348-349: Simon Southerton, DNA, Lamanites and the Book of Mormon

May 21, 2012
By

Simon Southerton is a native Australian, geneticist, former LDS bishop, and author of the book “Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church.”   Simon was a member of the LDS church for almost 30 years, serving a mission in Melbourne (1981-83), marrying in the New Zealand Temple in 1983, and serving in numerous church positions including four terms as Young Men President,  a counselor in several bishoprics and branch presidencies, and finally as bishop.

While serving as bishop Simon began studying Native American DNA which he expected to have Middle Eastern origins, given the primary Book of Mormon narrative and longstanding church teachings to this effect.  Discovering instead that Native American DNA was almost 100% of Asiatic origin, this seriously challenged Simon’s belief that the Lamanites are the ancestors of the American Indians, and that the Book of Mormon is a historical document.  Consequently, Simon resigned from his calling as bishop in 1998 and left the church soon thereafter.

Tags: , , , , ,

96 Responses to 348-349: Simon Southerton, DNA, Lamanites and the Book of Mormon

  1. Geoffrey C. Scott
    May 21, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    “Book of Morrmon Stories” is actually set to a tune from the Mikado (an opera set in Japan) by Gilbert and Sullivan.
    No wonder it fits so well!

    • JT
      May 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Geoffrey,

      You just burst my “Heartland” theory bubble. I understood the North American Indian influence on that hymn as its strongest supporting evidence.

    • stan
      July 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Geoffrey: Are you sure “Book of Mormon Stories” is set to a tune from The Mikado? I just listened to the whole thing and think I figured out which song you are referring to (no. 5 in Act Two, Entrance of the Mikado and Katisha, aka, the “March of the Mikado’s Troops”). I’m no musicologist, but the comparison between the two seems a little strained to me. The tunes are are similar but not identical. Maybe BoM Stories was inspired by the Mikado tune, but “set to”? Any documentation to support this, or just a hunch?

  2. joseph pellecer
    May 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    so, whats the difference between the unedited and the edited versions??

    • May 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Joseph – About 40 minutes. :)

  3. Gary
    May 22, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Thanks for another great interview, John. I enjoyed Dr. Southerton’s story and have great respect for his willingness to go public with scientific truths that he knew would make some uncomfortable (read: mad as hell). The point he made that I don’t hear often enough was the futility of taking on unofficial apologists. It is so true that if the Brethren won’t certify an apologetic argument, then debunking it is a waste of time. With the BoM, for example, one has to shoot at a hundred different “defenses,” many of which contradict the others. And when you cut a head off, two more grow to take its place. Apologists defend the Church by observing that Amerindians as Lamanites isn’t doctrinal at the same time a GA is telling South Americans that they are descendants of Lehi. Using FAIR is a brilliantly unethical means for defending the indefensible. Whatever else you say about the 12, you have to admit that they’re clever.

  4. May 22, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Awesome podcast! Thanks for sharing Simon. It’s great to hear from a punter from down-under. Fascinating stuff.

  5. Di
    May 22, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Loved the podcast. Really interesting from start to finish.

  6. CliffB
    May 22, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I hate to say it, John, knowing the extra work… But I do prefer the edited interview. Much more polished & professional.

    As to the content. I enjoyed hearing Simon’s POV and noted the clear difference in presentation between his comments in the interview and his comments on his blog.

    I am a faithful LDS guy, and I sometimes wonder how the Church is ever going to dig itself out of the holes it’s in RE: science.

    • Thayne Warner
      May 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Cliff, as a faithful member, what would your response be if the Church just officially admitted that scriptural accounts simply cannot always be taken as historically literal, and that much of the scriptures is metaphorical or symbolic?

      I ask out of genuine curiosity. I did not leave the church over historical issues, but over scientific/logical ones – so it sounds like you and I may have a lot in common.

      • May 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        Thayne,
        I would love, love, love it if the Church came out with such a statement emphasizing the “more than historical” truth and light that comes from the scriptures rather than a literalistic reading of the Bible, Book of Mormon and even D&C that becomes more difficult to swallow in our pluralistic information rich age.

      • CliffB
        May 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        I would like that, but you know the devil is in the details. How are they going to reverse hundreds (if not more) of articles in the Church magazines about the literal Flood?

        Maybe just like Elder McConkie reversed his position on Blacks & the Priesthood… yeah, that might work. But I’ll eat my hat if it happens.

        • Chicago OG
          May 24, 2012 at 6:26 am

          The 15 brethren are at odds with each other over the cost/benefits of coming clean. Expect more cut backs in programs and services in the church….we are now teaching that “CTR” means clean the restrooms. The financial issues that arise due to coming clean would be cataclysmic for the church. Just look at what happened when the manifesto was “proclaimed”….schisms, divisions and embarassment. To me it is all financial in nature – the church would not be able to support the vast infrastructure they have built during the “faithful” years….hmmm…I wonder at what point they would cut back on FARMS.

  7. Matthew73
    May 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Have y’all been able to download this off itunes? I cannot see it there yet.

    • May 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Matthew – It’s there now. Sorry for the delay.

  8. Marlow Brown
    May 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Excellent podcast John, one of the best yet, it was mesmerizing and I listened to the complete unedited version. Keep up the great work!

  9. Noel
    May 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I listened to the whole unedited podcast. I was well worth the effort. I hope the apologists respond with subtantive arguments and not some inane comments. Can one groups DNA disappear? Simon mentions research that they can do now where they do the dna of an indian and are able to locate if there were some nonindian involved in their ancestry.

  10. Howard Carver
    May 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Wonderful interview John! Thanks so very much Simon. I bought your book awhile back and found it quite interesting. However, not being scientifically inclined, it took a bit to wade my way through the details. But, it was worth the read indeed.

  11. Joe Geisner
    May 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I finished the edited parts and part way through the unedited. I found the edited version to be excellent. The follow and organization were perfect, you and Jared Mooney did a great job.

    I will let you know what I think of the unedited version when I am finished, but I am sure I will like this equally well since you do such a great job interviewing people. Over the years your skills have been developed and you are now at the top of your game. Excellent work John!

  12. Garry Jantzen
    May 22, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I don’t believe anyone in the Church ever claimed that ALL the Lamanites came from the Middle East. How varied, I wonder, were his samples? There’s more to learn, I think…

    • SeanSLC
      May 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      That’s not accurate. From Joseph Smith until a few years ago the leadership of the church have claimed that the Lamanites were descendants of Lehi. It’s whether you take every word spoken by a church leader as doctrine or not.

      If what Simon said was true then BYU took over 6000 samples just in Peru. That’s not including the tens of thousand (or more) taken of the Native American’s. All the samples taken have pointed to a common Asian ancestory and not Middle Eastern.

      This was a fabulous interview and the DNA information was informative. Thanks John and thanks Simon for dumbing this down for us.

      • DavidBrown
        May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

        You are wrong. Many, including leaders, have suggested that the Book of Mormon events took place on a much smaller geographic scale. Beginning in the late 1800, many came to the conclusion that the text actually described a more limited geography and demographic. In 1929, Anthony Ivans of the first presidency said in General Conference, “We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon…does not tell us that there was no one here before them. It does not tell us that people did not come after……we do believe that other people came to this continent.”

        Southerton’s is a straw man argument. He even says himself, “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.”

        And that very scenerio is what many were leaning to and advocating long before any of his DNA argument came up. The text describes a limited geography model.

        • Kadmon
          May 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm

          Alma 3 says that the Lamanites were distinguished by a dark skin at the time that Alma fought Amlici. That’s about 500 years, give or take, after the Lehites arrived in the New World. Skin color is genetically determined. If both the Nephites and Lamanites interbred with New World natives, they would have had the same skin color within a couple of generations. The implication of Alma 3 is that either the Nephites, Lamanites, or both did not interbreed significantly with native people for at least 500 years. Otherwise they would have shared the same skin color. So we cannot continue using the dodge that the genes of only a few dozen people were quickly absorbed into a much larger gene pool at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. In 500 years time, how many Nephites had come to exist? Who knows, but it was enough that losing thousands of them in battle didn’t wipe out their civilization. So once the Nephites or Lamanites would have begun to interbreed with natives, there would have been many thousands of them, not a few dozen.

          I would also point out the absence of any explicit mention of native people in the Book of Mormon is a problem for apologists that is not so easily dismissed. The Book of Mormon tells us that when the Nephites arrived in the New World they found cows, oxen, asses, and goats. Which species of animal found in the New World is likely to have a larger impact on the events in the Book of Mormon, the goat or the human? If the goat is important enough for Nephi to mention, wouldn’t the human be as well? Why is there no mention of introducing the gospel to the New World gentiles? This was a big story in Acts of the Apostles. Why wouldn’t it be in the Book of Mormon as well?

          • Doug
            May 25, 2012 at 12:18 am

            “Skin color is genetically determined. If both the Nephites and Lamanites interbred with New World natives, they would have had the same skin color within a couple of generations.”

            Have you ever heard of atavism? The first Americans were probably what we would call a mixed race group; including people who look like modern Caucasians and others who looked like modern East Asians. However thoroughly mixed they were at one time, as they spread out over an empty land atavism played out and some individuals looked Caucasian and went on the establish Caucasian looking communities. These groups were observed by the Spanish explorers. By the time English colonist appeared, it was questionable as to whether Caucasian Indians were the product of Post-Columbian admixture of the taking of captives.

          • Ben Paxton
            June 9, 2012 at 5:41 am

            I read changes in skin color as figurative; this is done commonly in the old testament.

        • Blorg Jorgensson
          May 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm

          Yes, but check out Spencer W. Kimball’s statements about the Lamanites. 60 million, all over the Americas, of many different Indian tribes. And many others, WAY more than the outliers that acknowledge problems in the traditional Mormon thinking about this topic.

          And then there’s Jesus Christ in the D&C — probably not just speaking as a man.

          I have been reading through the BofM this year, specifically with the purpose of envisioning a limited geography. Chapter after chapter, it just doesn’t fit. The Nephites “multiply exceedingly” many times and spread over the face of the land. They built so many cities. They all had herds & flocks (of animals that didn’t exist, but I digress), which requires vast area.

          Not only did Mosiah’s sons not see Alma during their 14-year missions, they had to tell Alma all about the massive Lamanite conversions. Why? Because the land was so expansive that Alma, in 14 years, had not heard about it.

          No exact population is given, but consider the number of war casualties, over and over again, with the continued economic prosperity of the society (despite losing many able-bodied men to war). This kind of society doesn’t just stay in one tiny area, nor does it vanish without a unique trace after a thousand years.

          Seriously: If you subscribe to the limited geography model, read through the book again, specifically focusing on how the account would actually work in such a limited area that no unique trace of the society has been detected.

    • Spencer Mac
      August 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

      Read the preface to the book of mormon, I think its pretty clear

  13. Mike
    May 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Simon, it was good to hear your perspective. I understand your frustration with how little the Church has officially done to recognize these difficulties. At the same time if God hasn’t specifically revealed more than what we have in the BOM itself about Lamanites then I, as a believing latter day saint, would be upset if the Brethren simply began forcing their pet theories on us.

    I like what you mention about Science. You said something to the effect of: “You do science to find the truth behind things…and if people come along with ideas you don’t like you are entitled to question those.” ( paraphrased from the end of part 1) I see that the church is encouraging a more scientific atmosphere to these questions by not making dogmatic authoritative statements. It allows us to explore and scrutinize competing theories and ideas on the subject while remaining faithful to the church. From what I understand this tradition of keeping things opened and debating various aspects of the gospel was common in the early days of the church. I hope it is contiually encouraged. As a believing Mormon I’m not fully satisfied with the theories that FARMS has come up with on various issues but I’m excited that competing theories are emerging among faithful saints. You see it as a problem, but I see it as healthy and thought promoting. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the BOM despite being aware of its numerous challenges (DNA being one of many) but I realize that many good and honest people conclude differently. Thanks for sharing your story with us all.

    And John thanks for this podcast, it can be so easy to feel betrayed by those who have lost their faith and who have written about Church doctrines in a negative way. It really helps to get to know their stories and see their goodness and integrity.

    • Daniel Lima
      May 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Mike,Like you I agree that Farms answers are inadequate, however the church continues to perpetuate the Lamanite myth in South America, I’m a native of that continent and I have lost count of how many GA have pumped up the spiritual egos of the natives by calling them Lamanites and impling in no uncertain terms that they are descendents of Lehi, Nephi etc. The church needs to stop this rhetoric is harmful. On the other hand I wish that there were more believers like you, capable of hearing a podcast like this and see the honesty and integrity behind it, its refreshing

      • Mike
        May 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm

        Daniel,

        I try to keep an open mind I guess. I believe the restored gospel is true but am ready to stop believing and leave if there is solid proof to the contrary. At the same time, I won’t stop believing if there are still rational reasons to believe.
        There are two ways I’d look at that dilemma of GA’s always telling people they are descendents of Lehi. One is that we know from examples in the OT, NT, and D&C, that prophets of God teach things that aren’t correct from time to time, in fact D&C 1:25 specifically sets us up to be ready for this. So maybe they are wrong and need to be corrected, and their errors are being made known by Simon and other people like him.

        Or, maybe they are correct. Let’s assume a limited geography for the BOM which I think is the only rational way it can be understood judging by internal evidence within the book itself (although I’m open to arguments on this claim) From the end of the BOM to the time of Columbus (1492ish) you have 36 generations (assuming a generation is 30 years it may well be less than that) Lets take one Mayan in 1492 (we’ll call her Kab) and see how many people make up her gene pool when you go back to 400 ad. If I am doing this right (and I’m not sure that I am so please correct me if you can) each generation must be multiplied by the exponent of 2. Kab has 2 parents, who each have 2 more parents who each have two more parents etc. If I am correct, by the time you get to 400 ad, you have a whopping 6,879,476,736 people making up Kabs gene pool. If even one of them is a nephite or lamanite, that would make you a descendent of Lehi wouldn’t it? In short, if Lehi is real at all, odds are I think, that if you have native blood in you, you are related to him somehow (unless I am wrong in my understanding about how quickly a family tree branches out.)
        My question for any geneticists out there is, if we were to take a sample of Kabs DNA, how many of those 6,879,476,736 people that made up her ancestory in 400 ad would have to be nephites or lamanites for us to expect to find Isrealite genetic markers in her mtDNA? If one was should we expect to find it? how about 10, how about 1 million or 1 billion? I know nothing about genetics so I have no clue but hopefully someone can help me out.

        • Mateo
          May 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm

          Mike,
          While one can certainly argue that the prophets are simply mistaken doesn’t the fact that they are propogating false ideas show that Simon’s frustration with the LDS church’s attitude to this science is well founded? I mean if the LDS authorities are simply ignorant of the arguments and controversy that’s sort of pitiful. If they are aware of the arguments and purposely ignoring them for the ability to make people feel special than that’s something I think people have a legitimate reason for seeing as a bit disturbing.

          Now your other argument is that because the possiblity that at some point there was a single ancestor with lamanite blood makes the argument valid… then I can see your point. What does not make sense though is why church authorities make statements about people being definite lamanites to those that have native american characteristics and not when they are presenting to other american demographics. There are tons of people across these two continents that may be white as white can be and have some ancient ancestor that was a native american. Yet I am not aware of many white people being told that they are decendents of the Lamanites.

          On top of that, it doesn’t seem that when making such statements they are as concerned with being factually accurate as they are with pushing a faith building idea.

          One can definitely argue whether false stories can be faith building (they definitely can be as witnessed with things like scientology) but I think it’s a fair frustration when people see men that are supposedly called of god and should, if anything, be more prone to giving people the truth (as they commune more closely with god who knows everything) than the average anthropologist. If prophets should not be held to such a standard than so be it. I do find it rather odd though that such prophets are held in high esteem or followed if we are to admit that they’re just as often incorrect in what they teach as the average layperson, and less accurate in some regards than others.

          I’m probably demanding more of religion than I’m allowed to though. ;)

          • Mateo
            May 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm

            one more small point. If we shouldn’t criticize the prophets for getting things like this wrong, and argue that “in the grand scheme of things they are not leading the saints from any saving principles by fudging this” my argument would be, “okay, that’s fine. So why are they making such points across the pulpit? If it’s not something they have jusdiction over to be an authority on, then why pretend to be one? Why give an air of authority that those south american crowds are the decendants of the Lamanites if it is not in fact soemthing that they have good evidence for or are most likely incorrect on?

            I guess I just get sick of how in every case a prophet or apostle is given a way out with the whole “speaking as a man v.s. speaking as a prophet” (a phrase that should be on the tip of any good apologists tongue at all times. ;)

          • Mike
            May 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm

            First, if they are wrong I do think it should be pointed out. I have nothing against correcting errors and I agree that it is a fair thing to be upset about. I don’t think they are though. Those who have advocated the idea that the groups in the BOM were the only groups that ever settled the Americas most definitely seem to be wrong, and many faithful Saints have been pointing that out for years. The BOM introduction changed in accordance with that evidence as it should. But as I said above, if Lehi is real at all, there have been so many generations between him and now that it is almost statistically impossible that a native american wouldn’t be able to trace back to him if he had all the records. It is safe to say that natives are decedents of Lehi.

          • Mateo
            May 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm

            Mike, it won’t let me reply to your last comment directly so I’ll post here in hopes that you find it. You said the following:

            “It is safe to say that natives are decedents of Lehi.”

            That would be like me saying, “because fossil records cannot be perfectly representative of every animal that lived (because very few animals will actually get fossilized) we cannot take the lack leprachaun fossils as evidence that they did not exist. It is safe to say that Leperachauns exist.”

            All you’re really saying here is that the claim is unfalisfiable with the new way it’s being defined (a new way it began to be defined when people started noticing how problematic the claim is that all native americans were derived primarily from the Lamanites)

            I think the general pattern of:

            1. Apostle or prophet says something sternly that makes the members “feel the spirit” and be amazed because “only a prophet could know such a thing”

            2. people start fact checking and seeing how plausible what he says is. They find that even if it’s remotely possible the way he is stating it is highly suspect, on to of that there is no evidence other than him saying it that supports this far fetched claim.

            3. apologists state that because the claims cannot be proven false (after being backtracked upon until they have a very different meaning and feel) one must not use such arguments.

            Basically it boils down to the fact that you cannot prove with absolute certainty that a claim is false. If a person states they will believe in mormonism until it’s proven false that’s fine, but the same tactic works for keeping a person in the religion of a Jehovah’s witness, the Islamic faith, Judaism, or following the greek gods.

            There is a lot of overly strong wording that people use on these sorts of subjects. People will claim that they know the church is false or know that the church is true. Neither can actually be known in any sort of certain fashion and both parties would need (if being intellectually honest) that, without any sort of absolute knowledge, they could be mistaken or incorrect.

            I don’t believe mormonism is true. I could be wrong but nothing up to this point has submitted the sort of confirmatory evidence that would convince me. I see it as something that is convincing to those that are raised in it, and I see it as something that has a lot of positives so some people are either not that interested in looking critically at it, or are aware of problems and willing to ignore them because of the positives or a hopeful attitude that such things would be great if true. I see a rather significant pattern that does not encourage me to believe, as it seems manipulative. Frankly I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the LDS church and regular organizations. Some may not see an issue with that and are fine with it failing in it’s ideas to the same degree that other man made organizations do. For me though, the claims of mormonism are extremely out there. If these guys really are prophets than I don’t really see why a prophet is important if you can’t tell when he says something whether it will be superceded at a later time (when what he said is no longer a societal norm or is seen as racist.)

          • Mike
            June 4, 2012 at 12:08 am

            The word doctrine means teaching, and I would agree that a universal flood is taught by the church in general and for that reason can be considered doctrine. I would also point out the church regularly changes doctrine as more information is received “line upon line”. This doctrine may or may not change as well as we learn more. The revelations themselves seem reconcilable either way.
            Although I haven’t ever seen a retraction in the Ensign, McConkie made a major one in a CES talk where while speaking about the priesthood going to all worthy males he said “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

          • Mike
            June 4, 2012 at 12:12 am

            Mateo, It would be odd to believe a statement simply because it can’t be disproven. That isn’t why I believe it though. I believe it because I have found revelations to be trustworthy. Partial, and limited in scope perhaps, but trustworthy nonetheless. That is why for me, and I think for mormons in general, unless something can in fact be proven to be false, stating that there isn’t scientific proof to back up a prophetic claim isn’t actually a problem. The DNA issue does I think disprove the once common idea that the Nephites Mulekites and Jaredites were the only major contributors to the native American gene pool. Mormons gave up that idea in part I think because of that evidence, but also because a closer look at the BOM itself doesn’t support what was once the common knowledge among Mormons either. When facts contradict a mormon belief, the church as a whole usually pays attention. When there is no real contradiction, the church as a whole doesn’t seem to care, and I don’t see why they would.

          • David
            July 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm

            It never ceases to amaze me how far people will go to do mental gymnastics to make irrational beliefs fit. I left Mormonism a few years ago because I got tired of the willing suspension of disbelief that was required to stay. Let’s face it, just because something is not falsifiable, doesn’t mean it is true, or even likely true. One of the things I hear a lot is that no one will ever know for sure if Joseph Smith saw what he claims. Although this is true, we can be pretty sure based on the evidence. I would recommend reading Bart Ehrman, or check out YouTube for numerous videos where he discusses Biblical historicity. The principles apply equally well to the B of M. All we can ever do with history is say what probably happened, but if we take ALL of the evidence, it is pretty clear what probably happened. In fact it is very clear. What is more likely, based on the evidence (multiple versions of the first vision; lying about polygamy/polyandry; failed prophecies; all of the problems with the B of M; Book of Abraham; Racism;…), isn’t it far more parsimonious to admit that he made it all up? If this is God’s true church, these “prophets” have made God look like a bafoon! If you watch Big Love on HBO, form an outsider’s perspective, it’s difficult to see much difference between fundamentalist polygamist sects and the LDS church from which they sprang. If you study Brigham Young’s church, it is indistinguishable from FLDS sects…

  14. mathilde
    May 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Loved this interview.

  15. Rude Dog
    May 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I really liked when Simon was talking about the Book of Abraham, as in if the Book of Abraham had any validity, then maybe we could look away from some of the glaring aspects of the Book of Mormon. But that’s the crux now, isn’t it? And the Book of Abraham is only the start. We could spend days on Joseph’s polygamy, twisting and squeezing every drop of analysis to try and make sense of otherwise hard to understand behavior leading to hard to have faith. The temple ceremony with its attending masonic influence again requires a wringing of mental gymnastics to reconcile the similarities and refining a new narrative to cover or replace Joseph’s narrative, just like we did with the Book of Abraham, just like we did with the Book of Mormon, just like we did with his polygamy. And mind you this is being done by a very narrow band of us internet addicts and podcast junkies, where there are millions that sit in the pews and know nothing of these issues, with assured confidence that the simple blessed world leads to simple blessed Celestial Kingdoms, meanwhile the faithful that do come to these discussions will apologeticize the stories to such esoteric spheres that it is unrecognizable to even the most open interpretations, and then seem agog that we all didn’t see it in the first place.

    The church has two insurmountable “pillars” to knock down and explain away to make any inroads to the hemorrhaging of its educated professional western members. The first pillar is the internal pillar. This internal pillar is the pillar that we are discussing, namely the big five: Polygamy, Book of Mormon evidence and translation, Book of Abraham, Masonic structure, racist history and homophobic future including the doctrine of the pre-existence determining foreordination. These are the subjects of much discussion at this site, as well it should be.

    There is another pillar, this one much harder to knock down, and this pillar is the pillar of the scientific method and its natural explanations defining natural phenomena. We are coming to a pretty good understanding of how the Universe started, how our galaxy, solar system and our earth were formed. We may not yet understand fully how life began, but we understand immensely how it evolved after abiogenesis. We are coming to be comfortable knowing we are not the center of the universe, nor of our solar system, and we are now starting to be comfortable not being the center of created life. These are very liberating concepts, and religion has to, and has been contorting, adapting, changing.

    The two pillars are not going to budge any time soon. The LDS church is already doing an apologetic dance that changes year to year. Science has been pretty much rock steady, moving slowly forward. I know where my money is. Thanks Simon, it’s good to have you on here, and we appreciate your contributions.

    As smart and studied as Simon is I’m afraid that we may be putting all of our eggs in a one man basket. Simon, John, are there any others out there with Simon’s credentials as scientist/LDS that will come forward and present these findings in relation to the questions of the Book of Mormon DNA? It seems to me as strong as the evidence is, it would behoove the argument to have two or three independent experts working on the question.

    • head of shiz
      June 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Fantastic comment Rude Dog, you may not ever read this but your thoughts here are just a perfect summary of how I see things as well…thank you!

  16. Blorg Jorgensson
    May 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Great interview. Simon, I appreciate your work a great deal, since my disaffection began in earnest with The Book of Mormon’s problems vis-a-vis reality.

    For you believers out there who acknowledge the many problems that Simon raises, I have a sincere question that I hope doesn’t come off as sarcastic or insulting: How can you possibly believe in anything the prophets, seers, and revelators say if the vast majority of them have been woefully wrong about something as basic and essential to the LDS Church as The Book of Mormon?

    I mean, who the hell are they to dictate our lives in any way — down to the number of earrings women wear — when they are just flat-out wrong about so many issues involving The Book of Mormon as a historical record?

  17. Simon Southerton
    May 24, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Mike, thank you for your kind response. When I see kindness like this I wonder (briefly:)) if things could have turned out differently if this was the sort of response I had encountered back in 1998.

    • Mike
      May 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      I read on your website a little more about your story and the letters you got from the area authority. My hope would be that as more LDS people begin to understand truly how many reasons there are to doubt, they will be a little more understanding and helpful towards those who are losing or have lost their faith. It’s unfortunate how people can react, especially when family relationships are involved.

      I hope too that the support your blog and others like it give will help people who decide the church isn’t true to better be able to sort through what values are worth keeping and what values they can throw out with their faith. I imagine those first few weeks or months after losing a testimony can be overwhelming and confusing.

  18. Pedro A. Olavarria
    May 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I can’t comment on the Southerton interview, haven’t listened to it. I’ve posted a link to a bunch of papers that counter DNA arguments against the Book of Mormon. Lazy? Yes. More substantive than anything I could post? Yes.

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display/topical.php?cat_id=488

  19. Josh
    May 25, 2012 at 8:52 am

    But all the scientists disagree with each other.

    I often say to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these scientists are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

    Many people accept a scientist or historian at their word. But, we weren’t present when this research was being done. From my point of view, science or religion shouldn’t be trusted unless we have studied it ourselves, meaning we need to dig the bones ourselves, we need to study DNA ourselves and carbon dating, not rely on others and trust their work (or the established systems they rely upon). How can we know if scientist is giving us the correct info without relying on him to tell us that it is correct info?

    Have you ever left the milk out all night? I have, and I have a suspicion that scientists are just as imperfect.

    Help, I am having a crisis of faith in science.

    • Thayne Warner
      May 25, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Josh, your post seems absolutely valid to me. I have questioned my allegiance to science, when I have not been drinking and am running about shouting “for Science!”

      I keep coming back to the mantra “trust, but verify.”

      With science, I can ask for and recieve hard evidence and documented and verifiable reports if I wish to verify. Moreover, that exact same evidence and documentation can be shown to everyone without subjective interference or an “authorized interpreter” in many, if not most cases.

      Moreover, good science is always ready to be proven and admit it is wrong when new knowledge or new techniques reveal weakness in the evidence.

      How can I find such verification in matters of faith? I see that Thomas Monson, Boyd Packer, Pope Benedict XVI, Jerry Falwell, and even my true-believing father are stumbling about in the dark, just as blind as I am, but they will not admit they are wrong – ever. Because that means God is wrong. Then God isn’t perfect. Or omnipotent. Or God.

      Wait, pray for verification you say? But my subjective feelings are not measurable, repeatable, testable. How do I know if I just wasn’t having a little indigestion? or hunger weakness from fasting? Or carbon dioxide saturation? If I pray tomorrow and get a different feeling, which one is right? How can I test it?

      Help, I lost my faith in … faith. And God. And divinely-appointed, sanctified, and infallible human beings. Can you help me? Can I help you?

    • Simon Southerton
      May 27, 2012 at 5:19 am

      Josh,

      Just a quick response to your comment “But all the scientists disagree with each other.”

      There are things that scientist disagree on and they often argue about these at conferences. That is how science progresses. If an argument has merit and makes the best sense of the evidence it will survive scrutiny and eventually become widely accepted. If an idea is not supported by evidence it will be tossed aside. There are several things that virtually all scientists studying Native American ancestry agree upon. One of those is that all of the ancestors of Native Americans are derived from Asia and that they arrived in the Americas over 15,000 years ago.

  20. May 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    As a young(er) man, I held positions very like those that Simon remembers Donald Parry taking. I was convinced that scientists misunderstand the age of the earth, the nature of biological life, and the human psyche. Time has not been kind to my positions.

    In my effort to be a good Mormon apologist, I found myself using reason and experience to invalidate non-Mormon positions: some non-Mormon positions were illogical; others were empirically falsifiable. Thinking that the truth could withstand rational and empirical scrutiny, I made the mistake of using reason and my own experience to question Mormon truth claims. What I discovered is that we Mormons are just people like other people. Like everyone, we have beliefs. Some of our beliefs are useful. Some are not. Some of the useful ones are even true! Others, not so much. Like other people, we are not very good at finding the difference. The Restoration did not give us light and knowledge that are not available elsewhere, and some of what it did give us was just old darkness and superstition in a new nineteenth-century package.

    Like other people, we claim privileged access to God, even as he studiously avoids validating our unique status. (Everyone knows a prophet who speaks for God: the problem is that the prophets all say things that fall foul of reason or experience or, most often, both. Our Mormon prophets are no different.)

    Eventually, I realized that I could not in good conscience take other people’s faith apart with reason and experience and then give mine a pass. I could not deny Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim mythology any respect that I was willing to give Mormonism: if they had to be judged in light of reason and experience, then Mormonism had to meet that same standard. As advocated by current leaders and apologists (even), I do not believe it does. There is no good argument for Mormonism that is not an equally good argument for any other belief system that someone wants to regard as unfalsifiable.

    One of the final straws for me was seeing that as an apologist, I was like a would-be physicist telling people to go with Aristotle because Newton’s physical theories appear inadequate to explain certain phenomena. I would use complicated, rational arguments to debunk specific dating methods or scientific paradigms (like Darwinian evolution), and then tell people that the answers were in Genesis. I would use complicated, rational arguments to debunk modern psychology, and then tell people to say prayers and read the Bible (because Leviticus tells us all we need to know about treating other people correctly). The folly of this hit me pretty hard when I finally wised up to it. Some of it was manifest in my own psyche, which was damaged by encounters with well-meaning church discipline (which was still practically worthless: at some point I realized that my faith was not making me happier; instead, it was becoming a millstone around my neck).

    Kudos to Simon for sharing his story. I really enjoyed listening to it.

  21. Rude Dog
    May 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    “But all the scientists disagree with each other.”

    This is unadulterated garbage.

    Yes there is disagreement on questions inside of well established theories. Inside the theory of evolution is disagreement on various mechanisms of natural selection. Is it gene mutation, genetic drift or genetic bottleneck? But there is no serious disagreement about evolution as a biological fact, as there is no serious disagreement about other theories, like germ theory, atomic theory, frictional theory, or the theory of gravitation. There is all kinds of speculation and interpretations inside the field of quantum theory, but its explanatory and predictive power is so immense, no person would question the truthfulness of its results despite much speculation on how it gets there.

    In addition, huge scientific paradigm shifts usually do not overturn but expand, as Newton expanded to Einstein, who expanded to Bohr, Heisenberg and Bell. Only the religious and science deniers will postulate chaos inside established theory (misinterpreting differing dynamic approaches refining the understanding of these theories), with hopes of derailing evidence hostile to their world views of young earth, abrupt appearances of species, and Hebrew DNA. We witness this religious themed motiviation as evidenced by evolution being attacked, but not gravitation, both as equally established by the same method. And just as Thayne Warner articulated, it’s not arrogant proclamations of truth that will center minds, as is illustrated nicely by the breadth of varying religion, but it’s the the broad spectrum of evidence that will center minds as these minds have to gather at the evidentiary watering hole before fancied dreams of published peer reviewed work will be realized. And yes Josh, one could become an expert in the chosen fields of distrusted science to verify suspected shenanigans being perpetrated, however, the beautiful thing about the scientific method is the already built in mechanism called peer review. Peer review simply is the opportunity of smart people inside your field of study who are salivating over the chance to disprove your work. In fact, you can make a serious name for yourself by “disproving” or paradigm shifting established science. It is a beautiful check and balance that keeps the ponds of discovery honest, hard working, and fresh. Compare that to prophetic proclamations and personal revelation that are un-examined, subjective, and staggeringly stagnant, as conversation is suddenly stopped with its “gift”. And just as Carl Jung noticed, soon religion/prophets/channeled personal revelation becomes the tools that most people use to avoid the God experience.

    What makes the DNA evidence of the North American indigenous convincing is the nice dovetail fit it has with other disciplines, disciplines like archaeology that postulated Asiatic descent of the Native American long before DNA evidence. Linguistics, metallurgy provide flavor, DNA adds to the delicious dish of reality.

    The Mormon system, along with all of religion would have more esteem in my eyes if instead of pursuing and excommunicating those that dissent, they would just show them where they’re wrong.

  22. James
    May 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Debunking Mormonism is easy. Doing so in a way that keeps the believers from covering their ears and burying their head in the sand is much more difficult. Great interview!

  23. Mj
    May 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Years ago I attended a fireside at the Monument Park singles ward here in Salt Lake City where Dr. Scott Woodward presented on science based support for the Book of Mormon. As I recall, he didn’t really deliver any hard evidences rather he spoke of theories that explain why, in today’s modern world, science doesn’t yield any hard evidence to support the book. It was a rather intriguing presentation that I wish I could have recorded.
    I remember his explanation of the small geography theory, complete with visuals, and his fervent, testimony promoting teaching that the foot print of the Nephites and Lamanites was so small and their genetic contribution to the gene pool so isolated that any DNA traces of them are simply lost in today’s human populations. He then went on a bit about his own genographic projects and other genetic research to sort of substantiate and lend credence to what he was teaching us.
    The other thing I remember vividly is his pulpit pounding lashing of Simon and Tom Murphy. And yes, he literally pounded his fist on the pulpit as he aired his frustration at Simon’s book and Tom’s dissertation. I don’t know if many of the folks at the fireside had been exposed to either of these two sources of information. Further, I don’t know if many of those folks even knew of Simon or Tom. I think this emotional outbreak caused some uneasiness in the room because folks couldn’t really understand what he was getting at. But then again, a few of us did. It was rather entertaining there for a bit. At the same time it was public slander against two members of the scientific community who had published honest and straightforward research. My guess is that these two publications possibly have caused Scott to question his own testimony. Perhaps he was using us in the audience as group therapy to vent his personal dilemmas and come to peace with himself.
    Overall, I think if anything, most people came away from the presentation with more questions in their minds. Not that Scott is a bad speaker it’s just that his material was somewhat confusing and full of apologetic mumbo jumbo. There were no amazing revelations. No reports of data from any field of science to lend support for the Book of Mormon. He closed with a rather teary eyed testimony and that was that. Since then I haven’t heard of any firesides that address topics like this. I think this was a rare one for sure.

  24. Josh
    May 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Dear Rude Dog,

    Maybe you have never been in the same room with two scientists.

    I worked at a dinosaur museum. None of paleontologists agreed with each other, even on some of the basics.

    Some of them thought that there are two many variables in the past to get accurate dating. We need to assume too much. We always relate the past to the present to get answers. But, the past has no relation to the present.

    Anyway, faith in man is dumb. We are all lost, we may as well admit something.

    This is one reason why I believe in God. If He doesn’t exist then we are lost, we would only have each other to find truth, or ourselves. What a disaster. I have never met a perfect person, or a perfect group of people.

    I hope that I will know perfect when I see it. At least I understand imperfect perfectly.

  25. Rude Dog
    May 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    “faith in man is dumb” said the internet typing, airline traveling, doctor and dentist visiting, power grid using, ipod listening creature.

    However, I agree to a certain extent that faith in man is dumb. One of the greatest achievements of man however is the scientific method. It tries to put as far away as possible our propensity to delude ourselves. Is it perfect? No. Is it always successful? No. And before anyone pulls out the tired old chestnut of science being “just another religion” stop, stop it right now. I do not worship science, technology, nor do I think it is the only fulfillment in life (although I could watch TED all day long). If we had something better I’d go with it, but we don’t, and it has helped pull us out of the darkness of the ultimate progression stopper, religion.

    We are lost with or without God. In the mean time we grasp reality better than any other generation that has ever lived, and tomorrow I can go to the dentist and get a cavity filled without the laying on of hands and blood letting.

  26. New2podcasts
    May 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I made commentary about research on DNA studies on an LDS site and I was hit with this comment rebuttal :

    “” Rod Meldrum has done a lot of research about DNA testing of ancient bones of Lamanites and Nephites found in burial sites in the heartland of middle America. He has some VERY interesting statistics in his research from 2003-2011. He specifically notes the Haplogroup X DNA and the surprising results of that research. Contrary to original theory, the DNA shows it is “blood from the hills of Galilee,” and not of Asian descent. From where did that come?

    Makes sense to me that Lehi and his descendants spent some time here in the middle of the promised land, not in central America as originally speculated. And why would Moroni walk from Guatemala to New York via Manti and Logan? I don’t think he was Asian, but his people were buried all over the American continent. Jerry Ainsworth has some research on signature stones placed as temple sites by Mormon & Moroni. He supports the central American theories and Mayan history of the Jaredites and Mulekites. Check out Ainsworth’s newsletters and Meldrum’s research – very enlightening. A lot to think about. “”

    I am no researcher or expert on DNA and such. Are these two folks, “Meldrum and Ainsworth”, on track for their findings and indications backing up Jerusalem descent and not Asiatic descent?

    • Truthophile
      May 26, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      You may want to have a look at a paper published by the Maxwell institute about the works of Rod Meldrum, “Often in Error, Seldom in Doubt”

      http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=1&id=793

      Mr. Meldrum is a scientific amateur with grand ideas that are ill-supported by either scientific evidence or even internal consistency. The last sentence of the paper sums it up well:

      “The Book of Mormon, the Latter-day Saints, and the Church of Jesus Christ deserve far better than Meldrum’s pseudoscientific snake oil and strained proof-texting.”

    • Simon Southerton
      May 27, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Dear New2podcasts
      The most troubling aspect of Rodney Meldrum’s claims is that none of the scientists who did the research he cites agrees with his claim. That should immediately ring alarm bells. Meldrum isn’t a scientist yet he interprets the work of scientists in a way they never intended. It is widely accepted among all scientists in the field that the X lineage came into the Americas from Asia with the first immigrants over 15,000 years ago. The fact that a closely related X lineage has not been found yet in Siberia is not evidence it must have come from the Middle East.

      I discuss the X lineage research and some of the claims Rodney Meldum makes on my blog.
      http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/origin-of-x-lineage.html

  27. Truthophile
    May 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks so much for this podcast. As a member of the LDS church, I have struggled with faith issues for years due to conflicts between Church doctrine and solid science. For me, the DNA matter was a milestone in that, once I knew the studies were underway, I was already pretty sure how they would turn out: with no discernible genetic links to the middle east, just as there were no discernible linguistic or archaeological links. I realized that, to myself, I had unconsciously formulated a pattern to the effect “For any Church teaching X of a scientific nature, if it is unlikely that the leaders would have gotten X right without divine inspiration, the scientific evidence, when it came along, would always ultimately tend to discredit X.” And if the evidence uniformly discredits the teachings, it discredits the source of those teachings. I could list all the scientific pronouncements of early Church leaders that I was aware of, and see the pins all fall down, so to speak. I realized that BofM DNA, the Book of Abraham, the story of Adam and Eve, the supposed detrimental effects of coffee and tea, teachings about the physics of the sun and the age of the earth, the whitewashing of Church history, and on and on, were not outliers to be treated in isolation, but part of a pattern that clearly supports one theory (Church leaders made stuff up), and discredits another (they spoke by inspiration, at least occasionally). And the fact that apologists, the best and the brightest, needed to spin and obfuscate the facts in order to make the stories more believable (e.g. the limited geography theory) only made things worse. Is that the best the best and brightest could do?

    Once I saw this pattern everywhere I looked, I had no idea how to look away. I came to live a double life in my faith, and eventually just got tired. For years my heart has yearned, to the point of intense personal pain, for the Church to be true, but once you see this pattern, how can you not continue to see it, and expect it, and not be surprised when it is validated again and again?

    I’ve decided that, in the end, I just want what I believe to be factually true. No faith promoting myths please, no whitewash, no spin. I have a right to expect better from a Church ostensibly committed to truth.

  28. Probitas est optimus
    May 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Time to do some reading my friend. Here are links to NON-LDS scientist findings and rebuttals to all the stuff Meldrum puts out. In fact, the catalyst for the content in the links was how livid they were once the scientist found out how Meldrum used them. Enjoy the truth:

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/civilizations_lost_and_found_fabricating_history_-_part_one_an_alternate_re

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/civilizations_lost_and_found_fabricating_history_-_part_two_false_messages

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/civilizations_lost_and_found_fabricating_history_-_part_three_real_messages

  29. ozpoof
    May 28, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I agree that Polynesians are almost all the membership in AU and NZ. My parent’s ward has only Polynesians except them.

    I don’t think a widespread knowledge of the Lamanite teaching being false will impact many Polynesians. They seem to take church as a social networking pseudo village, often conducting meetings where cultural business is taken care of rather than teaching LDS “doctrine”. Church isn’t taken as seriously as LDS Inc would wish.

  30. Michael V
    May 28, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Thanks very much for your podcast. It was informative and fascinating.

    I put something together for the first time after listening to your podcast. The story of Noah and the ark is, if you’re reading the scriptures literally, one of the silliest in the entire canon. I know some people still believe it. But I’m assuming by this point most Christians can read the story symbolically, or as someone describing a regional catastrophe in the best language available to him at the time.

    But after I read the Ensign article you linked above, I wondered why the Donald Parry seemed so invested in proving the literal truth of the Noah’s Ark story. I went through some other Mormon commentary on the subject and realized that Mormons have a lot more to lose than other Christians in letting go of the literal interpretation, because of the Adam-ondi-Ahman doctrine. For any other sect, Noah built his boat in the middle east, the flood came, and when it receded it deposited him next door in the Ararat mountains. But for Mormons, the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, everyone from Adam to Noah lived in America, and the flood story explains how Noah was carried from the USA to Turkey.

    I don’t know why I never put that together when talking to True Believing Mormons about the flood, but it makes there vehemence on the subject a little more clear, even if it’s still equally incomprehensible. And I appreciate the bit of trivia about the beetles. I’m going to use that next time the subject comes up.

    Thanks for everything.

  31. Rude Dog
    May 28, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Well said Michael V., as I too just put that together this year myself. I didn’t realize the conundrum, that Noah would have had to build his ark here in America, demanding literal interpretation of a “global” flood. I asked a very knowledgeable attorney TBM in my ward and he actually suggested that back in Noah’s time Pangea was a reality and that Noah and his posterity could have migrated/walked to the middle east. Wow, this is an educated man. But either way, it’s hugely dismissed, if thought of at all.

    Truthophile, I couldn’t agree more. I loved your last paragraph, it reminds me of Juanita Brooks when she said “nothing but the truth is good enough for the church to which I belong.” She was softly relegated to the back of the room after she bravely told the truth the best she could about the MMM.

    Simon toned a lot that I have always felt to be true when he says in the podcast something to the effect that one could overlook some of the absurdities in the BoM if everything else about our church were in order. But the fact is, once you mentally put your finger in the dike of BoM truth claims, the Book of Abraham starts to leak out like a fire hose. Once you get your other entire arm in that leak then you find yourself dealing with the polyandry gusher. You may get a foot in that hole when suddenly the gusher of Masonry, kinderhook plates, racist teachings all open up together. Meanwhile you’re being bitten by the horse-flies of Prop 8, ERA, and Brigham Young’s non culpability at Mountain Meadows, just to be topped with the cherry of Eyring’s faux crocodile tears as he issued the greatest non-apology in 2007, assuring another tardy opportunity was missed.

    “Those are just the rantings of hostile anti-mormons” it will be said of such accusations. I wanted to settle down and desperately agree, trying then to hang on to anything I could. Then comes Jared Diamond with Mormonism so far off his radar he’d probably spell it wrong, yet his book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” in its superb scholarship and profound simplicity, dispassionately yet completely blows the Book of Mormon truth claims out of the water. Then I learn at the same time the Mormon reformation was taking place with its re-baptisms, fiery blood atonement sermons, and the perfect storm about to be lit by Parley’s murder, on the other continent Charles Darwin was putting the final touches on one of the most profound theories of our time, a theory so revolutionary and encompassing, it not only changed biology, it changed the way we think about all of science. It’s quite possible that Darwin never heard of a Mormon before, but his theory, one of the strongest and encompassing in science today, dispassionately yet completely not only puts Mormon doctrinal claims of origin, original sin and the need for atonement into pastures of irrelevancy, but every Abrahamic religion as well. Then there’s those pesky physicists, Einstein, and on to Bohr, Heisenberg, inferring in their irreverent manners that the sun does not get its light from Kolob, but does the boring task of converting hydrogen into helium.

    And in the end here I am. And you know what? The thing that is most convincing to me is my internal happiness meter that has be pegged full to the right since I mentally left the church and belief, and the permanent smile that has been on my face after I set childish things aside, and became an adult.

    • Michael V
      May 29, 2012 at 12:54 am

      At least your friend was trying. But honestly, if he believes that we came from Pangaea to modern continents in a couple thousand years, he might as well just go ahead and believe in the worldwide flood.

    • KC
      May 29, 2012 at 8:39 am

      in addition to jared Diamond’s Guns Germs Steel, 1492 by michael mann is an excellent source for understanding. Native american development

      • Mike
        May 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        as “TBMs” We are taught in sacred places that in the end, when all is revealed, all truth will coincide with all other truth. If an LDS doctrine contradicts a scientific view of something, there are three options a believing latter day saint can consider, either the science was bad, the doctrine was bad, or both were bad or at least incomplete. Mormonism allows for false doctrine to be perpetuated, found false and later rejected, so does good science. With that in mind gospel problems are seen in the same sense as a good math problem instead of defects.

        Elder Donald Parry would likely tackle your question by pointing to sciences limitations. Maybe he is correct, but I wouldn’t overlook the possibility that perhaps we have assumed the revelation is saying more than it really is about where Adam lived. Unless there was another revelation other than D&C 116 that gives move detail (if there is please provide a reference I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed one) the revelation JS received did not mention it as the place where Adam dwelt, but “the place where Adam shall come to visit his people,“ Even Bruce McConkie shows some doubt about the traditional teaching that it was where Adam dwelt in mortality when he puts a sort of disclaimer on it by saying “As near as we can judge… Adam-ondi-Ahman means the place or land of God where Adam dwelt ” ( Mormon Doctrine, 19–20).

        • Michael V
          May 30, 2012 at 6:03 am

          I think you’re missing (or at least circumventing) the point. If you wanted to twist around the doctrine, I’m sure you could make the case that Adam or Noah somehow got to the Middle East before the flood hit. But the only reason to do that would be to demonstrate that the flood wasn’t literally worldwide. That would help if you were trying to make sense out of a nonsense story, but that’s not what Parry is trying to do.

          The entire point of the Ensign article is that the flood *was* worldwide. Once you’ve made that point, I don’t think there’s any reason to try to stretch Mormon doctrine to get Noah out of the Americas when he builds the ark.

        • Mike
          May 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

          Correction, I found another verse that talks about Adam-ondi-Ahman as a place where adam lived in mortality. D&C 107:53. This place however is not specified to be in connection with Spring Hill. If Adam-ondi-ahman means the place of God where Adam dwells it may physically be the same place as spring hill but the revelations themselves don’t specify it so it isn’t necessarily so.

          • Mike
            May 30, 2012 at 8:43 am

            Michael Von,
            Yes I understand that Elder Donald Parry advocates a worldwide flood. All I’m pointing out is that the scriptures don’t necessarily force his interpretation. His interpretation in no way contradicts the scriptures, but other interpretations also are not in contradiction of the scriptures. You can be faithful to the revelations and still be open to alternative possibilities. Being ready to challenge and throw out traditional interpretations if the evidence presents itself is a hallmark of the restoration. Many things will yet be revealed which will of course require that we throw out old ideas.

            I don’t advocate a local flood over a worldwide flood, but I see in scripture the possibility of either concept fitting and from our limited capacity to look into the past via the sciences, it looks right now at least that a major local flood is what our scriptures are actually describing.

            You make a good point about twisting the scriptures. I think it would be twisting them to say that the scriptures themselves advocate a local flood, but to point out that a local flood doesn’t directly contradict the scriptures isn’t a twist. Same is true for Nephites who’s contribution to the gene pool would be too small to detect, the BOM itself doesn’t give us any solid reason to believe that their genetic influence would be so small, but it leaves plenty of room for that interpretation, and genetic research tells us that there is no traceable Israelite DNA so for the time being at least, it’s safe to assume that their contribution was small.

            If we are going to understand the scriptures, and if we are going to expect revelation and new discoveries, we can’t read more into the scriptures than is actually there because it will close our minds off to other possibilities.

            Sometimes Christians point to the changes in scientific understanding as a flaw in a scientific worldview, and those outside Christianity sometimes point to changing doctrine or new ways of understanding the scriptures in light of further evidence as a flaw in the Christian worldview. I personally don’t see how changing one’s view in light of further knowledge is a flaw.

          • Mateo
            May 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

            Mike,
            If it is merely his interpretation and not doctrinally founded, then why is it insinuated as such and published in a church magazine? The tactic here seems to be that church athorities will heavily imply something (to the point where most LDS members assume it to be fact and doctrine) and then the moment it’s shown to be preposterously incorrect it becomes “well I never said it was church doctrine!” If it’s just mere conjecture with nothing to back it up than that’s fine. They might do the member’s a service by stating it as an opinion piece and not stating it in a way that persuades people otherwise.

            This sort of phenomenon is not unique to mormons. It happens in a lot of political situations as well. When the politician gets nailed for insinuating something that is not true they simply say, “well I didn’t say it was correct! That’s just what I heard!” Even though every statement he made was worded in a way that commanded intimate knowledge and certainty.

            Does the ensign ever print retractions? Also does it ever put an asterix stating that such statements are not considered doctrinal and are the views of the person making them and not of the incorporated group? ;)

          • Rude Dog
            May 30, 2012 at 10:35 pm

            Mike, I have to say that with your presumption of the land being peopled before the Jaredites and the Nephites with indigenous populations in which the DNA is allowed to “blend” with and which the text of the BoM does not support, your views of the BoM and our church are just as “apostate” and “heretical” as mine are. What I’m hearing is that through interpretations every man is a prophet unto himself, interpreting the scriptures as he may with the spirit guiding. So logically, most Mormons have not had the spirit as they’ve assumed a global flood, an un-populated America prior to the Jaredites/Nephites, and the Hill Cummorah in up-state New York. This interpreting spirit I must say seems as varied in interpretations as there are people. (Hummm, I wonder why?) And isn’t this the main reason we purport to have prophets seers and revelators? To “help us avoid the errors and teachings of men?” Your opinion is one of many out there, varied and diverse. This seems antithetical to the whole shebang of “follow the Prophet” as most of what they’ve taught is suddenly thrown under bus of the apologist interpretations of today, which I have no problem with being the “filthy little atheist” in the Thomas Paine tradition. The problem I have is the solipsistic assumption that such esoteric interpretations would have been “obvious” to the lay membership had they put forth the effort.

            I grew up in the church. I was a missionary, temple married, served in leadership more times than I care to remember. I’ve read the BoM more than 20 times, and I know what is taught in our church, and by “our church” I mean Sunday morning church, not internet message board church attended by the fringes that are me and you. If you are saying that I and everyone else that grew up in this church were misled by well meaning yet false assumptions about the BoM narrative, then either way the church should be relegated to the dust bin, for being false, or for being derelict in conveying simply, the simple Gospel message.

            One more thing. I noticed that Michael V only used an initial for his last name, while you used his last name, if it is his. Maybe I’m missing something and if I am I apologize, but you have to know that that is a major breach of etiquette, childish, and completely speaks volumes about yourself far more than your posts.

          • Mike
            May 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm

            Rude Dog,

            The way I view honoring the authority of scripture and prophecy, is that if my understanding of an event contradicts what a prophecy says, then I need to change my view. If there is no true contradiction then I will keep myself opened to further evidence. if that’s apostate then I am an apostate.

            As far as Micheal V, I don’t know what his last name is. I saw his Post “Michael V on May…” and mistook it for Micheal Von. Sorry to offend anyone

          • Mike
            June 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm

            Mateo,
            The word doctrine means teaching, and I would agree that a universal flood is taught by the church in general and for that reason can be considered doctrine. I would also point out the church regularly changes doctrine as more information is received “line upon line”. This doctrine may or may not change as well as we learn more. The revelations themselves seem reconcilable either way and the evidence is strong enough from biology and geology to suggest to me that I should keep my mind opened to the possibility that the flood may have been local.

            Although I haven’t ever seen a retraction in the Ensign, McConkie made a major one in a CES talk where while speaking about the priesthood going to all worthy males he said “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

  32. Truthophile
    May 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Rude Dog: Fantastic reply. Thanks! That’s another quandary disaffected mormons face: They are told that “on the outside” are people in darkness, anger, confusion and despair, when in reality you find some of the most articulate, clear thinking people you’ve ever met, as well as empathy and kindness. You can actually talk to them, and they understand what you’ve been going through almost better than you do yourself. You can’t be fully honest in Church; you can on the outside. That’s just not right; at least according to any theory of interpersonal relationships I’ve ever known.

    One way I think of the various doctrinal / historical problems is as data points in some statistical analysis graph. According to statistical learning theory, you find the best “theory” of your domain by trying to find a line or surface that does the best job of fitting or (in the case of classification) separating the points on the graph. In our case we have two orthogonal lines, or theories: 1- The Church is a product of inspiration. Even if the leaders were human and got things wrong sometimes or even a lot (no problem allowing for that), they must have gotten *some* things right; that is, some points should run along this line, and just as importantly, should not run along other lines. 2- The Church narrative is a product of uninspired, creative thinking and creative retelling. We wouldn’t expect *any* scientific teachings to be substantially right, if there wasn’t sufficient information at the time to do so. There are potential smoking guns; for instance, if Joseph had rendered a correct translation of the Book of Abraham, that would be a fantastic accomplishment that could not be explained apart from the inspiration hypothesis. These two lines are orthogonal. Anyone who claims to be examining Church claims scientifically has to consider both of them, and ask the question, “Which is the better fit?” People like Dan Peterson who cherry pick their data points and never allow (at least in their presence) the other hypothesis to even be considered, aren’t doing science. There are well-defined rules which tie the enterprise of science to reality, allowing theories to stand or fall on their evidential merits. If you’re going to play that game you need to play by the rules, or at least have the honesty not to claim you’re playing the game.

    • Truthophile
      May 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Rereading my comment, I think the claim that the two theories are orthogonal was probably overly strong. I’m not a scientist, just a science afficionado, and I need to be careful in my use of scientific terms. :) I do think, however, that one would expect inspired leaders to get at least *some* things right that they otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten right without inspiration. I think this is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for distinguishing the “inspiration” vs. the “creative telling/retelling” hypotheses on the basis of evidence.

    • Truthophile
      May 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      Sorry to keep posting. I’m trying to put into words what I have felt for years. Along with the conspicuous absence of data points along the “inspiration” line there are myriads of points along the “creative storytelling” line, including the failures of scientific predictions to pan out, the predictable historical whitewashing needed to clean up the messes left by earlier generations of storytellers, and the extensive cherry-picking / obfuscation that one sees everywhere in the camps of LDS apologists. If the Church were true, why should these data points seem so clear and pervasive? I would be happy (still) for clear counter-examples, but I have yet to see them.

  33. Daniel Graham
    May 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks for this podcast. Like it was mentioned in the podcast, this is just one of the many things that I am trying to come to terms with. The most difficult this being the Book of Abraham. I really just don’t understand how God would place his only true church on the Earth, and then make it so difficult to believe, and on the same line tell us we are damned if we are unable to maintain faith. I remember the first time I learned about all these aspects (before I even knew about mormon stories) and the first thing that came into my mind was “my children will never believe this when they are adults”.

    Thanks again for all your time for these podcasts.

  34. CEWinchesteriii
    May 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Great podcast! When pressed, apologists have to admit that there remains no genetic trace of a Nephite civilization in the Americas, so they retreat, as usual, to an unfalsifiable position (Nephite civilization was so tiny and blended in so well with the Mayans that there remains no archeological or genetic trace – despite the fact that this position doesn’t resemble what’s presented in the BOM record). Thanks for keeping them on their toes.

    • Truthophile
      May 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      Like the DNA, you can apply the same general technique to all troublesome pieces in the story. For instance, coffee *may* be bad for you, if you have type II diabetes (not nearly as bad a sugar, however). The “horses” mentioned in the BofM *could* have been a type of tapir or deer. The “steel” swords *could* have been made of obsidian. You can find multiple possible explanations for every piece of evidence that doesn’t fit the preferred story, and in the minds of some people, this multipliability adds up to some sort of support. Trouble is, the same technique can be applied to any bad theory or fictional account. I’m sure there’s plenty of evidence for elves and hobbits in the British Isles if one were determined to find it.

      I’ve decided not to hold my breath until I hear an LDS apologist explain what sorts of evidence we would expect to find if the Church were *not* true.

      • Mike
        May 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        People are bothered by mormons if we ignore evidence provided by the scientific community. And then if we acknowledge the evidence and alter our traditional understanding of a passage of scripture accordingly we get complaints again from those outside the church. This seems hypocritical to me but maybe it stems from the idea that if God leads the church we should never be mistaken on anything. Scriptures however don’t seem to support that idea. 1 cor 13:9 along should be sufficient to make that clear.

        Anyway, if the evidence says that steel swords weren’t mass produced in the Americas during BOM times, why should a believing mormon suppose that a sword built after the manner of Laman’s was necessarily made of steel? There is no true contradiction either way. Unless there is a true contradiction many mormons will simply follow common knowledge of the day. Why not?

        Horses are even easier to deal with. The modern horse didn’t exist in BOM times says archeology. The BOM doesn’t describe modern horses either. Despite the numerous detailed accounts of battle and preparations for war, you will not find one account of horses used in fighting BOM battles or that they were ridden. Modern horses would have given a huge advantage to a BOM army and Joseph Smith would have absolutely known that as biblically horses are synonymous with military power, and they were also a huge advantage in war in his own day. Whatever the nephites called horses, it wasn’t what you and I think of as a horse and the evidence for that is quite strong in the BOM itself, not just the archaeology.

        BOA problems are much more difficult IMO but there are ways of understanding the problems that still honor the scripture as authentic and seem to fit other evidence as well.

        The point is, it seems reasonable to me that a believing latter day saint would change his/her views on things they once assumed were true, but that aren’t actually backed up by scripture or any other kind of evidence.

      • Mike
        May 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        You wonder what it would take to prove to a mormon that the restoration was false. For me, it would take a good amount of accessible, demonstrable, evidence that truly contradicts restoration scripture for my confidence in the restoration to erode . The apparent discrepancies you list, along with the DNA issues that Simon brings up, are 1. not easily demonstrable or verifiable, and 2. they don’t truly contradict the actual revelations themselves anyway. With few exceptions these types of claims seem to be quite easily reconcilable.

        The confidence I and most believing Mormons have in the scriptures comes from living our lives in accordance with what is taught in scripture and experiencing firsthand the effects it has on us every day. Whether we are deluded or not, It’s going to take a lot of solid accessible evidence to trump the firsthand experiences we have so I understand your frustration.

        Likewise it will take a lot of accessible solid evidence to convince most people that the BOM is true and although we would love to offer that to you, we can’t really find it so we are left to try to remove any stumbling blocks we can, and encourage you to read and try the scriptures for yourself and hope that you experience what we have. I’m not saying that there is no evidence to support restoration scripture, only that what we have isn’t solid enough to thoroughly convince a person without the aid of what we believe to be the Spirit of God.

        • Probitas est optimus
          June 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

          Quick question: Is it possible you are totally wrong?

        • Thayne
          June 4, 2012 at 7:14 pm

          Mike, it seems like the problem of your “what would it take to get me NOT to believe” scenario is that the goal post is ever moving. Prove something in the scriptures wrong? That’s OK – it wasn’t an essential doctrine (God spared the Americas only for Nephi); or it wasn’t really meant to be interpreted literally (Noah’s flood); or everyone else needs to provide 100% irrefutable evidence that it’s wrong (BOM anachronisms/lack of archaeological and genetic evidence). And every time a new argument emerges, you move the goalposts again.

          You’ve set up the rules of the game to always privilege the Church. So with your rules, it’s no surprise that the Church’s perspective always wins.

          • Daniel Graham
            June 5, 2012 at 10:10 am

            Thayne, I love this analogy of the goal post. For me I lived the gospel according to Joe because I believed it literally occured. If it didn’t literally occur then what is the point? Does this mean that the promised blessings are also not literal? The Book of Mormon provides a strong correlation between obedience and God blessing people with wealth. Even though we always hear that the blessings are meant to be spiritual. I still hear people say that the leadership of the church are so blessed due to their obedience that they can take on these callings as apostles and not receive compensation in anyway.

          • Mike
            June 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm

            If evidence isn’t 100 percent irrefutable then it isn’t truly very useful for disproving something that someone has good reason to believe. If a YEC points to a feather and says, see this is proof that evolution isn’t the answer, the YEC has provided a good challenge to the biologist, but she hasn’t provided irrefutable evidence and therefore won’t convince anyone who is already persuaded otherwise and feels they have good reason to be. Likewise, pointing to DNA, while it provides a good challenge to the BOM, it isn’t proof that the BOM isn’t accurate in its account.

            As far as moving the goal post is concerned. Realizing new ways of understanding the scriptures in accordance to the evidence feels just as healthy to faith as it is to science. Why not be willing to change our understanding if the evidence requires it in all fields of learning? If a biologist does it it’s good science, if a believer in Jesus does it, it sounds like good religion to me.

            Probitas est optimus, Yes of course it is possible that I am completely wrong and if I am, I hope to discover that eventually, sooner would be better than later. I appreciate those who share their reasons for leaving in a respectful and reasonable way. If you are on the right track you may be able to help people like me.

  35. May 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Enjoyed listening to the discussion.

    There’s a big difference between being able to believe something and something being believable. The threshold for being able to believe almost anything is pretty low. That’s why the DNA issue or even the Book of Abraham issues don’t automatically cause someone to disbelieve. All they’re looking for is the permission to believe and apologists provide that.

    What apologists are unable to provide for those of us who had a higher standard is a believable explanation. That’s something completely different. So much of the rest of science and the human experience is now both believable and consistent once you give yourself permission to NOT believe the unbelievable.

    Final point…in discounting the current DNA problems, apologists and church leaders have still failed to designate where then these illusive Lamanites are today. And THAT should matter to them because it is listed as one of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon…to bring the Lamanite descendants unto Christ. So, they can’t very well do that without knowing where they are, can they? By implying that it doesn’t matter they discount the main purpose of the book itself!

  36. Anon
    June 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    http://www.rt.com/news/jewish-roots-colorado-indians-645/

    It seems now that they have at least found some Jewish DNA in some Indians in Colorado.

    • Jeff Salisbury
      June 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Unfortunately, the research that you are referring to hurts the Church’s position not helps. For details, read here:

      http://tinyurl.com/7ojp4uy

  37. Rude Dog
    June 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1377640/

    The article postulates that this “Jewish DNA” is present in non-Jewish Americans of Spanish ancestry. The article you provided also mentioned the common roots of this mutation being spoken dates back to the days of Christopher Columbus. Less than 1% of the DNA in Native Americans has markers of African, European (especially Spanish) and other signals which show their arrivals around the 15th century, just as we would expect to find with the history we know. The following is an excerpt from the American Journal of Human Genetics.

    “Bloom syndrome (BS) is more frequent in the Ashkenazic Jewish population than in any other. There the predominant mutation, referred to as “blmAsh,” is a 6-bp deletion and 7-bp insertion at nucleotide position 2281 in the BLM cDNA. Using a convenient PCR assay, we have identified blmAsh on 58 of 60 chromosomes transmitted by Ashkenazic parents to persons with BS. In contrast, in 91 unrelated non-Ashkenazic persons with BS whom we examined, blmAsh was identified only in 5, these coming from Spanish-speaking Christian families from the southwestern United States, Mexico, or El Salvador. These data, along with haplotype analyses, show that blmAsh was independently established through a founder effect in Ashkenazic Jews and in immigrants to formerly Spanish colonies. This striking observation underscores the complexity of Jewish history and demonstrates the importance of migration and genetic drift in the formation of human populations.”

  38. Sister Kiwi
    June 10, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Fantastic podcast. I served my mission in NZ in 2002 and can attest to the fact that Pacific Islander “investigators” are (or at that time were) routinely taught that Lamenite blood literally ran through their veins. I was given a copy of the “Whakapapa” discussion to teach the Maori people that their legends of arriving by boat to “the land of the long white cloud” matched up with the story of Hagoth’s group in the Book of Mormon. Entire firesides for members and investigators alike were held on this topic, and this idea was indeed crucial to the testimonies of most members there.

  39. JT
    June 25, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Perhaps the Lamanite-Israelite DNA mismatch problem isn’t the central one. It may be the gentile-Israelite DNA mismatch.

    See Daniel Ludlow’s January 1991 Ensign article “Of the House of Israel.”

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=b27e66ce3a47b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1/

    Joseph Fielding Smith:

    “The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph.” (Improvement Era, Oct. 1923, p. 1149.)”

    Brigham Young:

    “It is the house of Israel we are after, and we care not whether they come from the east, the west, … or some other locality. … The Book of Mormon came to Ephraim, for Joseph Smith was a pure Ephraimite, and the Book of Mormon was revealed to him.” (Journal of Discourses 2:268–69.)

    President Joseph Fielding Smith:

    “However, the Gentiles who receive the gospel are, in the greater part, Gentiles who have the blood of Israel in their veins.”

    Etc., etc.

  40. GiveCreditWhereDue
    June 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I am currently in the process of picking up the pieces of my now fractured testimony. I am cautiously weighing up fact from ambitious fiction.

    Can I make an earnest comment? It doesn’t make things easy for people like me to make informed choices where bits of information are thrown into discussions that are misleading. We are feeling down and dicsouraged and looking for every bit of confidence we can and the energy it takes to decide what is correct or made up is quite draining. You begin doubting your own judgement. I was affected by the comment by Simon, no offense Simon, where he mentions the church growth. Whether we like it or not, there is strength in numbers and it helps to know we are not on a losing team, in whatever we do.

    So when the comment is made church growth is declining, you think it means we are shrinking. This is seriously misleading and is not the case as it turns out. I believed it though until I happened upon the Wikipedia article just now about membership growth and was encouraged again.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_history (Since the membership stats are read at every General Conference, I think it’s probably believable).

    The Church continues to grow at a steady rate. Percentage growth is on par with years such as 1973, the 1940′s, etc as you go back. With such a large mebership now, it doesn’t take much in the way of percentage to add a lot of new members.

    Thank you to you guys for your incredible help. Maybe a suggestion would be to please maybe point out errors or when things are speculation. It’s difficult for us.

    • In A Crisis of Faith
      July 20, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      Joanna Brooks does an interesting analysis of LDS church growth rates. While the numbers may not be declining, actual attendance is. It does seem after all the church is on a losing team.

      http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/5611/mormon_numbers_not_adding_up/

    • Rude Dog
      July 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      A better way to look at it is that although the church is technically growing in numbers, its growth rate is declining in relation to the overall growth in human population. What used to be over 5% growth rate is now down to 3% perhaps even decreacing to under that. I won’t even mention the retention rates, especially in third world countries, and the uneven distribution of converts, as most are not in first world, developed secular democracies with advanced social structures, but thirld world countries where poverty and social delapidation reign, and as said, retention rates are abysmal.

      This seems like an odd qualification to justify belief. I’d think a sober evaluation of a belief system that makes natural claims about the natural world (read: testable) would be a better way to go. Most epistomologies benefit benefit from critical evaluation and a system of review and attempts of falsification. It would be the height of rational thought that of all the belief systems to consider, the belief system that makes the highest claims, the most extroardinary assumptions, would require the best evidence, the most falsifiable proof structure, yet isn’t it this very religious structure that shuns the light of critical evaluation the most? I think so, and have left belief completely, but that’s just me, and I sincerely believe that our brains are wired to exist on a certain cognitive level, a certain belief level if you will. I don’t think I or John Dehlin, the genesis of this podcast and website, have much difference of belief in the empiricy of the natural explanations of Mormon truth claims, but I have chosen to leave belief altogether and live in peace as such, whereas John chooses to stay in touch with a spiritual side, and keeping all options of belief on the table (correct me if I’m wrong John) finding many great and beautiful aspects by staying engaged in the Mormon church. Believe it or not I attend our ward with my family on a weekly basis, but am totally a non-believer in all sense.

      I think there is room in our Mormon tent for all, or at least I hope so.

  41. Zelph
    July 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    My first podcast. I am hooked! This interview was so well done in every respect. Thank you Simon and John. (I also liked the music – I now view Come Come Ye Saints in a whole different perspective).

  42. July 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

    You talk about the hill Cumorah, but ignore what Joseph Smith ever actually said about it. Never once did the prophet call the hill in New York Cumorah, it’s only referred to by Mormon as the place where all of the records EXCEPT the Book of Mormon were kept.

    “therefore I made cthis record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, *save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.”* Mormon 6:6.

    That doesn’t sound very hard to believe. The misnomer of Cumorah to the hill in New York started with Heber C. Kimball, if I’m correct, and it was even corrected once by Joseph Smith in the history.

  43. Matt Bacon
    August 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Given the story in the book of Ether, why should we take for granted that any of the tribes in the Book of Mormon survived? Considering the cannibalism and raw brutality of the Lamanite people in the books of Mormon and Moroni, it seems rather likely that in fighting could have completely wiped them out after they finished with the Nephites.

    Furthermore, the Book of Mormon talks about geography in such a way as to make it pretty explicitly clear that it dealt with a very local area that could be traversed by foot in a relatively short amount of time. Therefore, most peoples of this continent could not be descended from them anyways. And the numbers would be still fewer given the vast pogroms that occurred when Europeans arrived here. Finally, over the course of 1000 years, IF the surrounding peoples were mostly asiatic, it is not unfeasible to believe that they may have interbred to the point where pinpointing middle eastern DNA would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

    But all of that aside, why did you believe in the Church in the first place sir? Was it because you had prayed to God and felt his spirit testify to your heart as it tells you to do in Moroni 10? Or was it because of “proof”? Saying that you are leaving the church because it does not seem to make sense with what evidence you currently have in front of you, when your testimony is supposed to be of spiritual, and not secular origin, is like saying that you are going to quit going to College because the people there annoy you. The annoying behaviors of your peers have absolutely nothing to do with your purpose in attending college. You see, both decisions are based on a “Non-Sequiter”.

    • Sam
      September 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Matt, as a medical student I have some background in genetics, but it is nothing substantial. Nevertheless, my sentiments echo your own.

      I have also heard that the population numbers in the Book of Mormon don’t make any sense unless there is mixing or adding in from an outside population. Heard anything like that?

Support

Monthly Subscription

One-Time Donation

Subscribe

Subscribe to podcast

RSS Feed

  • Podcast Feed

Facebook Support Group


Mormon Stories on Facebook