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Saturday, 1 February 2014

Tentative Faith Meets Uncompromising Facts: A Response to President Newsroom

In response to the apparent lack of Lamanite DNA in Native Americans and Polynesians, in late January 2014 the LDS Church published an essay entitled “Book of Mormon and DNA Studies”. 

The essay raises many difficult questions for Mormons, not the least being the admission by the church there were many Native Americans in the New World thousands of years before the arrival of Book of Mormon people. Some Mormons may wonder how these people avoided the Flood or how they fit with other Biblical events such as the Tower of Babel. Were they even Pre-Adamites? 

In this post I consider the evolution of Mormon beliefs linked to the ancestry of Book of Mormon people; at some of the science driving that evolution, and then respond more specifically to the DNA essay. 

I grew to adulthood listening to the prophet Spencer W. Kimball, God’s mouthpiece on earth, telling us about millions of living Lamanites. He spoke of how in fulfilment of prophecy the Lamanites were blossoming as a rose in the Latter-days. I probably heard these messages more frequently in Australia because of our proximity to our Polynesian neighbours, many of whom had made Australia their home. According to President Kimball there were 60 million Lamanites scattered across the Americas and throughout the Pacific. Their Lamanite ancestry was acknowledged in dozens of temple dedicatory prayers (and still is), thousands of patriarchal blessings and countless seminary, institute and Sunday School classes. Everyone, including the prophet and apostles, and all my church leaders and friends, knew who the Lamanites were and where they lived. 
"I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today.... The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl--sixteen--sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents--on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather....These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness."
-- Spencer W. Kimball, LDS General Conference, 1960 
"Not until the revelations of Joseph Smith, bringing forth the Book of Mormon, did any one know of these migrants. It was not known before, but now the question is fully answered. Now the Lamanites number about sixty million; they are in all of the states of America from Tierra del Fuego all the way up to Point Barrows, and they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand. The Church is deeply interested in all Lamanites because of these revelations and because of this great Book of Mormon, their history that was written on plates of gold and deposited in the hill. The translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed a running history for one thousand years-six hundred years before Christ until four hundred after Christ-a history of these great people who occupied this land for that thousand years. Then for the next fourteen hundred years, they lost much of their high culture. The descendants of this mighty people were called Indians by Columbus in 1492 when he found them here." 
-- Spencer W. Kimball, "Of Royal Blood," Ensign, July 1971




What a difference DNA makes. 

We are now informed in an official church essay on the LDS.org website “nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples.” In the essay it is acknowledged that scientists believe the overwhelming majority of Native American DNA is derived from Asia but we are told the DNA data is “tentative”. But it is LDS beliefs about Native American ancestry that have proven to be tentative. For almost 180 years LDS leaders have taught that Native Americans and Polynesians are the descendants of Book of Mormon peoples. However, most LDS apologists began shrinking the claims and aligned the Book of Mormon civilizations with the Olmec and Maya in the region of Mesoamerica. Now the Lamanite presence has contracted to the point that it has essentially vanished. 

Mainstream scientific views

Before responding to some of the claims made in the DNA essay I'd like to very briefly review some of the understanding that decades of thorough scientific research has uncovered about the origins of Native Americans. In sharp contrast to changing LDS views about the colonization of the Americas, there has been a century-long scientific consensus about where the ancestors of Native Americans came from and approximately when they arrived in the New World. DNA is not significantly altering the consensus. It is just helping to refine our understanding. 

Virtually all non-Mormon scientists accept that the first Americans entered what is now Alaska about 18,000 years ago, near the peak of the last ice age. At that time sea levels were 130m lower because rainfall at higher latitudes became trapped in glaciers and didn’t return to the sea. Lowered sea levels exposed a wide flat land known as Beringia, where the Bering Strait is now situated. This land was cold tundra but it sustained roaming herds of megafauna. At that time migration south from Alaska into North America was blocked by large ice sheets that covered much of what is now Canada.

About 14,000 years ago an ice-free corridor opened up allowing migration into North America. The most compelling evidence for this migration is the discovery of thousands of fluted spear points manufactured by Native Americans belonging to the Clovis culture. Clovis points have been found in over 1,500 sites across most of the United States. Organic remains at many of the Clovis sites have been carbon-dated to about 13,500 years before present.  

Locations where 13,500-year-old Clovis points have been found in the United States and Canada. Source: The Paleoindian Database of the Americas. http://pidba.org/images.html



There is also growing evidence that Native Americans migrated south via the Pacific coast. This colonization is thought to have occurred about 15,000 years ago. Finally, there has been fairly continuous migration back and forth across the Bering Strait by Eskimo groups during the last 7,000 years. No scientist outside of Mormon culture believes that Middle Eastern populations migrated to the Americas prior to Columbus.

The two major routes of migration into the Americas. Note: Eskimos have migrated all over sub-Arctic regions over the last 7-8000 years. These migrations are rarely mentioned in the broader debate but they are relevant.


Some responses to President Newsroom

LDS.org
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.

Southerton

The DNA science is neither tentative or inconclusive. It is consistent with scientific conclusions about Native American origins from numerous other scientific disciplines. While nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples, a lot is known about the DNA of Native Americans.


LDS.org
Scientists theorize that in an era predating 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.


Southerton

Native Americans have occupied the New World for at least ten thousand years before the Book of Mormon period. For over a century mainstream archaeologists, geneticists and anthropologists studying Native Americans have believed their ancestors migrated from Asia across dry land (Beringia) exposed during the last ice age. The DNA evidence suggests a slightly earlier date of arrival in North America about 16,000 years ago. 

LDS.org
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.


Southerton

The claim in the first sentence is contradicted by the book itself.
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."

The essay claims there are cultural and demographic "clues" in the text that support the existence of other people. Scriptures like those above, and many others in the Book of Mormon and D&C, need to be overlooked in favour of clues. There are also numerous statements by prophets and apostles which depict the New World as an empty land prior to the arrival of the Jaredites and Lehites. These are the words of 
Jeffrey R. Holland, a current apostle. 


“Holy scripture records that “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof.” (Ether 13:2.) 
Such a special place needed now to be kept apart from other regions, free from the indiscriminate traveler as well as the soldier of fortune. To guarantee such sanctity the very surface of the earth was rent. In response to God’s decree, the great continents separated and the ocean rushed in to surround them. The promised place was set apart. Without habitation it waited for the fulfilment of God’s special purposes. 
With care and selectivity, the Lord began almost at once to repeople the promised land. The Jaredites came first, with stories of the great flood fresh in their memories and the Lord’s solemn declaration ringing in their ears: “Whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them.” (Ether 2:8.) 
A Promised Land - Jeffrey R. Holland, The Ensign, June 1976

LDS.org
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.”

Southerton
It is hard to take seriously the words of a member of the First Presidency from 85 years ago while the words of many, more recent, prophets are ringing in our ears. If current church leaders believe the words of President Ivins then they need to be repeated in an equally public forum today.


It also appears that President Ivin's words have been taken out of context. Bear in mind that Mormons believe that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri and that prior to the global Flood all continents were joined together. It's very likely that the non-Book of Mormon people Ivin's had in mind were people who arrived after the close of the Book of Mormon period. 
Here is the full quote of President Ivin's words.  


"We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon teaches the history of three distinct peoples, or two people and three different colonies of people, who came from the old world to this continent. It does not tell us that there was no one here before them. It does not tell us that people did not come after. And so if discoveries are made which suggest differences in race origins, it can very easily be accounted for, and reasonably, for we do believe that other people came to this continent. A thousand years had elapsed from the time the Book of Mormon closed until the discovery of America, and we know that other people came to America during that period."

LDS.org
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.


Southerton
This is a very confusing paragraph. The authors jump from talking about Native American  mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA (~100% Asian origin) to a 2013 study on autosomal DNA of a 24,000-year-old Siberian who shared one-third of his autosomal DNA mutations with European or West Asian populations. Many readers could easily conclude that the earlier mitochondrial and Y-chromosome studies were faulty. Conflating the two types of analysis is confusing.


DNA mutations that can be used to distinguish Native American DNA arose after their ancestors separated from their Asian neighbours about 18,000 years ago. They are new mutations that occurred on the way to, or in the New World. The Siberian study is about mutations that arose before 24,000 years ago. They are earlier mutations that occurred during the 10s of thousands of years that humans spent migrating across Eurasia before reaching Siberia. 


It's a bit like looking at a 1975 Ford and concluding it is a Hyundai because it has 4 wheels. The idea to use four wheels arose early in the evolution of the car and most cars around the world now have 4 wheels. But just because two different cars have four wheels doesn't mean they are built in the same factory or country. Yes, Native American autosomal DNA carries vast numbers of mutations that arose 20,000 to 50,000 years ago, when their ancestors were in Eurasia. These mutations are shared by numerous populations spread over vast areas because humans have migrated over vast areas of the globe. Mutations that arose 5,000 or 15,000 years ago have a more restricted distribution, exclusively in the Americas. But these are the most informative mutations for ancestry studies.

The 2013 study is not relevant to the conclusions derived from mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA. Its about an individual who lived 24,000 years ago, long before the first Native America set foot in the Americas. If you are interested in a more detailed discussion of the 2013 study (by Raghavan and others) feel free to visit my blog post "The Great DNA Surprise".

Also, I hate to be picky but Native American DNA is essentially Siberian, not East Asian. East Asia includes the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans who are not direct ancestors of Native Americans. 


LDS.org
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.


Southerton
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 about the last 15 years but LDS apologists, like Rodney Meldrum, insists on referring to papers from 1997, the peak of the debate, and using it as evidence that dating is unreliable.

The “Near Eastern DNA” being referred to here is the Native American mitochondrial X lineage. This lineage is not derived from Israel. LDS scientist Ugo Perego has dated Native American X lineages using robust modern methods, and he concluded it arrived in the New World about 15,000 years ago, essentially the same time as the A, B, C and D lineages arrived. 
The X lineage has recently been found in Kennewick Man, a 9,000-year-old skeleton discovered on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington. For more information see my Kennewick Man blog post). 

LDS.org
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.”

Southerton
Scientists are well aware that many small-scale migrations have occurred among sub-Arctic populations. The Bering Strait is not a complete barrier to migration by sea kayak 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 into North and South America.





Why can't we detect Book of Mormon DNA?
At about this point in the essay the marbles start appearing. Having admitted that there is a scientific consensus that essentially all Native American DNA is derived from Asia, the authors give some technical explanations for why DNA could disappear or be difficult to detect. We are introduced to the well established principle in population genetics of genetic drift which includes founder effect and bottleneck effect. These are used to suggest that it may be too difficult to detect small populations of Book of Mormon people using population genetics because:

1. We don't know what the founding DNA (Lehite, Jaredite) looks like

2. It entered large populations and got diluted away
3. It was unlucky DNA and faired worse in New World pandemics

LDS.org
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.


Southerton
The problem is not knowing what Lehite DNA looked like. The problem is
 Native American DNA is over 99.5% Asian and it arrived in the Americas in excess of 15,000 years ago. The only non-Asian DNA (0.5%) is either western European or African and derived from post-Columbus admixture. It is also untrue to say we know nothing about the likely DNA lineages of the Book of Mormon founders. They came from the Middle East and most were genealogically Hebrew. They would have carried Middle Eastern or Hebrew DNA lineages, which are extensively characterised.


LDS.org
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.”


Southerton
Yes, the genetic landscape has changed but why would the descendants of Middle Eastern Jews die out at a vastly higher rate than Native Americans? Over a thousand maternal DNA lineages have been determined from pre-Columbian ancient remains. They all belong to one of the five major mitochondrial DNA haplogroups (A, B, C, D, and X), all of which are derived from Asia. No Middle Eastern DNA has been found.

It could be argued that the descendants of Book of Mormon people would be expected to carry more resistance to Old World infectious diseases because their ancestors had lived with these diseases for thousands of years. Smallpox, one of the major killers in Post-Columbus pandemics, has been present in the Old World for as long as 10,000 years. Middle Eastern populations would be expected to carry higher proportions of alleles conferring resistance to the disease.

LDS.org
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.


Southerton
If Middle Eastern DNA entered Native American populations in the last 3 thousand years there is no reason to believe it would disappear completely. Scientists recently 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 but that DNA was very easy to detect. A simple DNA test can reveal exactly how much Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA we each carry. A similar test could reveal pre-Columbian Jewish DNA in Native Americans but none has been found.

LDS.org
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.


Southerton
This is confusing. If people are genealogically related they must share genetic material, especially autosomal DNA.


LDS.org
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.”


Southerton
Then why the essay?

The Book of Mormon makes scientifically testable claims that have continuously been 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 provenance of the Book of Mormon.

111 comments:

  1. Simon I was hoping you would respond to this nonsense, thank you so much. Ugo Perego has the answer we were all looking for in his video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ilin4lt0nQ

    Of course he is a Mormon scientist, the one the church used as a source for this DNA 'over our heads talk' - he knows all that you have said yet his 'simple answer' is that god did not put spirits into any of those earlier peoples. Adam and Eve were the first to have spirits. All those early peoples who could build, have children, bury their dead with love and flowers etc. had no spirits. Why didn't I think of that?

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  2. Hi Jean,
    As a scientist Perego should be ashamed to be behind this fraud. He has done some excellent research based on the used of DNA variation to date the age of DNA lineages (molecular clock). The essay says all of his research is unreliable.

    But you are right. He should be more ashamed of his racist spiritless claims. That is sheer desperation apologetics.

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    1. While I have very basic understanding of DNA markers and all the nuances that can be included I do have enough common sense to know when I'm being lied to. The LDS church has painted themselves into such a tight corner with this latest sack of fetid sewage. So if these latest claims are to be given any merit does that make all the books by other LDS 'Scholars" wrong?

      And the whole 10-30,000 year thing puts some weird twists in their biblical Adam and Eve theory. I see this somewhat buried press release as a very cynical manipulation by the LDS leaders to treat their own devoted members as brain dead fools. I suspect that this will backfire far more than they could ever anticipate because even the most naive and noble of Mormon will eventually become so disillusioned with such obvious lies and imaginative but corrupt stretches of information that this will be the last straw. The fraud is just too obvious, even to those who sincerely want to believe.

      Thanks for your article Simon. I appreciate a balanced and informed view on such matters. I my not be able to hold a qualified argument on such matters but I can certainly link to those who can. You validate what instinct and the little bit of information I do comprehend. Thankyou so much.
      Insanad

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    2. Ditto to Jean's thanks, Simon. I felt an "oh yeah" go through me when I linked to this and saw it was you who had written this. I hope that someone else focuses on ALL the quotes that can be found whereby many modern prophets taught absolutely that there was no one here before the "Lamanites", nor afterwards until the time of Columbus (I guess they didn't know about the Vikings, etc.). Not only that, but as you well know, all of us who grew up in the church heard that doctrine over and over and over again. I love the way the church has put out these papers and then buried them so deep one can hardly find them on their website. I actually went there first to read the first ones, and I had a very hard time finding them. Not only that, there has been NO general announcement to the members that they are putting these on their website. They hope to God the members don't find them!!

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    3. Let's take the Bene Israel for example, they are decendants of Jews, which some historical sources say that their ancestors were traders who were shipwrecked in India and other traditions speak of their wondering to India. Anyways, even after thousands of years, their aDNA and other y-DNA markers still carried the so called "Jewish Markers". Needless to say, none of these are found in the American continent. It's baffling that LDS apologetics could be so naive to these basic facts.

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  3. Thank you for your analysis. The latest Mormon essay is nothing more than a misdirected attempt to distract the honest seeker of truth.Look how smart we are surely you couldn't hope to understand the complicated questions with your puny little brains.

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  4. Thank you Simon. Truth will prevail.

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    1. Yes it will. I feel sorry for you Tom when it does.

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    2. Yes, truth will prevail. It is prevailing more and more. I am grateful for your work as well as for the work of Dr. Southerton.

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  6. Brilliant article (as always) Simon old friend. Forget the email I sent yesterday - you've done the job. There is nowhere for them to go now other than crawl under a rock and hope people like you will go away and leave them alone (in their misery). I have posted this link to my 'The Mormon Delusion' web site and fb page, encouraging all to read it. Your work was always definitive; the science says it all and has the last word. Well explained.

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  7. Thank you Simon. This reinforces to me that I made the correct choice when I abandoned Mormonism.

    It appears that the LDS church is now elusively hinting that people arrived before Adam and Eve and survived the flood, and that those descendants of Paleo-Indians eventually mixed with Book of Mormon people.

    Dr. Perego's published works on the peopling of America are valuable contributions to science, but he gave a public talk in 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ilin4lt0nQ in which he speculated that people living in the Americas earlier than 6,000 years ago probably did not have spirits like ours and were animals. At that same time there were legal disputes by American Indians over human remains that according to Perego's dehumanizing thoughts were nothing more than animal ancestors. Apparently the LDS church has no problem with his ideas because he is currently employed by them.

    Instead of admitting that the Book of Mormon is a work of fantasy, the Mormon Church has apparently declared that among the ancestors of the American Indians are a people not from Adam and Eve. Perhaps the LDS leaders will never truthfully deal with the Book of Mormon but I did when I discarded it and resigned from the LDS church.

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    1. So the ancestors of the American Indians before Adam were Animals, with different spirits, am I understanding you correctly that, that is what Perego's said in his talk. If so then Adam's offspring would have had to have sex with these animals/things to bring the american indian where they are today. To give them the spirit that adam had. Is that correct. Oh, they are so screwed up.

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    2. At 13:50 in the video, he said "would you call somebody that has all of these components like eight out of nine for example, everything but the spirit, would you call that a man, or would that be something similar to but not quite a man."

      He didn't speculate on how or when the spirit children of God went into these people, other than God did it.

      “We became children of God in the moment God decided to put the spirit of man inside the physical bodies that have a different evolutionary path”
      http://signaturebooks.com/2012/09/mormon-scientist-concedes-native-american-origins/

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  8. Since we do not know what DNA came over by any small group unless we have their remains we have lost the starting point. Without that data we know nothing and all comparisons are worth nothing. All groups on the earth are a mixture of DNA. We can make general statements but lack absolutes concerning an individual when we do not have their body to examine. Myself I have looked into the early culture of the American Indians to get a sense of their background. It seems as though many of the American Indians had many Jewish type customs before the Europeans changed things. A good book on this is The History of the American Indians written by James Adair in the 1700's. He spent 40 yrs with the Indians in America.

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    2. Anonymous,

      While I sympathize with your apparent need to believe in the Book of Mormon (despite its having been proven time and again to be a fraud), it is a fact that the mainstream (non-LDS) scientific community has, without credible exception, come to the conclusion that there were no Middle East contributions to the pre-Columbian New World human genome.

      In fact, as DNA analysis methods and techniques become more sophisticated, sensitive and specific, the evidence against the Book of Mormon has strengthened past tthe point of any reasonable doubt.

      The quotation below from the paper cited is typical of the conclusions of geneticists who work in this area.

      Fagundes, et al., in Am J Hum Genet. 2008; 82(3): 583–592 wrote:

      "Here we show, by using 86 complete mitochondrial genomes, that all Native American haplogroups, including haplogroup X, were part of a single founding population, thereby refuting multiple-migration models."

      Individuals who somehow fail to acknowledge the scientific findings here must be counted among the science-deniers of the world.

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    3. Yes but we know Lehi and company where Jews from the house of Efraim, they lived in Jerusalem and we know enough about Jewish DNA to be able to reconize a profile correct? You dont need a body to examine to know what Israelite dna looks like. The article keeps refering to Lamanite DNA as if it is something unknown , lamanite is just the name they were given , its nota diferent race.

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    4. You are confusing cause and effect. James Adair's book was written well before the Book of Mormon and argues in favor of a theory that was quite popular at that time--namely that the Indians were of Hebraic origin. Later Ethan Smith's VIEW OF THE HEBREWS also put forth that view incorporated into the then-popular "mound-builders myth" that there were two ancient civilizations, one more civilized than the other who built the sophisticated structures that European settlers found, and one savage, bloodthirsty culture which wiped out the civilized peoples centuries ago. It was in this environment that the Book of Mormon appeared which confirmed the popular ideas of the day which have since been disproven by subsequent scientific research. Thus James Adair's book is not so much a verification of claims in the Book of Mormon but more of a contributor to those claims.

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    5. Why in the map used above of the "Clovis spear head" locations are they dominated on the eastern coast of North America? This seems very odd to me, if the people that used them came across a land bridge on the west coast. Why are the more advanced civilizations found in South America? Shouldn't they be found in the places where people had been the longest?
      Also if, as some of you claim that DNA science has proved that ALL the people of the Americas came from the Siberian region then how do you reconcile that with other scientific data. The large populations of white native Americans, languages and motifs that are related to many other part of the ancient world.
      If any of you know so much Please explain to me: Niagara Falls march since the last Ice Age? Lions in Alaska? Hippos in England? Tianuacho? Piri Reis map? Mammoths frozen in Siberia with tropical plants in their teeth and stomachs? These are only a few of the great questions I have, and yet these turn everything you think you know on it's head.
      Life and the World are very complicated, but you answer me these questions and I'll answer you any question about GOD. kjcw31@hotmail.com

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    6. Descent questions.
      I would also like to know if those "Clovis spear heads" were also found in Siberia/NE Asia (map is not clear), indicating that the migrating Asians had that technology before migrating to the Americas. Wouldn't that be a good thing to know?

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  9. With your work in this area and your courage in publishing your findings, you have pretty much single-handedly brought the Book of Mormon DNA problem to the attention of Mormons and the general public. Your work stands as a scientifically solid and constant reminder that the leadership of the LDS Church, in the grand tradition of its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., is morally bankrupt in that it continues to perpetuate the fraud that is the Book of Mormon.

    Now that the LDS Church has been forced to officially and publicly acknowledge that the DNA problem exists, I hope you will continue to actively support your position, be an advocate for the science involved, and not allow LDS, Inc. to continue to ignore or whitewash this (fatal) Book of Mormon DNA issue

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  10. This is a good essay, but the formatting could use some work. It's not always clear where your ideas and opinions are in relation to the parts of the LDS essay you are quoting.

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  11. Once again you've posted a great article.
    Thanks Simon - we love your work!! May the Truth roll forth!

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  12. There's an additional key observation - the cataclysmic depopulation referred to killed off those having inadequate immunity to diseases arising from domestication of animals in Turkey and nearby areas, in prehistoric times. (Guns, Germs, and Steel contains a nice discussion.) Those Mediterranean populations with poor immunity to those diseases had already died off, in prehistoric times, leaving a relatively immune population, including, of course, the populations of both Babel and Israel. Thus the arrival of these diseases in the Americas would have greatly RAISED the proportion of middle eastern DNA in the surviving population, whereas the implicit suggestion is that it might somehow have decreased it.

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    1. Thanks Andrew,
      A quick google search revealed that smallpox, one of the major killers in the New World pandemics after Columbus, has been present in Old World populations for as long as 10,000 years. So yes, Book of Mormon people would be more likely to carry higher proportions of alleles giving resistance to smallpox.

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    2. Also, wouldn't it be likely that Lehi's family introduced smallpox on any group of people they met? I would assume that would cause a similar pandemic, thus increasing their DNA impact on the population...

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    3. There are a couple of reasons this would be unlikely in a small migrating party. Firstly, it is unlikely that they would have been infected as the disease tended to be an all or nothing wave that ran through populations. Assuming one of them was infected then the disease would have run its course well before they arrived in the New World. The virus doesn't survive long outside the body and is transmitted via saliva and sneezing. Being at sea for a year would have been a very effective quarantine period.

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  13. Very well written. Thank you. However, I have to disagree with those who claim that believing Mormons will see through this carefully constructed fraud. As a former true believer I can say that most Mormons will find this nonsense comforting and feel vindicated. People tend to believe what they want to believe, ignore what challenges that belief, especially if they are deeply invested in that belief. Church leaders make very sure that Mormons are deeply invested. Church leadership knows what it is doing--they know their audience.

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    1. I totaly agree , this essays are written to the beliving folk , to give them another layer of confort and to keep them thinking "the church got this" . The majority wont even bother reading it . If the church really wanted members reading these they would make them easy to find.

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    2. Actually, Ananymous, I believe these essays are written for people like me who are doubting Thomases on the verge of leaving the church due to the excellent work being done on this blog and other sites such as Mormonthink. The LDS church thinks they have a shot at "saving" me by publishing these essays. Most true believing Mormons won't be comforted or vindicated by these essays because they are generally not aware they exist. There is no marketing by the church to the general church membership proclaiming the release of the essays; I only become aware of a new release from Mormonthink. The church does not want its general members even becoming aware of issues or controversies, which is why they don't market the essays. They quietly post them on lds.org knowing critics monitor the site in the hopes that individuals such as myself will be exposed to their "cure."

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  14. It's interesting to see this response to the DNA, and how some Mormons are wondering how this relates to their broader theological constructs. Evangelicals are doing the same in regards to evolution and the historical Adam debate. As we continue to have the internal discussion about evolution in addition to higher criticism as it relates to biblical interpretation and our various doctrinal formulations, this might make for an interesting dialogue topic as we wrestle with intellectual challenges to our respective faiths.

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  15. Nicely written.

    "I hate to be picky but", the formatting needs work. Your comments should not be munged in to the same paragraph as Newsroom's

    In the last few sections, your comments are prefaced by "Southerton" but the formatting is broken.

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    1. Thanks mate, all fixed up.

      The formatting in blogger can be a real bugger. It has a mind of its own and what you see on the editing screen changes in the active document.

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  16. Simon: I want to thank you for your clear and concise explanation of this topic. My wife and I spent the morning deconstructing the newest claptrap from the church, but your explanation put the icing on the cake. (My wife is an engineer/MBA and assiduously reads Scientific American and other scientific journals, so we are no strangers to the scientific concepts) I have been studying the problems with my Mormon faith for sometime now, and finally in December I told my ecclesiastical leaders that we would no longer be attending. After this latest dose of what I now call squarepeg/roundholeism, I am going to tender my resignation from the church. I can take no more. By the way, my wife and I have both had our DNA analyzed. My wife is Costa Rican and her genetic profile fits the model perfectly. European ancestry with a significant lineage designated as East Asian/Native American.

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    1. Thanks Kent. I must get my DNA lineage sorted one of these days. I'm guessing boring old European lineages, but you never know. Cheers

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  17. Once again Mormon Man god, his Mormon Bastard jesus and their Earthly Mormon Corporation have been broken, beaten, humiliated and rendered back to their lying origins by Google God.

    Google God is the most powerful god of all the universe. Why, BECAUSE THEY SPEAK IN TRUTHS!!!!!!

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  18. Hi Mr. Southerton, Um what continent is Israel located in?...Asia...right? You are a scientist so what geological science would you locate Israel? You did say that "All the lineages to date come from Asia". My conclusion is then that the DNA if all lineages of the native American people came from Asia, then people from Asia (Israel included) have the same DNA. Can you explain? Thanks.

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    1. There is a time problem and a distance problem. Israel is located in the Middle East, which is about as far west as you can go in Asia. Siberia is about 10,000 km away. Siberian DNA arrived in the Americas about 16,000 years ago. Thats about 13,000 years before Israel even existed. Hope that helps.

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  19. Hi Anonymous,
    I have discussed this in another post if you'd like to read it.
    http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/native-americans-are-descended-from.html

    The LDS.org essay acknowledges that Native American DNA lineages are "East Asian". They are in fact largely Siberian. That's a long, long way from Israel.

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  20. Hey everyone take a look at http://cabrillo.edu/~crsmith/clovis.html. The Clovis people at least in this internet post by CSmith shows that the Clovis people were found (at least in the year 2000) study to be only in the eastern & southeastern parts of the US and not all over the US. There were no found sites from near Beringia found, so they did not walk across the Bering Straight. It is unknown how they got here and were here in 10,500 and went extinct with the Ice-Age large mammals at the same time. In addition, within the same site you can read about the oldest, East Asian, ancestor ever found in North America, that of, Spirit Cave Man, found in 1940 near Fallon, Nevada. His DNA is from a people descended from Japanese ancestry. My conclusion is that there were peoples travelling, I assume, by sea (as well as walking) possibly boats they made all over, North, Central, & South America. It has been proved that there are boats crafted from thousands of years ago, even Columbus himself wrote of canoes carrying hundreds of native people 1 1/2 times longer than his frigate. Yeah, Siberia is a long way from Israel but so is South America a long way from Japan and Siberia. Asian people carry some of the DNA you and I carry and so does the earliest African, everyone is related, remember we can only have 2 parents and tracing that line back narrows as you go and we all end up having the same parts of DNA as everyone else. None of this proves or disproves the Book of Mormon.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Oh Goodie, the ole' Lack of Evidence Does Not Mean There Is No Evidence argument, a Mormon favorite.

      Just because NOTHING mentioned, which is tangible, in the Book of Mormon has EVER BEEN FOUND, doesn't mean the Book of Mormon isn't historically correct. The more that is NOT FOUND, the truer the Book of Mormon becomes.

      edited for grammar error.

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    3. The Clovis people did not go extinct, their culture transitioned into the Folsom and the change in tools and weapon point type was driven by climate change. See:

      Spatiotemporal dynamics of the Clovis–Folsom transition
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440310001731

      Your claim that Clovis was found only in the eastern and southeastern parts of the US is ignoring where the first Clovis site was found, in New Mexico. Read this study:

      The evolution of Paleoindian Geochronology and Typology on the Great Plains, Vance T. Holliday, 2000
      http://www.argonaut.arizona.edu/articles/holliday2000_1.pdf

      Another good read to understand the earliest people and their transitions, cultural changes and progression throughout the Holocene period is:

      Minnesota Archaeology: The First Thirteen Thousand Years
      http://anthropology.umn.edu/labs/wlnaa/first/

      New research strikes right at the heart of Joseph Smith's revelations and the Book of Mormon. Consider the Shawnee Indians.

      In September 1830, God allegedly revealed "And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them" (D&C 28:8)

      From that revelation, Oliver Cowdery went on the first Lamanite mission and preached to the Shawnee.
      http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/letter-from-oliver-cowdery-8-april-1831?p=2

      Joseph Smith even mentioned the Shawnee.
      http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/letter-to-hyrum-smith-3-4-march-1831?p=1

      But even in the 1830s, 5,000 year old mortuary methods and burial traditions were still being practiced by the Shawnee.

      See this study - Evidence of Ritualized Mortuary Behavior at the Meyer Site: An Inadvertant Discovery in Spencer County, Indiana (3,300 B.C.)
      http://www.in.gov/dnr/historic/files/hp-2010-2010ArchJournal.pdf

      This burial traditon of the Shawnee was in America both before and after the flood of Noah (2400 B.C.), and before the Jaradites (2,200 B.C.).
      https://si.lds.org/bc/seminary/content/library/student-resources/bofm/book-of-mormon-times-at-a-glance-booklet_eng.pdf

      So what good is revelation? Even Moroni's own words are suspect.

      Moroni said "the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham".
      http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/journal-1835-1836?p=25

      That so-called resurrected prophet from ancient America forgot to tell Joe that the ancestors of the Shawnee were there before the Jaradites, and more than 1,000 years before Abraham.

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  21. You might want to provide at least two or three quotations to back up the statement below. Many Mormons under the age of ~30 are unaware of what Kimball and others LDS leaders taught about the Lamanites. I hope you find this comment useful. Great work!

    Southerton
    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.

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  22. Two points: 1) How does Dr. Kent Jackson of BYU who wrote a lot about Lehi and Jerusalem feel about the statement that, "nothing is known about the DNA that Lehi, Sariah, Ishmael, and others brought to the Americas."?

    2) We used to consider Hispanic converts of the tribe of Manasseh because they were descendants of Lehi and were Lamanites. Just reviewing the temple dedicatory prayers of many temples in mexico, central and south america shows evidence of this. Elder Ted Brewerton in 1995 gave a GC talk where he said, "Many migratory groups came to the Americas, but none was as important as the three mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The blood of these people flows in the veins of the Blackfoot and the Blood Indians of Alberta, Canada; in the Navajo and the Apache of the American Southwest; the Inca of western South America; the Aztec of Mexico; the Maya of Guatemala; and in other native American groups in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific islands." If the blood of these people flows then and we should definitely see DNA evidence that they were the principal ancestors of the native americans. Where are the Haplotype J markers?

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  23. Simon,

    You do know that plenty of LDS leaders and members believed the hemisphere was inhabited by a lot of other people when the Lehites arrived before your book, right? The church has not "changed it's tune" as a result of any DNA research. The limited geography model, or something like it, was first proposed back in the 1840s. There have been many, many statements from leaders of the church over the last 100 years that state that there were plenty of other people here when Lehi arrived. These authors include Sjodal, Nibley, Sorenson, Smith, Reynolds, and many others, including members of the First Presidency. It is very irritating to see you so consistently act as if your book shook the church from any consistent belief about the Book of Mormon events. I suggest a look into the history of the limited geography model and the research from other sources.

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    1. nottrueblueanymore3 February 2014 at 20:16

      It is irritating to see mormons so consistently act as if their hollow rebuttals somehow proved non-events as being historical. I suggest you read about any science so that you can understand how ridiculous any and every mormon theory defending the book of mormon is. The limited geography model solves no problems presented by non-LDS sources, it only solves strawman problems presented by LDS sources, and is only of theological value to those steeped in the dogma.

      Really, it boils down to typical LDS apologetic tactics: misdirect by presenting a new argument unrelated to the current topic with no argumentation and then smugly assert your victory, misdirect by drawing attention to the age of the argument instead of the validity, misdirect by conveniently ignoring any and all arguments that you don't like.

      The church HAS changed its tune. Right from day one there are dozens of quotes, flowing all through the history of the church, by the same authorities that you cite, that claim that the native americans are of hebrew descent. You cannot change this fact by muddying the water with other people. This does not change the fact that DNA evidence has been found NOWHERE. Surely, especially with prophetic guidance claiming various locations and peoples as being lamanites, the mormons would have been able to pinpoint some strand of DNA somewhere that would provide evidence? The only way this could work is if all of these other people killed off all of Lehi's descendants, but the many prophets have kind of killed that line of reasoning (until some later prophet decides to throw these past ones under the bus just like Monson did just now). So, where is the evidence? The fact is that there is none, as science has proven time and time again. When are you going to start believing the empirical evidence?

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    2. Dear DJ Brown,

      I can understand your frustration but please try to see it from my perspective. None of the authors you mention speak on behalf of the church. In fact above everything they have written there is a disclaimer that reads something like this:

      “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.”

      This is the fault of the leaders of the church. They played the plausible deniability game too long and the chickens have come home to roost. The church quietly changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon about a year after my book was published, and there can be little doubt that DNA prompted that. The change is more likely to have been prompted by the avalanche of embarrassing apologetics than my book appearing on the scene.

      I have read or listened to Book of Mormon apologetics from Nibley, Sorenson, Reynolds, Whiting, J Meldrum, R Meldrum, Whiting, Stubbs, Perego, Woodward, Tvedtnes etc, etc. I simply find it unconvincing and desperate. One of the worst is Sorenson’s article “When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?” The title says it all. There was a big problem. Most students of the Book of Mormon hadn’t noticed any references to other groups. The correct answer had to be yes, and Sorenson delivered the necessary scholarship. The sort of “serious” and “careful” scholarship that finds all those “cunning inferences” and “hints” and “clues” that the Book of Mormon people were surrounded by Native Americans. Sorry, but I find research that proceeds from the conclusion to the evidence particularly unpersuasive.

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    3. Nephi clearly indicated there would be only two groups of people on the land when he recorded the angel's promise that the Lord would not allow the latter-day gentiles to utterly destroy the mixture of his seed among the seed of his brothers (1 Ne. 13:30). The Book of Mormon goes on to warn about and record the mixture of Nephi's seed with the Lamanites (2 Ne. 5:23, Al. 3:7-8, Hel. 3:16), but never with any outside group besides the Mulekites (Mosiah 25:13). The only two times new groups were encountered were so significant they merited special mention (Omni 1:14, 21). The Jaredites gathered ALL the people on the face of the land to their final battle (Ether 15:12, emphasis added), so there shouldn't have been anyone present when Lehi arrived. After the battle at Cumorah, Moroni definitively stated that "there are none save it be the Lamanites and the robbers that do exist upon the face of the land (Mormon 8:9)." If the Book of Mormon peoples really interacted with outsiders, Moroni would have known there were more than just Lamanites and robbers left. I'm sorry, but the Book of Mormon trumps any authorities' or scholars' opinions about it and the limited geography model just doesn't seem to fit the Book of Mormon record.

      Also, there is another big question that the argument of Israelite DNA getting absorbed into the larger population doesn't seem to answer: why has no Israelite DNA been discovered in any remains of native Americans from the Book of Mormon time period?

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  24. I appreciate the time and thought put into the article as well as a few of the productive comments. Good work!

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  25. I want to know what the Smithsonian is hiding in it's massive storage! Many strange finds, evidence of previous inhabitants, were found by early settlers and locked away to promote the colonization of this "new" world. I want online access to all that belongs to we the people. We want to know the truth!

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    1. Sorry, don't buy into conspiracy theories.

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    2. Simon.
      You bought into the Mormon "conspiracy theory"...as I did! :8>)

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  26. Here is a good quote from Elder Spencer Kimball from October 1959 general conference when speaking to "our kinsmen of the isles of the sea and the Americas, "Millions of you have blood relatively unmixed with Gentiles. Columbus called you "Indians," thinking he had reached the East Indies. The Lord calls you "Lamanites," a name which has a pleasant ring, for many of the grandest people ever to live upon the earth were so called. In a limited sense, the name signifies the descendants of Laman and Lemuel, sons of your first American parent, Lehi; but you undoubtedly possess also the blood of the other sons, Sam, Nephi, and Jacob. And you likely have some Jewish blood from Mulek, son of Zedekiah, king of Judah (Hel. 6:10). You came from Jerusalem in its days of tribulation. You are of royal blood, a loved people of the Lord. In your veins flows the blood of prophets and statesmen;"

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  27. I have a great deal of respect for what Simon has done in regards to bringing truth into helping LDS understand what is going on in the americas as for as DNA! I am not a DNA scholar by any means. But when I read about how Jeffery R. Holland talks of "without habitation" and "promised place was set apart". And now reading how even up to 16,000 years ago there were asians etc in the americas. Which is way further back than the book of mormon period things just don't add up.

    With the DNA issue so obviously brought forward by Simon, with Joseph Smith being tried as a "glass looker' and found guilty and the statement was found in the judges trunk. With KJB errors in the Book of Mormon. The conclusion has to be the book of mormon is fiction!
    In a court of law DNA is taken very seriously and of course so should the work of Simon!

    But really what gets me is this:
    The bible though I really think even Jesus is probable not very happy with, has tons of errors. Not saying down to the Dead Sea Scrolls from now but from the living Jesus followers UP to the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But even with that and after all the errors there are still artifacts in Bible lands that are found and substantiated by every museum irrespective of any faith or religion. . .

    This is what really gets me!
    1. The bible lands can yield TONS of artifacts, structures even cities, towns, arrows, coins, chariots, horses, skeletons on and on. . .

    2. Yet the book of mormon has NOTHING to substantiate it's authenticity by outside LDS sources! :) When the bible can do that time and time again.

    I am not a christian fundamentalist by any means, were I think the bible is perfect, I think it is full of problems. But with all its problems it can come up with artifacts in it's lands and the book of mormon doesn't even have ONE artifact that the LDS can claim from any source other than it's own.

    Thanks so much Simon for such GREAT contribution to helping me find more truth and I think a better "burning of the bosom" than what the LDS teach :)
    LDS Blues
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waJx0rvKjJQ&feature=youtu.be

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  28. It seems that your true problem with the Church's position (putting all the meaningless quibbles with methodology aside) is that you can't get over the statements by President Kimball and others about how all Native/South Americans came from Lehi. That's fine. But be more frank about that.

    That, in and of itself, is an entirely different question - one of prophetic infallibility. Its a question certainly worth wrestling over, but in the end, your meager attempt to wrestle with it are entirely unsatisfactory. I confess, I'd much sooner discard Kimball's statements as misguided dicta than overthrow the entire corpus of religious instruction because of that teaching.

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  29. So Brigham Young gets blamed for the Blacks and the Priesthood mess and now Spencer Kimball gets blamed for the Lamanite mess.

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    1. Sure. I don't wish to be impertinent here — but your comments make it seem as though you are so rigidly committed to an infallibility paradigm that you are unable to contemplate more nuanced, sophisticated approaches to prophetic leadership.

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    2. Hi Brad, can you describe what a sophisticated approach to prophetic leadership is? It sounds like you are comfortable ignoring some things that previous prophets have said. If so, do you take a sophisticated approach to the current prophetic leadership?

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    3. A more sophisticated approach is rooted in the recognition that God speaks through imperfect men, that he has openly acknowledged calling people with weaknesses to be his mouthpieces. In this sense, the words of a prophet are not ultimatums that we must either accept or risk apostasy; rather, his words are the *presumptive* word of God, but still require our due diligence in deciding their validity. Its a cooperative effort that recognizes that God works within our humanity, not around it. There's room for human error because God couldn't work any other way.

      Thus, in light of the Church's statements, any further discussion about DNA evidence is an answer in want of a question. They gutted your argument, and the only question that actually remains is what to do with the past statements from prophets like Kimball and Brother Joseph.

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    4. Um...what?

      Brad, I was born in the church and spent 35 years in it. I went on a mission. I was married in the temple. About 7 years ago, I had the guts and intellectual honesty to question, review the facts, see the church for what it really is and eventually leave. I am now 1000% happier.

      You seem like a smart guy who likes to articulate and use big words. Fine, but point that critical analysis inward. Quit making excuses and show some guts. Research the facts. You won't be struck by lightning.

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    5. Brad

      You said "Thus, in light of the Church's statements, any further discussion about DNA evidence is an answer in want of a question. "

      Well to quote your own words I would argue that I have taken a "sophisticated" approach to the DNA essay, done my "due diligence" and made a decision about its "validity". Its a poorly stated position. Whats the point of a prophet if everyone gets to pick and choose teachings they like?

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    6. Brad,

      The presumption in the church that one can "go and ask god and know for himself" if what the prophets say are true or not is a bit more complex that at first glance. Sure, it sounds so real - that I can know for myself - for god will reveal it to ME!

      Let's put it to the test, shall we? Let suppose that you, being a polygamist in the 1890's (and had been given that charge by the prophet himself 20 years previously) were in the conference hall when Pres. Woodruff announced the end of polygamy. You don't need to take his word for it...you can get confirmation directly from god himself. So you go to your family of 10 wives and 32 children and tell them what the prophet just said. You all decide to pray about it, and you receive confirmation that dissolving your polygamist ways is not the thing for you.

      So you go along and continue in life and pay no attention to this pronouncement by the prophet. A church court convenes and you are excommunicated for polygamy, like so many were at that time.

      The only way you can have revelation in the LDS church is if that revelation is the same as what they have already told you it should be. If not, you are wrong by default and must fall in line, or risk a court of love.

      You think you have more control of what you think and do - than you actually do.

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    7. But Simon, precisely why is the DNA of indigenous American populations relevant if the LDS Church takes the position that Lamanite/Nephite populations were not the only people to inhabit the continent? The answer is, as I've said, it is only relevant to the following question: Why did Joseph Smith, Spencer Kimball, et al say they were? In other words, your research is a premise, not a conclusion, of an argument you're only tangentially making.

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    8. Yours and "Anonymous'" rigid lenses, if extended beyond Mormonism, would mathematically eliminate the possibility of faith in any Christian religion, and likely every faith tradition (though I don't profess to know much about non-Christian religions other than a particular strain of Buddhism). Every Christian religion has misrepresented who authored the Pentateuch. Same with Islam and likely Judaism too. Are we to conclude that because many religious leaders have believed/represented that Moses himself wrote the Pentateuch, faith in those leaders is foreclosed? If that is your argument, then there's nothing really to say — I can't engage with someone who cannot inhabit that space where mistakes and human error do not form at least *some* part of religious experience.

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    9. Brad, the Church takes that position only because of the science, not because of what the Book of Mormon says. I don't buy the apologetics of "there are lots of others mentioned in the text". The text is explicit about the Promised land being preserved for and inhabited by Hebrews.
      The Brethren have been double dealing. They publicly support the hemispheric model but privately support the limited model. They are being punished for that.

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    10. I don't claim to know anything about the private positions of the Q12 (in fact, I'm surprised you claim to). And your point about "textual" support — again, this is the *same* question. It is not different at all. Two points in this vein: since the real question is why some prophets taught a false teaching regarding indigenous Americans, why should we not extend this to the prophetic authors of the Book of Mormon? Second, in furtherance of that point, do we expect prophetic authors to be omniscient about the demographic composition on the vast expanse of the continent? Or do we expect them to be, like us, rather ethnocentric? Fundamentally, your follow up comment just now does not distinguish the question — it only further emphasizes what the *actual* question is.

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    11. I cannot understand why you go through these contortions to maintain your faith in ancient and modern prophets when you acknowledge they both have taught things that are false.

      I'm rapidly losing interest in this topic. Its going nowhere.

      Delete
    12. LOLz. And i'm beginning to see how your rigid worldview has crowded out the real God. Your God would call Prophets who are perfect. My God calls humans. But whatever. I've learned for myself that you're no theologian, and that's fine. It just confirms that my faith is not threatened by your work because you've misapprehended the relevant question. Call mine "contortions" if you will, but please don't be blind to your own acrobatics and willful blindness. Over and out, sir.

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    13. Your God seems to be a very poor judge of character... And completely unskilled in astronomy, physics, linguistics, botany, linear time, archeology, etc.

      Your prophets can't keep anything straight from one generation to the next. If we had a daguerreotype of Joseph Smith using an Ipad, you'd say it was real, and proof of his divine calling. No way it could be faked.

      And Salamanders talk.

      It's your PRIDE, Brad, that causes you to be so delusional.

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  30. Ok, as a full-blooded Navajo from the Tachii'nii (Red Running into Water) and 'Ashiihi (Salt) clans, when we Navajos are first born, as well as other tribes, they have a "bruise" on their posterior.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_spot

    Another is the congenital epithelial melanosis or the black freckle in the white of the eyes. I've always had them in my eye as well as seeing them in other Navajos. I went to see an optometrist while in Utah County (everyone is LDS there) and he commented to his trainee about the freckle in my eye. His words were "this is seen in people of Asian descent........but you're Native American so...". He had to back peddle in order of avoiding the destruction of our faiths. Since LDS believe native Americans are from the middle east.
    http://www.iovs.org/content/36/8/1721.full.pdf
    http://www.college-optometrists.org/download.cfm/docid/b1363f0b-3426-4fe3-a4c53efe9f16b6a5

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  31. Not being a scientist I though the most telling part of the essay was the last paragraph. To paraphrase it basically admonished the brethren to remember that the purpose of the BOM was to convey a spiritual message not a history. In my mind that is an admission that the most correct book ever written is a fiction.

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  32. Excellent article! Appreciate the quick response to the LDS.org article. Why even mention the 2013 study which does nothing to support the BoM narrative, which as I recall is about a group that arrived via ship in 600 BC? Even if this study showed 100% Middle Eastern or Hebrew DNA lineages we're talking about an arm bone that was found 24,000 years ago in Siberia. What has that got to do with supporting the BoM story --and I do mean "story"!

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  33. Man, aren't the leaders of the Church dancing the jitterbug now !! But they've been doing it for years. They cover one lie with another and pretend to be "the final word on the subject". Since Joseph Smith the leaders have been creating all kinds of illusions and calling them facts. They must know how ignoble they have been with their deceptions, and down deep, feel ashamed of how they've mislead so many thousands of people.

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  34. The truth of the matter is that there is inherent racism in Mr. Southerton's analysis. He ignores multiple markers in regards to Asiatic markers in connection to those who would have been located in the Middle East Region a couple thousand years ago.

    In the traditional Western European and white symptomatic approach of ignoring ANY EVIDENCE from Asia that goes counter to the white man supremacy idea, or the ideas that have come floating (and indeed in some ways were the entire reason that some of this DNA evidence started popping up when people started making connections between specific Asiatic peoples and Europe and the Middle East.

    In some of these the ideas still follow Native Americans came from Asia...but there are different markers which indicate Native Americans are actually MORE Caucasian than the Chinese or even the Indians and others. The idea is that the DNA markers came originally either from the Southern Europe (though more likely the Middle East) transferred to some areas which we'd know as Steppes and then Russia, then North and across.

    However, don't expect many white man, especially those from the racist traditions which try to preeminent Western Europeans in connections with the Bible (which is really the tradition this argument is following, that Jesus was white and Jews were white, despite the REAL preponderance of evidence which shows the contrary) based upon a few samples of Jews (and note, that's JEWS...not HEBREWS) from the Northern Europe areas as opposed to Asiatic Jews or those further east.

    What it boils down to is in science, simply saying the Native Americans came from Asia is technically correct in the short term, but overall is MUCH more complex with some indications implying that there possibly were those from those same areas of the Middle East or Southern Europe as recently as a few thousand years ago that are migrants in the Far Eastern areas of Asia itself.

    If we don't accept religion as science, which the author has done in his implications that Jesus was a white European with the same markers...it actually opens up a LARGE arena of questions which have yet to be answered. This doesn't necessarily back up the Book of Mormon or LDS either...but that's not my point. My point is he's refuting one religion on the basis of a theory built upon another religious precept instead of the actual science itself.

    Aka, Christ (if he existed) was related to White Europeans as per Medieval tradition rather than what actual facts may imply.

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    1. Say what??? That's quite a thought pretzel you're chewing on, Anonymous 19:28; make sure you have plenty of liquid to wash it down. It might help if you read the actual blog post, not the blog post you imagined this to be based on very light skimming. Also, it would help to read some REAL science and history books and papers, before you form (and spout) opinions.

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    2. There is NO racism in Dr. Southerton's analysis. And there were NO migrations from the Middle East to America a few thousand years ago. Ancient America was the work of descendants of Paleoindians.

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  35. Thank you for addressing this topic, and deconstructing the church article as you have. It's aggravating, in a cosmically ironic way, that a church-sanctioned article replete with half-truths (mixed with a few outright lies) gets held up to me by my family as a valid reason why I shouldn't have any issues with the church. "The church hath spoken, there endeth the matter."

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  36. A good article. The simplest answer is almost always the best. We can choose to believe that DNA remains incomprehensible or we can read the facts. Too much is known now to turn back. The wind has gone out of the Book of Mormon's sails and the religion is stalled in a Sargasso Sea of excuses and misdirection.

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  38. There appears to be a problem with comments not appearing. This is a re-post of a comment I received by email.

    Albert Wilde has left a new comment on your post "Tentative Faith Meets Uncompromising Facts: A Resp...":

    Why in the map used above of the "Clovis spear head" locations are they dominated on the eastern coast of North America? This seems very odd to me, if the people that used them came across a land bridge on the west coast. Why are the more advanced civilizations found in South America? Shouldn't they be found in the places where people had been the longest?
    Also if, as some of you claim that DNA science has proved that ALL the people of the Americas came from the Siberian region then how do you reconcile that with other scientific data. The large populations of white native Americans, languages and motifs that are related to many other part of the ancient world.
    If any of you know so much Please explain to me: Niagara Falls march since the last Ice Age? Lions in Alaska? Hippos in England? Tianuacho? Piri Reis map? Mammoths frozen in Siberia with tropical plants in their teeth and stomachs? These are only a few of the great questions I have, and yet these turn everything you think you know on it's head.
    Life and the World are very complicated, but you answer me these questions and I'll answer you any question about GOD. kjcw31@hotmail.com

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    1. The Clovis people dominated the east because the west is dominated by very large mountains. There was more food in the east. Its that simple.

      The most advanced civilizations occur very close to where very important plants were domesticated. Maize and beans were domesticated in Mesoamerica. Potatoes were domesticated in South America. These crops sustained very rapid growth in populations which led to large civilizations. While North America was colonised first, the rest of the two continents were colonised very quickly afterwards. Within about a thousand years.

      I'm not aware of any scientific evidence of large white Native American populations. You see puzzles and unanswered questions everywhere. I don't. I guess we are different.

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    2. The earliest civilization found in this hemispere was in Monte Verde Chile South America dating back to 18,500 BP or earlier. This is of course older than the Bering Stait Theory and it doesn't fit the into this theory because it is in the place (continent) and wrong time. There is also the Solutrean Theory which claims that people came from France to the Americas. the Native people of the Americas didn't fit into the stories of the Bible and the only explanation of their origin was that they were the Lost Tribes of Isreal. The mistreatment (to put it lightly) of the Native people of the Americas gave Bartolome De Las Casas (1484-1566) to write about the Native as Human Beings and should be treated as such. There is also the Sublimis Dei written by Pope Paul III 1537 in which that Native people were proclaimed the Lost Tribes of Isreal.

      I am Navajo by the way. I have done some studying on my people and other Native people of the Americas

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  39. Simon, you are smiling too much in your avatar. Mormons will dismiss you as one who is under the influence of Satan. You must learn to look as if you are growling like Boyd K Packer during general conference. That way mormons will assume that you have the solemnities of eternity on your mind. Otherwise, great site!

    Also, any chance we might catch bigfoot to get a DNA sample? David W Patten ought to be vindicated.

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  40. What does Professor Kent P. Jackson of BYU say about the statement in the dna essay that "nothing is known about the DNA that Lehi, Sariah, Ishmael, and others brought to the Americas" ? If we say they are of the tribe/lineage of Manasseh which Lehi looked up when studying his genealogy in the Brass plates he stole Laban, and we know that Ishmael was from the tribe of Ephraim, and we know they were both living around Jeremiah's time period, and likely ancestors to the 2 Chronicles 15:9 reference to Ephraim, and Manasseh, gathered with Judah, Benjamin and Simeon, and we know Laban inherited the Egyptian plates, and that Lehi knew Egyptian and could read the plates (Mosiah 1) then why do we not know much about these families DNA? Joseph married the egyptian girl Aseneth, that does not mean that we don't know anything about Joseph's DNA. If Lehi married a Sariah a local name identified in the Elephantine Papyrus C-22 then we should know more about the DNA of this family.

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  41. Why do you spend so much of your time on something you don't believe in? Are you trying to convince yourself of something? Why don't you spend your time doing (or finding) something you believe in? It would make the world a better place (and you too). Knocking down others faith is sad.

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    1. Perhaps he spends his time illuminating flaws in LDS apologetics regarding the DNA of ancient Americans because a lot of people find his work helpful in evaluating the LDS Church's truth claims. A lot of people get into professions because they find the work interesting and feel they are in a special position (due to their interest and professional training) to contribute to the general body of knowledge. It is hard to see how the world would be a better place if people who have important facts decided not to share them.

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    2. Maybe "he" spends his time in this quest--for the same reason the LDS church sends out 80K missionaries at a HUGE cost in tithing revenues, i.e., he believes the info he's found would be helpful to a lot of people (15 million PLUS).
      What?
      You LDS get to tear down Christian churches around the world in order to gain converts, but holy shit should someone challenge Mormonism!
      Okay for you...but not for us??

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  42. Simon, thank you for this point-by-point rebuttal and your other posts. When I read the LDS essay it made some sense but struck me as apologetic (biased argument selection, ignoring ramifications of positions taken, etc.). By contrast your points are clearly made and based on sound reasoning backed up by accepted science. Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise.

    Anonymous, disparaging the messenger? It's simple, many years of Simon's life were spent as a Mormon, and like anything you spend years doing it's a part of you. I view Simon's work here as occasionally checking out what's new with the Mormon church and commenting when he feels he has something to say. It seems clear to me Simon is doing something he believes in, and for me and many other commentors above, he is making the world a better place by sharing his expertise, arguments and thoughts. For us whom facts trump faith, this article is good information to be weighed against the LDS essay. Sorry you view it as "knocking down others faith", but that is you judging Simon's motivation.

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  43. I just found your post. Four years ago I had a Seminary student ask me during class, "Why can't we find any DNA that would prove some of the Native American Indians came from the Middle East?" I had not even heard of the DNA studies, as I have always taught out of the manuals, as instructed. I had a son who was teaching at BYU and I sent him the question and asked if any of he Religion Professors at BYU have had that question, and if so, what was their response. The answer I got pretty much mirrors some of the essay, so I passed it on to the student. However, in the meantime I began doing my own research and was shocked at what I found. Your post confirms my findings. All of the essays since the DNA essay has literally broken my shelf, in that I cannot believe what I had been teaching in Seminary and GD for years. I feel used, and the betrayal of lies has done permanent damage. I have since become a "cafeteria Mormon" not fully breaking away due to family issues (not my wife), but since I am a fifth generation Mormon, way too many issues to contend with. Hence my Anonymous signature, as I don't trust the Church's ability for retribution.

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  44. Simon, the only factually inaccurate part about your post is this:

    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.

    If you read the Church's essay a little more carefully, it's saying that molecular clocks can't tell between pre- and post-Columbian Old world DNA, not that it can't distinguish between 30,000 BC and 600 BC. Perego has said this for a while that X2a is way too old for BOM times. I trust that you made an honest mistake.

    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.

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  45. 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.

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  47. About five years ago I happened to mention an exciting science article to my LDS father (now 75). The article was about some fossil having been found and dated to a couple hundred million old. His face was dead-pan until I asked him what was wrong. He then said to me, "We know it isn't true." I, of course, asked, "That what isn't true?" His response, "The earth is only 6000 years old...the Bible tells us so." I just about threw up on him. I told him we needed to talk about something else. Since then I have rarely engaged him in conversation. I feel very torn because I love my dad, but I've found I cannot respect him for willingly leading his offspring down a road so full of ignorance, superstition and myth. I was raised hard-core LDS. I went on a mission as a family obligation. I felt I was in a fog of servitude and judgment my entire young adult life. The indoctrination never quite 'took' in me and at age twenty-three I investigated how to remove my name from the church records. I'd felt for many years the LDS religion was whitewashing history. I decided at the time, and regret it now, to not concern myself with being on the church records. I felt I could raise my kids with the right mindset without alienating them from my large extended family. I raised my kids as a single parent for about a decade. We had a warm safe home which even now my two daughter have fond memories of. Unfortunately, when my kids were 11 and 9 I went to prison for killing another person. This, of course, literally turned my kids' world upside down over night. While I spent the next 10 years in prison my kids stayed with their aunt (my sister). A more zealously Mormon household would be hard to find. While living with me my children experienced an open educational home and with my sister they experienced the opposite, a closed 'put your nose in the Book of Mormon' home. Luckily our brief time together instilled in my children the willingness to question...much to the chagrin on my sister and her husband. Now my children are independent (age 24 and 22) and their eyes are WIDE OPEN to the differences in the world. Relationships with family are still strained because of the differences in beliefs, but we have to start somewhere. I doubt I'll feel like I belong in my family as long I live, but it doesn't really matter if my children and THEIR CHILDREN have the opportunity to pull free from the religious ignorance and begin to breathe air free of lies, superstition and myth.

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  48. This question is a bit off topic, but wondering if DNA science can shed any light on Joseph's progeny from the polygamous/polyandrous unions; if not, can we assume there was, in fact, no sex in these spiritual marriages? Further, if there are no progeny other than with Emma, then it takes a bit of the moral sting out of charges of polygamy, polyandry, and pedophilia. Just a little something to think about ...

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  51. "15,000 years ago" The earth is only about 6000 years old. It would have to be sooner than that.... during the time when the earth was still whole, Before Jesus Christ separated the lands. I never trust scientific dating methods... it's base on speculative history. The Bible shows that the earth is only about 6000 years old.

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  52. Dear DoJC,
    If the Bible contains all the truth then why are you bothering to read this site? You do realise that most Mormon academics at BYU do not believe in a 6000 year old earth because of abundant scientific evidence. You should have a chat with them about how speculative the science is.

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    1. Exactly, my question to all who believe that the earth is about 6000 years old, is this, 'On which day did God create the fossils?'

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  54. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131120-science-native-american-people-migration-siberia-genetics/ Does that change any of your thoughts or conclusions?

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    1. Hi Cade,
      No, the ancestors of Native Americans are still essentially all derived from Asia. I have addressed the national geographic article in another post. I hope you find that helpful.

      http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/response-to-claim-13-of-native-american.html

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  55. Hola Dr. Simon, he traducido su artículo al Español y lo he publicado para los hispanohablantes. Gracias por su trabajo. Saludos desde Colombia

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  56. You need to read and study the new data that is out there. Ales Hrdlicka-the father of the Bering Strait Theory- was proven wrong. Maybe if you asked an actual Native who hasn't been corrupted by Christianity and held on to some the stories you will know. A story is a container of knowledge. It is unfortunate the stories of my own indigenous people are thought to be stories of superstition,not to be believed, not to be taken seriously just because in the Western mind our stories so not fit in the education and our elegant and elaborate systems of knowledge were systematically taken apart by those who did not and do not understand them. Our sciences, agriculture, spiritual traditions and hunting practices were dismantled by government policies and religious organizations. Our histories are filed away in cabinets and storage boxes in museums around the world. We as indigenous people of the Americas did not cross the Bering Strait. Maybe few did but not all.

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