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𝗟𝘂𝗰𝗸𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗡𝗲𝗽𝗵𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝗗𝗡𝗔 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗮

For decades, Mormon scholars at Brigham Young University have believed the Semitic Nephite civilisation and the Maya civilisation were one and the same. According to these apologists, archaeological ruins throughout Mesoamerica bear witness to this claim. Preeminent LDS apologist, John Sorenson, has found hundreds of weak parallels between the Maya and the Nephites, and prominent Mormon apologists Daniel Peterson, Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman have praised Sorenson's Maya research from the rooftops. Meanwhile, Michael Coe, a leading scientific expert on the Maya, has said these claims are wishful thinking.
𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙖𝙗𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙪𝙥 𝙞𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙖𝙫𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙝 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙨𝙪𝙜𝙜𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙖 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙤𝙗𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙤𝙛 𝙈𝙤𝙧𝙢𝙤𝙣, 𝙖𝙨 𝙘𝙡𝙖𝙞𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙮 𝙅𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙥𝙝 𝙎𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙝, 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙝𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙡 𝙙𝙤𝙘𝙪𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙧𝙚𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙮 𝙢𝙞𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙝𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙥𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚.
During the 1990s, molecular genetic research began to reveal, in remarkable clarity, the true ancestry of Indigenous Americans. Research on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), a small portion of our genes which is passed from mothers to their offspring down the generations, showed that essentially all Native Americans today are descended from Asian ancestors. No Semitic DNA was detected.

When Thomas Murphy, Brent Metcalfe and myself pointed out this glaring problem 20 years ago, we were subjected to intense criticism and character assassination by BYU apologists. They said we were attacking a straw man; the widely held false belief (according to them) that Book of Mormon events occurred across the New World. Half a century of 'serious' and 'careful' BYU research had revealed the Book of Mormon story was limited to Mesoamerica. If you had been fooled into believing the Book of Mormon story was hemispheric in scope, like all the prophets and ordinary members were, you were a lazy reader. If this apologetics makes you feel a bit nauseous, it is because you have just been gaslighted.

When I first looked at genetic research on Native Americans in 1998, only a handful of Maya had been studied. I decided to take a closer look at what mtDNA research has revealed in the last 20 years.

Today, 1,108 Maya have had their mtDNA tested, including 138 individuals who died before Columbus arrived (Figure). Over 99.6% of Maya mtDNAs (lineages A -D) originated in Asia, entering the Americas over 15,000 years ago. Four lineages originated in Africa (lineage L) and one came from Europe (lineage H5). All five non-indigenous mtDNAs almost certainly arrived on a Spanish galleon. Not a single Maya mtDNA lineage was derived from Semitic populations in the Middle East. In other words, 100% of pre-Columbian Maya DNA is derived from Asia.


Rather than challenging the science, BYU apologists have retreated to positions that require radical reinterpretations of LDS scripture. They now claim the descendants of Lehi were a small ruling class of elites, but they had luckless DNA. In spite of ruling for 1000 years, due to processes such as genetic drift, and bottlenecks caused by disease and wars, Lehi's Israelite DNA kept losing the genetic lottery. Today it has essentially become extinct, a bit like all the Old World technology the Nephites allegedly brought to the New World (steel, the wheel, horses, cattle, wheat etc), which has also never been found. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝗯𝘆 𝗮 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗮 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲, 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘃𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗱.

If I have learned anything from the events of the last year, it is that beliefs based on emotion are virtually impervious to facts. Mormon apologists will carry their fossilized and racist views to their graves. Progress will occur, funeral by funeral. Our best hope is that the rising generation of Mormons shun the false history contained within the Book of Mormon and the 19th century white supremacy it perpetuates.

Selected references with links.
* good; ** better; ***best
*Elwess, N. L. et al. 2015. Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA within the Tipu Maya Collection. Internet J. Biol. Anthropol. 8(1). http://ispub.com/IJBA/8/1/30723.
***Gonzalez-Oliver, A. et al. 2019. Genetic Overview of the Maya Populations: Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups. https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol_preprints/147
**Sochtig, J. et al. 2015 Genomic insights on the ethno-history of the Maya and the ‘Ladinos’ from Guatemala https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/.../s12864-015-1339-1

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