We continue our tour of the Gospel Topics Essays and with the essay Book of Mormon and DNA Studies. The Goal- To share the LDS Church’s Gospel Topic Essays and help the both the believing member and the non-believer get a sense of the why these essays were written, who the intended audience is, whether these essays resolve the concerns of the faithful and non-believer and why they perhaps these essays even add to the disbelief of those who skeptical of the issues they find in Mormon History.
Thomas Murphy paper:
Another Thomas Murphy paper (pages 48-50 are very relevant):
LDS Scientist, Jacob T. Boyd, paper on Native American Origins:
Smithsonian Magazine article on Native American migrations:
NPR episode on the topic:
Simon Southerton’s book:
Thomas Murphy paper:
Study about 24k year old Siberian DNA that gets misused in the Essay with footnote 16:
Simon Southerton’s blogpost about that study:
There is an effort to suggest mitochondrial X lineage “near-eastern DNA” may come from the time of the “Nephites.” However, studies have since shown origination well before the time of the “Nephites” similar to other Eurasian DNA that made its way into Siberia over 20,000 years ago.
See also pp 246-250 https://www.academia.edu/10367006/Imagining_Lamanites_Native_Americans_and_the_Book_of_Mormon
Simon Southerton’s response to these and other common apologetic arguments and examples (e.g. genetic drift in Iceland) used to try to write-off current DNA evidence, please see: http://mit.irr.org/answers-apologetic-claims-about-dna-and-book-of-mormon
For more technical information about the genetic history and samplings of native Americans, the following link is useful, particularly the list of references at the bottom: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas
For a more in depth response to this Essay see: http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com/2014/02/tentative-faith-meets-uncompromising.html?m=1
Co-Hosts of this episode
Anthony Miller is an entrepreneur and education enthusiast in Billings, Montana, with Masters degrees in Business Administration and in Financial Services. After a lifetime of faithful membership in the church, he experienced a faith transition after he stumbled across the Gospel Topics Essays and similar materials in 2016, while he was searching for resources to support his adult gay son. Anthony blogs at UnpackingAmbiguity.com and is a frequent contributor to post and progressive Mormon support communities.
Michele Vroom graduated from BYU Idaho in 2017 alongside her husband Matthew Vroom, and both served missions. The couple resigned through Quitmormon in January of 2019. Their investigative journey began with asking the simple question of whether their religion was true enough to become their daughter’s worldview. Matthew authors the comic “Super Elders,” which is a transitioning and post mormon story that will soon be sold as a completed graphic novel. Michele helped generate the graphic novel’s powerful themes based off of social injustice within the LDS religion and her study of its history.
Sarah Newcomb is Tsimshian of the First Nations. She and her husband reside in Texas with their four children. They were members of the church until October 2016 when they officially resigned through Quitmormon. Sarah has a Bachelors in English with a minor in Philosophy, and an Associates Degree in Communications. In July of 2017 she founded the LamaniteTruth.com blog to help process and bring attention to the issues surrounding Lamanite Identity and teachings.
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It would appear that Lamanites are becoming like Moses….Evanescent in Nature.
Even my apologetic TBM friends admit that the scripture “Lamanites shall bblossom as the rose” has lost all meaning. Their position is now wait and see.
I have realized that the Book of Mormon (and so much else in the church) is a rehash of common frontier beliefs. Everyone had their own theories about where Native Americans came from, and among these, the tribes of Israel idea was wide spread. Key to all of these ideas was the need to believe that the natives were a fallen people. The irony is that modern members find these ideas to be novel, and often do not understand the racist context, while in the 1800s people joined the church because they already believed these ideas.
I remember back in 1997 most likely I invited my mom to come to church with me back in Mexico when I was a recent convert. Sunday school was about Lamanites vs Nephites.
My mom was so offended and she actually called out everyone in the class present. “I can’t believe you actually believe all these atrocities!”. Several members of the church tried to justify the situation that this was something that happened way back in the past and it was definitely not alright to be racist, prejudiced, or anything like that. My mom wouldn’t buy it… there is nothing wrong with being dark skinned she affirmed.
It should be noted that my mom is very outspoken and doesn’t bite her tongue, and this social oddity often gets her labelled as someone that is crazy. I thought my mom, simply didn’t understand that the spirit of God had whispered to my soul that these things were true… and when it came to obeying God or my mom it was going to be God every single time.
Having US vs them narratives makes for great stories, and we do see this exemplified through history nonetheless, so it’s not so far fetch to think that these racist views existed somehow, nevertheless it’s not right to think that Lamanites are somehow less righteous than Nephites for the fact of not embracing the gospel… and in fairness the book of Mormon does try to explain that point. That is loving the Lord what makes you a better person and not the color of your skin.
Racism will always be part of something that human beings will need to deal with, but I suppose it is more helpful to realize that this a spiritual history and not literal one.
At one point, one of you seems to imply that Joseph Smith intentionally made up the destruction of civilizations in the Book of Mormon as a way to Cloud the DNA Waters. Joseph knew nothing of DNA nor did anyone else on the planet at that time
The apologist explanations or justifications are too contradictory and racist still. One cover up exposes another cover up. All apologist cover-ups contradict each other and create an even worse mess by doing so. They could just admit and apologize rather than justifying dogma crap and declaring how wonderful it all still smells?
Too many mental gymnastics required for it to just maybe remotely work = BS!~
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