"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Friday, February 17, 2006
Book of Mormon DNA and Agenda Driven Science
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. --Book of Mormon, Second Nephi 9:28
The Los Angeles Times yesterday published a front-page story entitled Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted. It basically delves into the research of Simon G. Southerton, an ex-communicated former LDS Bishop whose worldly profession deals with molecular biology.

I highlight the term ex-communicated for a reason. As a practicing Mormon who has some experience (don't ask, because I don't give details) in church leadership, I can state for the record, it takes a lot to get ex-communicated.

To get into the long and the short of Mr. (can't call him Brother anymore) Southerton's "research" he claims to have disproved the central premise of the Book of Mormon by not finding any traces of Semitic (Hebrew) DNA in the peoples of Latin and South America.

I'm not going to detail the Book of Mormon story. If you really want to know, read it for yourself - don't rely on the LA Times or Mr. Southerton as a source.

I digress.

Shortly put, Mr. Southerton has an axe to grind and he's using science to do it.

Religion and Science have common ground. The most inspiring scientific minds I have known still marvel at the genius of the human body, the incredible majesty contained within a single living organism, and the grandeur of the stars that make up the universe.

The minds of Mr. Southerton, and those who would use his "research" to attempt to bring down all the truth contained within the covers of the Book of Mormon acknowledge no higher authority or intellect than themselves. They would attempt to undermine a book of scripture, the Word of God, using technology and methods the scientific world is just beginning to learn how to use.

Albert Einstein once said "I want to know God's thoughts...the rest are details." If such an accomplished intellect could still be open to the possibility there were things he was not capable of understanding, I submit the Southerton caucus is sadly lacking in the capacity to accept anything on faith.

Faith often confounds those who claim to be wise, who will not accept anything unless it is proven beyond their ability to question. There are things, concepts, and doctrines which - in this lifetime - we will not understand simply because we can't wrap our mortal brains around eternal details.

I commend the Blogfather for his unbiased coverage of this article. A transcript of his interview with the author Bill Lobdell is up at Radioblogger. Thanks, Hugh. The Church has its response to the DNA issue here.

Here's the bottom line. In the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith entered a grove of trees to pray for guidance as to which church to join. One of two things happened in the Sacred Grove. Either what he said occurred actually happened, or it did not. If it did, and I believe it did, than this debate is pointless. Could I be wrong? Possibly. But I'm not going to leave that choice up to a bunch of guys in lab coats standing around a table with steaming beakers of sludge.

Proving the truth of the Book of Mormon via DNA would negate the necessity of the faith upon which the Book is centered. Personally, I think God gets a kick out of confounding scientists. If you want proof of that, go find a Platypus and explain how that animal makes sense.

Here endeth the lesson.
A report in the L A Times by William Lobdell (February 6, 2006) asserted that some Mormons were troubled by a “lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans”. In fact about one third of Native American males selected for DNA research belong to Y chromosome lineage groups commonly found in modern Jews. This includes the Q-P36 lineage group that is ancestral to the primary Native American lineage group Q3. Q-P36 is found in 5% of Ashkenazi Jews [1], 5% of Iraqi Jews [2] and a significant number of Iranian Jews [3]. Other west Eurasian lineages found in Native American test subjects include R, E3b, J, F, G, and I [4]. All of these are also found in modern Jews. The trouble isn’t a “lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans”, but a lack of discernible facts in Lobdell’s report.


Douglas M Forbes
808 Whispering Trail
Greenfield IN 46140
(812) 330-2252

[1] Behar et al, 2004, Contrasting patterns of Y chromosome variation in Ashkenazi Jewish and host non-Jewish European populations.

[2] Shen et al, 2004, Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation.

[3] Hammer et al, 1999, Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes.

[4] Zegura et al, 2004, High-Resolution SNPs and Microsatellite Haplotypes Point to a Single, Recent Entry of Native American Y Chromosomes into the Americas
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