Leaders of the LDS Church rarely have the courage to directly answer difficult questions. Instead, they hide behind apologists and increasingly their well funded PR department. If someone raises a question they simply refer them to these unofficial sources for an explanation. This is a common tactic large corporations use to avoid having to answer difficult questions. Its a form of "plausible deniability". The leaders pretend or don't know the answers and refer questioners to the apologists. The apologists can give utterly outrageous answers (e.g. horse = tapir; two Cumorahs; Vanishingly Small Geography Theory, etc) and the church can distance itself from them because the apologists don't officially speak for the church.
Swedish QuestionsAt the beginning of the fireside members were invited to submit questions. Once a list had been gathered, answers were given and further questions taken. Given that the audience were the descendants of seafaring vikings it was not surprising that the following question was asked.
QUESTION: We had some Vikings visit North America about 1000 years ago, and today we know exactly where they lived actually, there are archeological evidence that they leave there, etc. So what about all the millions of people who have been Lamanites or Nephites … What kind of evidence can you show that actually exist? Every single small Indian tribe in the whole of America we know about today because they all leave buildings and tombs and anything which we can prove that they are there, have been there. And as far as I know there is nothing prove there have been Lamanites or Nephites in America.
If we have time also could you comment on the American Indians and the DNA, and the connection to Lamanites, Nephites, and then back to the Jewish people. Interesting to hear.
“Ten centuries ago a handful of Norse sailors slipped into Newfoundland, established small colonies, traded with local natives, then sailed back into the fog of history. In spite of the small scale of their settlements and the brevity of their stay, unequivocal evidence of their presence has been found, including metalwork, buildings, and Norse inscriptions. Just six centuries earlier, the Book of Mormon tells us, a climactic battle between fair-skinned Nephites and dark-skinned Lamanites ended a millennial dominion by a literate, Christian, Bronze Age civilization with a population numbering in the millions. Decades of serious and honest scholarship have failed to uncover credible evidence that these Book of Mormon civilizations ever existed. No Semitic languages, no Israelites speaking these languages, no wheeled chariots or horses to pull them, no swords or steel to make them. They remain a great civilization vanished without a trace, the people along with their genes.”
—Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe, 2004
Richard TURLEY: Quickly. Archeology and the Book of Mormon. Why isn’t there all this specific evidence of Nephites and Lamanites. You know, I’m going to combine it with Indian DNA because the answers are really quite similar. You may be able to find some evidence of Viking culture on the coast, but if Vikings went to the new world many, many times, you probably wouldn’t be able to find evidence of all the people who went there.
QUESTION: I´m sorry, ??- I mean there were millions of people building cities and creating wagons with wheels, and horses, and had so many things, weapons destroying things, so I guess there should be some traces, somewhere, in the whole of Americas if they ever existed.
TURLEY: As you know, there are cultural ruins all over the Americas. The question is, were these Book of Mormon peoples or not? Some people have tried to answer that using the DNA to say maybe these were Book of Mormon people, maybe they were not. Are there any DNA experts here? I’m gonna give you my best short answer on DNA.
QUESTION: Is it the same as FAIR and FARMS?
TURLEY: Um. It may be. Let me just—if you have a family tree that goes back like this, and so on, you get the idea, it’s way out here. DNA cannot tell us about all of our ancestors. I was the president of the genealogical society of Utah, which oversees the collection of family history records , the Church’s family history records. We were very interested in DNA for genealogical purposes to find out what it could tell us. What we learned is that DNA can tell you about this line here. OK? The Y chromosome. And DNA can tell you about this line here, which is mitochondrial DNA. So through DNA, you can learn about the line that is all males down through here. If there’s a female in this line, it’s stuck and it can’t go any further. Now, here you can tell about the line that is female all the way down. OK? But what’s in the middle here you can’t discover through DNA with today’s technology. OK? Now, if you think this out further, like this, what basically happens is let’s say you’ve got one person here down to maybe 10 million or whatever.
How many of those 10 million people have DNA that we can discover this way? If the lines don’t intertwine, the answer is just these two. The first one and this one. What actually happens is that as people intermarry and you shift from male to female here or from female to male there you lose the opportunity to trace their strand. So what happens over time is that you lose—you lose DNA identity as you work your way down through time. It’s not always possible to be able to identify peoples who were there.
MtDNA and Y DNA Population Studies
Turley is also unaware of the recent work on nuclear genes that essentially fills in the large numbers of ancestral slots in a person's pedigree chart. Work on nuclear DNA has confirmed that Native American DNA is derived from Asia. For a description of the nuclear DNA research see my post entitled "Could Generations of Lamanite DNA Just Disappear?"
TURLEY: But there’s a bigger problem. The bigger problem is this: in order to capture DNA, in order to make a comparison, you need two things. One, you need to know, what was the DNA of Lehi’s family? And then two, what is the DNA of ancient American peoples? We know some but not all the answers here. We’re continuing to learn over time. The body of types of DNA for these people is growing. With this one, we have no way of knowing the answer. We do not know what Lehi’s DNA was. The place where they were living at the time was a place that had immigration in and out. The kind of DNA they had is impossible to determine. So that’s the basic answer. You can’t tell because you don’t know both the DNA of Lehi’s family history.
QUESTION: So there are people in the Americas now might have DNA from Lehi? You don’t know the original.
TURLEY: They might be—they could easily be descendants of Lehi for the reason I explained at first with that chart. They might have the DNA of Lehi, we just don’t know what DNA Lehi’s family had.
QUESTION: You don’t think that he was from the house of Israel?
TURLEY: Yes, but so is most of the world today.
TURLEY: No but if, but if his area is a crossroad, we have immigration coming in, it doesn’t take very many generations before that DNA is, as I was showing you here earlier, it only takes one marriage for that to stop.
QUESTION: [01:53:39-01:53:46] I actually don’t think that’s correct according to scientific evidence today. I think you actually can trace back to with DNA and tell for instance where the Swedish people are coming from or where the Asian people are coming from. I think you can do that quite well according to reports I have seen. I’m very, very surprised that you’re [playing] that there is no evidence at all.
TURLEY: You can follow this.
All I said was if, if these people don’t intermarry, it’s one. But if they intermarry what happens is this line—let’s pose that this person has a child and that child marries here.
OK? Then this DNA gets connected here and goes in along the male line all the way through. They have a daughter and that daughter marries and they have a line of daughters that could come in like this. But the original DNA batch from here? They don’t replicate down.
QUESTION: I’m not an expert but that’s your opinion and you know much more about this than I do. If you look at the tests they’ve done now with the DNA they’ve found with your mind it’s, you know, statistically, do you see that it’s very probable, the outcome compared to, you know? It would be easier if they found maybe some indication that would be stronger there would be some trace. What’s your opinion on it? Do you feel, would I lie to you? It’s statistically probable the way we see it?
TURLEY: I grew up with a PhD father who was a scientist, OK, he was a nuclear engineer and I was taught scientific method and statistics and the importance of recognizing the limitations of the science. What I’m saying about DNA is its an extremely important tool for finding our where peoples come from. Its limitation is, it can’t tell us about all the people who used to exist, it can only tell us about some. Now, maybe someday, the technology will improve. But today, it can’t. So, because of these limitations, for anybody who claims one position or another on Lehi’s families is inconsistent with the science. That’s all I’m saying.
We Don't Need Lehite DNA, We Need non-Asian DNAIt is nonsensical to claim that because we don't know what the DNA of Lehi's family looks like we cannot possibly find Lehite DNA today. We know that Lehi and Mulek were members of two different Israelite tribes and that they and their families lived in Jerusalem. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that both the Lehites and Mulekites were Israelites, or at the very least closely related to people living in the Middle East. We know a considerable amount about the DNA lineages of living people whose ancestors were Israelites reaching back 2600 years ago. Israelite DNA lineages belong to the same family groups found in European populations: the H, I, J, K, N, T, U, V, W, and X groups. Other Middle Eastern populations such as the Syrians, Egyptians, Lebanese, and other Arabic groups have similar mitochondrial DNA lineages belonging to these families. Essentially all Europeans and Middle Easterners possess one of these lineages.
Even if Asian lineages miraculously found there way to Israel 3,000 years ago and were picked up by the Lehites, they would be distantly related to the Asian lineages that found their way to the New World over 15,000 years ago. For the same reason contemporary Asian A lineages, for example, are easily distinguished from contemporary Native American A lineages.
BYU Apologetics is as official as it gets
"The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."Now we know the truth. When Church leaders are in a corner and are forced to respond to difficult questions they assume the exact same position as LDS apologists at BYU. The church can no longer plausibly deny that the views of the Maxwell Institute do not represent the position of the church. When push comes to shove the church's unofficial apologists are pretty much as official as it gets.