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Dr. Simon Southerton -- Dr. Southerton is a molecular biologist from Canberra, Australia. His current research involves the molecular biology of flowering and wood development in eucalypts.He has a PhD from the University of Sydney. Dr. Southerton is also a former LDS bishop. He has published a book entitled Losing a Lost Tribe. Recently the LDS Church excommunicated Simon on a lesser charge of adultery regardless that the Church Handbook Of Instructions places Apostacy far higher than adultery.
| Tribune Link: http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2866025
An Australian who wrote a book saying DNA evidence contradicts ancestral claims of Mormon belief faces disciplinary action that could excommunicate him from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Simon Southerton has been ordered to appear at a July 31 hearing before church leaders in Canberra, Australia, he said in a telephone interview.
Southerton's book, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, was published a year ago by Salt Lake-based Signature Books, a publishing house for Western and Mormon studies. It used established DNA data to refute Book of Mormon teachings that ancient Americans inhabitants were descendants of Israelite patriarch Lehi.
Mormons believe Lehi was an ancient seafarer who came to the New World about 600 B.C., according to church founder Joseph Smith's 1830 Book of Mormon. Smith claimed to have translated the text from inscribed gold plates unearthed from an upstate New York hillside. His book is viewed by many members as a literal record of God's dealings with early Americans.
Deseret (Mormon Owned) News: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249...
An Australian who wrote a book saying DNA evidence contradicts ancestral claims of Mormon belief faces disciplinary action that could get him excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Simon Southerton has been ordered to appear at a July 31 hearing before church leaders in Canberra, Australia, he said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. But rather than charge him with apostasy, LDS leaders in his area have charged him with adultery.
Southerton's book, "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church," was published a year ago by Salt Lake-based Signature Books, a publishing house for Western and Mormon studies. It used established DNA data to rebut Book of Mormon teachings that ancient American inhabitants were descendants of Israelite patriarch Lehi.
LDS Church members believe Lehi was an ancient seafarer who came to the New World about 600 B.C., according to church founder Joseph Smith's 1830 Book of Mormon. Smith said he translated the text from inscribed gold plates unearthed from an upstate New York hillside. His book is viewed by many members as a literal record of God's dealings with early Americans.
KSL (Mormon Owned): (AP Wire) http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?nid=5andsid...
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A book that uses D-N-A evidence to contradict a long-standing Mormon belief could get the author excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Simon Southerton told The Associated Press he's been ordered to appear at a July 31 hearing before church leaders in his native Australia.
Southerton's book, "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church," was published a year ago by Salt Lake-based Signature Books.
It used established DNA data to argue against Book of Mormon teachings that ancient Americans inhabitants were descendants of Israelite patriarch Lehi.
Mormons believe Lehi was an ancient seafarer who came to the New World about 600 B-C. But Southerton says nothing in the D-N-A of early American inhabitants proves that.
Southerton is a plant geneticist who abandoned his church and post as an LDS bishop in 1998 in a struggle to reconcile his faith and science.
An L-D-S spokeswoman and a B-Y-U scholar say the church just hasn't found evidence yet of a small population of ancient Israelites in America. They acknowledge that many people of Asiatic origin migrated to the Americas -- but that doesn't mean others came, too.
| Hi Folks,
Some of you may hear reports about my upcoming disciplinary council.I just thought I would clarify a few things that were a little incorrect in the story I saw.
My wife and I left the church 7 years ago in 1998. We separated in 2003 for a period of almost 2 years. Several months after we separated I met a woman and we were close friends for about a year. She was in the process of leaving the church, lives interstate, and was separated from her husband (now divorced). The relationship ended and about 6 months later my wife and I got back together. We have been together for about 9 months and things are going well.
I am proud to be an apostate and deliberately never requested that my name be removed from the records. There are only two ways that my name can be removed. I could request it myself or they must hold a church court. They can't take my name off the records without my knowledge. I wrote Losing a Lost Tribe because I want to pressure the church to change its teachings and doctrines that are racist and wrong. Native Americans and Polynesians are not descended from Israelites and they are not the descendants of the imaginary cursed Lamanite race. I was looking forward to a court because it would give me an opportunity to admit to the charge of apostasy and defend my integrity.
Like many church leaders in Australia, my Stake President is aware that I have publicly challenged the teachings of the church for several years. Rather than hold a court on the charge of apostasy, he chose to take the sleazy route. He arranged for church leaders in another state to meet with my friend and to get a signed confession that she had had a relationship with me. She admitted she had before she knew what they were up to, and then refused to sign anything. Several weeks ago the Stake President and bishop met with me and my wife. I wasn't interested in talking about the adultery charge and we spent most of the time discussing my difficulties with the Book of Mormon. It was a very pleasant discussion and both seemed very sincere. Two weeks later I received a letter from the Stake President inviting me to a disciplinary council to answer adultery charges. He made no mention of my apostasy in the letter.
I deserve to be excommunicated. I fully expect to be excommunicated. But I am disappointed that the Stake President has engaged in official backbiting and snooping in order to avoid discussion of the more difficult issues related to Polynesian and Native American ancestry. I suspect he would probably prefer his high council didn't hear about this.
As a bishop I never snooped into the lives of inactive members to look for opportunities to discipline and the bishops I have known didn't do this either. If they did they would be holding courts all the time. We have not attended church in 7 years and have not had a single home teaching visit during that time. Now I am back with my wife they choose to haul me into a church court to punish me for alleged sexual sins. My wife is looking forward to attending the court and letting them know how she feels about the course of action they have taken. Should be interesting!
| Hi Folks
I just wanted to let you know the outcome of the Disciplinary Council. I apologize that has taken a while. Today was pretty hectic.
I was excommunicated for "having an inappropriate relationship with a woman" when I was a member of the church, married and a priesthood holder. The meeting went for 3 hours. It was in a small room and it stank by the end of the whole exercise. I spoke to them for about 1.5 hrs; my wife was in there with me for about 10 minutes of that time. They deliberated for the rest of the time. The entire meeting was cordial and the council followed the usual process.
I was not excommunicated for adultery. They did not have evidence to support that charge. They attempted to get evidence this week but were unsuccessful. It was clear that someone connected with either family has pressed for the case to go to a disciplinary council. Each family is now left to wonder who this person was, as the Stake President would not disclose this information. We must protect the gossip mongerer.
When I was invited to respond to the allegations, I refused to discuss my private life with these men. I challenged the Stake President about the appropriateness of prying into family relationships in order to deal with me. What was to be gained by the church interfering now when the events they are so obsessed with occurred almost 2 years ago and for the last 6 months both relationships have been healing? I have been back with my wife for almost 8 months and the other couple are doing likewise.
The Stake President denied that they were avoiding the issue of apostasy and that the charge they were investigating was more important. I seriously question this claim. I am convinced that they were intent on avoiding a council on the charge of apostasy. I was clearly instructed before the meeting that if I attempted to talk about "DNA" and my apostasy that the council would be immediately shut down and that it would be completed in my absence. I respected their request (foolish me) but told them that it was very difficult to defend my integrity against their charges if I couldn't give good reason why I didn't believe in the claims of the church anymore. I also told them that it was extremely unusual for the church to pursue someone who hadn't had anything to do with the church for the last 7 years. In my 10 years on numerous bishoprics, I never observed this.
I strongly challenged the council of 15 men about their motives. I asked if alleged misconduct over 2 years ago between separated adults was more serious than the charge of public apostasy for the last 6 years. There is clear evidence that I am doing my best to heal the relationships with my wife and family but I have given no signs of stopping my apostasy. I was stunned when members of the council assured me that the alleged "inappropriate relationship" was more important than the apostasy. I then quoted from the LDS General Handbook of Instructions where it says that a DC MUST be held for apostasy and MAY be held for adultery. I am confident that there are thousands of Mormon bishops and Stake Presidents who would strongly disagree with the entire council on this issue. Clearly they were set on the path to excommunication regardless of anything I said and the route they took to achieve the objective.
I suggested the Stake President consider calling the council off and to hold another council on the rather obvious charge of apostasy. I said that I was quite prepared to make this a painless process because I could not deny the obvious evidence of apostasy that is plain for all to see. Clearly, I was wasting my breath.
After reading out the decision of the court I asked the Stake President if he had been instructed by his superiors to carry out this council and he denied this. I am inclined to believe him. I think he was absolutely determined from the outset that I was going to be excommunicated. If he called off the council he would have looked a fool and everyone else risked letting the President down if they questioned the appropriateness of the decision.
A kangaroo court in kangaroo country
| An Australian author who wrote that DNA evidence fails to support the ancestral claims outlined in the Book of Mormon has been excommunicated by The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After a three-hour disciplinary council meeting on Sunday in Canberra, Simon Southerton, author of Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Book of Mormon, was informed his relationship with his religion of 30 years would be officially severed, Southerton said in an email to The Associated Press.
Southerton was charged by church authorities with adultery, but finally excommunicated for "having an inappropriate relationship with a woman," he said.
Southerton doesn't deny the relationship, which occurred two years ago, while he was separated from his wife. The Southertons have since reconciled, and Jane Southerton testified on behalf of her husband.
Southerton said he refused to discuss his personal life with church leaders on Sunday, instead asking them why he was not answering to charges of apostasy for having widely published on the internet and in his book his doubts about the church and his beliefs about DNA science.
Church leaders responded, Southerton wrote, by saying they were not avoiding the "issue of apostasy and that the charge they were investigating was more important."
"I am now convinced that they were intent on avoiding a council on the charge of apostasy," Southerton said in his email to the AP.
"I was clearly instructed before the meeting that if I attempted to talk about 'DNA' and my apostasy that the council would be immediately shut down and that it would be completed in my absence."
Mormon church officials do not comment on the decisions of local church leaders, church spokesman Scott Trotter said.
A former church bishop, Southerton voluntarily left the Mormon church seven years ago, after deciding he could no longer believe some of its teachings.
His book, published in 2004, outlines how existing DNA data for American Indians does not support the Mormon beliefs that the continent's earliest inhabitants were descendants of Israelite patriarch Lehi.
The church teaches that Lehi was an ancient seafarer who came to the New World about 600 BC, according to church founder Joseph Smith's 1830 Book of Mormon. Smith claimed to have translated the text from inscribed gold plates unearthed from an upstate New York hillside. His book is viewed by many members as a literal record of God's dealings with early Americans.
Australian church authorities have discussed the book at length with Southerton, who works as a plant geneticist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and believes church concerns about his writing are the underlying reason they sought his excommunication.
"I also told (church leaders) that it was extremely unusual for the church to pursue someone who hadn't had anything to do with the church for the last seven years," Southerton wrote.
Southerton plans to appeal the decision to the Mormon church's Salt Lake City-based leaders, known as the First Presidency.
Ultimately, if the decision stands, Southerton's name will be removed from official church rolls in Salt Lake City.
Southerton's excommunication makes him the seventh author from the Salt Lake City-based Signature Books, a publishing house for Western and Mormon studies, to be released from the church after publishing a work critical of Mormon beliefs.
Click Here For Original Link Or Thread.
| Hi Folks,
I stumbled on a book the other day that I thought many on the list might enjoy. It is called Fundamentalist World: The New Dark Age of Dogma written by Stuart Sim, a UK scholar and published quite recently. It is about how the fundamentalist mindset (I am right, its just black and white) is not just limited to religion but cuts across all aspects of human culture including politics, economics etc.
I was surprised to learn that so many in the Christian Right in the US are dispensationalists, that the US is God’s chosen country and they must protect and then convert the Jews, and that Christ will be returning soon and that the world must reach total chaos before he returns.
In other words Christianity is right, everything else is wrong, and the worse the mess we get the world into the better because Jesus will come along and clean it up. And let’s screw the environment as well. What a recipe for disaster!
At first as I began reading I was a little apprehensive. I Hi Folks,
I stumbled on a book the other day that I thought some on the list might enjoy. It is called Fundamentalist World: The New Dark Age of Dogma. It was written by Stuart Sim, a UK scholar and published quite recently. It is about how the fundamentalist mindset (I am right, you are wrong, its just black and white) is not just limited to religion but cuts across all aspects of human culture including politics, economics...even gun ownership...a brand of fundamentalsim known as Gundamentalism!
I was surprised to learn that so many in the Christian Right in the US are Dispensationalists and Millenialists, that they believe the US is God’s chosen country and they must protect and then convert the Jews, and that Christ will be returning soon and that the world must reach total chaos before he returns.
In other words Christianity is right, everything else is wrong, and the worse the mess we get the world into the better because Jesus will come along and clean it up. And let’s screw the environment as well. What a recipe for disaster!
At first as I began reading I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read about something so depressing. But the book really intrigued me. It seems the more you know and understand about something, the less you fear. And having experienced a fundamentalist religion from the inside added another dimension to the read.
Wasn’t sure if I wanted to read about something depressing. But the more you know and understand about something, the less you fear.
| Hi Folks,
I have just had a quick glance through the latest FARMS Review where Ryan Parr reviews my book Losing a Lost Tribe. The only positive thing Parr had to say was that I did a 'reasonable" job describing the DNA data on Native Americas.
This is a tremendous compliment from FARMS, given that their reviews are totally one-sided.
I'm happy to take the scraps that fall from the master's table.
If you are quick you can pick up a free copy of the review from the FARMS website. Even though it says subscribers only on the latest issue of the FARMS review, you can access it free.
| Did President Hinckley Personally Suppress Human DNA Genealogy Research At BYU? |
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2005, at 08:22 AM
Original Author(s): Simon Southerton
Topic: SIMON SOUTHERTON -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Did President Hinckley personally suppress human DNA genealogy research at Brigham Young University?
From several first and second hand reports I believe the following is true:
On the basis of this information I suspect that President Hinckley used his authority as President of the LDS Church to suppress human DNA research at Brigham Young University because he believed Scott Woodward's research had yielded, or may yield, results that were at odds with common beliefs Mormons hold about Native American and Polynesian ancestry. The direct interference in biological research should alarm scientists at BYU, an institution that takes pride in the search for truth and the quality of its scientific research.
- President Hinckley spoke one-to-one with Scott Woodward in 2002 or 2001, at which time President Hinckley instructed Scott Woodward to stop some or all of his DNA research at BYU. Scott Woodward mentioned the content of this meeting during faith-inspiring communications to members of his Campus Plaza single student ward of the BYU 3rd Stake while he was serving as Bishop.
- At the time of the meeting, Scott Woodward was scientific director of the Molecular Genealogy project at BYU. This project aimed to create a large DNA genealogical database to allow people to find their ancestral homelands through their DNA, and had collected many samples from indigenous Americans and Polynesians.
- By the end of 1998, Scott Woodward had carried out DNA tests on over 6,000 Native Americans, mostly from Peru. At least 98% of their mitochondrial DNA lineages were most similar to Asian mitochondrial DNA lineages. The results of this research remain largely unpublished today.
- Some time after the meeting between Scott Woodward and President Hinckley, the BYU Molecular Genealogy research project was moved off campus to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation in Salt Lake City. For a period, Scott Woodward was not affiliated with BYU.
These suspicions are serious enough that they deserve a response. If they are false, they deserve a detailed and convincing explanation. If they are true, any honourable person involved would admit it. Thus, any lack of response by either Woodward or Hinckley may be taken as an admission that these claims cannot be refuted, and are true.
Individuals with further information related to these claims are invited to contact me.
There are individuals who can verify all of the four claims. For example, the fact that Scott Woodward had DNA tested 6,000 Native Americans, predominantly in Peru, comes from an email I received from Scott Woodward on the 19th November 1998. A lot of the information is quite widely known at BYU. I would prefer not to identify any other individuals who have provided additional information.
I am essentially saying that the sum of the parts leads me to believe that President Hinckley acted to suppress DNA research at BYU. If my suspicion is unfounded, I will be more than happy to retract anything that I have suggested in my post that is false.
| Hi Folks, |
In a recent FARMS article defending the Book of Mormon, John Butler made reference to a research paper on the population of Iceland by Hagelson et al (2003).* Hagelson and his team found that the large majority of people living in Iceland 300 years ago have one or no living descendants. Butler used these findings to support apologist arguments that it is quite possible that Lamanite DNA disappeared but that American Indians are still descended from them.
The only detail the authors of this paper give about Iceland’s recent population history is that the population has grown “rapidly in the last 300 years”.
They didn't mention some important events in Iceland’s history that had dramatic consequences on the population.
• Between 1700 and 1800 Iceland’s population actually fell from 50,000 to 47,000 due to harsh environmental conditions. Iceland is a very marginal place to live given its arctic climate.
• A smallpox epidemic in 1707 claimed 35% of Iceland’s population.
• In 1783 Mt Laki erupted. Fluorine gas and acid rain lead to the death of over 25% of the population. This was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 12,000 years.
• Most people were farm laborers and in early Icelandic culture the poorest were discouraged from marrying and raising families because they were regarded as “weaklings”.
• Between 1870 and 1914 over 20% of the population emigrated to North America, in particular Canada.
• During the 20th century emigration has always outstripped immigration, adding to the 20% who left earlier.
• Young people and young families are likely to have been overrepresented in these emigrating groups, increasing the loss of descendants.
Given these factors it is hardly surprising that the population today is descended from a fraction of the population living 300 years ago. I would estimate that over 70% of the population either died from disease and natural disasters, were prevented from raising families, or they got fed up and left.
Contrast this with the population history described in the Book of Mormon, where the people “multiplied exceedingly” because they were able to produce crops and livestock in abundance.
* http://farms.byu.edu/publications/dna/ButlerBofMandDNA_Feb2006.php. See also Helgason, A., Hrafnkelsson, B., Gulcher, J.R., Ward, R., Stefansson, K. "A population-wide coalescent analysis of Icelandic matrilineal and patrilineal genealogies: evidence for a faster evolutionary rate of mtDNA lineages than Y chromosomes." American Journal of Human Genetics 72: 1370-1388 (2003).
| Purchase Simon's book: Losing A Lost Tribe: http://www.signaturebooks.com/Losing.htm
For 175 years the leaders and general membership of the Mormon Church have believed American Indians and Polynesians are descended from Israelites based on their understanding of the Book of Mormon. We now know from DNA studies that the ancestors of both native peoples were essentially all derived from Asia. LDS apologists have claimed that the DNA research has "little or no bearing on the question of Book of Mormon historicity" and that it is all a "contrived controversy," blown out of all proportion by critics with another agenda.1 Apologetic attempts to hose down the problem rely entirely on sweeping reinterpretations of the Book of Mormon narrative that reduce the Lehite and Mulekite colonization to a minor incursion in an as yet unknown corner of the Americas. 2
The following are some of the most frequently advanced arguments from the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) related to DNA and the Book of Mormon. Since these claims have gained some currency within LDS circles and I am frequently asked about them by individuals who have either read my book or otherwise tried to follow developments in this area, I have concluded that it would be best to summarize my responses in an equally succinct manner.
1. The Book of Mormon does not present a testable hypothesis.
Some LDS scientists argue that the Book of Mormon does not present a testable hypothesis and that, since other scientists are not testing the Book of Mormon directly, the data collected by non-Mormon scientists is irrelevant to the origin of Book of Mormon people. 3 The question scientists are asking is: "Who are the ancestors of the American Indians?" As of March 2006, 8,223 American Indians have been DNA tested in scientific experiments aimed at discovering where their founding ancestors came from. About 99.5% of their maternal DNA lineages are most closely related to Asian DNA. Most LDS adherents believe, and all the LDS prophets have taught, that Israelites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians. This belief is based on their understanding of the Book of Mormon narrative. It is therefore absurd to claim that what the scientists are discovering about Indian heritage is irrelevant. Scientists are inadvertently asking the same question posed by the Book of Mormon. LDS beliefs about American Indian ancestry fall squarely into the scientific field of anthropology. Molecular anthropologists are uncovering evidence that is directly relevant to LDS beliefs in this area.
2. Mitochondrial DNA only tells us about one ancestral line out of many. If we go back ten generations, it only tells us about 1 in 1,024 of our ancestors. If we go back another ten generations, it only tells us about 1 in over a million of our ancestors.
On the surface this argument appears impressive; but it is an argument with little substance. Virtually all mitochondrial lineages found throughout the world can be grouped into less than twenty-five major family groups represented by letters A, H, X, and so on. In the case of the American Indians, essentially all of their mitochondrial lineages fall into one of five major families: A, B, C, D or X, none of which were derived from a recent migration from Israel. If we go back twenty generations in an American Indian's pedigree chart, it is extremely likely that those same five lineages will occupy virtually all the million-odd ancestral slots. Even those mitochondrial lineages that end up in males and are not passed on to the next generation came from the same five sources. It is possible that some lineages may not have been detected yet or have been lost in time through chance, but these would have been very rare mitochondrial family lines.
3. We don't know enough about the genetic background of Book of Mormon peoples.
We know that Lehi and Mulek were members of two different Israelite tribes and that they and their families lived in Jerusalem. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that both the Lehites and Mulekites were Israelites, or at the very least closely related to people living in the Middle East. We know a considerable amount about the DNA lineages of living people whose ancestors were Israelites reaching back 2600 years ago. Israelite DNA lineages belong to the same family groups found in European populations: the H, I, J, K, N, T, U, V, W and X groups. Other Middle Eastern populations such as the Syrians, Egyptians, Lebanese and other Arabic groups have similar mitochondrial DNA lineages belonging to these families. Essentially all Europeans and Middle Easterners possess one of these lineages.
There is a smattering (andlt;0.5%) of lineages in American Indian populations that are clearly, exclusively of European origin, most probably from Spain rather than from the Middle East. Scientists justifiably assume that these lineages represent post-Columbus intermixing. The lineages in question are found at very low frequency all over the Americas. They are most common in North American tribes that had the greatest impact with Europeans and are very uncommon in Mesoamerica, which FARMS claims is the only "plausible" site for the Book of Mormon. In addition, European mitochondrial lineages are extremely rare in Polynesia.
John Butler claims that "reference samples" of DNA, presumably of Israelites who lived in Jerusalem 2,600 years ago, are required to provide a "calibration point" with which to compare the DNA of living Amerindians. 4 Without this he believes that scientists would be "guessing" or "story telling" to fill in the gaps in a populations ancestry. It is absurd to suggest that scientists would need DNA from 2600 years ago in order to provide a calibration point for DNA research. LDS apologists have already conceded that DNA research has revealed that American Indians are essentially all descended from Asian ancestors.5 But DNA studies have not yet been carried out on ancient remains of Asians, or American Indians, that predate the migrations to the New World. Even Butler himself is persuaded "that almost all Native Americans tested thus far possess genetic signatures closely resembling modern-day Asians" in spite of the missing calibration point.
One of the attractions of working with DNA is that it carries its own history within its sequence. People who are related to each other carry DNA that shares common spelling changes that that have accumulated throughout time. Anthropologists don't need an ancient DNA sample to confirm relatedness because related DNA lineages by definition share common DNA spelling changes that occurred in their ancestors. These informative DNA spellings are rarely lost over the generations; rather they are inherited down the generations.
4. The X lineage could be evidence for Israelite ancestry.
I was surprised to read last year an apologetic claim that 7% of the DNA collected from indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere matched DNA collected from North Africa and the Middle East. 6 The lineage in question, the X lineage, was claimed to be "different from similar DNA in Northeast Asia." The claims were no doubt well intended but they were incorrect. Amerindian X lineages occur at a frequency of about 1.6% across the New World. The lineage is distantly related to X lineages found in Asians as well as X and the related lineage N which occur in the Middle East and Europe.
In order for the X lineage to be considered possible evidence of Lamanite DNA, apologists need to explain away the following facts:
Amerindian DNA lineages belonging to the X family are at least as diverse as the lineages belonging to the A, B, C and D lineage families, meaning that they have been present in the New World for about as long. 7
The X lineage occurs at a frequency of 8% in Canadian tribes and 3% in tribes from the United States. To date, the X lineage has not been found in Central or South America, where the three major New World civilizations are located.8 The vast majority of apologists consider Mesoamerica to be the only plausible setting for the Book of Mormon narrative because of the Book of Mormon's description of major populations living in complex and literate cultures.
There is evidence that X lineage DNA has been isolated from ancient remains that pre-date the Jaredite and Lehite time period by thousands of years. 9
Amerindian X lineages are distantly related to X lineages found in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. They are estimated to have separated from these populations over 30,000 years ago--no later than 17,600 years ago.10 The fact that Asian X lineages directly ancestral to American Indian X lineages have not been found is not evidence that they were brought into the Americas by non-Asian people. Deeper sampling of Siberian populations is likely to shed more light on this lineage's Asian ancestry.
5. The mitochondrial DNA lineages tell us nothing about the male lineages.
This is correct, but Y chromosome studies among Native Americans show very strong links to Asia (andgt;85%) as do studies among Polynesians (andgt;90%). There is a much higher presence of lineages that are of European or African origin, but this is not surprising given that males, beginning with Spanish explorers, dominated the early European conquest of the Americas and Polynesia.
6. The wives of the early Book of Mormon colonists (Sariah and others) may have been Asian since their ancestry is not specifically mentioned, and they could have brought the A, B, C, D, and X lineages to the Americas.
It is exceedingly unlikely that Asians carrying Asian lineages travelled to Israel where they intermarried with the ancestors of the Lehites and Mulekites. If this did occur, we would expect to see (but do not see) Asian lineages among Middle Eastern populations. The amount of DNA variation found in each of the five American Indian female DNA lineage families indicates that they have been present in the Americas for at least 15,000 years, possibly longer. This predates the existence of Israel by many thousands of years.
7. DNA testing of modern individuals often fails to detect all previous genetic lineages due to lineage extinction. Israelite DNA would have been swamped out in the New World due to the bottleneck effect, genetic drift, and other technical problems which would prevent us from detecting Israelite genes.
The argument that Lamanite DNA may have gone extinct strains reinterpretations of the Book of Mormon to breaking point. In this reinvention of Lamanite destiny, the Book of Mormon people are reduced to an insignificant side show in American history, so insignificant that we would find it hard to detect their genes today. In this scenario, American Indians swamped Amerisraelite populations soon after their arrival. The Book of Mormon plainly states that the descendants of the Lehites and Mulekites were not a minor group of people swallowed up by surrounding Native Americans. They formed substantial populations that were ruled over by Lehi's descendants. Are we to believe that these populations were largely comprised of American Indians who swamped out the Israelite genes yet didn't assume any significant influence in these civilizations?
John Butler argues that the Lamanites may well have been important ancestors of American Indians but their DNA may have been lost through lineage extinction.11 To illustrate this, Butler draws on the results of a study carried out on the population of Iceland.12 He claims the study revealed that "the majority of people living today in Iceland had ancestors living only 150 years ago that could not be detected based on the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA tests." This observation is incorrect. The scientists had little trouble detecting people's ancestors. What the Iceland study in fact revealed, by linking DNA genealogies with written genealogies, was that most of the people living in Iceland in the eighteenth century have few or no living descendants. For example, Helgason and his co-workers used Iceland's extensive genealogical records to determine that 64,150 living female Icelanders were born after 1972 and that there were about 20,443 females born in Iceland between 1698 and 1742. Mitochondrial DNA tests on the living women revealed that 61.8% of them are descended from just 6.6% of the women living in the early eighteenth century. Similar results were obtained for males.
How could it be that most of the people living in Iceland 300 years ago have few or no living descendants? This remarkably high rate of lineage extinction, or genetic drift, was surprising to the authors of the paper who considered that Iceland's population had undergone a rapid population expansion during the last 300 years. This is the only information that the authors give about Iceland's population history in this paper. There is, however, much in Iceland's history that the authors did not mention.
For the first century of those 300 years, from 1701 to 1803, Iceland's population actually declined from 50,358 to 47,240 due to severe economic hardships.13
Most of Iceland's population were farm labourers and frequently the poor never married or raised families because it was considered improper for labourers to "fill the earth with `weaklings'".14
In 1783, one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 12,000 years rocked Iceland. Mount Laki erupted, killing tens of thousand of cattle and horses and hundreds of thousands of sheep. Between one quarter and a third of the population perished due to fluorine poisoning and smallpox.
Between 1870 and 1914, 20% of Iceland's population emigrated to North America. Since 1914, emigrants have typically outnumbered immigrants. Emigrant groups are likely to have been dominated by younger individuals of reproductive age.
The combination of drastic population declines in the eighteenth century due to harsh environmental and economic conditions followed by large-scale emigration during the nineteenth and early twentieth century will have had a dramatic impact on the genetic landscape of Iceland. Many of the descendants of the 50,358 people living in Iceland in 1701 are likely to have died without leaving offspring. Of those who did leave descendants, many may have migrated to North America and their descendants are now invisible in the Icelandic studies.
Iceland has always been a marginal place for human occupation with its arctic climate and volcanic activity, in contrast to the Promised Land of the Book of Mormon where crops thrived and wildlife and precious metals were found in abundance (1 Ne. 18:24-25). There are also few similarities between the population history of Iceland and the history of the Lehites and Mulekites described in the Book of Mormon. Nephi saw a vision of the New World in about 600 BC in which he saw that his "seed" and "the seed of [his] brethren" had multiplied until they did "number as many as the sand of the sea" (1 Ne. 12:1). Numerous scriptures throughout the Book of Mormon detail the fulfilment of this prophecy. In 588 BC the Lehite populations were prospering "exceedingly" and "multiplying" in the land (2 Ne. 5:13) and by 399 BC they had "multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land" (Jarom 1:8). When the descendants of Mulek join the Nephites, we are informed that they were "exceedingly numerous" (Omni 1:17). By about 124 BC there were so many people in the Book of Mormon civilizations that they couldn't number them because they had "multiplied exceedingly and waxed great in the land" (Mosiah 2:2). By about 46 BC they had spread until they "covered the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east (Hel. 3:8).
Another question that the Icelandic research poses, is given such dramatic extinctions in a population over 300 years, does this necessarily lead to extinctions of DNA lineage families. The table below shows the frequency of the major maternal lineage classes in contemporary Icelanders and the frequency at which they appear in the population they descend from 300 years earlier as determined from Table 9 in the Helgason study.
Frequency in population (%)
~ 1700 AD
~ 2000 AD
While there are changes in the frequencies of the lineages, it is clear that these have not resulted in extinctions. Even the rare lineages were detectable in the living population. While individual DNA lineages can and do go extinct, the DNA lineage families they belong to generally don't go extinct in a population unless the particular lineage has reduced fitness. The authors of the Iceland research observed that the changes in frequency appeared to be random fluctuations and not connected to the fitness of particular lineages.
8. The arguments of the critics rely mostly on the non-doctrinal "principal ancestors" statement in the introduction to the Book of Mormon
Several LDS apologists have claimed that the critic's case against the Book of Mormon relies almost entirely on the non-doctrinal statement in the introduction to the Book of Mormon.15 This is not the case. Several critics of Book of Mormon historicity have given comprehensive descriptions of the doctrinal and prophetic support for the widespread beliefs of Mormons that happen to be in complete harmony with the introductory statement in the Book of Mormon.16
Church leaders and the God speaking to Joseph Smith have declared explicitly who the Lamanites are. For the record, here is a collection of some of the doctrinal support for the widespread beliefs in the church.
We also bare testimony that the "Indians" (so called) of North and South America are a remnant of the tribes of Israel; as is now made manifest by the discovery and revelation of their ancient oracles and records.
Proclamation of the twelve apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . .April, 1845.
Must we, because we believe in ... the Book of Mormon as the history of the aborigines of this continent, must we be expelled from the institutions of our country?
Joseph Smith, Appeal to the Freemen of the State of Vermont, the "Brave Green Mountain Boys", and Honest Men ... December, 1843.
In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell into battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. Joseph Smith - Letter to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat 1842.
Joseph Smith - History 1: 34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;
Dandamp;C 28: 8
And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.
Dandamp;C 28: 9
And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.
Dandamp;C 28: 14
And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of the church, before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites.
Dandamp;C 30: 6
And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer and faith, for his and your deliverance; for I have given unto him power to build up my church among the Lamanites;
Dandamp;C 32: 2
And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall go with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.
Dandamp;C 49: 24
But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.
Dandamp;C 54: 8
And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.
The belief that Native Americans throughout North, Central and South America (and Polynesia) are the descendants of the Lamanites is not simply based on one unofficial statement in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. This belief is deeply embedded in the LDS church and has had a major influence on the way the Church has interacted with native peoples in the Americas and the Pacific for well over a century. For most of the last 175 years, the Book of Mormon has been presented to native people as a history of their ancestors and, as such, has frequently played a major role in their conversion. For many decades, members have been reassured by successive prophets and apostles that they are the children of Lehi. Frequently, these reminders are delivered during regional, area, and stake conferences and during the dedicatory prayers at temples in areas with predominant indigenous American and Pacific cultures. The Church has invested heavily in schools in what have been thought of as Lamanite regions, particularly in Polynesia. Many Native American and Polynesian members of the Church have received patriarchal blessings in which they have been told they belong to the tribe of Manasseh, the same tribe as Lehi. It is not simply a matter of an "overbelief" in a non-doctrinal portion of modern day Books of Mormon. It is a belief that is deeply entrenched in the church with strong doctrinal foundations in scripture and prophetic authority.
9. Other people could have lived in ancient America concurrently with Book of Mormon peoples.
The fact that FARMS apologists felt it necessary to propose that other people could have lived concurrently with Book of Mormon people, is evidence enough that the Book of Mormon is silent about them. Virtually nobody outside of the apologetic community appears to have read the Book of Mormon carefully enough to notice reference to the hoards of other people apologists claim are mentioned in the text. American Indians not only could, they in fact did live in ancient America between 2000BC and 400AD, and they did live in the Americas for at least 10,000 years prior to that time period. What is unclear is whether Book of Mormon people existed at all, and all reliable evidence to date provides no concrete support for their existence.
10. When God cursed American Indians and changed their skin color, as reported in the Book of Mormon, God could have changed their DNA as well.
If so, why would God change the DNA so it matched Asian DNA? Latter-day Saints have already offended Blacks and the Native Americans. Is it necessary to offend Asians now, as well?
11. We don't yet know enough about the earliest colonization of the Americas. Evidence points to Australians, Japanese, or even Europeans existing alongside the first Siberian colonists.
There is debate among scientists about the early colonization of the Americas, but there are some important facts upon which they all agree. They all agree that the Siberian migration, which began in excess of 14,000 years ago, accounts for all or essentially all of the ancestors of the American Indians. There is currently no genetic evidence to support the arrival of any other people in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. However, scientists have been intrigued to find that many of the oldest human skulls in the Americas differ morphologically from those of contemporary Native Americans. A recent widely publicized case was the discovery of Kennewick Man in the banks of the Columbia River in Washington state. Some anthropologists have argued that these early skulls more closely resemble Europeans, the Ainu of Japan, or Australians.
The possibility that other groups arrived in America before the Siberians has fired the imagination of journalists writing for television documentaries and magazines that appeal to broad audiences. In addition, LDS apologists have been interested in this potential evidence for immigrants to the Americas besides the Siberians and have been quick to publicize these reports.17 Their conclusion is that this reinforces the possibility that Israelites might have also migrated to the Americas.
In the widely viewed BBC documentary Ancient Voices, evidence that the first Americans may have come from Australia seemed compelling at first even though the only genetic traces of these hypothetical Australian founders resided in the distinctive skull morphology of Tierra del Fuegians, the people of the remote islands at the southernmost tip of South America.18 But this meager evidence led to speculation about marathon ocean voyages by Australians and their subsequent massacre at the hands of invaders from Asia.19
Less well publicized was the fact that scientists later isolated DNA from the remains of ninety-four ancient Tierra del Fuegians. None of the DNA lineages that originated in Australia were observed; all the samples were found to posses the expected mitochondrial DNA lineages that are common to contemporary Native Americans.20
In a more recent report in Discover magazine, scientists from John Moores University in Liverpool made similarly bold claims about the Pericu people, a Native American group that lived in Baja California in Mexico from 2500 years ago until the late 1800s.21 Their skulls look more European or Australian than Asian, which led to speculation that their ancestors may have been Australians, who in turn may have been the first Americans. One scientist hinted that preliminary DNA results suggested compatibility with the idea of an Australian origin.
It was then reported that the final results of these DNA tests on the Pericu samples were not as exciting as first anticipated.22 In fact, the tests conclusively identified Native American DNA lineages. After corresponding with the author of this report, I learned that the research will be published later this year. It would be unlikely if publication generated the same level of publicity as the earlier report.
When the skull of Kennewick Man was found in Washington, scientists were eager to determine the lineage. Unfortunately, repeated attempts by biologists from the University of California at Davis, the University of Michigan, and Yale University have failed to detect ancient DNA in the remains. Most likely, environmental conditions at the site were not conducive to DNA preservation. Despite this failure, scientists remain optimistic that, if not Kennewick Man, then some others of the earliest skulls will contain analyzable DNA. In light of the molecular research on the Pericu and Tierra del Fuegians, it is likely that the DNA lineages of these other early Americans will be similar to that of their descendants.
12. The Lamanite population may have been severely reduced during the disease epidemics that accompanied European colonization.
13. Science can never provide a final answer to a religious question.
The Book of Mormon raises questions about the ancestry of American Indians by the claims it makes. Many of these are historical claims, and are not exclusively religious. Many Mormons have a firm belief that Native Americans are largely descended from Israelites as a consequence of believing the Book of Mormon. Feeling-based beliefs are far less reliable than Mormons would care to admit and science has proven that these beliefs have no basis in fact. Joseph Smith is the source of the Book of Mormon as well as the source of the miraculous feeling-based formula that is supposed to prove beyond a doubt it is true. If the Book of Mormon has no place in reality could there also be a flaw in Smith's feeling-based truth formula?
People have been waiting for 175 years for credible scientific evidence of any description to support the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. How long do we need to wait to prove we are patient? With each passing year new information sheds more light on the colonization of the Americas and with each year we find the claims of the Book of Mormon being shrunk by LDS apologists.
I believe that faith can flourish when people are told the truth from whatever and all available sources. It makes no sense to insist on a belief in the unbelievable. There is an important difference here. In my case, for thirty years my religious orientation was accompanied by a distorted understanding of the true history of America's past. Not only did I know little of the science that was applicable to this issue, I, like many Mormons, had been bombarded with the widespread urban legends in the church. BYU scholars always seemed to be finding archaeological evidence in Mesoamerica that supported the Book of Mormon and I was informed that the Smithsonian Institution had used the Book of Mormon as a guide in some of their research.
Scientific truth exposed my faith in a book that has no historical connection with the ancestors of the American Indians or Polynesians.
14. We have no "Chain of Custody" proving a link between the lab results and the point of DNA collection
John Butler recently claimed that the DNA results produced in population genetics research are unreliable because no Chain of Custody procedures were not followed. Accredited DNA testing facilities are required by law to follow Chain of Custody documentation procedures to ensure results will be legally admissible (accepted by courts and other government agencies). Chain of Custody requires that:
Samples are collected by an impartial third party, such as a clinic or laboratory.
The individuals tested are positively identified (i.e.they posses government-issued ID, and they are photographed and fingerprinted for records.).
The samples are carefully tracked and matched to each test participant throughout the entire DNA testing process.
Butler appears to be confusing forensic applications of DNA technology with its use in human population genetics. Forensic scientists match individuals to individuals and must get an exact match in DNA samples at many if not all locations in a DNA sequence. This level of evidence is necessary in criminal and other legal proceedings. Molecular anthropologists are not trying to locate an individual's ancestors; they are generally trying to identify related populations. They focus on a small number of informative spelling changes that divide human maternal DNA lineages into their major lineage families. When greater than 99.6% of the DNA lineages of Native Americans most closely resemble DNA lineages found among Asians this is compelling evidence that they have a common ancestor; evidence sufficiently compelling to convince even LDS apologists.
1. Blake Ostler, "Assessing the Logical Structure of DNA Arguments Against the Book of Mormon" Sunstone (2004): 135:70; John Butler, "Addressing Questions Surrounding The Book of Mormon and DNA Research." (http://farms.byu.edu/publications/dna/ButlerBofMandDNA_Feb2006.php) FARMS website, accessed 11 March 2006.
2. There has been an explosion in DNA apologetics in the last couple of years. I encourage people who are unfamiliar with the limited geography theory and the latest interpretations of the Book of Mormon to read these apologetic publications. Most of these can be found at the FARMS website. (http://farms.byu.edu/publications/dna.php)
3. For example see David McClellan, "Detecting Lehi's Genetic Signature: Possible, Probable, or Not?" FARMS Review 15:35-90; Other apologists have completely contradicted McClellan by presenting testable hypotheses derived from the Book of Mormon. See Michael Whiting "DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective" Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (2003) 12:24-35 and Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent Stephens "Who are the Children of Lehi?" Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (2003) 12:38-51. Blake Ostler contends, from a philosophical perspective, that critics arguments based on DNA evidence are logically flawed. See Ostler "Assessing the Logical Structure"
4. John Butler, "Addressing Questions Surrounding The Book of Mormon and DNA Research."
5. See Dean H. Leavitt, Jonathon C. Marshall, and Keith A. Crandall, "The Search for the Seed of Lehi: How Defining Alternative Models Helps in the Interpretation of Genetic Data," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 36 (Winter 2003): 133-50; D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens "Who Are the Children of Lehi?" Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12 (2003): 38-51; David A. McClellan "Detecting Lehi's Genetic Signature: Possible, Probable, or Not?" FARMS Review 15 (2003): 35-90; and Michael F. Whiting, "DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12 (2003): 24-35. Ryan Parr "Missing the Boat to Ancient America . Just Plain Missing the Boat," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 83-106.
6. Michael Quinn, "The Ancient Book of Mormon as Tribal Narrative" Sunstone (2005) 137:67.
7. Maere Reidla, et al., "Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup X," American Journal of Human Genetics 73 (2003): 1178-90.
8. Cláudia L. Dornelles, et al., "Is Haplogroup X Present in Extant South American Indians?" American Journal of Physical Anthropology, forthcoming; published online at "Research Articles," Wiley InterScience (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109861152/ABSTRACT; accessed online April 28, 2004).
9. William W. Hausworth, et al., "Inter- and Intra-population Studies of Ancient Humans," Experientia 50 (1994): 585-91; Anne C. Stone and Mark Stoneking, "MtDNA Analysis of a Prehistoric Oneota Population: Implications for the Peopling of the New World," American Journal of Human Genetics 62 (1998): 1153-70.
10. Reidla, "Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup X"
11. John Butler, "Addressing Questions Surrounding The Book of Mormon and DNA Research."
12. Agnar Helgason et al. "A Population-wide Coalescent Analysis of Icelandic Matrilineal and Patrilineal Genealogies: Evidence for a Faster Evolutionary Rate of mtDNA Lineages than Y Chromosomes." American Journal of Human Genetics (2003) 72: 1370-1388.
13. Iceland. (2006). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 6, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online http://search.eb.com/eb/article-10074
14. The Arts faculty of the University of Manitoba has historical information about the immigration of Icelanders to Manitoba. See http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/icelandic/IceCan/history.htm. See also
15. See Ryan Parr, "Missing the Boat to Ancient America . Just Plain Missing the Boat," FARMS Review (2005) 17: 83-106 and John Butler, "Addressing Questions Surrounding The Book of Mormon and DNA Research."
16. See Losing a Lost Tribe, 33-45.
17. Mike Segaloff, "Photographic Evidence for the Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," at The Book of Mormon.com: An Exploration of the Authenticity of the LDS Scriptures (www.the-book-of-mormon.com); Jeff Lindsay, "Does DNA Evidence Refute the Book of Mormon?" oneline at LDS FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Latter-day Saint Beliefs (www.jefflindsay.com/).
18. Walter Neves and Hector Pucciarelli. "The Zhoukoudian Upper Cave Skull 101 as Seen from the Americas," Journal of Human Evolution 34 (1998): 219-22.
19. "First Americans Were Australian," BBC News: World Edition, Aug. 26, 1999.
20. Jaume García-Bour, Alejandro Pérez-Pérez, Sara Alvarez, et al., "Early Population Differentiation in Extinct Aborigines from Tierra del Fuego-Patagonia: Ancient mtDNA Sequences and Y-Chromosome STR Characterization," American Journal of Physical Anthropology 123 (2004): 361-70; Carles Lalueza, Alejandro Pérez-Pérez, E. Prats, et al., "Lack of Founding Amerindian Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in Extinct Aborigines from Tierra del Fuego-Patagonia," Human Molecular Genetics 6 (1997): 41-6.
21. David Epstein, "First Americans May Have Come from Australia," Discover 26 (2005).
22. Rex Dalton, "Skeleton Keys," Nature, 3 Feb. 3, 2005, 454-6.
23. John Butler, "Addressing Questions Surrounding The Book of Mormon and DNA Research."
| A couple of years ago I wrote a piece for Sunstone in response to several articles which had appeared in the magazine. I believed the articles had misrepresented the state of molecular research on Native Americans and how it related to the Book of Mormon. The articles in question were two large ones by Blake Ostler and a brief note from Michael Quinn. Writing the article was a frustrating exercise because the editor, Dan Wotherspoon, got very involved in word smithing almost everything I wrote. At one point I decided to pull out but Dan and others persuaded me to publish.
In the next issue Wotherspoon gave Blake Ostler about 5 pages of “letter to the editor” space to deliver a vitriolic spray directed at me and then Wotherspoon announced that Sunstone wasn’t going to publish anything on DNA for a while.
I believe most Sunstone subscribers hang onto their belief by a thread. But while they hang on they pay their subscription. And Wotherspoon knows it. If Sunstone goes too far (makes it too bleeding obvious that it’s all a fraud), as the DNA debate was inclined to do, it risked cutting that thread.
There may be the odd subscriber to Sunstone that knows it’s a fraud, but I believe the majority have their mouths firmly attached to the teat of Mormonism.
| Hi Folks,
There may be an article in the weekend SL Tribune on the recent change to the introduction of the Book of Mormon. I was asked for my opinion by a reporter and some of you might be interested. She posed 4 questions.
1) What do you think of the change?
I think the change is very significant and that it was inevitable. The manner in which the church has made this change disappoints me. No announcement, no acknowledgement of any error and no concern for thousands of members who struggle to accept the Book of Mormon as historical in the face of devastating scientific evidence that it isn’t.
2) What do you think it's significance is?
The Mormon Church is conceding that mainstream scientific theories about the colonization of the Americas have significant elements of truth in them. Since its founding the church has made numerous religious claims within the scientific domains of New World archaeology and anthropology. These claims have been so clearly exposed as false that the church is now retreating from them.
3) What do you think prompted the change?
From the moment the DNA evidence arrived it was inevitable that the original statement would have to go. Over 8,000 American Indians have been DNA tested and traces of Jewish ancestry have so far eluded the scientists. DNA has revealed very clearly how closely related American Indians are to their Siberian ancestors. The Lamanites are invisible, not principal ancestors.
4) Do you think this helps the LDS Church with the problems posed by DNA research?
Changing the introduction doesn’t change the book. The Book of Mormon itself gives the overwhelming impression to the reader that its people are central to the colonization history of the Americas. There is no mention of non-Israelite others, the New World is portrayed as an empty land preserved for Lehite inheritance and the book describes massive civilizations populated by descendants of Hebrews. Now the Hebrew Lamanites appear to have vanished.
I think the change raises more pressing questions for those seeking the truth. If science was right all along about the dominant Siberian ancestry of American Indians, are they also right about the timing of their entry? There is abundant evidence, some now coming from the DNA research, that their Siberian ancestors arrived over 12,000 years ago. How does such a date fit with other LDS beliefs, such as a universal flood?
| Hi Folks
I would like to share some very good news.
I was on the phone for two hours the other night with an old friend, who is a former bishop. A wonderful guy who spent 40 years serving faithfully in many callings, with a lovely wife and four sons who were equally devoted to the church. All his sons served missions.
He and his wife will be leaving the church in the coming weeks.
During the last two years his three oldest sons, one by one, drifted from activity. The last to leave had been their most committed and they were quite distressed. Over Christmas they visited this son and his family to see if they could help bolster their faith. After spending about 6 days talking about the church he and his wife now know that they were duped. They made the fatal mistake of having sufficient respect for their son to actually listen to what bothered him about the church.
And what stunned him most was to learn that Joseph Smith married 14-year-old girls and the wives of other men. In 40 years in the church this was something he had never heard about. Evidently the current P’hood/RS manual on Joseph Smith perpetuates the fraud.
But wait. It gets better (well not for the trolls).
The son they visited is married to the daughter of another former bishop with a similarly devout family. A second daughter of this former bishop (and her husband) visited the wayward sister over Christmas, possibly hoping to save her from Satan or probably because she knew her sister well enough to know that her concerns were likely to be well-founded. They returned home from the visit and are leaving the church as well.
Five couples and all the spouses and kids OUT in the last 18 months. The shock waves continue. The youngest of the four sons has some concerns and as they can all easily communicate with him, despite their loss of faith, it is very likely he will follow. Who knows where it will end in the other family and what the impact will be among friends.
My friend said he found it hard to ring me because he felt embarrassed that he hadn’t previously made contact with me. He said he didn’t know how to talk to me and I guess I had felt equally inadequate. Only a cult can cause these sorts of strains on friendships.
These are people that kept the Morg on the rails in Australia.
What a glorious train wreck for the church.
And a little PS for the trolls. I also sensed that they were all offended and were having a few commandment problems.
| LDS Apologists And Ex-Mormons Discuss Mormonism On Australian Radio |
Tuesday, Feb 19, 2008, at 08:06 AM
Original Author(s): Simon Southerton
Topic: SIMON SOUTHERTON -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Hi Folks,
Some of you may be interested in a live interview that was aired on ABC radio in Australia last Sunday evening. It was interesting because it is pretty rare for LDS apologists to talk with ex-mormons live on radio.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking on a link at the bottom of the page at this weblink.
Here is some intro blurb from the web page.
17/02/2008. Discussion about Mormonism: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In recent weeks, the American Presidential race has witnessed the elimination of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, whom many believed represented the best of the Republican tradition. Mr Romney is a successful business man with an exemplary record of public service but it is his religion, some suggest, that brought his candidacy undone. Mitt Romney is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Since its founding in the United States in the 1830s, the Latter-day Saints Church has become known for evangelical door-knocking and its wholesome all-American view of life. So why should Romney lose support among Christian conservatives? For many, it's been a matter of belief, as the Latter-day Saints has a distinctive set of beliefs that precludes it from being considered a part of mainstream Christianity.
Tonight we look at the Latter-day Saints in Australia, speaking with two representatives from the church, as well as two ex-Mormons.
Guests in this story:
Andrew Southerton is my nephew. I chime in with a question about 2/3 of the way through and the PR guys just rambled on about something unrelated. I was hopping mad because I was unable to respond to their rubbish because I had effectively been cut off (could only hear not speak.
- Steve Coy - Associate International Director of Public Affairs, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Lionel Walters - Sydney/Canberra Director of Public Affairs, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Andrew Southerton - An ex-Mormon and now candidate for Anglican Ministry, at Moore College.
- Rev. John Bracht - An ex Mormon and now Minister of Religion serving in both Presbyterian and Baptist churches.
The interview as a whole is interesting because you get a strong sense that the church is backing away from the Book of Mormon being that keystone scripture. Mainstream, mainstream, mainstream…
| Hi Folks,
In a recent FAIR DVD, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--LJJc...), Keith Crandall, a biology professor at BYU, made an astonishingly bold claim.
This is what Crandall said, the last part with a childish smirk on his face.
“The most recent DNA evidence that I’ve seen, in terms of peopling of the Americas, shows this Middle Eastern haplotype at greatest frequencies in the Mayan people; so if that’s your perception of where Lehi and company set up shop then the DNA evidence would be consistent with that.”
Naturally, this claim was right up the front of the DVD where it would have the biggest impact. Mormons watching this DVD were probably feeling all warm and assured in their hearts that the church is safe because this very smart BYU professor must know the research well and couldn’t possibly be lying.
If this statement is true then New World anthropology could be turned on its head. Unfortunately, he didn't say what the "haplotype" was.
I’d like to email Professor Crandall to find out more but I’m certain he won’t reply to me.
If there is anyone on the list who is equally curious and would like to email him…and return and report…I’d be really interested to know what the haplotype is, because I can’t find it in the literature.
Here’s his email address: Keith_Crandall@byu.edu
| I just had a call from a friend of mine, a former Bishop, whose last day at church was Easter Sunday. He didn’t need a motive to stop attending, because he already knew the church is a fraud. He just hadn’t picked a day to stop going. He decided on Easter Sunday that he had just attended church for the last time. This is what he witnessed in his last Sacrament Meeting.
An old lady nervously got up to talk and blue-tacked a picture appropriate to her talk to the front of the podium. She then commenced to give an excellent talk. Ten minutes into her address, a counselor in the Stake Presidency behind her who was visiting the ward stood up and removed the picture. He then took the microphone and announced that he had been prompted by the Spirit to remove the picture as it had been revealed that visual aids were not to be used in Sacrament Meetings.
My friend’s wife stood up and walked out, closely followed by her husband. They were livid, and were soon joined by a dozen other members who had also walked out. It wasn’t long before the elderly lady walked out in tears and left the building. My friends ran after her to comfort her. She told them that it had been 5 years since she had given a talk and she had been worried that she would make a mistake. I am sure they reassured her.
After the meeting my friends had words with the SP member and he defended his actions, explaining the church policy. My friends had a relative from England visiting them, who is extremely TBM. She told him to his face that in all her years in the church she had never witnessed anything as despicable as his behavior.
I am still struggling to come to terms with the depravity of it all. How can someone be so ruthlessly callous, yet think they are doing exactly what God wants done. They can I guess because they belong to a cult. With people of this caliber in a Stake Presidency the cult must be in deep trouble.
Next Sunday my friend will get up at the same time, stroll down the street and buy his first Sunday paper. After a relaxed breakfast of bacon and eggs he will sit down on his front porch and read it from cover to cover. And he will be the happiest man alive.
| Rodney Meldrum is going from strength to strength.
Bring on The Firm Foundation and The Heartland Model
Rodney's website "DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography" has morphed into the "The Firm Foundation" website which has a much more professional appearance.
He has linked up with LDS Travel and will be kicking off with his "Inaugural Church History/BofM Evidences LDS Tour" in April.
The name for his North American Model of Book of Mormon Geography is now the "Heartland Model". Now that's a cool name. I feel warm and fuzzy just saying it.
He is planning a grueling speaking schedule for the year, with FIRM Foundation speakers (Himself, Bruce Porter and others) penciling in about 50 speaking engagements in the next 4 months! Attendance is now free.
This guy has a full head of steam and appears to be all cashed up.
C'mon FARMS!!! C'mon FAIR!!! Get a wriggle on!
Fiddling around on the web and talking to intellectuals isn't enough. You have got to get out and meet the common people face to face. You need to tell the misled masses your faith-inspiring stories about the two Cumorahs, Limited Geographies, undetectable Lamanites, and millions of others that are so apparent when you "seriously" read the Book of Mormon.
| When I resigned in 1998 after discovering DNA evidence that American Indians were essentially all descended from Asian ancestors, I was counseled by the Area Presidency to get in touch with Professor Scott Woodward, a “world-renowned DNA expert” at BYU. In a handful of email exchanges that I had with Woodward, in amongst his lengthy molecular apologetics, he admitted that he had found it difficult to talk to other people about the DNA work and that after a few years of struggling he had reconciled most of the issues it raised. I met Woodward when I visited the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) in Salt Lake City a few years ago. At the time he angrily defended the Book of Mormon and hinted that SMGF scientists were finding exciting new evidence that supported the Book of Mormon (must be still finding it).
This month in the scientific journal Current Biology, Woodward co-authors a research paper that clearly demonstrates that the ancestors the American Indians arrived in North America over 15,000 years ago via two routes from Asia (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/a...). The founders brought 5 major maternal DNA lineages with them, named A, B, C D and X. One group of founders brought the X lineage to the region adjacent to the Great Lakes as they migrated between ice sheets across what is now central Canada. The other group followed the Pacific coast, probably bringing the other four DNA lineages (A, B, C and D).
In this paper Woodward helps bury a pile of apologetic trash from both the Mesoamerican (church approved) and Heartland (church still watching) Geographists who have variously claimed in the past that the X lineage came from Israel. The X lineage is conclusively shown to have arrived in the New World thousands of years before the Book of Mormon period.
But Woodward is not always so open with his research. Back in 1998 Woodward told me that his group had DNA tested 6500 American Indians from Peru. I could hardly believe it. All other research groups combined at the time had only DNA tested about 2000 American Indians across the entire New World! There can be little doubt that Woodward had been hunting for Lamanite DNA but apologists of course would deny this. Woodward clearly found none because those Peruvian DNA lineages remain unpublished over a decade later.
Woodward is now leading an organization (SMGF) that has much more DNA data on American Indians than any other group in the world. His group has undoubtedly DNA tested thousands of individuals from Central America including Mesoamerica. Woodward knows that Mayans, Mesoamericans, Central Americans etc don’t have Israelite ancestors. How long he will hold on to this truth is anyone’s guess. Thankfully there is a public effort in progress that will be looking at large numbers of American Indians from all across the Americas. https://genographic.nationalgeographi...
We can expect that data to be published in a timely manner over the next couple of years.
| A few weeks ago I posted some comments about Ugo Perego’s and Scott Woodward’s involvement in a research paper on American Indians. I mention a meeting I had with Woodward, Perego and other scientists at the SMGF office in Salt Lake back in 2004.
Ugo Perego commented on FAIR about my RFM post and this particular meeting. This is a response to some of his comments.
[SGS RFM post]
When I resigned in 1998 after discovering DNA evidence that American Indians were essentially all descended from Asian ancestors, I was counselled by the Area Presidency to get in touch with Professor Scott Woodward, a “world-renowned DNA expert” at BYU. In a handful of email exchanges that I had with Woodward, in amongst his lengthy molecular apologetics, he admitted that he had found it difficult to talk to other people about the DNA work and that after a few years of struggling he had reconciled most of the issues it raised.
UP (Ugo Perego)
“The use of the word “discovering” is interesting in the opening sentence of Southerton’s remarks. It appears that Southerton deliberately wants to give the impression to those who are unfamiliar with studies in population genetics that he is the one to first discover a genetic link between Native Americans and Asian populations.
It is unfortunate that Perego would read that into my post on RFM. I have never tried to give the impression that I did primary research on American Indians and I have never heard an apologist accuse me of this before.
During the communication exchange between Southerton and Woodward in 1998, Woodward expressed how difficult it was for him to explain DNA related concepts to people (Southerton included) who did not want to understand or put serious effort into understanding the concepts involved. Woodward’s “difficulty” was not in reconciling Book of Mormon issues, but in dealing with people that refused to listen.
Perego’s claim that Scott did not have difficulty reconciling the DNA evidence with the Book of Mormon is incorrect. After discussing the research in an email (12 Aug 1998) Scott said “These are just a few notes about something I have thought and struggled over for a number of years.” The fact that Scott was doing such an extensive DNA study in Peru strongly suggest he had initially held hemispheric views of the Book of Mormon. Back in 1998, almost all Mormons believed that the Lehites landed on the coast of Chile. Even less Mormons knew about the Limited Geography then than they do now. Why would he look in Peru if the Book of Mormon rescuing Limited Geography model centres on Mesoamerica?
My brother in law Campbell Gray (Director of the BYU Art Gallery) spoke to Scott on the phone back in 1998 at the time I corresponded with him. This is what Cam recalled from the conversation in an email he sent me on 1 Sept 1998.
“Scott and I spoke on the telephone for some time last night. I am impressed with him. He is personally aware of the process you are going through and he is eager to continue the discussions – not that he has sorted it all out, but he has come some distance in reconciling the relationship between the evidence and the doctrine. He has also spent some time talking with some of the brethren about the issues. He is convinced that Elder Nelson is not the right person to speak to about the issues. In fact, he was of the opinion until a while ago, that Elder Nelson was the right person, but an LDS microbiologist in another university convinced him otherwise. He, like you, is keen that the information is given to the right people, but he is also aware of how little the Brethren know about this kind of thing and the amount of teaching that would have to take place before the ideas could be accepted. These are issues he is struggling with.”
It is clear from this exchange that Scott Woodward had struggled with the DNA evidence for some time prior to this conversation. He shared my desire back in 1998 to make the Brethren aware of the difficulties that arose because of the DNA. I have retained copies of all my email correspondence with Scott. The entire exchange was cordial. When Scott said that he had found it difficult to talk to people about the DNA work on American Indians he didn’t say it in the context of “people refusing to be serious”. It was in the context of “it doesn’t fit with what many members believe about American Indians.”
Woodward’s emails from 1998 were eventually edited by Southerton and forwarded to LDS Church leaders in Utah, with the objective of hurting Woodward’s teaching position at BYU. This event greatly upset Woodward. When in 2004 Southerton visited Woodward at SMGF, he admitted his earlier intentions and apologized for what he did in 1998. I was present at that meeting.
Perego was present at the meeting but is not aware of a lot of other details of what transpired several years earlier between Scott and me. Consequently his description of the meeting is unreliable.
It was never my intention to have any impact on Scott Woodward’s research position at BYU and I never admitted that. How could I possibly influence BYU and what could possibly be my motive? I hardly knew Scott and our exchange was entirely cordial. I certainly never “edited” Scott’s emails to me. I was involved in correspondence with Area Leaders in Australia and it is possible that during that exchange they requested copies of my correspondence with Scott. If I gave them anything it was not edited and I certainly never sent anything to Salt Lake.
Not long after corresponding with Scott, which became frustrating because he often took several weeks to respond, I contacted several other molecular scientists at BYU in an attempt to get a wider range of opinions and input to discussion about the issue. This is the email I sent.
I am a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia. I am also a Latter-day Saint and was until recently serving as a Bishop. A few months ago I came across some DNA research that conflicts strongly with my understanding of Book of Mormon history. I have been communicating with Professor Scott Woodward at BYU about this research. I am writing to you because you are likely to be able to understand the research well because of your molecular experience. I think it will be beneficial for LDS scientists that can appreciate this work to communicate with each other about it.
The research involves RFLP analysis of the mitochondrial (mt) genome of American Indians. The mt genome is used for this type of study because it has a high rate of mutation compared to the nuclear genome. The mt genome is also maternally inherited thus avoiding the complications arising through recombination in each generation. Different mtDNA lineages arise by accumulation of characteristic mutations. These mutations, which can be detected by RFLP or sequencing, can be used to determine the relationships between different human populations.
Over the last 8 years research groups from several labs around the world have been analysing the mtDNA of American Indians. After communicating with several of the leading authors, it is now clear that they agree that in the Americas there are essentially 5 different mtDNA lineages (A, B, C, D and X). The A, B, C and D lineages are also found in Asian populations at low frequencies. They have not been found in Europe. Other lineages such as X6 and X7 have been shown to be derived from the C and D lineages. The X lineage is found at very low levels throughout the Americas and is found at low levels in Europe. It has not yet been found in Asia. The American X lineage is very different to the European X lineage. A paper describing the distribution and phylogenetic analysis of this lineage will be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Below are some of the most significant publications in this field. The last three publications describe a genetic link between South Pacific Islanders and South East Asians.
Schurr et al (1990) Amerindian mitochondrial DNAs have rare Asian
mutations at high frequencies, suggesting they derived from four primary
maternal lineages. American Journal of Human Genetics 46, 613-623.
Merriwether et al (1995) Distribution of the four founding lineage
haplotypes in native Americans suggests a single wave of migration for the
New World. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 98, 411-430.
Merriwether and Ferrel (1996) The four founding lineage hypothesis for
the New World: A critical reevaluation. Molecular Phylogenetics and
Evolution 5, 241-246.
Bonatto SL and Salzano FM (1997) Diversity and age of the four major
mtDNA haplogroups, and their implications for the peopling of the new
world. American Journal of Human Genetics 61, 1413-1423.
Stone AC and Stoneking M. (1998) mtDNA analysis of a prehistoric Oneota
population: Implications for the peopling of the New World. American
Journal of Human Genetics. 62, 1153-1170.
Hertzberg et al (1989) An Asian-specific 9-bp deletion of mitochondrial
DNA is frequently found in Polynesians. American Journal of Human
Genetics. 44, 504-510.
Lum et al (1994) Polynesian mitochondrial DNAs reveal three deep maternal
lineage clusters. Human Biology 66, 567-590.
Melton et al (1995) Polynesian genetic affinities with Southeast Asian
populations as identified by mtDNA analysis. American Journal of Human
Genetics 57, 403-414.
The research in these papers strongly suggests that all pre-columbian mtDNA lineages were brought into America over 12,000 years ago. The implication of this is that American Indians are the descendants of Asians. This is reported in a recent issue of a popular science rag (New Scientist, 17th October 1998 pages 24-28). This research conflicts with my understanding of the Book of Mormon. I can't fit the data with the limited geographical model proposed by some Book of Mormon scholars. It only fits with a disappeared into thin air model.
If you have the time to read these papers, I think you would find Scott willing to discuss them with you. Otherwise I would be happy to communicate with you. I will be emailing several other molecular biologists at BYU in the near future.
Dr Simon Southerton, Department of Biochemistry, University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA
During that occasion, Woodward did not “angrily defend” the Book of Mormon, but there was definitely some tension in the room due to what Southerton attempted to do to him in 1998. As I already stated, Southerton admitted to sending communications to LDS leaders in an attempt to purposely hurt Woodward’s academic position at BYU, and said he was sorry for what he did. However, we had a hard time believing that he was sincere in his apologies since his recent book Losing a Lost Tribe contained several innuendos about the nature of Woodward’s work with SMGF, insisting on possible connections with the search for Lamanite DNA evidence.
If Scott was hurt about anything I had assumed it was about me contacting other scientists at BYU and making them aware of the DNA issue. In the meeting with Scott Woodward at SMGF I apologised if my email to those scientists caused him any embarrassment. I did not apologise about his emails to me ending up in the Brethren’s hands. I was not even aware that his emails had reached Utah. Besides, there is nothing in his emails that he ought to be embarrassed about. He was entirely honest and up front.
This is the first time I have been connected with Scott’s tenure at BYU. I think it is very sad that Scott was fired from BYU. What actually transpired and what the true chain of events were we will never know because nobody involved says anything. But it was well known in his BYU department that Scott was very upset about losing his professorship. Scott told members of his ward (he was bishop at the time) that he had met one on one with President Hinckley, and he been asked to stop a line of his research. Was Scott asked to stop working on the DNA lineages from the 6500 Peruvians because it could potentially be embarrassing for the church? Did Hinckley personally intervene to move Scott out of BYU? I think the odds of that are pretty high, given that President Hinckley had tried to suppress other potentially embarrassing information a few years earlier during the Hoffman affair. If I had any impact on Scott’s tenure I think that it is very unfortunate but it is not my fault if the Brethren had him booted out. There can be little doubt President Hinckley was personally involved as he was the Chairman of the BYU Board of Trustees at the time.
Perego seems sensitive about the SMGF being linked to a search for Lamanite DNA. Perhaps this is what President Hinckley was most concerned with. Given the scale of the DNA typing that Scott did so long ago in Peru, it is hard to believe that he was not strongly motivated by the search for Lamanite DNA. He admitted in his emails to me that he was “personally interested in questions concerning the origins of New World populations” and that in that context he was involved in a study in Peru. There were also no “innuendos” in my book Losing a Lost Tribe that the SMGF was hunting for Lamanite DNA. All I say is that the SMGF is collecting a vast DNA database that can be used to trace people’s ancestral homelands. You can read that on the SMFG website.
No one at that meeting (except, apparently, Southerton) recalls any mention of “finding exciting new evidence that supported the Book of Mormon,” particularly with regards to the work done at SMGF, as DNA and family history data collected in the first few years of the project were mainly of Anglo-Saxon extraction. However, references were made about the work of researchers from other universities publishing data that did not fit with the classic “Asian” markers as found among the majority of pre-Columbian groups. In some cases, the hypotheses surrounding their possible presence in the Western Hemisphere are still a matter of dispute (these arguments have already been discussed elsewhere and basically they have been promptly dismissed by those criticizing the historicity of the Book of Mormon).
Perego and I are never going to agree 100% in our recollections of an unrecorded meeting from several years ago. But it is fairly certain that promising evidence of DNA not connected to Asia (i.e. “support” for Book of Mormon) was discussed, whether it was work of the SMGF or other scientists is largely irrelevant. If we discussed the X lineage then this one is now largely resolved. It almost certainly came from Asia (even if no Asian relatives are found) and it has been in the Americas for a very long time. Perego’s paper adds good evidence for this.
[SGS FRM post] “In this paper Woodward helps bury a pile of apologetic trash from both the Mesoamerican (church approved) and Heartland (church still watching) Geographists who have variously claimed in the past that the X lineage came from Israel. The X lineage is conclusively shown to have arrived in the New World thousands of years before the Book of Mormon period.”
None of these studies on Native Americans, including the current one published in January 2009 in Current Biology were designed to address the Lamanite/Book of Mormon issue. Data for this study were collected and analyzed with the objective of shedding new light about the origins of Paleo-Indians; not to identify additional migratory events in the following millennia and the role they may have played in re-shaping the genetic pool already existing in America’s double continent. Therefore, I don’t see how “Woodward” is helping in burying anything here, particularly with regards to Southerton’s personal interpretation of what is considered “church approved.”
If a study is designed to explore the origins of American Indians, it is entirely relevant to questions about the Lamanites. Numerous apologists have banged on about the X lineage being a possible Lamanite link to Israel. I stated back in 2003 that it is not derived from Israel. If the X lineage was present in the New World 15,000 years ago as Perego’s paper shows then it cannot be linked to Israelites, period. Israel didn’t even exist 5,000 years ago.
The ‘truth’ that Israelite DNA (whatever that might be) has not been found in Mesoamerica is public knowledge, a concept that finds Woodward and me with peace of mind. But Southerton is obsessed with the hopeless idea that Woodward and others at SMGF are still searching restlessly for this genetic link so that we can finally reconcile our LDS beliefs and be done with our work!
I am far less obsessed with SMFG than Perego imagines. It is a matter of public knowledge that Keith Crandall recently claimed that there is evidence of Israelite DNA being found in Mesoamerica (FAIR DVD). His claim is misleading, offering false hope to people who trust his judgment. My only obsession is that LDS scholars should be honest in their presentation of the DNA evidence. Perego’s admission that it is now common knowledge that Israelite DNA has not been found in Mesoamerica is refreshing. Unfortunately, these sorts of admissions are rare.
Perhaps the time has come for Southerton to recognize the considerable contribution that Woodward and the SMGF team have brought both to the scientific and the genealogical community, continuing to pursue the initial mission of building a genetic database to be used as a valuable research and humanitarian tool. This database was voted as one of the best genealogical resources available on the internet (for the years 2007 and 2008) out of more than 300,000 genealogical websites by the popular Family Tree Magazine.
Despite Southerton’s continued efforts to discredit the professional integrity of institutions and/or individuals affiliated with the LDS faith, the debate about the origin of Native American populations is still wide open as demonstrated by the great amount of scholarship that scientists from different fields are still producing today. Rather than pick and choose from the scientific literature what fits best with his personal interpretation of the history of the Western Hemisphere, Southerton should attempt his own population genetic study to test the hypothesis for “Lamanite DNA.”
I am surprised at how defensive these comments are. I have never challenged the professional integrity of SMGF. It is a fantastic research project but I don’t see it as my role to promote it. Seeing as my post was on RFM on another topic, I chose not to spend any time promoting the good work of SMGF.
It seems like Perego would prefer that I go away and let LDS scholars say exactly what they want. I should be silent while BYU scholar John Tvedtness claims that the X lineage has been found in Mesoamerica and when BYU professor Keith Crandall claims there is evidence of Israelite DNA in Mesoamerica (2008 FAIR DVD). Meanwhile FAIR scholars should feel entitled to slam Rodney Meldrum for his interpretations.
The origin of the bulk of American Indian populations is not wide open when it comes to the Book of Mormon. We can be very confident that American Indians are largely descended (>99%) from Asian migrants who arrived over 15,000 years ago. There may have been small colonisations from Iceland, Polynesia or China, but these are either minor or still controversial. There is no evidence for any pre-Columbian genetic link with Israel. This might not be a threat to professional apologists who have shrunk the Lehite influence to undetectable levels and disconnected the term Lamanite from genetics. But it is a problem for the vast majority of Mormons who have felt the spirit testify of the presence of the Lamanites among American Indians across the continents and among the Polynesians in the Pacific.
| I noticed in the recent FARMS review that Trent Stephen's and Jeffrey Meldrum’s book “Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding” is unfavorably reviewed by a bloke named Duane Boyce. It is about three decades since Boyce did anything remotely resembling scientific research (he did postdoctoral work at Harvard (1979-82) after his PhD at BYU). http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=20andnum=2andid=725
Boyce is perfectly at ease pointing out how misguided Stephens and Meldrum (who are both active biological scientists) are in their acceptance of biological evolution as part of God’s plan. Boyce doesn’t believe that evolution fits in anywhere. Like many FARMS reviews it is not a real book review. His paper is 95% his own self righteous opinions and 5% review. Here are some gems from his paper.
“So we have to wonder. Was the creation of man a miraculous process–that is, one that cannot be entirely accounted for by known naturalistic principles? Or was it, though God's method, a process in which he played no appreciable role until it came time to place the spirits of Adam and Eve into the bodies that a naturalistic, complex, and time-immense process had finally produced for them?
Clearly, LDS scientists who are well informed about biological evolution steer clear of the gutter apologetics that FARMS revels in. FARMS has to resort to publishing the opinions of arrogant (ex-Harvard) businessmen who consider themselves scientific heavyweights. How embarrassing it must be for the dozens of biologists at BYU when they see this sort of tripe pouring out of BYU. For most senior LDS biologists the debate over the reality of evolution is over.
In short, it seems to me that, given the Lord's propensity for working at least part of the time in a miraculous way with physical elements–and often in a way that seems intended specifically to save time–it's worth wondering why he wouldn't do this to some degree in the largest project of all (the creation of the earth and its life-forms), or at least in his most important project of all (the creation of man). Are these the places where time does not matter and where miraculous, inscrutable processes have no place? And more importantly, if so, then why do Moroni and Jacob seem unable to see this and, in fact, insist on just the opposite? [In the Book of Mormon these two mythical prophets saw the creation and were amazed at how miraculous it was]
I think time will eventually show that the current state of thinking about the evolution of man is thoroughly false and that we might have recognized this earlier if not for some of the complexities (of all kinds) that inhere in scientific investigation itself.”
One well known BYU professor begins his first lecture to new biology students by saying “Evolution is a fact. Get over it”.
| I wanted to elaborate on my earlier dogmatic statement about evolution.
I realize that some who read this may find it difficult to accept that evolution is a fact. Some may have been persuaded by Christian (or LDS) apologetics that since evolution is a “theory” that it is still surrounded with uncertainty. Some may have been led to believe that there is still considerable debate among scientists about the validity of evolution. Frankly, as a scientist I find all these arguments quite tiresome. Among experienced biologists, the central principles of evolution are not debated anymore. It is part of the furniture. It is as well demonstrated as the fact that the world is round. I am not skilled (nor interested) in philosophical discussions and debates surrounding evolution. I find them boring and so do most scientists. They are about as interesting as debates about global Floods, flat earths and the location of the Garden of Eden.
I have previously been critical of Jeff Meldrum for his belief in Sasquatch. But as a fellow scientist I was appalled by the FARMS “review” of his recent book on evolution that he co-authored with Trent Stephens. http://farms.byu.edu/publications/rev... Stephens and Meldrum are LDS scientists who, sadly, feel compelled to defend evolution from the ignorance that surrounds them. The person who reviewed their book is an ex-Harvard creationist whose skills are in outdated philosophical arguments and not scientific evidence for or against evolution. Daniel Peterson thinks FARMS is justified and giving balance in airing both sides of the debate. The trouble is that there isn’t a debate among those who possess sufficient scientific understanding to be involved in one.
Most scientists just want to get on with their research. My interests lie largely in the research I do on forest trees. The discoveries that we are making add more evidence to the enormous pile of data that convince me (and many others) that evolution is real. I see it in the data I work with on a daily basis. We are interested in the naturally occurring DNA variation in genes that are involved in the synthesis of wood or resistance to environmental stresses like drought. We take a gene and re-sequence it in 24-36 unrelated trees of the same species. On average, we find between 10 and 20 spelling variants where one or another DNA letter can occur at the same position in the gene. The DNA variants appear to be random and many of these spelling variants have no apparent influence on wood development. But we do find spelling variants that affect how active the gene is i.e. how much gene product is produced. We also find spelling variants that slightly alter the protein product of the gene by causing an amino acid change. Some of these DNA variations have a significant effect on wood development. Some cause the tree to lay down more cellulose while some cause the wood to be stronger. There are other spelling changes that are found in trees that grow better on drier sites.
What we are seeing is the raw material of evolution. Random mutations that every now and then give a subtle change that may, or may not, give an advantage to future generations. By looking at these sequence changes in related eucalyptus species we are finding that some spelling variants are shared, while each new species also has its own unique spelling variants. Thousands of scientists working on many other plant and animal species see the exact same trend. These findings are perfectly in step with modern evolutionary theory (not read hypothesis). Without an understanding of the principles of evolution, my work would be a meaningless pile of data screaming out for an explanation.
I can fully understand why people who haven’t studied science find it hard to accept evolution. I once didn’t accept it myself. Sadly this was the case after I had graduated with a science degree from the University of Sydney. Even sadder was that I still did not fully accept evolution after completing my PhD from the same university! It was only during my first postdoctoral appointment in the UK that it all fell into place and I realized just how watertight the theory is.
| The Young brothers, widely known Mormons in Brisbane have done the dirty on thousands of customers and franchise owners.
Their Kleenmaid company is in voluntary administration with debts of $73 million. They sell overpriced whitegoods.
But just weeks ago they met with franchisees to assure them the company was solvent and in the last month they have taken deposits totaling 27 million for appliances people will never get. One person purchased a franchise for $200,000 just weeks ago and has lost the lot. They have also failed to pay superannuation for their staff for the last year. In other words they have lied and those lies will cost thousands of people their deposits and several people their life savings.
On top of that, all of the Young's private assets are held in the names of their wives and as a result are essentially untouchable.
The Young brothers appearing on YouTube to comfort angered creditors shows just how out of touch these guys are.
This is a big story that has been running in all the national papers during the last week.
I'm looking forward to seeing the brothers Young sell all their (wives) assets so that they can help the people who have lost most of their life savings. Maybe I'm dreamin.
Fortitude Valley Kleenmaid sale angers customers
Kleenmaid directors may face charges over collapse
Kleenmaid staff '$3m out-of-pocket'
| I recently posted a note on Rodney Meldrum's Heartland Geography (North America) website pointing out the evidence that the X lineage is not derived from Israel. Since I am bringing the faithful up to speed on the X lineage, I thought some of the faithless may appreciate an update.
A chap named Jason posted the following.
Has anyone found remains which contain both Haplogroup X2 and can be carbon dated to before the time of the Book of Mormon timeline? please provide references to these finds rather than your personal veiws on the matter.
A number of research groups have uncovered evidence of the X lineage in ancient samples that have been radio-carbon dated.
There are two ways that the X lineage is identified, one is by detecting X-specific DNA mutations in the D-loop or control region of the mitochondrial DNA and the other is by identifying another X-specific mutation in the coding region. The control region is subject to a higher rate of mutation than the coding region of the mitochondrial DNA. As a result scientists prefer to unambiguously confirm lineage identity by also sequencing the more stable DNA outside of the control region.
In the control region, the X lineage is characterised by the occurrence of a “T” instead of a “C” at two points, base positions 16,223 and 16,278. If a DNA lineage has a “T” at both positions it is very likely to be an X lineage. To be certain that a lineage is the X lineage, scientists now routinely sequence the coding region at base position 14,465. If a lineage is suspected of being X by the occurrence of a T at 16,223 and 16,278, in most cases it is found to be an X lineage based on its sequence at 14,465.
The most complete study was reported by Malhi et al in 2002. They conclusively demonstrated the presence of the X lineage in ancient remains from the Columbia River in Washington dated to about 6-700AD. They determined the DNA sequence at all three of the positions described above.
Several other groups have identified DNA lineages in ancient samples that are very likely to be the X lineage. This is mentioned in the paper by Malhi.
“Ancient samples from the Norris Farms site (Stone and Stoneking, 1998), the Windover site (Hauswirth et al., 1994), and the Amazon Basin (Ribeiro-Dos-Santos et al., 1996) exhibit the characteristic HVSI control region markers found in individuals assigned to haplogroup X, but they could not be confidently assigned that haplogroup because they were not tested for the AccI restriction site at np 14,465.”
Two of the papers Malhi cites have sequenced DNA from ancient samples that pre-date the Book of Mormon period. Two individuals analysed by Ribeiro-Dos-Santos were dated to about 4,000 years before present and one to about 1000 years before present. The ancient remains were identified at a site in the Amazon known to have been occupied (by numerous radio carbon dates) for at least 4,000 years.
You can get the Ribeiro-Dos-Santos research paper by clicking the link to the paper in the references at the Wiki site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogro... (after clicking the reference link click on the Full text “Pdf” link to get the full research paper.)
The X lineage had not been named at the time of this or the other study. Individuals that were most likely X lineage were classified as lineage V in the Ribeiro-Dos-Santos paper (see Figure 1).
The oldest sample likely to have the X lineage was identified at the Windover site in Florida by Hauswirth et al (1994). I can’t find a free link to this paper, but I can send you a pdf if you contact me directly.
In this study the remains analysed were dated to between 7000 and 8000 before present. One of the fourteen individuals had both control region mutations that are diagnostic of the X lineage (Table 3).
Given that two studies have independently identified evidence of the X lineage in remains from three individuals dated to between 4000 and 8000 years ago, it seems almost certain that the X lineage was present in the Americas well before the Book of Mormon period. This is confirmed by the X lineage dating research published this year by Mormon scientists Ugo Perego and Scott Woodward in Current Biology. I can also send you this paper if you like. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any further questions.
I love the one from Rodney Meldrum advising me on how to be a good scientist.
From The FIRM Foundation Blog:
Thank you for the overview of the mtDNA lineage X markers (positions) for those coming to this blog site. Your non-combative approach is also very much appreciated.
There are a couple of clarifications to add to your comments. The Malhi paper, in the Abstract, states, "The skeletons were excavated in different archeological sites of the Brazilian Amazon region, with dating estimated at 500-4,000 years before the present. " I have not retrieved the full article yet, but do not find how this dating was accomplished (carbon or other). Yet, 500-4,000 years seem only partially consistent with your comment "dated to about 4,000 years". It would appear the dating was more of an estimate than a carbon-date with the associated +/- a certain # of years. Without the full article it cannot be determine which dating method was used. If you could post the relevant section about how the dating was accomplished, that would be helpful.
I have reviewed the pertinent information on mtDNA dating and recently completed a paper on the subject of haplogroup X and potential relationships to Book of Mormon populations. One of the areas that I go into extensively is the dating aspects, which I believe most people, especially LDS will find interesting. The paper is being reviewed by two knowledgeable experts on DNA (both LDS) for clarity and accuracy, and then it will be made available as a free download from the website at www.BookofMormomEvidence.org .
I have read Ugo Perego's paper in Current Biology (the two Beringia migration routes) and understand where he is coming from, although when it comes to the dating, I am in disagreement with him based on scriptural timelines as I understand them. He is working with a non-LDS team that is certainly heavily invested in the Beringia migration theories and their relationship with the peopling of the Americas. Their pre-or post-glacial migration route between the two proposed ice sheets leading into the Great Plains of North America could more easily be explained by a migration by boat to the Gulf of Mexico and then a migration route following up the Mississippi River (as proposed by Fix et al., 2005)into the heartland of America, once the dating is corrected by applying empirical pedigree dating rates, rather than the theoretical phylogenetic rates.
From The FIRM Foundation Blog:
I am aware of Ugo Perego's paper in Current Biology, and thank you for alerting me to his speaking at the FAIR conference. Unfortunately, they have not invited me to speak at their conference, yet... I doubt, however that such an invitation will be extended any time soon.
You are correct in that the use of haplogroup X for the Heartland Model geography relies on the two arguments you mentioned. However, both of these are based on the dating aspects of mtDNA. The relatedness is simply a function of how long ago it is thought to have occured (hence the 20,000 years ago MRCA). If the theoretical phylogenetic dating is shown to be divergent and incompatible with observation-based pedigree dating, thus causing a significant shift in the mtDNA mutation rates, then neither of these arguements remain as cause for dismissing haplogroup X as a Book of Mormon related lineage.
As a side note. It is always appropriate to accept certain aspects of evidence and reject others, Simon. This is how science is done. As an example, data such as empirical sequencing of DNA can be accepted as factual, while the interpretation of the data (the theories) can be challenged and evolve over time. I am confident you understand the difference. No scientist or researcher is limited to accepting every aspect of a theory if they accept one part of it. To think otherwise is to misunderstand how science works. My impression is that you believe I am 'cherry-picking' evidence I like and rejecting out of hand all other information. Simon, this is not the case. I am rejecting portions of theories that I feel cannot be reconsiled with the revealed word of the Lord in the scriptures. As it turns out, there is good reason to question the dating of mtDNA, as I have outlined in the soon to be released paper.
Just some quick responses and clarifications in response to your post.
You said: “There are a couple of clarifications to add to your comments. The Malhi paper, in the Abstract, states, “The skeletons were excavated in different archeological sites of the Brazilian Amazon region, with dating estimated at 500-4,000 years before the present. ” I have not retrieved the full article yet, but do not find how this dating was accomplished (carbon or other). Yet, 500-4,000 years seem only partially consistent with your comment “dated to about 4,000 years”. It would appear the dating was more of an estimate than a carbon-date with the associated +/- a certain # of years. Without the full article it cannot be determine which dating method was used. If you could post the relevant section about how the dating was accomplished, that would be helpful.”
SGS: This is what it says in the Ribeiro-Dos-Santos paper. “In all cases, the bones were from skeletons buried in fetal position in sambaquis or in anthropomorphic urns, and the age of the sample was estimated on the basis of the period to which the pottery belonged.”
As you know it is common for archaeologists to develop time series of pottery designs that are established by stratiography. I suspect organic material has been carbon dated for some of these layers to calibrate them but I don’t have any references to support that.
In this study three individuals most likely had an X lineage. Two were from deeper layers and estimated to be 4,000 years old. This is why I state that. The other was dated to about 1000 years old but I didn’t refer to that one.
The individual with an X lineage recovered from the Windover bog in Florida (Hauswirth et al) was carbon dated to in excess of 7,000 years before present. They had plenty of dates in the 7-8000 year range so we can be pretty confidant that these dates are accurate.
I have reviewed the pertinent information on mtDNA dating and recently completed a paper on the subject of haplogroup X and potential relationships to Book of Mormon populations. One of the areas that I go into extensively is the dating aspects, which I believe most people, especially LDS will find interesting. The paper is being reviewed by two knowledgeable experts on DNA (both LDS) for clarity and accuracy, and then it will be made available as a free download from the website at http://www.BookofMormomEvidence.org.
SGS: I would be interested to read the paper and to know who the LDS scientists are.
You said: I have read Ugo Perego’s paper in Current Biology (the two Beringia migration routes) and understand where he is coming from, although when it comes to the dating, I am in disagreement with him based on scriptural timelines as I understand them. He is working with a non-LDS team that is certainly heavily invested in the Beringia migration theories and their relationship with the peopling of the Americas. Their pre-or post-glacial migration route between the two proposed ice sheets leading into the Great Plains of North America could more easily be explained by a migration by boat to the Gulf of Mexico and then a migration route following up the Mississippi River (as proposed by Fix et al., 2005)into the heartland of America, once the dating is corrected by applying empirical pedigree dating rates, rather than the theoretical phylogenetic rates.”
SGS: Might I suggest that the non-Mormon team is heavily invested in discovering truth. Most scientists I know deal honestly with the facts they uncover. If you don’t you’ll get caught out. The Beringian migration theory is on very solid ground because there is abundant evidence for it.
Do you accept that American Indians have lived in the New World for in excess of 14,000 years? This has been confirmed by hundreds of radiocarbon dates of organic matter adjacent to Clovis spear points. Do you accept carbon dating evidence? If you did accept that the A, B, C and D lineages have been in the Americas for 16,000 years then how do you explain the similar genetic diversity in the X, A, B, C and D lineages?
I’m not sure at times why you are looking at the science. If you dismiss data because it doesn’t fit the timelines of the Book of Mormon can you see how this could color your interpretation of the science? Perego is simply drawing the most rational conclusions he can from the data he has, which is a considerable amount of data. American Indian X lineages are about as old as the other four DNA lineages because they harbour similar levels of diversity to the other lineages.
I would be interested in the empirical pedigree dating rates you mention. Are these based on complete mitochondrial sequences or the D-loop? Control region dating is very unreliable.
I’m not aware of the Fix study but I suspect they believe that any migration after the glacial period was roughly 14,000 years ago.
| A. (Albert) Dean Byrd, Ph.D., MBA, MPH
Ph.D. in psychology from Brigham Young University.
Adjunct Professor, University of Utah School of Medicine
Past President National Association for Research andamp; Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). http://www.narth.com/menus/officers.h... NARTH is a non-profit organization of the Christian right that offers conversion therapy and other regimens intended to change the sexual orientation of individuals who experience unwanted sexual attraction to members of the same sex. NARTH disagrees with the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 policy revision that removed homosexuality from its diagnostic manual of mental disorders. Mainstream American medical and scientific organizations reject conversion therapy as ineffective at best, and harmful at worst.
When Mormons need an apologist to defend its homophobic position they have a willing foot soldier in Dean Byrd. Byrd has built a career around his belief that homosexuality is not under significant genetic or biological control. Rather, it is due to faulty social and emotional conditioning and that with appropriate therapy it can be cured. He has authored apologetic articles in the Ensign, Meridian Magazine and FAIR.
Byrd promotes “gender-affirmative therapy”. He states: "The basic premise of gender-affirmative therapy is that social and emotional variables affect gender identity which, in turn, determines sexual orientation. The work of the therapist is to help people understand their gender development. Subsequently, such individuals are able to make choices that are consistent with their value system.”
Byrd was Director of Clinical Training for LDS Social Services
Bryd has authored a couple of insensitive reviews of books written by Mormons dealing with same sex attraction.
No More Goodbyes; Carol Lynn Pearson
In Quiet Desperation; Fred Matis, Marilyn Matis, and Ty Mansfield
Byrd’s review http://www.fairlds.org/Reviews/Rvw200...
One of the authors of this book was so incensed they wrote a response to Byrd’s review. http://northstarlds.org/mansfieldiqdr...
In his review of “In Quiet Desperation” Byrd’s distorted views and misrepresentations of scientific evidence led to a highly critical response from Mormons, William Bradshaw (Prof. Microbiology and Molecular Biology at BYU), Robert Rees, Ron Schow and Marybeth Raynes). Collectively these people have better scientific credentials and much more moderate views. http://www.ldsresources.info/professi...
Some gems from the article which is worth reading in full.
“Byrd was the lead person directing therapy for same sex attraction at Church Social Services during a period when many hundreds of Latter-day Saints were undergoing reparative or change therapy, one would think he would cite the findings of such therapy. It is in fact scandalous that such studies either were not undertaken or have been suppressed since the findings would help enlighten our present discussion of this subject. We are acquainted with one therapist at Church Social Services during Byrd's tenure who did a large portion of this work in that he counselled with nearly a thousand homosexuals and whose experience contradicts the point of view taken in this review. [Footnote: Our informant has told us that in over a 30 year career at LDS Family Services he worked with about 400 single men, 200 of whom left therapy after 1-2 sessions. Of the remaining 200, only 20 (10%) were able to marry. Furthermore, 19 of the 20 who married identified themselves as bisexual when they entered therapy. The quality of these marriages is unknown. Another Latter-day Saint therapist with whom we are familiar reports that of the hundreds of clients with sexual identity issues she has seen only those clearly identified as bisexual are given any chance of making successful marriages.]”
“The pernicious consequence of promoting the idea that homosexuality is a chosen and changeable condition is that tens of thousands of Latter-day Saint homosexuals, believing that the atonement will change their homosexual inclinations, become disillusioned with God and Christ (and the Church) when they make every sacrifice of which they are capable in the belief that they will be free of homosexual feelings–only to discover that their efforts are ineffective. More often than not, they may blame themselves for having insufficient faith and either lose all faith, suspend their belief, or take their lives. Ecclesiastical leaders who have experience counseling with Latter-day Saint homosexuals know the heartbreak associated with such cases. One wants to say as did Jeremiah about another pernicious teaching, "Let this be taught no more in Israel!" (Ezekiel 18:1-5)”
“They begin with the a priori assumption that homosexuality must and therefore can be changed through imposing the external influences of counseling and reparative therapy. It must then follow that external influences such as negative social relationships in a family have to be responsible for inducing homosexuality in the first place. Therefore, the suggestion that homosexuality could be innate and the result of biological mechanisms must be dismissed out of hand.
There is a vast body of evidence from empirical scientific studies supporting the conclusion that biological processes, especially those operating prenatally to regulate the sexual differentiation of the brain, influence a person's sexual orientation. These data have been derived from a variety of disciplines including genetics, biochemistry, and neurobiology. Among the subjects of these investigations are twin and sibling studies, brain anatomy, hormones and their cellular receptors, correlates of homosexuality in handedness and hearing, cognitive (brain function) studies, and the behavior of humans with genetic defects that alter gender characteristics. Of special significance is the demonstration that for measures that are sexually dimorphic, that is, different between heterosexual men and women, homosexual persons are atypical for their gender. Homosexuality is heritable and imprinted early (often embryonic ally) in human development. It is also important to note that when genetic studies demonstrate thatthere is some component of the variability in sexual orientation not directly attributable to genes, and therefore "environmental," this does not necessarily refer to influences, such as social interactions, outside the individual. Such influences could well be biological (for example, hormonal influences that operate within the environment of the individual, but are derived from, and exert their effects upon the genetic constitution of that person, and hence are epigenetic). The fact that no single unified theory can as yet explain all of the data, and that the responsible processes are probably not the same in gay men and lesbians, does not diminish the fact that the biological evidence is compelling. Space here does not permit the citation of the voluminous scientific information. Instead, we invite the reader to carefully examine the data, beginning with review articles that summarize the results of the various studies. These are summarized at http://members.aol.com/slevay/page22.... as well as in the articles listed in this footnote.”
“It is absolutely ludicrous to marshal the names of Simon LeVay, Dean Hamer, and Michael J. Bailey to discredit a biological explanation for homosexuality when the work of these investigators has contributed so importantly to that very proposition. The reader will note in the following citations from these scientists the sentiment that the biological evidence is very strong; and though there is very little credible empirical support for environmental, i.e., social explanations, they don't rule them out. “
After the citations
“As these brief citations make very clear, Byrd, Cox, and Robinson have engaged in gross distortion in attempting to align the positions of these three scientists with their own view that homosexuality is not an innate human condition rooted in biological processes.”
Its about time this homophobic apologetic dinosaur was fossilized.
Homophobia is a disorder that deserves full acknowledgment as a psychological problem unto itself.
Mary H. Guindon, PhD, Chair of the Department of Counselling and Human Services at Johns Hopkins University
| I think it is wonderful that the highlights of the FAIR conference are reaching the Church News. Now even more Mormons can see and smell the apologetic dirty laundry.
Here are some links to some top shelf apologetics defending LDS scripture.
Book of Mormon
This article nicely demonstrates how spot on the Smithsonian letter was before Mormon apologists and politicians intimidated them into not mailing it out to gullible Mormons anymore.
"Brother Miller said ancient evidences of iron and steel are rare, since they rust. However, such evidence of steel manufacture among Jaredites and Nephites may yet be found, he said." Wow.
Book of Abraham
This article is as close to an admission that the Book of Abraham is doomed as we are likely to get. It's basically Gee saying how tired he is of the apologetics and then bearing his testimony.
| Mormon apologist Michael De Groote, who masquerades as a journalist at Mormon Times, recently interviewed Ugo Perego who works at the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (when he isn't engaged in DNA apologetics). Perego is very upbeat about the power of DNA for tracing human molecular genealogy. But when it comes to tracing those mythical and elusive Lamanites Perego becomes very guarded about the technology. Perhaps that’s because the existence of the Lamanites is...err...a myth.
Perego delights in misrepresenting and belittling anyone who would dare question the Book of Mormon in light of DNA research. Here are some gems from a recent article in Mormon Times. http://www.mormontimes.com/studies_do...
“The first rumblings about DNA and the Book of Mormon came about 10 years ago, according to Perego, a senior researcher at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation.
Critics cobbled together data from a variety of early DNA studies and came to the unsurprising conclusion that the studies indicated an Asian origin for Native Americans.
This, the critics argued, proved that the Book of Mormon was false. They claimed that the book says the continent was empty and if it was empty, then all Native Americans should have Lehi's Israelite DNA, not Asian DNA.
However, for about 50 years most LDS scholars have argued that the Book of Mormon took place not in vast empty continents, but in a limited-geographical area in Mesoamerica."
This is classic straw man apologetics. Critics "cobbled together" "early" data. Here De Groote insinuates the critics are incompetent and drew conclusions from preliminary data. The truth is that there was abundant data 10 years ago and there is 10 times more data today that supports the critics claims.
Perego likes to portray the critics as rigid fundamentalist antimormons who demand that every American Indian from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego must have Israelite DNA for the Book of Mormon to be true. This is the same old line trotted out by the likes of Perego and Peterson for the last decade.
Perego can't acknowledge critics who would have been content if modest amounts of Israelite DNA was found across the continent?
Or anywhere in Mesoamerica?
Or in any darn population in the hundreds tested across the Americas!
Perego would prefer that critics like that don’t exist because in his myopic world everybody in this debate is either a righteous faithful Mormon or an evil apostate. By making critics look like rigid fundamentalists he can then make them look foolish enough to insist that there were no American Indians in the New World 2600 years ago.
“This exposes the irony of the critics' arguments. Their argument doesn't rest primarily on DNA, but on the critics' rigid -- even strangely fundamentalist -- interpretation of the Book of Mormon. For their criticism to be correct you have no choice -- you must believe the continent was empty.”
The straw man is complete. The Morgbots can go back to bearing their testimony safe in the knowledge that the Book of Mormon has been saved and the stupid evil critics have been foiled again.
| Finally, an objective, intelligent, and honest appraisal of DNA research on American Indians by a believing Mormon. Well done Ugo Perego for a good review of the science.
There are only a few things Ugo said that I feel like commenting on.
1. “The fact that the DNA of Lehi and his party has not been detected in modern Native American populations does not demonstrate that this group of people never existed, nor that the Book of Mormon cannot be historical in nature.”
A very refreshing admission that Lehite DNA has not been found. Bravo!
2. “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Further, the very idea of locating the genetic signature of Lehi's family in modern populations constitutes a truly un-testable hypothesis, as it is not possible to know the nature of their genetic profiles."
Having just admitted the fact that the DNA of Lehi and his party has not been detected, these comments are puzzling. We don't need to know the genetic profiles of the Lehites to find them. We need to see genetic profiles in American Indians that are not Asian. We need to get to first base.
3. "An additional caveat is the lack of professional training in population genetics by those promoting a supposed discrepancy between the genetic evidence and the Book of Mormon account."
Having written such a good article it is a shame to see Ugo stoop to this. No evidence of Lehite DNA has been found (Ugo’s article shows that) and you don't need to know population genetics to get your head around that. However, Ugo is correct. I don't have formal training in population genetics. I also don't have "formal training" in forest genetics but I lead a forest genetics group of about a dozen scientists. I am also leading a Eucalyptus population genetics project and have several population genetics-like publications in press or submitted to journals.
| I just came across a transcript of Ryan Parr's presentation at the recent FAIR conference. I hope many Mormons will read it. It is a rambling, direction-less, sad attempt to salvage Book of Mormon historicity in the light of DNA research. It must have been awful to sit through it, even for the apologists on his side. Parr had clearly not prepared to talk. Maybe he thought his audience would be so impressed with his pretty slides and his PhD, that they would be satisfied with the sound of his voice for half an hour.
The talk is clearly an attempt to explain away the problem that DNA research has shown that American Indians do not have Israelite ancestors and the Book of Mormon demands that they do. It is amazing (and somewhat sad) to see the symptoms of cognitive dissonance so openly displayed in the transcript. Cutting and pasting a few lowlights does not convey the magnitude of the train wreck, but for those internet junkies with relatively short attention spans (or better things to do) here are a few. The QandA section was a particular lowlight.
Here we go (gird up your loins, take a deep breath)
"But along with this comes other challenges as well and that is that there are DNA claims against the Book of Mormon and most of these are based on modern population data. Number one, the genetic evidence of Native American characterizations does not support an Ancient Near Eastern descent for Native Americans. Population genetics are consistent with Asian origins for aboriginal groups and I don't know if we should really be too concerned about this. It all lies in your expectation."
"I just want to say a couple of things about the Promised Land. We believe that they sailed over to Mesoamerica and landed somewhere in this area and this wonderful graphic is courtesy of Blake and Joseph Allen. Let's talk just a minute about the Book of Mormon and what it has as the Promised Land.
I know that we all believe that they went to a land where there never was before man. At least that's our traditional understanding of what that means but if you look really close at 2 Nephi, I mean I think it seems like sometimes we tend to get carried away. It's sort of written in covenant of Abraham language that says those brought out of the land of Jerusalem. It's a very specific group of people, they'll prosper, they'll be kept from all other nations, they'll possess this land unto themselves, but the conditions always are that the laws and statutes are respected and lived. So the Promised Land idea is really associated with the covenant of Abraham and does not cover some of God's other children that are living in this New World. In fact you can almost think of Lehi's group as a boat of missionaries. Why not? Bringing the covenant of Abraham to a new land.
And also if you want to think in terms of, like, the Saints that came into the Valley in 1847, they certainly didn't come to a Promised Land 'Retirement Area'. In fact it was just the opposite. There were things that they had to do that built character that let them become all that they were to become. In fact Elder Maxwell always makes the point that these trials and tribulations that we are given are very specific for each one of us so that we can tutor, we can learn, we can become all that's intended for us in the divine sense."
"Let's just sort of look at what John Sorensen calls Lehi's neighbors. I call this (I was going to call this shadows of the empire but it had already been used) shadows of existing people and when we read in the Book of Mormon–it was never intended as a population history–but if you read it as that, there are really interesting clues and nuances.
First of all, we find out–it's repeated over and over–this is only a hundredth part of the record so those things that we think are important today, the genetics and so on and so forth, weren't even an issue and if you've read the Book of Mormon you can understand why. I mean Mendel is still in the future; he's sort of the father of genetics. James Watson and Francis Crick, the discoverers of the double helix in 1953, aren't even a thought. In fact, the bacterial theory of disease isn't even a thought.
These people have other issues and the issues seem to be social and political. What's really fascinating I think is some of the language that's used. So the sibling rivalry becomes very dangerous, Lehi is told by revelation to leave. Well, he says, I'm going to take my relatives and then he says, and those who would go with me. Well who were these people? I mean there are so many people who came over on the boat and he should know everybody. Temple construction takes a lot of manpower so it's going to cause these people to be industrious. So the shadows continued.
What I tried to do is look early on in the Book of Mormon for these clues and these nuances. This is what Jacob says, and you can't- it just turns out that Lamanites and Nephites isn't even a genetic term and it's not anyway because they all share the same genetic background. Jacob says this, he says, "But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi." (Jacob 1:14)"
"So do Book of Mormon people have the same mitochondrial haplotypes as Native Americans? Yes. They were assimilated in but they were a small part that were participating in a specific geographical area and once again I think the really important, and sort of our- you know, science always thinks that it has all of the answers right now but we always live in an age of ignorance and that is, assuming that these current population data are adequate for this test, they're just simply not I think if you were to be intellectually honest with yourself it just isn't possible to really reconstruct these. What you'd have to do is you would have to find a cemetery where Nephi and everybody was buried and then do ancient DNA analysis on those individuals. But it looks like fairly quickly this population was eclipsed and this story wouldn't be different for any of us that would move into a large foreign population. I mean, pretty soon our kids start talking like so-and-so, start acting like so-and-so. There's only a certain number of people you can pick to be married to and if they did stay together then you have a lot of problems with recessive alleles starting to pair up and there is a lot of genetic problems with that.
And finally I like this particular quote from Elder Maxwell, he says, "Because the editing of the Book of Mormon, with its witnessing gospel of hope, occurred under divine direction, it has a focus which is essentially spiritual. Yet some still criticize the book for not being what it was never intended to be, as if one could justifiably criticize a phone directory for lack of a plot."2 And, for all intents and purposes, that's what we've been doing. (Laughter)
I guess from a personal note am I saying that we won't ever find Ancient Near Eastern genetics? No. I think there are some tantalizing papers now that suggest that there may be European input, I would say at this time, into these ancient populations; but I'm not that familiar with that information so that's a subject for future study. And overall, the genetic differences in the human family is pretty slight and so when we all say and speak of God's children we are all very, very closely related at a genetic level and here we're talking about very, very small nuances and differences when we talk about A, B, C, D and X.
I think that- well I mean we need to see in sacred scriptures its full intent and its possibilities and not really look for its limitations."
Q: In other words could I be a descendant of Lehi and yet have none of his DNA?
PARR: That's a very good question. I think we all have this same sort of problem when we do our genealogy and again on a DNA basis we're all very closely related; and I think we're making Mt Everests out of speed bumps–and I mean I didn't mean that in a rude way.
"... and yet have none of his DNA?" I don't think God cares about DNA. If, once again, you consider the covenant of Abraham, he says that all of the nations of the world will be blessed. How could that be genetic? If we're all created in His image and, if you look at DNA, it's this divine sculpted molecule that's incredible. We are His children. If you want to have to claim that you're from Lehi or so on and so forth, to me, from my perspective, that's not- I don't know. I mean, my ancestors could've fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066; I would be very thrilled if they did. Well sheesh they would've had to have made it didn't they? They couldn't have got killed! (Laughter) But, I still probably have none of their DNA in me.
SCOTT GORDON (President of FAIR): So it's possible to have none of his DNA?
PARR: It's possible to have none of his DNA but you could have one of these lines coming down showing that you are a direct descendant. But remember you're related to all the other people in line as well.
| In the last few weeks I have heard apologists (limited geography folk) and relatives of mine summarily dismiss the DNA-Book of Mormon issue. Oh that problem was solved years ago. Get over it.
“My gosh, I forgot about Simon. I remember his rise to antimormon king. Everywhere on the antimormon circuit he was being lauded. His DNA article had antimormons cheering and doing hand stands. The postmormons were going ape crap over him.
But...then he faded from view and his DNA theory fell flat.”
“I thought that after the DandA (sic) thing had been proved wrong you would have stopped criticizing the Church so publicly”.
At the risk (well certainty) of being accused of leaving the church but not being able to leave it alone, here's a little update.
Since church approved (but unofficial) apologists now virtually all sing to the Limited Geography song sheet, I thought I would see what the DNA situation currently looks like in Mesoamerica. Some interesting papers have been published in the last couple of years that have focussed on this region.
The mitochondrial (maternal) DNA lineages of 1,164 individuals from 30 populations have now been studied in Mesoamerica. Only eleven individuals among these possess a mtDNA lineage that didn’t originate in Asia. 99.6% belong to the four major lineages (A, B, C or D) which are derived from Asia. Of the eleven non-Asian lineages, three are clearly African L lineages, and three were not fully characterised.
The remaining five lineages are all lineages found at high frequencies in European populations. There were two H lineages, one U, one J and one T. These lineages are found in European populations in the following frequencies: lineage H (54%), lineage U (16%), lineage J (10%) and lineage T (8%). By comparing these lineages to the thousands of mtDNA sequences in global databases, exact matches were found for the U and T lineages among individuals from Western Europe, namely Spain, Portugal and Poland. Meanwhile, the most abundant female lineages in Middle Eastern populations are lineage K (32%) followed by lineage H (26%).
Given that African lineages were detected as well, it looks very likely that these “other” lineages originated from post Columbus admixture with African and European colonists. Higher levels of admixture have been observed in several other Native American populations, particularly in eastern North America, which was impacted more heavily after first contact.
So even in Mesoamerica, the only reasonable location for the Book of Mormon lands, according to most apologists, the descendants of Book of Mormon groups continue to escape detection. The Lehites and Mulekites, which once boasted populations in the millions, are nowhere to be seen.
I stand by what I said seven years ago.
“Ten centuries ago a handful of Norse sailors slipped into Newfoundland, established small colonies, traded with local natives, then sailed back into the fog of history. In spite of the small scale of their settlements and the brevity of their stay, unequivocal evidence of their presence has been found. Just six centuries earlier the Book of Mormon tells us, a climactic battle between fair-skinned Nephites and dark-skinned Lamanites ended a millennial dominion by a literate, Christian, Bronze Age civilization with a population numbering in the millions. Decades of serious and honest scholarship have failed to uncover credible evidence that these Book of Mormon civilizations ever existed. No Semitic languages, no Israelites speaking these languages, no swords or steel to make them. They remain a great civilization vanished without a trace, the people along with their genes” (Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church, 2004)
| Hi Folks,
I have recently started a blog so that I can share up to date information on genetic research related to Mormonism. This will allow me to share scientific research with the help of pictures, figures and tables....in glorious technicolor!!
This is the blog web address.
I have just posted an update on the DNA lineages of over a thousand Native Americans from the region of Mesoamerica. The Lamanites must have been at the footy when the scientists were collecting blood samples.
Feel free to comment, question, advise, debate or whatever rocks your boat. I won't be filtering out the zealots initially, so there may be some blood sports. I am hoping that the majority of the blogs will be civil.
| In 2008 FAIR published the DVD “The Book of Mormon and New World DNA”. It is an assortment of interviews with several LDS scholars and scientists. It contains several delightful sprays about my incompetence.
“The real issue is that these guys don’t actually look at the population genetic literature, they don’t understand the population genetic literature because they’re not population geneticists…so they couldn’t interpret these kinds of data. It's a very tricky kind of literature and a tricky kind of data to wrap your brain around. But it’s pretty patently obvious when you look at their data in this one figure in particular. If that's what you’re looking for its there.”
– Keith Crandall, 2008
What a curious thing to say. “If that’s what you’re looking for its there".
Professor Keith Crandall is by far the most prominent scientist featured on the DVD. Crandall is a very accomplished evolutionary biologist at Brigham Young University, who somewhat surprisingly joined the church quite recently. There are also contributions from Bigfoot specialist Jeffrey Meldrum and the indefatigable FAIR apologists John Tvedtnes, Allen Wyatt and Michael Ash.
There are three major DNA claims in the DVD. The first by Keith Crandall and the other two by John Tvedtnes.
I suspect that Crandall got a little carried away in his interview. He claimed that scientists had found Middle Eastern DNA in the Maya. That's a very bold claim, which is also very untrue. If it was really true then the media has missed the story of the century.
Tvedtnes claimed that the Native American mtDNA X lineage had been found in Mesoamerica and that this lineage is closely related to Middle Eastern X lineages. Untrue. He also claimed that an N lineage found in ancient remains of Great Basin tribes was related to N lineages found in Europeans. Also untrue.
After several months of corresponding with John I was able to convince him that both of his statements were incorrect. Too his credit he requested that FAIR edit the DVD to remove the problematic comments. Keith Crandall has shown no interest in retracting his statements.
FAIR chose not to edit the DVD but instead added an obscure errata note on the bottom of the DVD's webpage. To date this is their only acknowledged error in their published work. With two out of its three DNA claims proven wrong, and the other being extremely suspect, any respectable publisher would ditch it.
More info can be found on my blog. http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com.a...
| The church has just revealed new statistical data for each country. The church website doesn't say that the statistical data is to the end of 2011, however, the pro-LDS website LDS church growth says it is the 2011 data.
There appears to be clear evidence of a significant slow down in church growth in the United States. The apostasy that Elder Jensen referred to back in December 2011 may be showing up in the church's statistics for the first time.
Note: Unit data is presented for every second year between 1992 and 2010. For this period the annual increase was calculated by dividing the increase in units over 2 years by 2. Some more details can be found on my blog.
| If you have not done so yet, I highly recommend you go listen to Simon Southerton's interview on Mormon Stories. John does an excellent job of interviewing Simon.
John decided to edit Simon's interview for clarity and make it a bit shorter. I think he and his team did an excellent job.
When talking about Mormon apologists, Simon makes a very important observation. It is found in part two at the 17:00 minute mark of part two.
Just after discussing President Uchtdorf recent trip to Guatemala where he tells the people "You are truly children of our wonderful Father Lehi." Simon then tells John:
"I don't know why I should really take anything seriously the scholars [i.e. apologists] are saying because Church leaders don't take them seriously?
Another part of the podcast I appreciate is Simon commenting on Michael Coe's MS interview. Simon points out that the DNA evidence did not provide a completely different conclusion than what archeologist had found in the Indian culture and life style. The DNA evidence confirmed what the archeologist had found in their diggings.
Of particular interest is the plants such as the potato, sweet potato, corn, tomato and etc. were all domesticated by the Indians. No old world pollen or seeds are found as the Book of Mormon would have one believe, it was the Indians who domesticated their plants and animals. For me the most disturbing part of the Book of Mormon is the deception it creates with members because they end up having no clue about the great society and intelligence the Indians possess. A number of years ago I was able to see the Mayan art exhibit and was over whelmed at the high culture that existed in pre-Columbian America that was new world in origin. The Book of Mormon not only misses all of this, but it in fact teaches people the Indians were completely dependent on the old world and were nothing more than savages without the old world ways of life.
| The glaring lack of molecular ties between Native Americans and ancient Israelites has forced many Mormon apologists to resolve their cognitive dissonance by a change of tack. Many have decided that if you can't make the facts fit with scripture then make scripture fit with the facts. It is an uncomfortable fact for Mormons that American Indian DNA is unquestionably of Asian origin and if there were any Israelites among their ancestors then their Israelite genes appear to have disappeared. So some LDS apologists, desperate to salvage faith at any cost, are arguing that the Lamanite DNA has indeed disappeared. Putting aside the testimony-shattering reinterpretations of scripture this requires, is it true that Lamanite DNA could so easily be lost?
Human population geneticists have made tremendous progress in unravelling the origins of the human family and the routes our ancestors followed as they colonized the globe. Most of this progress has been made by studying the simple genetic configurations of Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. Until now scientists have largely ignored the DNA that comprises the vast majority of our genome. This is the DNA that resides within our remaining 22 pairs of chromosomes, known as the autosomes. Together with the X and Y chromosomes it is known as genomic DNA.
Enter whole genome studies
Studying our genomic DNA is enormously challenging. Firstly, there is so much of it. Most of the three billion letters of DNA contained in the human genome resides in the chromosomes. Secondly, the pattern of inheritance of genomic DNA is less straightforward. Unlike Y chromosome DNA, which is passed from generation to generation largely unchanged from father to son, and mitochondrial DNA, which is passed largely unchanged from mothers to daughters, most of our genomic DNA gets shuffled every generation in a process called recombination. This is illustrated in the figure below.
Note how the father has a blue and a red copy of each chromosome, one derived from each of his parents. Similarly, the mother has a chromosome derived from each of her parents. But the parents don't pass on chromosomes that came from only one of their parents. Each of the 22 chromosomes they pass on will contain fragments derived from each of their parents. This happens in every generation, consequently the chromosomes that we inherit from our parents contain fragments of DNA from a vast number of our paternal and maternal ancestors. This is illustrated in the four generation pedigree chart below. Note that the son carries the blue Y chromosome of only one of his four great grandfathers and the red mitochondrial DNA of only one of his four great grandmothers. Yet he carries fragments of chromosomal DNA from all eight of his great grandparents.
Tremendous advances in DNA technology in the last decade are now making it feasible for scientists to look much futher into the human genome to unlock some of the deepest secrets of our ancestors. Most of those secrets are buried in the 3 billion base pairs of DNA contained on our chromosomes But how is it possible to make sense of this vast amount of DNA sequence data? Most scientists studying the human genome focus their attention on what's different between genomes rather than what's the same. That reduces the information they have to deal with by roughly a thousand-fold. By far the most common difference observed when the entire genome sequence of two different people are compared, are single base pair substitutions known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced SNiPs). The word "polymorphism" simply means different forms.
SNPs are random variations that have arisen in a single human genome in the past and then subsequently passed on to future generations (we typically pass on about 50 or so new mutations to our children). Since mutations are arising all the time human tribes that became separated soon began to accumulate large numbers of SNPs that are unique to their population.
SNPs have revealed some surprises in our family tree
Several ground-breaking discoveries using whole genome SNP analysis have been made in the last few years. It has long been known that humans co-existed in Europe with the closely related Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) about 30-40,000 years ago. Scientists have speculated for many years that humans and Neanderthals may have interbred but the evidence was largely inconclusive. In 2010 scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany led by Svante P„„bo succeeded in isolating DNA from Neanderthal bones and sequencing some of the Neanderthal genome. The German team that made the original discovery has recently published the full genome sequence, making it freely available to the scientific community.
The first things scientists did after sequencing the Neanderthal genome was to look for differences between the Neanderthal and human genomes. This study revealed many thousands of DNA sequence differences, or SNPs, between the two species. They also found that every human who is descended from "non-Africans" has a little Neanderthal in them - between 1 and 4 per cent of their genome. It appears humans and Neanderthals had sex and offspring. Neanderthals never lived in Africa, which may explain why contemporary sub-Saharan Africans have no trace of Neanderthal DNA in their genome.
While some scientists have challenged this finding, the prevailing opinion is that interbreeding between these two closely related species is extremely likely. And it didn't just stop there. Scientists now believe that our ancestors fraternized with other distant relatives. In 2012 Svante P„„bo's team published the entire genome sequence of Denisovans, a species more closely related to Neanderthals than humans. They had been able to isolate sufficient DNA for sequencing from a finger bone found in the Denisova cave in the Altai region of Siberia. Remarkably, when the Denisovan genome sequence was compared to the genomes of humans from all around the world, it was found that Papua New Guinea highlanders, Melanesians and Australian Aboriginals shared a little (~5%) Denisovan DNA.
The Denisovan discovery fits perfectly with widely accepted views of human colonisation of the world. The very first humans to migrate out of Africa travelled around the coast of India, reaching New Guinea and Australia about 50,000 years ago. The two groups are likely to have interbred when they first met and the Denisovans subsequently died out.
Lamanite DNA: Nowhere to Hide
The research on Neanderthals and Denisovans clearly illustrates that if ancestors of other ethnic backgrounds are hiding unnoticed in our family trees, traces of their DNA can be found in our genomes. Even after many thousands of years. It is no longer reasonable to claim that Lamanite DNA cannot be found. The recent advances in whole genome sequencing and analysis have changed the research landscape. Genetic tests are now so sensitive, that it is possible to detect a tiny fraction of a percent of mixed ancestry in a person's DNA.
Scientists are beginning to explore the origins of Native Americans using what they call Ancestry Informative Markers or AIMs. These are SNPs that have been shown to be specific to a particular indigenous group. In 2007 a group of scientists at the University of California, Davis, led by Dr Michael F. Seldin, identified 8,144 AIMs found only in the genomes of the Pima and Maya. These SNPs are distinguishable from equally population-specific SNPs found among Europeans. The scientists demonstrated that their panel of AIMs can distinguish between chromosomal segments of Amerindian or European ancestry. The goal of their study was to determine the ancestral origins of indigenous diseases, but their conclusions have profound implications for those interested in Book of Mormon studies.
Using ancestry informative SNPs it is possible to estimate how long ago foreign DNA entered a population. You will recall that most of our genome gets shuffled every generation as sister chromosomes undergo recombination. After foreign DNA enters a population random recombination events that occur every generation fragment the foreign DNA. The longer the DNA has been in a population the shorter the fragments of foreign DNA become. The AIMs SNPs can be used to determine the average length of the fragments of foreign (e.g. European) DNA.
Using this approach Seldin's team was able to determine quite accurately the number of generations since European DNA entered Mexican American populations. In the table below you will observe the estimates they obtained for all 22 chromosomes using two methods (STRUCTURE and ADMIXMAP). They were able to determine that the European DNA in 24 Mexican Americans originated within the last 10-25 generations. The average for all the chromosomes was 16 using the STRUCTURE method and 13 using the ADMIXMAP approach. These estimates align very comfortably with the known history of European admixture with Native American populations within the last 500 years.
If these individuals had Middle Eastern DNA in their genomes that arrived over the last 2-3,000 years, the scientists would have noticed something surprising in the results. Since Middle Eastern DNA is relatively closely related to European DNA, and they are likely share many AIMs, they would have detected it with their European AIMs. Having been through up to 6 times as many generations of recombination this DNA would have caused the estimates of the number of generations since admixture to be larger.
About a decade ago I made the following observation.
"In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites, say less than thirty, entered such a massive native population, it would be very hard to detect their genes today. However, such a scenario does not square with what the Book of Mormon plainly states and with what the prophets have taught for 175 years. The Book of Mormon records that soon after their arrival in the Americas, the descendants of Lehi "multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land" (Jarom 1:8). By about 46 BC, after which time they had joined with the Mulekites, they had multiplied until they "covered the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east (Hel. 3:8). By the time of the final conflagrations around 400 AD, the Israelite populations numbered in the many hundreds of thousands if not millions. There is not a single mention in the text of groups of people living in ancient America, other than the Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites. All three population groups had very large populations. It is hardly surprising then that Joseph Smith and all other church leaders have regarded Native Americans to be the descendants of the Lamanites. The God speaking to Joseph Smith in 1830-31 referred to the "borders of the Lamanites" when talking about missionaries being sent to teach Native Americans who had been relocated to Missouri (DandC 28: 9; 54: 8).
Mesoamerican apologist Daniel Peterson immediately seized on the bolded comment, proclaiming widely in apologetic circles that Southerton has conceded that DNA is unlikely to ever be able to detect Lehite DNA. My comment was a reasonable observation at the time (2006) given the limitations of the mitochondrial and Y-DNA studies, but it is no longer correct. If a small family of Middle Eastern Jews mixed with American Indians 2-3,000 years ago, the Jewish nuclear DNA would spread throughout the adjacent populations like a drop of ink in a bucket of water. It would have spread through neighbouring populations, be very unlikely to go extinct and scientists exploring the genomes of Native Americans would stumble on it....if it was there.
-- Simon Southerton.
| I believe it just did.
A paper was just published in Science that examines the impact of historical events on human populations.
Garrett Hellenthal, George B.J. Busby, Gavin Band, James F. Wilson, Cristian Capelli, Daniel Falush, Simon Myers
A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History
Science, 14 February 2014
Here is a description of the work.
"When individuals from different groups interbreed, their offspring's DNA becomes a mixture of the DNA from each admixing group. Pieces of this DNA are then passed along through subsequent generations, carrying on all the way to the present day. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Oxford University and University College London (UCL) have now produced a global map detailing the genetic histories of 95 different populations across the world, spanning the last four millennia."
Accompanying the paper is a brilliant interactive world map that shows the likely genetic impacts of historical events on existing populations.
Each population has a particular genetic `palette'", said Daniel Falush of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, co-senior author of the study. "If you were to paint the genomes of people in modern-day Maya, for example, you would use a mixed palette with colours from Spanish-like, West African and Native American DNA. This mix dates back to around 1670AD, consistent with historical accounts describing Spanish and West African people entering the Americas around that time. Though we can't directly sample DNA from the groups that mixed in the past, we can capture much of the DNA of these original groups as persisting, within a mixed palette of modern-day groups.
If you select the Maya population it shows lines on a global map to where their admixed DNA came from. Spanish, Irish, Basque, Nigerians (Yoruba), Moroccans and Sardinians. Nothing from Middle Eastern populations. Here's the map for the Maya.
About 16% of Mayan DNA is derived from European/African admixture. This paper allows us to find out where that admixture most likely came from and when it arrived in New World populations. They predict that virtually all of that admixture came from Europe and Africa (non-Middle Eastern populations). Nothing of any significance from any populations closely related to the Hebrews. The admixed DNA is predicted to have entered Mayan populations between 1642 and 1726 with a confidence interval of 95%.
This demonstrates that we cannot even detect Hebrew DNA in the small admixed portion of Native American DNA.
I have a post on my blog that mentions admixture mapping. This is the technology I predicted some time ago would leave nowhere to hide.
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