, it's very implausible to suggest that no evidence would be discovered at this point that support claims of the Book of Mormon.

Elms
OGDEN, UT

DNA is only a small part of the story. We can look for evidences of historicity in the Book of Mormon itself. There are mentions of old world animals, grains, technologies, languages, and cultural practices that were brought over and were in widespread use by the large civilizations mentioned in the book. Overwhelming evidence of these things in pre-Colombian times would prove its historicity. Simple enough.

idablu
Idaho Falls, ID

To AZKID,

The biggest flaw in the North American model, in my opinion, is the lack of evidence for large civilizations with large buildings as described in the BOM, and what we see in Mezoamerica. Also there is no reference in the BOM of a cold or harsh climate. On the contrary, the attire worn by the Lamanites would suggest a warm or tropical climate. Also the Mississippi, which the North American model attributes as the River Sidon, is flowing in the wrong direction.

No doubt there are some interesting facets to the North American model, but I think FARMS and most LDS scholars still adhere to the Mezoamerican model.

ulvegaard
Medical Lake, Washington

Pretty much since the day after the Book of Mormon was first published in 1830 there has been some effort to disqualify it. The arguments have ranged from writing style to archaeological evidence, or the lack thereof. In spite of all of it, the book continues to be published with few major alterations (aside from formatting into verses, spelling corrections and similar).

I choose to accept the book at face value. As suggested by Eastcoastcoug, the spiritual value if the greatest single factor.

On a trip to Cozumel years ago, we got to see some interesting, though not uber-famous ruins. Most of these dated back to about 500 A.D., the time after Moroni's concluding entries. A lot of time has passed since Cumorah. Civilations have come and gone during the years since. Let's not get to comfortable with current evidence for or against, I'm sure there is much more research to be done and I am confident that this book will continue to stand the test of time.

vayapues1
west valley city, UT

I believe that there is merit in these DNA studies.

But that cannot be taken as "proof" that the Book of Mormon account is somehow inaccurate. It is just as plausible that it proves the reverse.

Who is to say that the Asian's don't descend from the Lamanites, or that they both descend from a common ancestor? ie, the Joseph.

The only conclusion that we can say is accurate is that the two people's are related. The Book of Mormon contains an account of people leaving to go settle other lands, at the height of their civilization.

Most assume this refers to the Pacific Islanders, and perhaps it does. But that cannot rule out other migrations, including to Asia.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

Some have also argued that it should be born in mind that where populations that currently have a given DNA live today does not have to correspond to where they were in the past.

We do not know what the DNA would have been of Jared and Moriancumr. Hugh Nibley long before DNA studies, just from a close reading of the Book of Mormon text, argued that some of the Jared/Moriancumr descendants must have survived. He actually wanted to read them as Asians, and there apparent time in East Asia might be more complex as relates to the population there than some think.

Additionally, what Lehi's DNA would have been is hard to say. The link between ancient Israel and any modern population is not without complexities. To at least some extent most Jewish populations shows some biological mixing in the areas they have lived over the last 2000 years.

The back history of the peoples of Siberia and Manchuria may also be more complex than some want to admit.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

The Book of Mormon should not be read to imply a literal change in skin color. No more than it should be read to say God gave people eyes that were literally scaly. That is a figurative, not a real change.

Anyway, during the time after Jesus visited all groups in the society mixed freely.

The real answer is in population studies and geographical modeling. The text of the Book of Mormon if read closely clearly is speaking of events in a fairly limited area. This is not a continent wide set of circumstances. Even the passage in Heleman about extending to the four seas is best read as a standard phrase more than a literal event.

Most importantly is the Jacob and Sharon interchange. Where does Sharon come from? More importantly, the only way to make any sense of Sharon having to seek for Jacob is a population that is much larger than could possible have come about just from natural population increase.

Kent Brown argues that a passage in the Doctrine and Covenants implies Nephi getting converts in Arabia. Although this does not solve many DNA problems, it does point out there are more people involved.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

People did not join the Church because of assertions in the introduction to the Book of Mormon.

However, I think that DNA does not disprove "the Lamianites were the principal ancestors of the Native Americans". John L. Sorenson has argued that the only way to explain the larger Lamanite population is that Laman and Lemuel or their early descendants had managed to subjugate a large additional population.

The Book of Mormon is a lineage history. We only rarely get glimpses beyond the lineage but the ones we get tell us there are lots of other people involved.

The Lamanites at the end of the Book of Mormon seem not to be primarily biological descendants of Laman.

Additionally, statements in the introduction are not to be taken as scripture. What people believe in his the correctness of the doctrines taught in the book, not its accuracy as an account of a connection from AD 400 to AD 1400, a matter the Book speaks nothing about.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

Thiose who speak of the Book of Mormon as mentioning "old world animals in the New World" have not thought deeply enough on the issue. As John Sorenson has pointed out, there is a long history of people using one word to refer to multiple animals. Thus, what is meant by the mention to "horses" in the Book of Mormon is hard to say.

The cultural practices issues is even harder to prove.

The biggest thing to understand is that even post 1500 history involves lots of unknown issues. Before 1500 there is even more unknown information.

Benjamin Heward
Orem, UT

Many Anti-Mormon people have tried to disprove the Book of Mormon because the population grew "too fast". Just as IS cited at different points in the scripture, they did join with other peoples (For example the people of Zarahemla) when they came in contact with them. Mormon and Moroni abridged the record for what they thought was the most important and relevant data to include in the scriptural text. The people of Zarahemla were mentioned due to their similar ancestry, and leaving Jerusalem about the same time as Lehi and his family did. Joining with natives that came from chine, the south pacific, etc... likely did not make the cut for the Abridged Book of Mormon record, as there was no real significance to the joining of those peoples with the Nephites/Lamanites. This would not only give rise to the idea that the population explosion was relevant and accurate, but also why an intermingling of the DNA would have occurred, and quite soon into the arrival of the People of Zarahemla and the People of Lehi.

the truth
Holladay, UT

The sentence "the Lamanites... are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
was added by a 19th century person thawho believed it according their current understanding at the time.

And perhaps very distantly they are related. Over 14 centuries had passed since the nephites (and the most of the lamanites) were wiped off the face of the earth. Who knows who the remnants mixed with in all those centuries)

DNA science has no evidence one way or the other. It is inconclusive. It is incomplete.

God only reveals line upon line, precept upon precept, as we are ready to ask and prepared to receive it.

Other than that that we are left to our own agency and understanding.

Which I believe explains much what church leader have said in the past.

"Science" a creation of modern man, and it's not, can not be only the source of light and truth.

The BOM an 18th century English translation of text from 1500 years ago or more from egyptian like writing, you are not going find "zarahemla" in archeological evidence. Probably just some hieroglyphics or symbols one would have to know how to translate correctly into modern english.

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