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Switch to Forum Live View Questioning the Book of Mormon
8 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2010 - 1:39PM #21
Posts: 6,091


Wise men still seek him.
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8 years ago  ::  May 23, 2010 - 5:26PM #22
Posts: 3,242

Dec 18, 2008 -- 1:37PM, Saadaya wrote:

Recently, National Geographic carried out the Genographic Project where they took blood and saliva samples from populations in all of the nations, particularly from isolated tribes of the Earth, in order to study the deep migration patterns of humanity.  The Book of Mormon claims that aboriginals came from the Jews, and should therefore have Semitic DNA.  The conclusions of the Genographic Project contradict this claim.  The aboriginals in the Americas have Asian DNA and are descended from migrations that came out of Siberia, and perhaps Japan and East Asia between 20 and 15 thousand years ago.  This is not a matter of speculation, it is scientific fact and it is established fact in science.  What do mormons make of this?  Does this make the BoM obsolete, or should it be reinterpreted as metaphor?

I'm familiar with the Book of Mormon DNA issue, though not as familiar with the Genographic Project.  I have a problem with the simplistic view that it, or any other cursory DNA analysis, is even designed specifically with the Book of Mormon claims in mind.  There was, prior to Joseph Smith, a widely-held view that the Native Americans were from the Lost Tribes of Israel.  It was a belief that early Mormons bought into, along with a lot of other people.  The Book of Mormon tells a story that is consistent with that view.

I don't, however, know of any educated Mormons who believe that all Native Americans were descended from the people described in the Book of Mormon.  It's a belief that was disproved before the availability of DNA testing.  If you look at the time period involved - from 600 B.C. to the 1500s - there's just no way you can generate the population growth needed to go from several families in one part of the Americas to several million people settled up and down the Americas.

Radiological testing of remains, artifacts and ruins shows a picture much more complex than anything spoken of in the Book of Mormon.  There's an undeniable connection between North American peoples and the peoples of Siberia.  But that picture is also more complex than the idea of a trek across Beringia during the Ice Age.  For one thing, there are remains and artifacts that date to at least 50,000 years ago, long before the Ice Age.  These remains suggest a connection to Polynesia.  

The idea that all Native Americans track back to a single source is simplistic - whether you're buying your fairy tales from Mormons or someone else.  There's something hilarious about the suggestion that huge swaths of Asians crossed over Beringia, during the last Ice Age, because they were following herds - who just happened to be moving north during an Ice Age.  Migration patterns suggest that the best direction to travel, during an Ice Age, is in the direction of the Tropics, not the Poles.

Another problem with lazy-headed assumptions of Native-American migrations across Beringia is the fact that Asians have been island-hopping all over the Pacific without any need of "land bridges."  If a "land bridge" is such a necessity, how does one account for the populations of Hawaii?  A more likely cause is the same likely cause that accounts for the populations that spread out across Japan, the Philippines, Guam, Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, French Polynesia and Easter Island.  The Pacific is dotted with islands - from Palau and Micronesia to Islas Juan Fernandez, Desventuradas and Guadalupe - which were settled by island hoppers.

Educated Mormons have, for decades, entertained the idea that the Book of Mormon story took place within a limited setting, which means that the Book of Mormon can't explain the origins of Native American peoples. A favorite location has been northern Guatemala.  Whatever the case, DNA testing will eventually rule out the impossible.  Just as non-Mormons are justifiably skeptical of Mormon claims based on supernatural beliefs, Mormons are justifiably skeptical of genetic tracings that are just beginning to be applied to peoples all over the world.

Of course, time will solve this.  I, however, am among those who see the Book of Mormon as metaphorical.  To me, the whole thing is satire, which is also what I make out of the Book of Abraham, a later "translation" of a papyrus scroll found inside an Egyptian mummy.  Egyptologists take issue with Joseph Smith's attempted translation of the characters and the source of the Book of Abraham - that papyrus scroll - has since been identified as the Book of Breathings, a common set of instructions tossed into an Egyptian carsophagus.  It tells how to bring the corpse back to life.

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