New Article Out Regarding Lamanite DNA: “Blake Ostler’s Errors”

August 3, 2006
By

Hey!

Remember that whole Tom Murphy/Blake Ostler exchange in Sunstone ? I don’t expect that you do–see “Yea, Yea, Nay, Nay: DNA Strands In The Book Of Mormon“.

Anyway, Signature books has a response to Blake, addressing specifically some of his scholarship.

Check it out, and then return to discuss. I’m pretty clueless on this topic, so I’ll enjoy the discussion.

Please remember to be respectful of other people’s faith.

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86 Responses to New Article Out Regarding Lamanite DNA: “Blake Ostler’s Errors”

  1. Mayan Elephant
    August 3, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Yippeeeeee! a blake ostler thread. i am soooo excited. i hope he joins us.

  2. fox_goku
    August 3, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Scientific hypotheses require considerable precision. I am not convinced that the Book of Mormon makes scientific predictions about DNA.

    Thus, I consider the whole DNA thing a Red Herring. Unless DNA can determine that which has holy inspiration, then it is next to useless in this context.

    By the way, responsible geneticists who use DNA to study social migration fully understand that their data require substantiation from archeology, linguistics, dating methods, etc.

    And, I will be the first to admit that these other fields do not support the Book of Mormon either. Even so, no field of science addresses theological validity. Therein lies the rub.

    About all I am willing to conclude is that the Book of Mormon is not precise enough to make predictions in any field of science, including geography!!

    The validity of the Book of Mormon lies not in academics but in something academicians cannot address — spirit!!

    So, if ya’ll don’t mind, I am going to keep attending Church.

    P.S. I am far more interested in the DNA studies of Joseph Smith’s potential polygamous relatives than the BofM issue. Did Joseph have children from wives other than Emma? Now that is something DNA can determine.

  3. August 3, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Hey fox_goku,

    Most of us here are active in church, so no need to apologize for that!!!!!

  4. fox_goku
    August 3, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Oh, by the way, has anyone ever considered the possibility that Lehi or his close ancestors were converts adopted into the House of Israel??? Maybe that family line originated from Asia!!!!

    Anyway, this goes to the lack of precision issue. The Book of Mormon is NOT a science document.

  5. August 3, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    For me, the only big deal about the DNA thing is that it was taught by apostles and prophets for so many years that native americans were Lamanites–and that they were dark because of a curse. This, of course, does not prove the church is false in any way, shape or fashion (fallability, etc.)…but it is a bit sad, and somewhat troubling.

    Seems like on something so important, with so much at risk–we could have used that “direct revelation” thing to get it right.

    Still–I totally understand what happened, and why it happened…and don’t fault any of the bretheren for it.

    I guess I just see it as really sad and unfortunate.

  6. fox_goku
    August 3, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    John,

    I agree that it is sad that general authorities could make statements that are recognized decades later as being prejudicial.

    However, these leaders are just men who are the product of their times like everyone else. They are NOT infallable. On those issues, I think they were just plain wrong.

    But, also please recognize that there were plenty of other quotations that recognized people of all races as being children of God, loved equally. The BofM addresses this too.

    I do think the Church has made progress on the race issue, even if there is farther to go.

    BACK TO THE MAIN POINT: The G.A.s use of the term “Lamanite” was not a precise scientific hypothesis. I would doubt that they would claim to be making such. I think they just tossed the term around like so much salt. Thus, anyone looking like the stereotype of a Native American or Hispanic was labeled Lamanite. Science now knows that ancestry cannot be accurately predicted from skin color alone. In fact, the concept of race is at best fuzzy from a genetic perspective.

    So, I guess I would hate the Church to be held to the clearly uninformed comments of previous non-scientist G.A.s of many yesteryears ago.

    The issues you raise are good ones, though. That is why I have taken the time to respond. Thanks.

  7. August 3, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    fox_goku,

    I totally agree with you on the importance of showing empathy within historical contexts. It’s lame/uncharitable when we judge people 100 years ago by today’s standards/mores.

    In my heart, I only have empathy and respect for the current and past GA’s, and I want to continue doing all I can to help others get to a place where they can feel the same way.

    Thanks for your cogent and cool analysis and perspective!!! I know some will be disappointed/unsatisfied (especially those who have developed higher expectations from GA’s), but I’ve learned (over time) to have more reasonable expectations. A dialogue like this only helps to further a healthier perspective on the matter.

    Thanks again!

    John

  8. August 3, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    “So, I guess I would hate the Church to be held to the clearly uninformed comments of previous non-scientist G.A.s of many yesteryears ago.” I agree. Can I use this in church next time someone quotes a G.A. as support for whatever orthodox position is being asserted? Is it only “clearly uninformed comments” to which church members are not bound? Or only comments from “non-scientist G.A.s”? What if there is a clearly uninformed comment from a current G.A.? Can we ignore those, too? What about clearly uninformed comments from John Widtsoe? I’d just like some clarification on which G.A. comments one is free to reject and still retain TBM bona fides.

  9. August 3, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    Equality,

    Whether we admit it or not (or even realize it), we are all buffet Mormons (meaning those of us who remain in the church).

    That’s my view. In the end, our lives are up to us, and God (or whatever we do or don’t believe in).

    The only other thing I’d say in response is…how do you show respect for those who believe in a more traditional way. A metaphor would be….do you run around and tell little children that Santa doesn’t exist?

    But I can tell you this–I’ve taught many lessons in EQ dealing with the fallability of prophets and GA’s, and I’ve quoted from BRM’s Mormon Doctrine, and BY in Journal of Discourses, to ensure that those attending knew that GA word was not God’s law.

    That’s my take, anyway.

  10. mayan elephant
    August 3, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    equality is in trouble. neener neener neener.

    despite the sarcasm, i think equality makes a valid point. i once contacted the author of a mormon-topic essay i had read online. his essay had a very meaningful impact on me and my family. like john, he said he had no bad feelings or anger for the GAs, he just thought they were good guys doing their best with an impossible situation. his position was that they were doing what they thought would help the maximum amount of folks.

    withouth threadjacking this, i cant help but wonder how we will look back at the comments the church has made about homosexuality. will that one day be viewed as simply bad priest-science, as other civil positions are now viewed?

  11. August 3, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    sorry for the snark, john. i blame it on mayan’s deleterious influence on me. see, i’m even beginning to type like him.

    seriously, though, i agree with you and fox_goku that not every word that proceeds forth from the mouths of the G.A.s is the mind and will of the Lord. Doubly true for words proceeding from the mouths of BYU professors. Of course, that position puts one squarely in the “liberal” camp in today’s church.

  12. August 3, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    From the Signature article:

    “Blake Ostler tried to shore up the Book of Mormon against recent DNA studies. One reader praised him as an “expert” in “logic” and thanked him for putting the issue to rest once and for all.”

    I guess you could say that this demonstrates that some issues are like Zombies…they just won’t die because they are the undead. And as for “expert”-tise and “logic”…well, sweet scientific observation has definitley been the death of both of those, amy times over.

  13. Mike Parker
    August 3, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    John Dehlin wrote:

    For me, the only big deal about the DNA thing is that it was taught by apostles and prophets for so many years that native americans were Lamanites–and that they were dark because of a curse.

    Actually, the majority of comments I’ve seen from GA’s regarding NAs=Lamanites have been positive: That they were the descendents of Lehi, inheritors of great promises, etc.

    Despite our inability to detect Lehi’s DNA (whatever that would look like) among the vast sea of Asian DNA, it’s still quite likely — based on simple mathematics — that virtually all NAs are descendents of Lehi, and therefore inheritors of the promises made to the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon.

    Which means the GAs were right after all.

  14. mayan elephant
    August 3, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    well, except that there wasn’t a lehi. other than that, you make a great point.

    oh, and i suppose it matters that you are revising history a bit. if i recall, they were inheritors only if they joined the mormon church, otherwise – cursed.

    For Example;

    “Lamanites” is the Book of Mormon term for Native Americans. The quote below is from a Mormon General Conference talk given by Spencer W. Kimball in 1960. Spencer W. Kimball became the president of the Mormon Church in 1975.

    “The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. […] The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.

    if nothing else, there ought to be a massive “we sucked” apology for this sorta comment. and, i think it stands in contrast to the comments of m. parker above.

  15. fox_goku
    August 3, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Every once in awhile I hear in Church that one should not be a “buffet Mormon.” Unfortunately, I don’t know how to be anything but a buffet Mormon. Actually, I am kind of proud of it. For sure, my testimony has been built by hard knocks, line by line, precept by precept. And, I must admit it has been a slow process over decades.

    I have avidly devoured Church history from all sides. I can say my testimony is the strongest it has ever been. I can also say that I have tried NOT to disengage my brain.

    I do NOT believe any of the pseudo-science that is tossed around in Church circles. In addition to trying to be a faithful LDS, I am an avid Darwinian evolutionist. I guess I could not be completely orthodox if I tried.

    So, although I love Jos. Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie (and I truely do), I must say there are a number of issues we would simply disagree on.

    I have resolved to become a 21st century Mormon and NOT a pioneer one. I appreciate the pioneer past, but I feel no obligation to live by their precepts. I admire their faith, but not their science. They died of cholera because they did not boil their water. Why couldn’t God just give a revelation to tell them to boil their water? Why? Because revelation simply does not work that way and never has. We are allowed to make mistakes that even lead to our demise.

    Thus, when a GA makes a mistake on race, DNA, or whatever piece of science, I tend to overlook it. I look to the modern prophets for moral, not scientific advice.

    So, yes, I pick and choose my beliefs in the cafeteria of Mormonism. But, I do try to live so that I can honestly qualify for a Temple Recommend. The Temple used to not mean very much to me. Now I could not thinking of being without it.

    I have maneuvered through Mormonism with filters on my senses, and I have lasted over the years and benefited immensely. But, I have NOT learned a single bit of science in Mormonism. It’s not designed for that. It is designed for something greater.

  16. mayan elephant
    August 3, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    fox,
    i can respect the buffet style. im not sure that bkp can. but some of us evil folks out here can.

    i have more respect for NOMs than you can imagine. they are similar to you in many ways. perhaps they have become atheists or agnostic too, but still, they engage in clever ways with diverse motivations for doing so.

  17. August 3, 2006 at 7:04 pm

    You want to get this thread totally off topic?

    Let’s share exactly which foods in the buffet we image might equate to the particular Mormonisms that we find savory, bland, or revolting.

    For me, the race issue/dogma/eternal truth (as exemplified in Ostler’s defence of the BoM) is like boiled okra…some people really dig it but the stuff is slimy as hell.

  18. Dave Sigmon
    August 3, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    I can see by some of the comments thus far on the thread that at least some people don’t understand population genetics. I also understand that the subject is dense and there is a lot to go through.

    I have come to understand a lot about this field as I have been very interested in DNA Genealogy. For example, although my earliest ancestor on my Sigmon line goes back to the 1500’s in Germany according to the paper trail, I have learned that my deep ancestry goes back to Sweden.

    Anyway, may I suggest a rather fun tutorial on human population genetics (https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/overview.html). Please after completing the Genetics Overview go on to Atlas of the Human Journey.

  19. fox_goku
    August 3, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    Mayan,

    The Church is (or should be) designed for all kinds of people at different stages of spiritual development. I’ll bet I could find a Boyd K. Packer quote that would support that contention.

    Some people have the gift of faith. They can swallow the whole thing at once. I am sure I don’t have that gift. But, I have planted particles of faith that have grown!

    I would just advise: Render science unto science and theology unto theology. They do NOT mix well. Yet, both have critical roles.

    If something in Mormonism does not make sense, then set it aside and feel free to be skeptical or suspend belief. I would just urge people NOT to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some topics take years if not decades of study. I expect to die with many unresolved issues. One could say I am dying to know the answers.

  20. Dave Sigmon
    August 3, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Mike Parker –
    “Despite our inability to detect Lehi’s DNA (whatever that would look like)”

    Did Lehi live in Palestine around 600 BC? If so, then we do have a good idea of at least some of the genetic mutations that would be present in his DNA. After you read the National Geographic site, I’ll be happy to go into more detail about how we know which mutations his Y-chromosome would have. Any male children of his would also have these same mutations as well as all of their male children to infinity.

    These markers would not be found in the inhabitants of N and S America around 600 BC. They have a different genetic history. No pure Native American has Y-chromosomal DNA mutations like those that people who lived in Palestine around 600 BC had.

    So, the only way that the Lehi story can be true is if all males that were the son of the son of the son of… Lehi were all killed off without having any more male children. In other words, no modern males carry Lehi’s Y-chromosome with or without new mutations.

    What is worse is that we know what 600 BC Palestine mtDNA looks like as well (oversimplification, but true nonetheless). So, all the purely female descendants of Sarai would have also had to die having no female descendants alive today that have Palestinian mtDNA.

    I’ve tried to make this clear, perhaps I’ll give it another shot later.

  21. August 3, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Hey….I’ll start a thread soon about buffet. Let’s try to keep this conversation on topic.

    Thanks!

  22. Dave Sigmon
    August 3, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    One side note that comes from this research is that “there ain’t no way in heck” that all human beings share a genetic ancestor that lived 6,000 years ago in Missouri no matter how you want to speculate on migrations and Noah, etc.

  23. August 3, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Just commenting as I read the Signature article…

    The assessments of Ostlers apologists failings reads like a Bloggernacle thread on apologetics. :)

    I’ll join the mantra: When will these guys (like Ostler) finally realize that they damage the faith, which they claim to defend, far beyond anything an anti-mormon could do?

  24. fox_goku
    August 3, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    Dave Sigmon,

    If you want to lead the discussion towards genetic markers and gene frequencies, please proceed ahead.

    Pardon me, but I am just skeptical about the relevance of population genetics in teaching me about living as a Latter-day Saint.

    If the Book of Mormon is incapable of making scientific hypotheses, then what use is population genetics? I am NOT being anti-intellectual. I just want to know where in the Book of Mormon there is any genetic precision. I argue there is no such precision.

    I am perfectly comfortable with the FACT that science does not support the Book of Mormon. Native Americans are fundamentally of Asian descent, according to genetics, linguistics, and archeology. I have taught these data in my science courses. I believe in these data, with a few minors issues set aside.

    Do I now have to set aside the Book of Mormon as a great work of theology? That would make no sense to me.

    My reading of the Book of Mormon has never informed me about the Mayans or the Incas; instead it has informed me about spiritual / moral concerns.

    Thus, I think if we study the Book of Mormon as history, then I wonder if we have missed the point.

    On the other hand, if someone thinks that the Book of Mormon is the key to understanding Central America, then I would urge such a person to submit his/her findings to scientific peer review — a process usually omitted by the apologists anxious to promote the “truth.”

  25. Dave Sigmon
    August 3, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    Fox_goku said: “I am perfectly comfortable with the FACT that science does not support the Book of Mormon. Native Americans are fundamentally of Asian descent, according to genetics, linguistics, and archeology. I have taught these data in my science courses. I believe in these data, with a few minors issues set aside.”

    Then I have no issue with you. And if you want to use the Book of Mormon as a theological guide, I am fine with that. Although I don’t believe in God, I still think there are a few nugguts of wisdom in the BoM like, “by small and simple means are great things brought to pass”. I don’t trust the teachings on God and Christ anymore than I do the historicity of the BoM.

    I do think the BoM is precise enough. Lehi lived in Palestine around 600 BC. Moroni, Lehi’s descendent, buried plates in New York around 400 AD. That is all the precision I need. But, since you don’t buy the historicity argument, I have no further need to go into it with you unless you want to.

  26. August 3, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    Equality: “Can I use this in church next time someone quotes a G.A. as support for whatever orthodox position is being asserted?”

    Doesn’t this get to the core of your issue? I don’t want to threadjack and would hope that folks would stay on topic rather than turning this into yet an other way to post their linty of why they became skeptical of the church. But I think this is a key point.

    People want GA statements to be infallible dogma. That is they want an appeal to a GA statement not merely be support but unequivocal evidence. But no GA quote can provide that. Sorry, they just can’t. There is only one source of truth and that is God. Now GAs are tremendously important. But over and over people are basically complaining because they aren’t what they want them to be.

    So let me say it again: we’re not Evangelicals. Applying Evangelical heremeneutics within Mormonism will lead you astray.

  27. August 3, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    Dave, please quote to me in the text of the Book of Mormon where it says Moroni buried the plates in New York in 400 AD.

  28. -Domokun-
    August 3, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    clark, if GAs don’t speak for God, what good are they?

  29. Dave Sigmon
    August 3, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Of course Moroni does not call the place where he sealed up the plates “New York” in the text itself. (That would be an anachronism even Joseph couldn’t miss). Yet, New York is where they were retrieved. The following cannonized scriptures are fairly clear, unless one engages in some serious mental gymnastics. What are you proposing? What part of my claim that Moroni buried the plates in New York around 400 AD do you dispute?

    Moroni 10: 1-2: “Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ. And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.”

    Joseph Smith-History 1:33-34 “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants”

    Joseph Smith-History 1:51-52: “Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth. Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.”

  30. August 3, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Domokun clark, if GAs don’t speak for God, what good are they?

    They are good as prophets. What people want to do is make the GAs into God. Since God is hidden they make that replacement. This is unfortunately all too common a failing. But this fundamentally misunderstands the role of the prophet and turns it into a form of idolatry.

    Dave Of course Moroni does not call the place where he sealed up the plates “New York” in the text itself.

    I bring this up simply because it seems to me that it is extremely common to read into the text what is external to it and then critique the text in terms of this interpolation. I like what Bertrand Russell once said when on passing a house. His friend said, look at that white house. Russell replied, actually we merely know it is white on that side. It is a common human activity to overgeneralize what we see to what is hidden and then judge in terms of this. I see this as an unfortunate common happenstance in discussions of Mormonism where so much fits into this category. (By both sides – although at least some recognize how tentative their speculations are)

  31. August 3, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    Just to add to that last comment. Prophets don’t speak for God but rather God speaks through prophets. That’s a subtle but important difference. Although sometimes people will phrase it as the former when they mean the latter – speaking for someone implies you are the origin of the speech: while that divine investiture of authority is part of our concept of authority and priesthood it is important to keep in mind the origin. God may justify us in our stewardships as he leaves us to do the best we can. Indeed he often does and gives us help we sometimes can only perceive in hindsight. But God also speaks through prophets where God is the primary origin.

    The fundamental error I see is that some want to take what is originary with prophets and treat it as if it were originary with God. That is, to deny prophets a role in their own stewardships.

  32. mayan elephant
    August 4, 2006 at 3:03 am

    i have not one clue what you are talking about clark. gobbledygobbledygobbleydygook. can you translate that, or should i just print it out, put it on a table and stare at a rock in the hat and wait for the subtitles to appear.

    “Prophets don’t speak for God but rather God speaks through prophets……..But God also speaks through prophets where God is the primary origin.” so, we are back to the man not the prophet excuse…er … apology. really, whats the point of having a prophet if he cant originate anything, and we dont know what the prophet says is godly unless god speaks to an individual, sounds like old school busiwork and duplicity to me.

    i dont even think anyone is trying to peg god with all the thoughts, words and deeds of a few longliver men claiming to his prophets. more, i think the issue is – if these dudes really are prophets, then they should act like one and not be liars and not be on the wrong side of civil rights. a prophet shouldnt lie about small stuff, and he shouldnt lie about big stuff. its silly to think that god is so tricky as to let a few dudes speak for him, sometimes, and its up to the masses to figure it out. after all, is he god, or is he just a logic games editor and creator.

  33. Tom
    August 4, 2006 at 8:13 am

    Dave Sigmon: “No pure Native American has Y-chromosomal DNA mutations like those that people who lived in Palestine around 600 BC had.”

    Wouldn’t the proper formulation be: No pure Native American has been found to have Y-chromosomal DNA mutations like . . . ?

    For your statement to be supportable, an exhaustive genotyping of all pure Native American families would have to have been done, including extinct family lines, would it not?

  34. August 4, 2006 at 8:25 am

    fox is quite right that there is not enough in the text to form the kind of hypothesis people want to test. As Dave pointed out, the only strains we can really nail are the pure male (and female perhaps) ones. Suppose Lehi hit the shore with 20 or 30 people. Now suppose that 600 BC Mesoamerica had a million or so people in it. Then pure male or female Israelite lines are going to be on the order of 1 in 20,000.

    That ratio could move alot in either direction if you believe that 90-95% of the Mesoamerican population got wiped out in the 15th-16th century.

    Now, how many people have we tested for these genetic Israelite markers that we think Lehi had? Suppose we had tested 100,000. Then we would expect to pick up a handful (1-20?) of Israelite markers. But statistically speaking we could very easily not pick up any. And those we found would almost certainly be treated as anomalies to be ignored (or passed off as due to later contamination or whatever). This presumes that any of those descendents still live, which, given the massive non-random death toll in the 15th-16th centuries, could very easily not be true.

    Bottom line, the DNA stuff does not tell us anything we didn’t know already about the predominance of Asian (possibly Jaredite :) ) bloodlines– and it is perfectly consistent with Lehi being an ancestor of virtually every living Native American.

  35. fox_goku
    August 4, 2006 at 8:29 am

    Dave,

    Gene frequencies reflect regional trends. As such they cannot provide precise information about specific individuals, especially ones from a book as fuzzy as the Book of Mormon.

    Lehi’s ancestors were from the Northern Kingdom (not Southern Kingdom) of Israel in which the Assyrians and other outside groups had been interbreeding for centuries. In other words, Lehi was from a region that was NOT geographically or culturally isolated!!!!!!!!!!!

    The above point makes it impossible to know precisely what Lehi’s genetics would have looked like.

    Even so, you are correct that genetic studies make it clear that the Book of Mormon is an unacceptable historical account of the Americas.

    But, I want to make this point: Applying population genetics to the Book of Mormon is nothing but a game. The results of this game would NEVER find its into a paper published in the journal SCIENCE. Why? Because the conclusions from this game are NOT scientific conclusions, but are post-hoc speculations motivated by bias of one sort or the other.

    The Book of Mormon is NOT science, and neither are the “genetic analyses” of the Book of Mormon.

  36. August 4, 2006 at 8:32 am

    fox,

    “Even so, you are correct that genetic studies make it clear that the Book of Mormon is an unacceptable historical account of the Americas.”

    Are you saying here that the Book of Mormon is not historically accurate, or just that the Book of Mormon is a lousy way to try to study the whole history of the Americas?

    I agree with the second, but the first is not testable by the genetic data.

  37. Dave Sigmon
    August 4, 2006 at 9:36 am

    fox said: “In other words, Lehi was from a region that was NOT geographically or culturally isolated!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Have you looked at the National Geographic site, yet? There are numerous strands of people in the Palestine area (Egyptians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, etc.) But, there aren’t any Palestinian strands that contain American mutations that were created 5,000 BC that would be present in the Native Americans around 600 BC.

    Frank,

    As I stated earlier, Palestinian DNA would not be found in present day America if all the direct male and direct female descendants of the Lehi group were killed off or not tested. That of course is possible, although I find it unlikely that no Lehi or Ishmael Y-DNA has been found anywhere in all the Americas nor any Palestinian mtDNA, and I believe that they have tested every major tribe.

    I have always admitted that there is a little wiggle room with everything except for the Book of Abraham. But, when you look at everything, what is the likelihood that the Book of Mormon is true when there is not a shred of evidence in support of it anywhere. None of these things have been found in America during the supposed lifetime of the Jaredites and Lamanites: barley, elephants, horses (not even any carvings in temples of any of these things), no Hebrew or Egyptian language remnants, no mention anywhere that the people knew anything from the Bible, and now no DNA evidence. The Book of Mormon theological sermons were straight early 19th century American thought, yet we are supposed to believe they had those debates before the time of Christ. We have no stone box in Cumorah today or hidden cave with the sword of Laban. Is that not remarkable?

    Perhaps, you don’t agree with me. Perhaps you want to point to what has been dubbed “The Tree of Life” stone, or the NHM altar in Saudi Arabia. Shall we go through why no archaeologist buys those things outside of a few LDS archaeologists. And I am familiar with many LDS apologist archaeologist writings and several other publications.

    You have nothing, nada, zip, except a feeling that you assume is the “Spirit” that confirms the truth which makes many non-falsifiable claims and a few falsifiable claims that are consistently demonstrated false.

    Why is it that nothing supports that the church is true? Surely there would be something that could support the church. People say that the BoM should not be treated as a historical text, but still surely something could be found to support its claims. Perhaps I can’t prove the case beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I certainly can beyond a reasonable doubt. Well, we walk by faith right. Well, there are many things we could believe in this world of ours, we should at least have some reason to suspect that whatever we believe is true.

  38. August 4, 2006 at 9:40 am

    Clark said: “But over and over people are basically complaining because they aren’t what they want them to be.”

    I think, actually, that people complain because the prophets aren’t what the church claims them to be.

    D&C 1:14 says “And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;” Here, it says the people will be cut off for not heeding the “words of the prophets and apostles.” It doesn’t say the people will be cut off for not heeding the word of God. According to the D&C, the two are synonymous for all intents and purposes.

    See also D&C 124:45-46: “And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place. But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them.” Here, the Lord again commands His people to hearken not only to the word of the Lord but to the voice of His servants.

    In verse 118, the Lord commands “And hearken unto the counsel of my servants Joseph, and Hyrum, and William Law, and unto the authorities which I have called to lay the foundation of Zion; and it shall be well with him forever and ever. Even so. Amen.” Hmm, I wonder how many members have read all the words of William Law and are seeking to hearken to them as commanded by the Lord.

    From Ezra Taft Benson’s Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, given when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

    “Sometimes there are those who argue about words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obliged to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet, ‘Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you.'”

    And this, quoting N. Eldon Tanner:

    “The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are …

    “A man said to me after that, ‘You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.’ He said, ‘Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.’

    “I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep.” (CR, October 1966, p. 98.)

    From N. Eldon Tanner: “When the Prophet speaks the debate is over”. N. Eldon Tanner, August Ensign 1979, pages 2-3

    From Brigham Young (included in the Priesthood/RS manual): “When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that, and the other, saying, ‘Does this or that look as though the Lord dictated it?’ you may know that that person has more or less of the spirit of apostasy.” Seems like Brigham Young disagrees with you, Clark. There is no rrom for questioning the words of the Prophet: whether they come from the Lord or not, the duty of the Latter-day Saint is to obey them. That’s what D&C 1:38 says as well (a scripture mastery scripture, iirc): “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

    The notion that members of the church who equate the words of the prophets with the word of the Lord are somehow unorthodox in their view is preposterous.

    Clark, you said: “People want GA statements to be infallible dogma. That is they want an appeal to a GA statement not merely be support but unequivocal evidence. But no GA quote can provide that. Sorry, they just can’t. There is only one source of truth and that is God.” It may surprise you to find out that I actually agree with you on this. I don’t think the G.A.s always speak for for the Lord (in fact, I think they rarely, if ever, speak the voice of the Lord anymore). But to say that the expectation that many Latter-day Saints have that the voice of the G.A.s be synonymous with the voice of the Lord is an unreasonable expectation, given the scriptural and prophetic statements supporting that view, is just wrong.

    And I don’t really think this is a threadjack. Let me explain. The DNA issue is important not just because of what the Book of Mormon says about population genetics but because of what the leaders of the church have said for over 160 years on the subject of the realtionship between the American Indians, the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, and the Israelites. Apologists like to focus on the text of the Book of Mormon only, and ignore the statements made by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Spencer W. Kimball, and indeed in the Doctrine & Covenants. While a creative interpretation of the Book of Mormon text may provide room for argument that the DNA results are inconclusive, when the consistent teachings of the church on the subject for over a century and a half are taken into account, the DNA test results are devastating. This is one reason, I think, faithful members such as yourself must try to downplay the importance of G.A. statements. On so manyh issues, this being just one, the apologetic position relies on a rejection of numerous clear, unequivocal statements by “prophets, seers, and revelators” in favor of new interpretations of the Book of Mormon text by the “scholars, lawyers, and apologists.”

  39. August 4, 2006 at 10:14 am

    Dave,

    In general, unloading the kitchen sink of issues is not going to be very interesting because the discussion lacks focus and we lack the time to go through each issue. So how about we stick with Lamanite DNA today?

    I gave you the numbers that derive from a reasonable BoM chain of events and pointed out why they make pure-male Israelite DNA painfully low-probability events. Low enough that you would need to test millions to really pull it out if it even survived the genocides of the 15th-16th century, which is far from assured.

    If you have a response to that I’d be happy to hear it, but forgive me for deferring the rest of your arguments until another day.

  40. August 4, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    “Mayan Elphant”: so, we are back to the man not the prophet excuse…er … apology. really, whats the point of having a prophet if he cant originate anything, and we dont know what the prophet says is godly unless god speaks to an individual, sounds like old school busiwork and duplicity to me.

    i.e. why doesn’t God do things the way I want. No offense but this really isn’t a reasonable critique.

    BTW – the point wasn’t that prophets can’t originate anything but rather they can and do – it’s just that people don’t want them to originate anything.

    “Mayan Elphant”: From Brigham Young (included in the Priesthood/RS manual): “When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that, and the other, saying, ‘Does this or that look as though the Lord dictated it?’ you may know that that person has more or less of the spirit of apostasy.” Seems like Brigham Young disagrees with you, Clark.

    Not in the least. I’m in complete agreement with Brigham. You’ve somehow managed to turn my point completely around to mean 180 degree from what it does. Which probably explains the following:

    “Mayan Elphant”: i have not one clue what you are talking about clark. gobbledygobbledygobbleydygook. can you translate that, or should i just print it out, put it on a table and stare at a rock in the hat and wait for the subtitles to appear.

    How about this. You start to be civil and charitable and then perhaps understanding will follow.

    Further, I think you’ll find in polite discussion that if you don’t have a clue what is being discussed that you don’t come off terribly well when you reply thinking you did. At least here you admit this. One wishes you’d have recognized your misunderstanding earlier.

  41. Mayan Elephant
    August 4, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    easy hard charger, equality implied that questioning the words of the prophets is to follow the spirit of apostacy, not me. and of course you would not disagree with brigham on this or anything else, because you have the spirit of nonapostacy.

    so, can we assume you agree with brigham on everything? just wonderin. if not, perhaps you know when and how to distinguish when questioning brother brigham is to follow the spirit of apostacy?

    and for restarters, i am civil. equality has the spirit of apostacy, but as for me, i choose the spirit of civility.

  42. August 4, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    Clark said:
    “Mayan Elphant”: From Brigham Young (included in the Priesthood/RS manual): “When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that, and the other, saying, ‘Does this or that look as though the Lord dictated it?’ you may know that that person has more or less of the spirit of apostasy.” Seems like Brigham Young disagrees with you, Clark.

    Not in the least. I’m in complete agreement with Brigham. You’ve somehow managed to turn my point completely around to mean 180 degree from what it does. Which probably explains the following:”

    Clark, I think you lifted a quote from my response and inadvertently attributed it to Mayan Elephant in your reply. To your point: I understood you to be saying that the prophets sometimes speak the word of the Lord and sometimes speak their own mind and that members inappropriately sometimes conflate the two. My point with all the quotes was that members are justified in this conflation. The quote from Brigham Young essentially says that people who try to separate the two by trying to distinguish between the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet and the word of the prophet himself are in an apostate condition. What am I missing here? Thank you.

  43. August 4, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    My apologies for the mix up.

    The quote from Brigham, as I read it, talks about authority. That is even if the prophet isn’t acting under direct revelation it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the authority to lead. So, except perhaps in egregious situations, one ought still support his stewardship and one *certainly* shouldn’t backbite or find fault. It is that backbiting and finding fault that ends up being the basis for apostasy. If you read the history of the various apostasies under Young (such as the Godbeites) then the quote makes a lot more sense.

    But to me the quote gets to the heart of the issue. People don’t really want prophets to be human yet still support them. It’s either “pure dictated revelation” or nothing. I find that very sad.

  44. August 4, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for clarifying, Clark. So are you saying it is OK to disagree with something the Prophet says (for example, maybe I disagree with Joseph Fielding Smith on the age of the earth) as long as one still sustains him as being the only person with the authority to speak for God on the earth and hold all the keys for the direction of the church? If that is what you are saying, I think we may be in agreement in principle. I am not sure it’s a popular position among the Latter-day Saints generally, however. I have found there is a tendency to demand acquiescence in all that the prophets and apostles say and that disagreeing with them on even mundane matters is viewed as a sign of apostasy even if the person disagreeing recognizes the prophets and apostles as the only authorized leaders of the church on earth.

  45. Mayan Elephant
    August 4, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    “But to me the quote gets to the heart of the issue. People don’t really want prophets to be human yet still support them. It’s either “pure dictated revelation” or nothing. I find that very sad.”

    ok. that part i get. i do. really. and im not just saying that to be civil.

    perhaps where there is disagreement is where the fault lies. is the prophet, who is only human after all, responsible for saying, “hey folks, i have a good idea, but, to be honest with ya, i didnt hear anything from god about it?”

    or, is it the fault of the followers of said prophet, who are full of various forms of slothfulness and spiritsgood and spiritsevil?

    or is it all part of gods tricks?

    or is it just a church, run by men trying to do a good thing based on their own ideology? no different from the folks running general motors or any other business?

  46. August 4, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    I think sustaining means a whole lot more than that. But it’s closer the the basic idea. I think the Lord lets prophets lead according to their understanding and one has to help them in that. I’ve been in leadership positions where I felt clueless and the last thing I needed were a bunch of people second guessing me or criticizing me behind my back.

    It seems the #1 problem the church has, in my opinion, is a spirit of being overly critical rather than loving and supporting. Not just of their leaders but of each other.

  47. Mayan Elephant
    August 4, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    “It seems the #1 problem the church has, in my opinion, is a spirit of being overly critical rather than loving and supporting. Not just of their leaders but of each other.”

    i agree completely.

  48. August 4, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    I think Frank’s entirely right. He (and other apologists) are promoting the following scenario:

    1. Lehi’s party was quickly subsumed into a much, much larger native population.
    2. Lehi is a literal descendent of most/all native americans, but this is not genetically detectable.

    This scenario is consistent with all DNA evidence (and, indeed, with archeological, linguistic, and other evidence).

    Whether this scenario is compatible with the BOM or with church teachings is debateable. But the critics keep crying “DNA evidence!” over and over, seemingly ignoring that the apologists are already proposing a scenario that is consistent with this evidence. If we’re going to have a debate, let’s at least debate something that we disagree on!

  49. Doc
    August 4, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    I just don’t know how to break this to signature books, but the strongest arguments against being able to find a unique genetic marker among a group of under 600 travelling to an inhabited continent is ironically (drumroll please) the dreaded theory of evolution. There are a set of principles in population genetics, namely genetic drift, founder effect, island effect that would necessarily cause unique mitochondrial markers to either be missing in the first place or to drift right out of existence even as the number of descendants from this small group blossom and mushroom.

    Additionally, to really look at the issue you would have to gather data specifically looking to prove the hypothesis that a group of Israelites left Jerusalem around 600 B.C. to come to America, you know just as a theory.

    Designing the project, procuring the funding, then getting it published in a reputable journal irrefutable scientific evidence that a Book written on Gold Plates translated by the gift and power of God is true would be improbable, to put it mildly. Although I’m sure Signature Books has a massive grant funding the research machine in settle this question forever, such grants would undoubtedly be said to be leading to biased and bad science.

    I am afraid I’m just a little skeptical of those who claim scientific evidence for either side of historicity claims. Proving an opinion rather than dispassionate search for greater understanding of the world around us leads to suspect scientific method. The Book of Mormon is much to controversial and divisive a topic to really think science is really going to tell us anything about it.

    In that sense, I see it a lot like homosexuality. Now there is one charged subject that I don’t think anyone is ever going to be able to scientifically even approach the root cause of.

  50. August 4, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    Equality:

    I am not sure it’s a popular position among the Latter-day Saints generally, however. I have found there is a tendency to demand acquiescence in all that the prophets and apostles say and that disagreeing with them on even mundane matters is viewed as a sign of apostasy even if the person disagreeing recognizes the prophets and apostles as the only authorized leaders of the church on earth.

    That has not been my experience in the church. There are a few hardliners who demand such fanatic acquiescence, but my experience has been that such are the minority. Of course, I’ve spent most of my adult life in academic enclaves like Ann Arbor, Michigan, so my experience may be skewed. But even in Utah, I tended not to see such total acquiescence in every little thing demanded.

    Every ward has that high priest or two that you just have to roll your eyes a bit at, but that is the exception rather than the rule in my experience.

    Of course, each person tends to self-select experiences, so perhaps that is only what I have chosen to observe.

  51. August 8, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    “I have resolved to become a 21st century Mormon and NOT a pioneer one. I appreciate the pioneer past, but I feel no obligation to live by their precepts. I admire their faith, but not their science. They died of cholera because they did not boil their water. Why couldn’t God just give a revelation to tell them to boil their water? Why? Because revelation simply does not work that way and never has.” Doesn’t this idea go against what the church teaches about the Word of Wisdom: that God knew tobacco was bad for our health way before medical science and he gave a revelation to Joseph Smith so the saints could be protected, etc.? What do youmean revelation has never worked that way? isn’t that exactly how we have been taught revelation DOES work? That is, the prophets standing on the watchtower can see farther down the road than the rest of us uninspired folk, and certainly more than the world, because the prophets have additional light and knowledge not available to us mere ordinary folk? The whole reason we are supposed to heed the voice of warning of the prophets is to avoid the perils and pitfalls that catch those in the world unawares. So, why DIDN’T God give a revelation to Joseph Smith on germ theory. Could have saved millions of lives. Would have been a lot more useful than banning iced tea, if you ask me.

  52. Blake
    August 11, 2006 at 10:39 am

    I thought this would be an appropriate place to respond to Ron Priddis’s statement on the Signature web page becaue he links to this page and at least some who read what he stated there will have the tenacity to look further and might end up here. Virtually all of his arguments are straw-man fallacies. He asserts that I say something that I don’t, he critiques it and then suggests that I was way off. Well, it’s easy to disembowel a straw man — the real thing ain’t so easy.

    What struck me most about Priddis’s response is the remarkable lack of care he took in framing and stating what I argued. Let me take each secion as he does:

    1. Interracial Marriage or Non-covenant Marriage? Priddis argues that: “But Ostler finds evidence for the Book of Mormon in what he calls “Hebrew literary forms” and “Hebrew ritual forms.”10 His specific example is the “curse” of a “skin of blackness” reported in 2 Nephi 5:21, which Ostler interprets as a genetically inherited skin tone based on intermarriage with Native Americans, a conclusion he arrives at by comparison to what he calls the biblical “curses” against “interracial marriage.”

    This statement vastly mistates and misunderstands what I argued. First, the observation that the BofM equates a “skin of blackness” with “interracial marriage” as a literary form or Hebrew ritual is just laughable. I of course don’t make any such equation. Form critical elements of a text and ordiannces have nothing to do with black skin or marriage nor did I argue that they do. Where did Priddis get the idea I said anything like that. Moreover, I never use the term “interracial marriage” — never! The argument that Priddis attributes to me exists only in his imagination.

    What I do say is that “intermarriage with non-covenant people” would create concern for an Israelite or Jew. Note that I am not talking about interracial marriage at all and never do — I speak of intermarriage with non-covenant poeple. This distinction is important because the remainder of Priddis’s arguments rest on his simple failureto read carefully and turn on this point.

    2. Priddis asserts that I misread the sources because I attribute cite two articles, a 1979 article by Stefan Schreinder and a second by Clemens Locher. I asserts that I cite them to show: “racial intermarriage to be a particular category of crime: an abomonination.” Priddis then argues that these article don’t agree with me. He asserts that the Schreiner article disagrees with me because “Schreiner explains that the based on the Hebrew (Masoretic Text the ‘abomination’ condemned by Malachi is devotion … to another God and that Malachi is concerned about religiou rather than racial purity.”

    Note how Priddis subtly changes what I say about intermarriage with non-covenant people to interacial marriage, and then he berates me for stating that the real issue is not interracial marriage but a religious concern. His argument is concoted to disembowel a stra-man. In fact, Schreiner argues at length that the reason intermarriage was a concern is that it would lead to breach of the covenant. So he says what I say. More importantly, he discusses the category of this type of a breach of covenant by intermarriage as an “abomination” — just as Jacob says that marrying other wives is an abomination and his concern is also covenant purity. So Schriener supports what I actually said.

    Priddis admits that the Locher article supports what I state. However, he asserts that even Locher “disagrees with Ostler” — tho he never says exactly how or why Locher supposedly disagrees. He asserts that Locher contrasts the metaphorical reading of Malachi 2 with Locher’s own view that the abomination in question was in fact intermarriage. How does that disagree with what I say? It doesn’t. Priddis concludes: “neither case having anything to do with discrimination based on race or skin color.” This is a red herring since I never assert or argue that the BofM is concerned with discrimination based on skin color or discrimination –far from it! Indeed, Priddis actually acknowledges that I argue that the real concern is breach of the covenant by intermarriage because the followers of Nephi would be led away from faithfulness and the curse is based on unrighteousness like other covenant curses in both Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Once again, Priddis argument is based on a sheer mistatement of what I say.

    3. Priddis accuses me of withholding evidence. What evidence did I withhold? “…that Israelites came from within the large Canaanite population and were themselves Canaanites — the same race and langugae, with the same culture — until about the thirteenth century BCE.” Why did ‘t I mention that? Because it it completely irrelevant and misleading. It is irrelevant because conditions in 1,300 BCE are not relevant. It is not relevant because it assumes that the Israelites were concerned with racial DNA rather than tribal identity. They didn’t even know what DNA was and the view that they based their judgments about their geneological identity on DNA assessments is so anachronistic that it is laughable. As Priddis admits, God forbade intermarriage with the prior inhabitants of the land because giving a son to one of their daughters would lead to breach of covenant by leading to idolatry. Dt. 7:3-6. he is the one withholding evidence here: he fails to admit that I argue that the Nephites saw their entrance into the promised land as a type of exodus and they are encountering the existing peoples in the land.

  53. Blake
    August 11, 2006 at 11:13 am

    4. Priddis next argues that I am incorrect to argue that the BofM reflects Jewish concerns and practices. His main argument is that the BofM doesn’t mention the rituals of the Law of Moses in detail. He admits that it refers to some practices like the Sabbath, the sacrifices of the firstbruits and animal sacrifices — but unless it goes in to detail, it cannot be ancient. Such a criteria is simply faulty — most of the books of the prophets would have to be excluded by that criteria.

    He also argues that building a temple like Solomon’s requires a large temple and that my argument that such a temple could be like shrines at Shechem and Beth-el doesn’t cut it because Nephi states that “the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine,’ only that it was ‘not built of so many precious things.’ — nothing about skimping on size (2 Ne. 5:16)” What he leaves out is very important: “it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the construction was like the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.” (2 Ne. 2:16) Nephi’s point seems quite evident-the Nephites used the best stuff they had and the workmanship was good, and in that respect it was like Solomon’s temple. The other shrines at Beth-el and Schechem also had the same general lay-out as Solomon’s temple but smaller. Priddis failed to quote the relevant language and his argument doesn’t make any sense to me.

    5. Priddis legitimately questions: who did the Nephites marry? He asserts that I say that the Nephites took wives among others because they married many wives and concubines, then I say theydidn’t intermarry because their skin didn’t color didn’t change, and then I say that the fact that unrighteous people marry outside the covenant doesn’t mean that righteous people did. What I actually say is that Nephi’s party consisted of Nephi’s brothers and their wives and “all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and revelations.” (2 Ne. 5:6) Thus, right from the Great Separation there are non-Nephites in Nephi’s group that are defined as those who believe the revelations (I disucss this at length in a longer paper that I am preparing to be submitted). The number of believers was few and it is an open questions whether they intermarried. However, those who later breached the covenant by either considering or actually taking many wives were regarded as breaching the covenant. How is that inconsistent? It isn’t.

    5. Priddis next attibutes to me an argument I don’t make and then berates it. He states: “If I were to diagram [Ostler’s] reasoning, it would look something like this:
    A. The evidence from science is compelling.
    B. But scientists don’t know everything.
    c. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is ancient.

    Now this is a rediculous argument. I challenge Priddis to show anywhere that I make any of the statements or even anything approaching the rediculous argument that he attributes to me. This kind of argument is beyond non-sense, it is just irresponsible.

    6. Priddis next argues that I misunderstand DNA. don’t. In fact, Ed Johnson’s comment above pretty well sums up how proponents of the DNA argument against the Book of Mormon are tilting at windmills. Southerton has admitted that if a small group of people entered the Americas about 600 BCE, their DNA would probably not be detectable. End of story.

    7. Priddis accuses me of getting personal because I call argument irresponsible or vacuous, or a Southerton’s view of scripture to be untenable and navie. However, these are not personal — they are aimed at arguments and views. However, Priddis gives us a good example of an ad hominem that is both personal and out of bounds when he asserts: “showing Ostler to be neither a genteman nor a scholar.” That of course is personal. I undoubtedly have many failing and may be far worse than Priddis says. However, arguing that I get personal and then making such comments gave me a chuckle.

    8. I will address Priddis’s assertions about supposedly getting the Hebrew wrong in the longer article I am preparing because it gets fairly technical and this blog won’t reproduce the fonts necessary. However, suffice it to say that Priddis admits that the term “mixing seed” appears twice in the biblical texts of Ezra and Daniel, that it refers to interbreeding and that the Hebrew text of Ezra (which I cite) shows it. That of course was my point.

    This is way too long, and I debated with myself whether Priddis’s repeated attributing arguments to me that I didn’t make deserved a response. I concluded that it didn’t deserve a paper — but heck, this is a blog.

  54. August 11, 2006 at 11:39 am

    Blake,

    Thanks for posting your response here. I was underwhelmed with Priddis’s critique and while I disagree with you on the general point that critics citing DNA studies as evidence against the historicity of the Book of Mormon are tilting at windmills, I agree with you that Priddis did not fairly represent your arguments in his critique.

  55. Anthony Azzopardi
    August 11, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    I find all this DNA information quite interesting. Yet, why is it only Lehi’s and Nephi’s lineage that is discussed? If one is to read in Omni, one would see that there was another Israelite band that supposedly colonized America, the Mulekites. From the Omni account, these people were “exceedingly numerous.” So, one might argue that Lehi and Nephi’s band was rather small, but what of the Mulekite DNA added into the mix? It says, they lost they’re language, but makes no mention of intermarriage, which would seem to be a pertinent fact, especially from an Israelite/covenant-making people’s perspective. How is it that this group is dismissed or rarely mentioned in the DNA argument? All I have read refers to the small contributing group of Lehites/Nephites, when in fact there appears to be a much larger number of Mulekites.

  56. Anthony Azzopardi
    August 11, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Furthermore, I find it intriguing that such a great record keeping people as the Nephites fail to mention any other inhabitants in America aside from those who belong to their particular group. Even the Bible mentions many different interactions with the surrounding peoples (e.g. the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Ammonites, etc.); yet there isn’t a single mention of the people who are apparently the majority in America, those of Asian descent. Sure we read of those dissident groups who are named after their particular leader or founder (e.g. the Zoramites, the Amlicites, the Amalekites, etc.). Nevertheless, I find this an important ommision in the Book of Mormon if one is to consider that the Lamanites and Nephites had dealings with them. Surely the Nephites and Lamanites weren’t so isolated as to not have any intercourse with the major population, especially if one is to argue that the Israelite DNA was swallowed up by this enormous populace. So, why no mention of this non-convenant people? Why no warning of intermarriage when it was so vitally important among the Jews in Israel? The Nephites had the Brass Plates, so they would know of the dangers of intermingling with outsiders. They would know that these outsiders would corrupt Israelite bloodlines as well as their sacred beliefs, yet there is not even any mention of the heathen gods. Wouldn’t such information fall under the spiritual admonitions of the prophets? Although the DNA is an important issue that stands in the way of verifying the Book of Mormon, I find that the omission of other tribes and peoples to be just as compelling.

  57. August 14, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    Okay, Ostler wasn’t talking about “interracial marriage”–only about “intermarriage with indigenous populations who had darker skin.” He says “mixing seed” was a biblical idiom for “marriage with foreigners” or “interbreeding with indigenous peoples already present in the land”–those he calls “non-covenant people.” However, it was only possible to refer to Canaanites as foreigners and to Baal, as well as the Samaritan and Judean Yahweh, as foreign Gods in a post-exilic environment. By the way, all of these groups considered themselves to be covenant people. In any case, this is what I tried to explain in my previous response, that it was only after the exiles had come to see themselves as the true Israel that they could refer to their Canaanite relatives and the religion of their forbears as foreign. Of course, it was they who had changed, not their relatives back home. I agree with Ostler that the biblical caution about marrying foreigners is in fact not racial–and therefore an inappropriate parallel for Ostler to have drawn to his racial interpretation of the Book of Mormon (which is not necessarily racial the way it is presented in the Book of Mormon but certainly racial in Ostler’s interpretation of it). Again, my point was that the prohibition against marrying non-covenant people was too late a development to expect to find in the Book of Mormon. Ostler cites Ezra and Malachi, which are clearly post-exilic, and even the passages in Deuteronomy on the topic are from the post-exilic period. Ostler says he accepts the documentary approach to the Bible, so he should know this.
    The article by Schreiner states that the abomination mentioned by Malachi is NOT marriage with non-covenant people. That is the very point of his article. Schreiner says it has NOTHING to do with marriage to foreigners. He says it does have to do with divorce, which Malachi allows, although Malachi is not happy to see men neglecting the “wife of their youth” to chase after “the daughter of a foreign God.” The woman in question, unless one interprets this poetically, may be a Jewish devotee of Baal. The wife of one’s youth may be a Babylonian woman who has converted to the worship of Yahweh. It is not about racism and it is not about marriage. Why does Ostler continue to cite it as a defense of his “breach of covenant by intermarriage,” now repeating that “Schreiner supports what I actually said”? My suspicion remains that he has not yet read the German sources he cited. By the way, this is not a matter of interpretation of the passage so much as a matter of which text one uses–the Hebrew text, which Schreiner cites, or the Aramaic or Greek versions which partly influenced the King James Version. Ostler gave readers the impression he was privileging the Hebrew when he is actually interpreting the KJV. For those who speak German, here’s the entire Schreiner article: http://www.signaturebooks.com/excerpts/Schreiner.pdf .
    Ostler is similarly wrong to say Locher supports him. The entire Locher article is available at http://www.signaturebooks.com/excerpts/Locher.pdf . As I said before, Locher comes closer to what Ostler wants, but no cigar. Locher sees the abomination as marrying a foreigner who worships another God, not simply marrying a foreigner. How does any of this relate to Ostler’s “curse” of a “skin of blackness” in the Book of Mormon for marrying a Native American?
    The last point Ostler makes is that “conditions in 1,300 BCE are not relevant” because “it assumes that the Israelites were concerned with racial DNA rather than tribal identity.” There were no tribal identities in 1,300 BCE. Ostler then cites me, though without using quote marks, for something I quoted from him (his statement, not mine), that “God forbade intermarriage with the prior inhabitants of the land.” There weren’t any prior inhabitants of the land. The Israelites were the prior inhabitants. Ostler is confused about the history of ancient Israel, which is why his alleged parallels to the Book of Mormon are wrong.

  58. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    Ron: I read both “German” articles — but it is clear that you did not (that is why you brought in Neal Chandler to read it for you). Schreiner clearly sees that it is not merely divorce, but the fact that israelites are divorcing their wives to intermarry that is the problem — but crucailly he also cites Ezra and agrees that Ezra is talking about intermarriage (see p. 210). He discusses the nature of the “abomination” at length.

    Further, your notion that any article I cite must agree with everything I say is ludicrous. Look at at the sentence for what I actually cite Schreiner and Loche to say: “And the penalty for the breach is to be cut off.” Both discuss the penalty and they both support what I cite them to say.

  59. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    Ron: Your argument that Ezra and Malachi are both post-exilic and are thus irrelevant to what Jews thought of intermarriage or the penalties for breach of covenant is unfounded. Both are very close in time (with 75 years) and so is Deuteronomy. That’s pretty close and the best evidence we have anywhere!

    Further, you assertion that there were no prior inhabitants in the land that the Israelites went into is just false. Who were they fighting, themselves? They had a tribal identity and they saw the other tribes as “others.”

    You don’t read carefully or charitably.

  60. August 14, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Doch! Alle Beide viermal gelesen.

    Yes Blake, I consulted with Neal Chandler to be sure of the German, David Wright (Professor of the Bible and Near East, Brandeis) for the Hebrew and biblical history, Ron Huggins (Professor of Theology and History, Salt Lake Theological Seminary) for textual issues, and Simon Southerton for the DNA. Now, who did you consult?

    And yes, you got the Hebrew wrong. And no, you don’t have the science right.

    Since we’re bringing up Neal Chandler, whose Ph.D. is in German, here’s his summary of one of your key sources:

    “Schreiner acknowledges that it was a cultural expectation that one would marry within one’s own ‘Volk,’ but this was not at issue for Malachi. Unlike Ezra, who comes later and will be more adamant and extreme about it, Malachi’s preoccupation is with a different, predominantly ethical matter, the treatment of the ‘wife of one’s youth’ who in the post-exilic period was too often cast off in favor of a new foreign wife. It is a question Malachi approaches not with dogma or new laws but with ethical admonitions to monogamy in a culture where polygyny is pervasive. One might assume Malachi’s prophetic view saw beyond the strictures of the law to issues that truly mattered. Or one can see him as wandering off into a liberal fog from which Ezra would later pull things back to the straight and narrow. In either case, Malachi is the wrong prophet to make Ostler’s racial argument about, what, celestial eugenics?”

  61. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Ron: You’re just not getting it are you? Look at what I cite Schreiner and Locher to support. Read it carefully. “And the penalty for breach is to be cut off from the Lord’s presence.” 3 [Note reference to Schreiner and Locher articles]. Now tell me that they don’t support what I say in the sentence I cite them to support. I then cite Ezra 9:2 to support the notion that intermarriage with non-covenant people already in the land would be seen as a breach of covenant — which you admit it supports. It’s time to read carefully and knock off the attempt to create an issue from attributing arguments to me that I don’t make and attibuting to me statements that I don’t cite sources to support. Apparently Chandler is not much better at reading Enlglish than you: He says: “Malachi is the wrong prophet to make Ostler’s racial argument about what, celestial eugenics?”

    Apparently Chandler is as sloppy as you are. First, I don’t cite Malachi for anything having to do with a racial argument, I don’t even make a racial argument and the notion of celestial eugenics is, what, a joke that again attributes to me something I never argue or say? Show me where I say any of what you again attribute to me here — show me. Here is the challenge — cite my own words to try to support what you attempt to foist upon me.

    I’m no DNA scientist, but I got the science right as far as it is relevant, as Southerton admits: “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.” Nuf said.

  62. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 8:09 pm

    Whoops, I hit submit before saying: Wenn ein Blinder den andern führt, so fallen sie beide in die Grube.

  63. DKL
    August 14, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    I thought that the Signature article was pretty good overall. For one thing, it was admirably brief. One particular area where I disagree was the attempt to make it sound as though there’s something self-contradictory about Blake’s claim that we can’t be bound by previous interpretations of Book of Mormon geography (on the one hand), and Blake’s effort to offer an interpretation of his own (on the other).

    I, for one, am a bit disappointed that apologetics has made the interpretation of Book of Mormon anthropology less and less bold over time and more insulated from scientific examination. One can get the impression from reading them that the Book of Mormon civilization was something on the order of a Boy Scout overnighter that lasted several centuries. I have a certain nostalgic yearning for the days when bold, testable claims were made about the peoples of the Book of Mormon. I say this because I do believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon on grounds of its internal complexity–something like the view that Bushman outlines in his 1984 bio of Joseph (which is repeated nearly verbatim in his recent one).

    I am glad to see that the article held Blake accountable for his slurs.

  64. August 14, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    Blake–Show me where Schreiner and Locher write, as you say, that “the penalty for breach is to be cut off from the Lord’s presence.” Give me the page number. (I’ll give you a hint. You won’t find them.)

    Here’s what you will find. Schreiner (215) gives the Hebrew for Malachi 2:12 as “Yahweh may destroy the one from the tents of Jacob who commits fornication and disgrace and still offers a sacrifice for Yahweh Sabaoth.” The passage has to do with hypocrisy–nothing legalistic here about being “cut off” for some specific violation of a covenant. It shows Yahweh expressing some emotion.

    Yes, Schreiner (220-221) notes that according to Deuteronomy, the children of mixed marriages are supposed to be excluded from the congregation for ten generations. Schreiner finds this to be exactly the kind of ethical problem Malachi is railing against. The relevant passage in Malachi for Schreiner (215) begins with “Do we not all have one father? Were we not all created by one God? Then in what way has one deceived another to profane the covenant of our fathers?” For Malachi, the answer is in arrogance and hypocrisy.

    So why the talk about being “cut off”? The very term implies a congregation, which shows the concept to be too late to have had any influence on Lehi. The word “synagogue” is Greek. No synogogues before 600 BC and no one being excommunicated from them. Oh, maybe that’s why you added “from the Lord’s presence,” which I guess implies a spiritual separation. But your example in the Book of Mormon is a physical separation into the forest.

    Malachi was written anonymously and is recognized as having been subversive–intending to undermine those who came back from exile with new long lists of abominations–that is, unless you prefer Locher (252-53), who finds Malachi to have been speaking of the “anihilation … the complete destruction of all members of the family–for instance, the clan or tribe,” not the euphemistic “cut off” the KJV uses, in which case I would suggest being very careful in identifying what the offense is. You say it’s “intermarriage with non-covenant people already in the land.” So in your mind, presumably relying on Locher, you would think that intermarriage was a capital offense for which not only the marital couple but their extended families were executed?

    This just brings me back to my original questions. What do these commentaries on Malachi have to do with whether there were natives in the Americas? Why did you choose commentaries on Malachi instead of Ezra? (Well, I guess that’s because 2 Nephi is dependent on both and you can’t get the meaning you want without running the two texts together. But Ezra is closer to what you’re looking for.) And why German commentaries? How does this get us closer to the Hebrew? And what possible connection could there be between the biblical Hebrew, which you tried to give examples of while curiously ignoring the meaning of the words in deference to the KJV, and anything in the Book of Mormon?

  65. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    Ron: You might want to look at Lev. 18:24 which states: “For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them, shall be cut off from among the people,” and I even give the Hebrew in the article for being cut off — karath (the same word in Lev. 18:24). The notion that it is too late for 2 Ne.5 (and several other places in 2 Ne.) is uninformed. In fact, I cite Schreiner because he discusses the abomination on p.

  66. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    Danabit, I keep hitting send — ignore that one.

    Ron: You might want to look at Lev. 18:24 which states: “For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them, shall be cut off from among the people,” and I even give the Hebrew in the article for “being ‘cut off; from the people — karath (the same word in Lev. 18:24). The notion that it is too late for 2 Ne.5 (and several other places in 2 Ne.) is uninformed. In fact, I cite Schreiner because he notes the penalty in Dt. for mixed marraiges is to be cut off from the people (pp. 220-21) and discusses the technical catgory of an “to’bah” translated as an abominble thing and its relation to polygamy in relation to breach of covenant on pp. 222-23

  67. Blake
    August 14, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    Dagnabit, I hit it again.

    The word you translate as “destroy” is the term translated for to’ebah and is the penalty for breach of covenant and for committing abominations in Lev. 18:30 — the notion being that those who violate the restrictions will be vomited out of the land as were the prior inhabitants.

    Of course I cite Locher because he discusses the basis for the mixed marriages interpretation and penalties for breach at length on pp. 258-60.

  68. Blake
    August 15, 2006 at 10:45 am

    BTW Ron, I appreciate you admission above that your mis-stated my position and that I in fact stated that it was righteousness and breach of the covenant that was real issue. I believe that you now have an obligation to go back and correct your article to make it accurate and to deal with what I actually stated.

  69. August 15, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve liked the postings by Dave Sigmon. Interesting to learn something new about the genetic makeup of people in Palestine in the seventh century and so on. Thanks for sharing what you know. I have a lot to learn.

    Disappointing to see other people respond with the FARMS line about genetic drift, founder effect, bottlenecks, and so on, none of which are applicable. But I probably asked Dr. Southerton a hundred quesions about this before I more-or-less understood it, so it can take a while for the light to go on.

    There’s a problem with amateurs trying to make sense of such things. Mike Quinn’s misreading of a scientific paper, as he reported its findings in Sunstone, is an example. I was glad Southerton clarified it. The article is online and anyone can see that where the scientists were talking about a percentage of a percentage, Quinn misunderstood and went with the base number. But for the overall context, it takes someone like Southerton.

    What I’m saying is that I’m not an expert in any of these fields (including biblical studies, etc.) and rely on books from academic presses that have a general audience in mind. These kinds of books are probably a good measure of what the current consensus is and somewhat conservative. They’re probably safe to quote. But I’m not having much success in getting through to Ostler. Is there anyone out there reading this who knows something about the history of Canaan or how the Bible was compiled who wants to help me out?

    If I mention that the patriarchs worshipped at the Temple of El/Baal of the Covenant in Shechem and the ramifications for covenant renewal in the southern kingdom and its presence in the Book of Mormon, I think the problem is that this conflicts with what people have heard in Sunday school and it’s difficult to see it from an academic perspective. I’m fine with Sunday school and its emphasis on morality tales, but what sticks in my craw is when Ostler claims to be representing scholarship and science when he isn’t.

    When he quotes Ezra, for instance, where is the acknowledgement that Ezra was the king’s agent and that the Persian strategy was to divide and conquer by siding with one or another religious faction—that Ezra is an unreliable guide for pre-600 BCE traditions?

    Where is the awareness that the Law of Moses is based on the Code of Hammurapi and other sources—that it was compiled over a period of some two hundred years beginning in the late seventh century? In other words, it is not a guide for understanding the situation in 1300 BCE. And Ostler accuses me of anachronisms!

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I should also mention that my lips move when I read German, if you know what I mean, and I’m forever reaching for a dictionary. When the authors of the two German articles discuss Hebrew syntax, I have no comprehension of it. When they quote passages in Latin, Greek, or French, I skip over them. I rely on the authors’ general discussions and conclusions, which tell me they may as well be cookbooks for as much use as Ostler makes of them. But I couldn’t tell you if they’re right about the technical issues of Hebrew grammar they go on for pages about.

    Ostler’s mistakes in Hebrew were pointed out to me by people who read Hebrew like I read the morning newspaper. For those who would have no basis for knowing, I included in a footnote on our website a picture of the Hebrew from Ostler’s article and a picture of the relevant Hebrew from an intralinear Hebrew Bible for comparision.

    Ostler’s German saying about the blind leading the blind made me smile. If that’s a concession on his part, I’m happy to acknowledge that I’m a fellow amateur; and if he’ll agree to leave these matters to the experts, we’ll both be doing the world a favor.

  70. Daniel Peterson
    August 15, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    RP: “Disappointing to see other people respond with the FARMS line about genetic drift, founder effect, bottlenecks, and so on, none of which are applicable. But I probably asked Dr. Southerton a hundred quesions about this before I more-or-less understood it, so it can take a while for the light to go on.”

    Maybe Drs. Whiting and Butler and Stewart and McClellan and Parr and Meldrum and Stephens need to sign up for a (very) basic course on genetics with Dr. Southerton. Poor fellows.

  71. Keiko
    August 16, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    Blake, Could you clarify what you mean by “covenant people?” I am curious, being a convert from Japan, if anyone can become a “covenant person.” Or does the race matter?

  72. Blake
    August 16, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Keiko: That’s a very good question. In the OT, the line was not between races but between those committed to covenant (believers) and those who were not. In the post-exilic time, circumcision became an important sign of the covenant. But it wasn’t limited to Jews — if a Jewish man married a non-Jewish woman, but the woman were willing to commit to covenant faithfulness, then she was included among the Jews as if by birth. BTW I see it as the same in the Book of Mormon as I stated above –see 2 Ne. 5:21. Nephi’s party included not merely his family, but all those “others” who trusted and believed in the revelations. All of them were included within the covenant people.

  73. Keiko
    August 16, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Blake: Thanks for the clarification. Could a covenant man with fair skin marry an Indian woman who had become a covenant person? Would their children be black or white?

  74. Blake
    August 16, 2006 at 7:20 pm

    Kieko: Most certainly. The color of skin would depend on their DNA I suppose.

  75. Keiko
    August 17, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Blake: I am not going to take any more of your time, but when I asked the question, I was thinking more in terms of the “curse” and “mixing seeds.” It’s interesting you gave me a scientific answer. As you mentioned in your article, I was sensitive about the racial implication of the “curse.” And unfortunately it was an area my missionaries were unable to give me satisfactory answers.

  76. Dave
    September 25, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    First of all, the purpose of the skin of blackness spoken of was to keep the faithful group together and strong by not mixing with the lamanites, then it faded away as the lamanites became more righteous than the the nephites and began to mix with them, so in the end the color issue became moot. That group of Lamanites was no more to be found since after the days of Ammon and the sons of Mosiah.

    Second of all, the Book of Mormon does not exclude the possibility of asians being here somehwere on the continent, or coming over afterward, furthermore the lamanites and nephites allmost killed each other off by Moroni’s time, hence the DNA of middle eastern origin would be small as the lamanites left in the end mixed with the “non book of mormon” asian decendants that where about in the americas. In pre industrial times there may have been many groups co-exsisting and never knowing of the others. The remaining lamanite DNA was virtually dissipated into the Asian that was more abundant. Remember just becacse the Book of mormon people were not aware of other groups, we should not assume they didn’t exist.

  77. Mayan Elephant
    September 25, 2006 at 11:10 pm

    dave,

    that is cute. its ok to say that it doesnt add up but that you prefer to believe, based on faith or feelings.

    seriously, populations “almost killed each other off” with sticks and stones? yeah right. its a clever story and all, but for pete’s sake, think about the ridiculousness for a minute. in order for this to happen the entire civilization would have to be concentrated in one place and then be willing and able to fight until there was nobody left to fight. sure, sounds doable with our technology. but with sticks and stones? or whatever the clever rock that the apologists claim was a substitute for steel. thats just fantasy.

    carry on.

    i am amused, so perhaps someone else will be too.

    by the way, i was playing risk once, and i lost my entire army just by rolling dice and trying to claim north america. it may not be relevant to this discussion, but then again, it might.

  78. September 26, 2006 at 10:18 am

    Dave,

    There is much scientific evidence for the Americans of Asiatic descent living in the the Americas during the Book of Mormon time periods. There is NO scientific evidence for the existence of Israelite-Americans living in the Americas during the Book of Mormon time periods. I think the most likely explanation for this is that while the two groups (and maybe others) lived here simultaneously, they were unaware of each other because the Nephites and Lamanites lived in a different dimension of space-time. When Lehi and family (and earlier the Jaredites) left the Near East and sailed for the Americas, God guided them into a different dimension. Accordingly, the Nephites and Lamanites actually lived in the same geographic region as the Olmecs and the Maya but never interacted with them because they lived out their history in another dimension. This theory allows for a complete validation of the Book of Mormon and a reconciliation with what science has discovered through geology, archaeology, lingusitics, DNA, anthropology, etc. All references to the Lamanites as ancestors of modern-day Native Americans should simply be understood metaphporically or spiritually. This theory makes as much sense and has the same amount of evidence to support it as most of the stuff advanced by the FARMS crowd.

  79. Mayan Elephant
    September 26, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Equality,

    It makes perfect sense.

    They were in the same place as the lost tribes.

    I love the other dimension theory. love it. I think they came out of that dimension to oppress themselves by building pyramids in central America dedicated to a white god, Quetzelkumkwat or whatever his name was, then they went back to their other dimension.

    We need a new risk game, one that has a magical place that can rise up and crush South America at any given moment.

  80. desert vulture
    September 26, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Equality,

    I think you may be onto something here. If you support a “parallel-dimension” theory of the Book of Mormon, then you must account for a gateway, or portal to this parallel space-time dimension. I am not disputing the merits of a parallel dimension to entertain the notion that the Israelite-Americans did not interact with the Asiatic-Americans, I am simply stating that a portal must exist in this hemisphere, which could allow entry to such a dimension. I find the theory fluid enough to support a lack of archaelogical evidence, simply because we cannot scientifically reproduce entry into a space-time continuum provided by God. I would like to offer my theory that the portal to the Israelite-American dimension is the Bermuda Triangle. It is geographically well placed so as to allow many or all Nephite ships accessibility, and would account for the lack of physical evidence of the BoM in our dimension. There are many other credible accounts regarding the Bermuda Triangle, and it appears to me that there is convincing evidence that the Bermuda Triangle could possibly be a spiritual portal to the parallel space-time Nephitic dimension. I know God must follow the laws of physics, and the Bermuda Triangle theory of entry would allow God to bend those rules, to accomplish his designs, with regards to the Nephites and Lamanites.

  81. TOm
    February 3, 2007 at 9:59 am

    21st century Atheist philosopher, but certainly on of the top 3-5 not just one among many atheists) he became convinced that the complexities associated with SELF-replicating DNA were so unexplainable through naturalistic evolution that the data compelled him to see an intelligence as the author of this biological structure. Without self replicating DNA, Darwin’s ideas do not enter into the equation. Until there are subsequent generations, there is no “survival of the fittest” evolution. This necessary “intelligence” would be superior to and more importantly would pre-date the developed intelligence that exists today in the human mind. Such complexity pre-dating the simplest of creatures is not explained via Darwinian evolution.
    Flew’s letter to Philosophy Now: http://www.philosophynow.org/issue47/47flew.htm
    “But the evidential situation of natural (as opposed to revealed) theology has been transformed in the more than fifty years since Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”
    Here is an interview with Flew:
    http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf

    Now, I am not saying that Flew has become a Christian, he has clearly not. I am not even saying that I find his reason for theism to be the best reason to be a theist. I do however believe, that he points to a strong argument for theism that comes from evidence available to all (as opposed to evidence only available to the individual person).

    I have followed Flew some and it seems to me that if he were to read Blake’s two volumes of Exploring Mormon Thought, some of his reasons for rejecting Christianity would be removed. Perhaps he could be a LDS who thinks like Blake!

    Charity, TOm

  82. TOm
    February 3, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Jeff and all,
    That last post should have started with two lines that I missed. Here is the complete post.

    Jeff,
    As I understand Antony Flew’s conversion (and we are talking about perhaps the top 20th-21st century Atheist philosopher, but certainly on of the top 3-5 not just one among many atheists) he became convinced that the complexities associated with SELF-replicating DNA were so unexplainable through naturalistic evolution that the data compelled him to see an intelligence as the author of this biological structure. Without self replicating DNA, Darwin’s ideas do not enter into the equation. Until there are subsequent generations, there is no “survival of the fittest” evolution. This necessary “intelligence” would be superior to and more importantly would pre-date the developed intelligence that exists today in the human mind. Such complexity pre-dating the simplest of creatures is not explained via Darwinian evolution.
    Flew’s letter to Philosophy Now: http://www.philosophynow.org/issue47/47flew.htm
    “But the evidential situation of natural (as opposed to revealed) theology has been transformed in the more than fifty years since Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”
    Here is an interview with Flew:
    http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf

    Now, I am not saying that Flew has become a Christian, he has clearly not. I am not even saying that I find his reason for theism to be the best reason to be a theist. I do however believe, that he points to a strong argument for theism that comes from evidence available to all (as opposed to evidence only available to the individual person).

    I have followed Flew some and it seems to me that if he were to read Blake’s two volumes of Exploring Mormon Thought, some of his reasons for rejecting Christianity would be removed. Perhaps he could be a LDS who thinks like Blake!

    Charity, TOm

  83. TOm
    February 3, 2007 at 10:04 am

    TOm said:
    “Concerning DNA, am I under a misapprehension when I say that Southerton (who while not a human geneticist is much better versed than Murphy in this subject) has acknowledged that the DNA evidence does little to disprove the prevailing limited geography model?”

    Blake said:
    “Well, you are now because after his admission was pointed to by several (including in my Sunstone articles) that the DNA evidence could easily be explained by assimlation of a small group into the larger population, Signature Books excised the statement from its web-site and re-designed his response. Such are the vagaries and theatrics of the internet.”

    TOm:
    I was not aware that Southerton had been edited to support certain folk’s faith based beliefs. Here is what I have been quoting (and you quoted) from Southerton’s pre-edited comments,

    “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.” — Simon Southerton

    Before I ever heard of a DNA case against the BOM, I had accepted that 30 Isrealites had interjected themselves into a large native culture. The BOM demands this. So when Southerton, in my opinion the only remotely qualified of the two famous DNA critics, made the above statement, DNA was no longer of any concern for the truth claims of the BOM. It was neither positive nor negative.

    Charity, TOm

  84. TOm
    February 3, 2007 at 10:09 am

    The above three comments (or rather two comments) are in the wrong thread. Sorry, TOm

  85. Blake
    March 3, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    TOm: I agree fully.

  86. Steve Myers
    July 6, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    I have often thought that we ,as a people, assume too much in the name of Spiritual revelation. We are imperfect and we prove it constantly. I am a convert to the church and am constantly faced with doctrine that doesn’t agree with things that I know are true.
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses are arguing against DNA questions with regard to the Bible. This doesn’t shake their faith and this won’t shake mine. I know that there are always problems with any doctrine that is not cut and dry. However, TRUTH IS STILL TRUTH and the Book of Mormon does speak Truth. I will maintain my Faith in Heavenly Father and will rely on him to provide me with what I need.

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