Thursday, April 17, 2014

LDS Church posts topic page on Book of Mormon and DNA studies

By Tad Walch, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Jan. 31 5:00 p.m. MST

(Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new page posted on the LDS Church's website says DNA studies cannot decisively "affirm or reject the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon."

"Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," posted at LDS.org on Friday, is one of several additions or enhancements to the site's "Gospel Topics" pages in recent months.

"The evidence assembled to date suggests that the majority of Native Americans carry largely Asian DNA," the latest page says, while the Book of Mormon is the record of the migration of three groups to the Americas from the Near East or West Asia hundreds of years before Europeans arrived.

Many Latter-day Saints in the 1800s assumed the Book of Mormon groups were the first people in the region, and some critics have suggested that Near Eastern DNA then should be easy to find among Native Americans today.

"The Book of Mormon itself, however," the LDS.org page says, "does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied."

"Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views," the page adds, "the evidence is simply inconclusive. Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples ... and even if their genetic profile were known, there are sound scientific reasons that it might remain undetected."

The page includes descriptions of principles of DNA studies such as "population bottleneck" and "genetic drift" it says would make it unlikely scientists could detect the DNA of the people described in the Book of Mormon.

The post is about 2,700 words long and includes 28 footnotes and links to papers by a geneticist, a DNA researcher and an anthropologist.

Other recently added or enhanced Gospel Topics pages at LDS.org include "Race and the Priesthood," "First Vision Accounts" and "Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah."

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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1. Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA,
Jan. 31, 2014

Trying to reconcile science and religion is seldom productive. You only shortchange both.

If you simply take the position that belief in the Book of Mormon is a matter of faith rather than of science then you can claim that DNA evidence is "irrelevant." Then you can move onto the message of the book which is far more interesting whether you believe in its historicity or not.

2. JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC,
Jan. 31, 2014

"it says would make it unlikely scientists could detect the DNA of the people described in the Book of Mormon."

Wouldn't the scientists have to first find some of those people before DNA could be tested?

3. skeptic
Phoenix, AZ,
Jan. 31, 2014

The church has bone fragments of Zelph designated by JS to be a Lamanite warrior why don't they reveal his DNA.

4. The Scientist
Provo, UT,
Feb. 1, 2014

This "defense" by the Church reminds me of my Scouting days. Scouts are known for sending the naive, innocent newbies on Snipe hunts. The assertions that there ever was Hebrew people's on the American continent is just a Snipe hunt writ large and baptized in snake oil.

After hundreds of years and absolutely no evidence of the peoples or civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and all the Church can muster is "you can't prove they weren't here! The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!"

Right. Keep hunting those snipe, with faith and real intent...

5. MoreMan
San Diego, CA,
Feb. 1, 2014

I'm confused, maybe I've been reading it too literally I guess. To quote the church..."Although the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is more spiritual than historical" Really I thought it was the most true historical account of an ancient race that dubiously existed apparently.