Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Further Thoughts on the DNA Issue

Some additional perspectives on the DNA issue are offered by an LDS medical doctor, David Stewart, in his article, DNA and the Book of Mormon. He considers whether DNA evidence actually is inconsistent with the "traditional" view that all Native Americans are primarily descended from the peoples described in the Book of Mormon. Given the uncertainties in defining what "Jewish DNA" is and the questionable assumptions used by the critics, he suggests that DNA evidence is not necessarily inconsistent with even what I would call the "old, naive" view of Lamanites and the Book of Mormon.

I fully agree that the uncertainty in defining "Jewish DNA" is a key factor that is overlooked by many critics. If there is not a "typical Jewish haplotype" and if we have no idea what the DNA was in Lehi's colony (or among the Mulekites and Jaredites), then how can we know what Native American DNA should look like today if the Book of Mormon is true? See my short essay, "What Nephite DNA?," which accompanies my longer essay, "DNA and the Book of Mormon." If Dr. Stewart is right, then we don't really need to appeal to the non-genetic use of the term "Lamanite" in the Book of Mormon (but it is helpful to understand that it is often a social and political designation, not a genetic one), or the likelihood that Lehi's DNA would be just a drop in the bucket that would be easy to miss today, or to the fact that prophets can utter their personal opinions without everything they say being canonized. If Dr. Stewart is right, the critics have not even begun to meet their burden of proof in claiming that the DNA evidence challenges anything about the Book of Mormon. I'd appreciate your views on this matter.

2 comments:

Clark Goble said...

One thing that the discussion at Dave's brought up was exactly what you just said. Unless we know the makeup of the Lehites we don't know how to analyze the data. But to be fair, if we can, from analyzing dead bodies from around 600 BC, get an idea of the distribution of genes, we can have a fairly good idea of the probability of Lehi's genes. But of course it is just that - a probability. Just as the arguments about the genes getting lost in the indigeneous peoples of mesoAmerica is a probability.

What I'd like to see is an analysis of these sorts of probabilities. Something neither side has done, so far as I'm aware.

Andrew said...

It's not Lehi's DNA it's the fact that DNA tracing can show that all of Native Americans and their ancestors come from Asia.