LA Times article on DNA evidence which conflicts with the Book of Mormon claim of Jews migrating to the Americas in 600 BC. 
Date: Feb 16, 2006
Author: PtLoma

Part 1 - LA Times article and discussion.      

Part 2 - Who are the Lamanites?

Part 3 - DNA can be used to prove Jewish ancestry - An African tribe with a claim that goes back centuries.

Part 4 - Mormon Church Response

Part 1

LA Times Story:,0,680332.story?coll=ktla-news-1

Per administration, we are not supposed to copy/paste large amounts of texts to save server space. I will copy/paste the first few paragraphs...

"For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error.

For those outside the faith, the depth of the church's dilemma can be explained this way: Imagine if DNA evidence revealed that the Pilgrims didn't sail from Europe to escape religious persecution but rather were part of a migration from Iceland — and that U.S. history books were wrong.

Critics want the church to admit its mistake and apologize to millions of Native Americans it converted. Church leaders have shown no inclination to do so. Indeed, they have dismissed as heresy any suggestion that Native American genetics undermine the Mormon creed.

Yet at the same time, the church has subtly promoted a fresh interpretation of the Book of Mormon intended to reconcile the DNA findings with the scriptures. This analysis is radically at odds with long-standing Mormon teachings."

Subject: Man, good thing there's a Prophet® to guide us in these latter days. n/t

Subject: Answers
Date: Feb 17 14:36
Author: Bob

Many people have left the church because of the DNA issue.

Had the "Lamanites" been Jews, probably Joseph Smith would have been a true prophet. God would be in charge of the church. Polygamy would have never started. The Book of Abraham would be an accurate translation.  The word of wisdom would have clearly laid out the correct diet for humankind. The church would be in the forefront of organizations pushing gay marriage and adoption. The church would have allowed blacks to have the priesthood from the get go. The members of the church would have true communion with Christ. The church would be able to prove itself on all levels of logic, science and spirituality. There would be quakers on the moon.

Their theory can't be possible because of all of the above and more.

Mostly, the specific theory about the BoM and DNA can't be true because there is no evidence even remotely suggesting that there was ever any Hebrew blood among any native American. There is no archeology to support their theory. There is no linguistic support to their theory. There is no historical support to their theory. So, the DNA just confirms what everyone already knew.

Subject: Mitochondrial DNA . . .
Date: Feb 17 14:39
Author: SL Cabbie

Indeed, all DNA consists of four pairs of "molecular bases" (adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine) that are arranged in a ribbon-like chain in a molecule that is then twisted upon itself twice (a double helix; I'm sure you've seen the diagrams). Each base is always opposite its complimentary base, A with C, and G with T or vice versa. They can thus be understood as a coded sequence (which they are), and replication occurs because the complimentary pairings always line up with stray molecules (called nucleotides) when reproduction takes place. A single change in the sequence represents a "mutation" that can be detected . . .

In human mitochondria, there are approximately 16,500 "letters" (source: Southerton), and five sequences are currently found among Native American populations in what are identified as "haplogroups." These five haplogroups also exist among the Siberan population of Eastern Asia in the same statistical proportions.

These haplogroups are not found in Semitic populations, and additionally, there are other haplogroups found among the peoples of the Middle East that are not found in Native Americans.

DNA deals with probabilities, but in this case the numbers are so astronomical that it is absurd to speculate--in Nibleyesque fashion--on "could haves."

DNA research isn't the nail in the coffin of the BOM; that's already clear from archaeology, language studies, and the like . . . It's the headstone on the grave.

Subject: Here's a succinct way of describing the LDS position...
Date: Feb 17 23:55
Author: KonaGold

And the DNA evidence has most definitely given them a big mouthful. They don't know how to react and they don't know what to say.

So the Morg tries to obfuscate. Encarta online defines "obfuscate" as "to make something obscure or unclear, especially by making it unnecessarily complicated". That is certainly what they appear to be doing.

The basic problem is that Joseph Smith painted himself and the Church he founded into a corner. Back in the 1800s when he brought out the Book of Mormon, he could not anticipate the day when DNA evidence could be used to disprove the Book of Mormon claim that the Lamanites (native Americans) were descended from Middle Eastern ancestry. That makes the prophet, seer, and revelator look awfully stupid.

Subject: Hinckley's words never seemed more appropriate than now..
Date: Feb 18 00:01
Author: inland emperor

"I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it ... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it," (from the Hinckley interview on Larry King)

Subject: Daniel Peterson is part of the effort to subtly subtly promote "a fresh interpretation of the Book of Mormon"
Date: Feb 16 03:58
Author: Similus

Daniel Peterson's signature on the FAIR board is-
"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

By not including the rest of the paragraph Peterson deceptively makes it appear that Southerton thinks the DNA evidence does not conflict with the claims of The Book of Mormon.

If you read the quote in context you discover:

"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. However, such a scenario does not square with what the Book of Mormon plainly states and with what the prophets have taught for 175 years. The Book of Mormon records that soon after their arrival in the Americas, the descendants of Lehi 'multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land' (Jarom 1:8). By about 46 BC, after which time they had joined with the Mulekites, they had multiplied until they 'covered the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east (Hel. 3:8). By the time of the final conflagrations around 400 AD, the Israelite populations numbered in the many hundreds of thousands if not millions. There is not a single mention in the text of groups of people living in ancient America, other than the Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites. All three population groups had very large populations. It is hardly surprising then that Joseph Smith and all other church leaders have regarded Native Americans to be the descendants of the Lamanites. The God speaking to Joseph Smith in 1830-31 referred to the 'borders of the Lamanites' when talking about missionaries being sent to teach Native Americans who had been relocated to Missouri (D&C 28: 9; 54: 8)"

I can see the church changing the words "the principal ancestors of the American Indians" in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. They'll do it and hope that no one notices.

Subject: Unfortunately, Peterson's assertion can't be disproven
Date: Feb 16 07:31
Author: okgivens

Peterson's idea is enough to satisfy most Mormons because most Mormons don't think logically. They don't wonder why nothing is said in the Book of Mormon about these other peoples and how they converted them all to Nephitism. They don't wonder about how the Nephites and Lamanites had all those babies in the wilderness. To a true blue Mormon everything is a miracle and there is nothing that God couldn't have done. So they will swallow Peterson's words uncritically and proclaim, "It could have happened." The fact that it could have happened in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary is enough to keep the older ones going -- but probably not their children.

Subject: The church spokeshole's statements reek of "Dallinisms"
Date: Feb 16 03:45
Author: Squid

He's obviously being told what to say from someone in the top 15... hmmm... who could that be... Let's see, who gave the same lame arguments in a church talk about historical evidence and the Book of Mormon (can't prove a negative, it's all about testimony not science, etc. drivel, etc.)

From Dialogue and University of Chicago law professor, to Utah Supreme Court Justice, to lobotomized Morg-zombie...

The devolution is astonishing.

Enjoyed the article! Go Simon!

Subject: Re: The church spokeshole's statements reek of "Dallinisms"
Date: Feb 16 03:52
Author: PtLoma

They can lean on the Limited Geography crutch as much as they'd like, but it doesn't change the fact that they taught for generations that native inhabitants of the Americas are descended from the Lamanites. How can that be if there is no trace of Jewish/Hebrew DNA in the Indians' DNA.

Subject: Make no mistake, when the fertilizer hits the fan....they will start denying they ever taught that!
Date: Feb 16 04:01
Author: Charles, Buddhist Punk

Bah, I'm just an old ranting raving fart, but I know with every fiber of my being that this mainstream news will trickle down back to the hellhole of Mormonism that is SLC. And, like backed up septic tanks and sewage canals, they will return the favor by backpedaling on the doctrine.

They will start preaching to its sheeple that they never taught Native American Indians were of Jewish descent. They will start denying they ever had such a doctrine.

Bookmark my words, watch the claim disappear from the new editions of the triple combo, or whatever the hell its called these days. Saving face not lives is the order of the day.


Subject: This is great!
Date: Feb 16 07:19
Author: Eric K

You gotta love it when these kinds of articles come out. It will hopefully be syndicated and published in papers around the country.

I hope the next major article will be about Morg finances, such as spending $1.5 billion for shopping malls in lieu of helping the needy. I believe a double whammy of DNA and money will disturb enough people that they will examine their religion.

Subject: "Absolutely no bearing on it's central message as a testament of Jesus Christ."
Date: Feb 16 10:58
Author: SusieQ#1

TBM's won't be bothered one bit - they have their mantra right out of the article Somebody has to tell the typical TBM what to say and how to say it and here it is:

Otterson, the church spokesman, said Mormon leaders would remain neutral.
"Whether Book of Mormon geography is extensive or limited or how much today's Native Americans reflect the genetic makeup of the Book of Mormon peoples has absolutely no bearing on its central message as a testament of Jesus Christ," he said.

Here we go again. Back to the same kind of statement when temple rituals change.
Same answer as always: makes no difference, those didn't change, and now genetics (which they claimed was factual) is not central to their message of a testament of Jesus Christ.

If it has no bearing on their testimony, then who did Jesus Christ visit when he organized his church in the Americas.

Over 600 years later, Jesus Christ, as a resurrected being, appeared to the people of Nephi on the American continent:

"And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning" (3 Nephi 11:9-11).

Subject: WOW!
Date: Feb 16 11:12
Author: jillian

Just finished reading it -- what a great article!! Just want to share my favorite quote from it.

"It's not that Mormons are not curious," Mauss said. "They just don't see the need to reconsider what has already been decided."

What a nice way to say that they just like to stand with their hands over their ears and sing 'la-la-la'!

I'm going to email the reporter and 1) thank and congratulate him and 2) request that try and get it published in the OC edition. The bots really need to see this.

Subject: Otterson teaches Persecution Complex 101 to the TBM's !
Date: Feb 16 11:28
Author: SusieQ#1

Officially, the Mormon Church says that nothing in the Mormon scriptures is incompatible with DNA evidence, and that the genetic studies are being twisted to attack the church.

"We would hope that church members would not simply buy into the latest DNA arguments being promulgated by those who oppose the church for some reason or other," said Michael Otterson, a Salt Lake City-based spokesman for the Mormon church.

Translation: those wily wascals, are attacking us again and twisting science. Don't listen to them. Run away, run fast!

Subject: What's gratifying is that it was on PAGE 1
Date: Feb 16 11:25
Author: larryex

Make no mistake; there is a collision course between higher learning and the teachings of the church. Once again, the Morg will quietly rework its teachings to try to justify its existence. Look for a new revelation from the prophet (yeah, right!). We've already seeing evidence of this when The God-fearing Nephites were "pure" (the word was officially changed from "white" in 1981) and "delightsome." The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the "curse of blackness," turning their skin dark was toned down by the church. Also evidence the semantics in The latest scholarship, they argue, shows that the text should be interpreted differently. They say the events described in the Book of Mormon were confined to a small section of Central America, and that the Hebrew tribe was small enough that its DNA was swallowed up by the existing Native Americans

The DNA can't be "swallowed up" because mitochondrial DNA is passed on from the mother UNDILUTED.

Subject: DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture. The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.
Date: Feb 17 14:47
Author: anonymous

It is going to be increasingly difficult for the church to redefine what the word truth means:

From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.

"We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people," said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. "It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God."

A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.

"I've gone through stages," he said. "Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness."

Subject: In all of these discussions about the BOM/DNA issues, let's keep in mind that the Mopologists' responses.....
Date: Feb 18 22:15
Author: Randy J. not contain any positive evidence for the BOM's authenticity in any way. Rather, they are merely excuses for *lack* of evidence. They are futile, juvenile attempts to explain away why we can't find a single physical artifact which would show that a population of hundreds of thousands of Hebrew-descended, horse-domesticating, chariot-riding, metal-tool-and-weaponry-using, Christian-worshipping people existed somewhere in the Americas only 1600 years ago.

Can't find any Hebrew/Semitic DNA amongst Amerinds? Why, it was all washed away by interbreeding with other groups.

So, who are the "Lamanites" today?

Why, they are the Amerinds, who while not being actual blood descendants of the BOM's "Lamanites," are in fact descendants of the Asian-origin Amerinds who were incorporated into the "Lamanite" tribes, so we just call them "Lamanites" too, as a tribal distinction, not as a blood relation affiliation.

Can't find any horse remains? Why, they were actually deer or tapir, so we shouldn't expect to find any horse remains. Alternate excuse: We can't find any remains of Hunnic horses in Europe either. Alternate excuse No. 2: All the BOM horses were killed off at the battle of Cumorah, and since we haven't yet found the location of Cumorah, we shouldn't expect to find the horse remains either.

Can't find any steel swords? Why, "steel swords" could have actually meant "wooden clubs with sharp stones attached which could cut like a sword."

Can't find any "Nephite" cities? Why, they were all built over by the predominant Asian-descended people. Alternate excuse: Archaelogists haven't overturned every square mile of Mesoamerica yet, so Nephite cities could yet be discovered. Just because they haven't been found, doesn't mean they didn't exist.

Can't find ANY EVIDENCE FOR THE BOM'S AUTHENTICITY WHATSOEVER? Why, the Lord expects us to believe in the BOM on faith, not by physical evidence. (Duhhh, so why do the Mopologists continue to push their spurious "evidences", and why does the church continue to finance FARMS?)

The bottom line here being that NOT ONE OF THE MOPOLOGIST'S ARGUMENTS COMPRISE ANY ACTUAL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE BOM'S AUTHENTICITY. They are merely obfuscatory excuses for *lack* of evidence. They are similar in nature to O. J. Simpson's lawyers assertions that some unknown, unidentified "real killers" are out there who committed the crimes---while not providing one iota of evidence to support that naked assertion.

For those of you who debate these issues with TBMs: When they repeat these lame excuses, I suggest that you point it out to them that none of what they are saying amounts to any positive evidence for the BOM's authenticity---and that any advocate of any belief system (or other items such as UFOs, Bigfoot, etc.) can and do respond with the same type excuses that Mopologists use, and are no more credible. Tell them that when they can provide some positive evidence to support their assertions, you will begin giving them some credibility.

Part 2 - Who are the Lamanites?  

Mormons have historically believed that Lamanites, term used in the Book of Mormon, are the Native Americans in both North and South America who are descendents of Jews who came to the Americas around 600 BC.  Current Mormon apologetic statements claim that only a small fraction of Native Americans were descended from Jews and that their DNA has been lost.  This is a radical departure from 170 years of Mormon scriptures and teachings. 

Subject: Who the @?!# are the Lamanites?
Date: Feb 16 21:42
Author: Deconstructor

Modern church apologists want to pretend that the church doesn't know who Lamanites are. They should be embarrassed to say such lies to the press, when the record is so glaringly clear on this matter.

For the record, the church has declared emphatically who their Lamanites are:

D&C 28: 8
And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.

D&C 28: 9
And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.

D&C 28: 14
And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of the church, before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites.

D&C 30: 6
And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer and faith, for his and your deliverance; for I have given unto him power to build up my church among the Lamanites;

D&C 32: 2
And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall go with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.

D&C 49: 24
But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.

D&C 54: 8
And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.

"Not until the revelations of Joseph Smith, bringing forth the Book of Mormon, did any one know of these migrants. It was not known before, but now the question is fully answered. Now the Lamanites number about sixty million; they are in all of the states of America from Tierra del Fuego all the way up to Point Barrows, and they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand. The Church is deeply interested in all Lamanites because of these revelations and because of this great Book of Mormon, their history that was written on plates of gold and deposited in the hill. The translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed a running history for one thousand years-six hundred years before Christ until four hundred after Christ-a history of these great people who occupied this land for that thousand years. Then for the next fourteen hundred years, they lost much of their high culture. The descendants of this mighty people were called Indians by Columbus in 1492 when he found them here."
--Spencer W. Kimball, "Of Royal Blood," Ensign, July 1971, 7 (In the "Special Lamanite Section")

Before 1978 the BOM used the term "white and delightsome" to show how great white people were. In 1978 when the church changed theier stance on blacks, they changed the word "white" to "pure". It’s in 2Nephi 30:6, but that was only a window dressing,

The church left these:

1 Nephi 12:23
23 And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

1 Nephi 13:15
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

2 Nephi 5:21
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Jacob 3:8
8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

Alma 3:6
6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

3 Nephi 2:15
15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

Mormon 5:15
15 And also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles; for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us, yea, even that which hath been among the Lamanites, and this because of their unbelief and idolatry.

What Is The OFFICIAL Church Doctrine re: Ancestral Origins Of North American Indians??


Well, the Lord makes it clear to JS in D&C 3:18-20 --

18 And this testimony [the BoM] shall come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites, who dwindled in unbelief because of the iniquity of their fathers, whom the Lord has suffered to destroy their brethren the Nephites, because of their iniquities and their abominations.

19 And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;

20 And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved. Amen

So, dear TBMs, if the indigenous peoples of the New World were Lamanites in 1828, when Section 3 was "revealed," and if they were Lamanites when I was assigned to work among them on my mission in the early 1970s, then they're still Lamanites today and the folks at FARMS are making up bullshit excuses.

D&C 32:2 And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall go with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.

D&C 49:24 But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.

D&C 54:8 And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.

How could they go among the Lamanites if the Lamanites were gone? How could they establish a church of nonexistent people? How could the Lamanites blossom as a rose if they had already died off?

D&C 10:48
D&C 19:27
D&C 28:8-9,14
D&C 30:6
D&C 57:4
(See also the heading info, which provides contextual expansion.)
D&C 101:70-71
D&C 109:65-66.


1) The Introduction to the Book of Mormon that the Lamanites, the last surviving Book of Mormon people, are "the principal ancestors of the American Indians." The intro also says "Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel."

Furthermore, Moroni mentions several times he's writing to the Lamanites.

If the Lamanites wouldn't survive until the coming forth of the BoM -- as Moroni should have known, since he was a righteous prophet -- then why address his remarks to them? Maybe he didn't know, huh?

2) The Jaredites came "into that quarter where there never had man been." (Ether 2:5) The Nephites likewise came to a land "kept from all other nations" (II Nephi 1:9-11).

3) The footnotes of the editions of the Book of Mormon from 1876-1921 indicate Lehi & company landed in Chile; the description of Helaman 3:8 is explicated in the [officially sanctioned] footnotes in editions of the Book of Mormon from 1880-1920: "And it came to pass that they [the Nephites] did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land [g] southward to the land [h] northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea [i] south, to the sea [j] north, from the sea [k] west, to the sea [l] east." The footnotes provide the following identifications of these lands and bodies of water: "g, South America. h, North America. i, Atlantic, south of Cape Horn. j, Arctic, north of North America. k, Pacific. l, Atlantic." These footnotes indicate the official Church interpretation of Helaman 3:8 was that the Lamanites/Nephites covered BOTH continents of the entire western hemisphere.


1) Joseph Smith described the Book of Mormon as "the history of ancient America . . . from its

2) In 1833 Joseph Smith wrote to Rochester, New York, newspaper editor N. C. Saxton that "[t]he Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians... By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt…"

3) Joseph Smith wrote in the March 1, 1842 Times and Seasons that, ". . . the principal nation of the second race [i.e., the Nephites and Lamanites] fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century [A.D.]. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country."

4) In June 1834, Joseph Smith recounted the discovery of the skeleton of the now-notorious 'Zelph, the white Lamanite' [sic] in a mound in Illinois, referring to "the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country - Nephites, Lamanites, etc., ….subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains...He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites." (B. H. Roberts, 'Documentary History of the Church', II:79-80; Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1:482-83, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City.)


1) In the book Gospel Principles -- the Church's own official handbook of basic doctrine: "The Lamanites Will Become a Great People - The Lord said that when his coming was near, the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people. He said, 'Before the great day of the Lord shall come, . . . the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose' (D&C 49:24). Great numbers of Lamanites in North and South America and the South Pacific are now receiving the blessings of the gospel."

2) Prophet-to-be Joseph Fielding Smith, while an Apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve (and official church historian), published: "Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico; the Isthmus of Tehuantepec probably being the "narrow neck" of land spoken of in the Book of Mormon rather than the Isthmus of Panama...This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years... In the light of revelation it is absurd for anyone to maintain that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess this northern land... In the face of this evidence coming from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, we cannot say that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess the territory of the United States and that the Hill Cumorah is in Central America." ('The Deseret News', Church Section, Feb. 27, 1954, pp. 2-3).

3) In General Conference, 1960 (and the ensuing published official Conference Reports), Spencer W. Kimball said: "I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today.... 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. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl--sixteen--sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents--on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather....These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness." [NOTE: the Navajo/Dine is among the most obviously Asian of all Native American tribes, in terms of their DNA, linguistics, orhtodonty, cranial shape, etc.]

(We believe).... "That the existing Indian tribes are all direct descendants of Lehi and his company, and that therefore they have sprung from men all of whom were of the house of Israel." -- James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p.293

"When Columbus discovered America, the native inhabitants, the American Indians as they were soon to be designated, were a people of mixed blood and origin. Chiefly, they were Lamanites, but such remnants of the Nephite nation as had not been destroyed had, of course, mingled with the Lamanites. Thus the Indians were Jews by nationality.... [since then] there has been [a]... dilution of the pure Lamanitish blood. ... But with it all, the great majority are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, the dominant blood lineage is that of Israel. The Indians are repeatedly called Lamanites in the revelations to.... become again a white and delightsome people as were their ancestors a great many generations ago." -- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Ed., 1966, pp. 32-33.

"... that the Book of Mormon is about the only historical document we have at the present time of this great western world? ... . It tells, briefly, it is true, a story that at once could be accepted by scientists, philologists and all other men who would investigate it. Every year brings to our knowledge something that corroborates that book as a true historical document" -- Andrew Jensen Conference Report, October 1907, p.96
"Here (holding the Book of Mormon in his hand) we present a record of this American continent, a history of a branch of the tribe of Joseph, for nearly 600 years before Christ, and until 420 years after Christ, a history of the Lord's dealings with them from the time they left Jerusalem until one of their principal nations fell in battle, because of their apostacy; and the descendants of the remaining remnant are this degenerated people we call Indians, who still exist. .... which afterwards became a "multitude of nations," according to the blessing pronounced by the ancient patriarch Jacob, when [p.174] blessing his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh." -- Orson Pratt Journal of Discourses Vol. 19, p.173

"We can pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, to convert these Indian tribes around us ... that they shall be instructed not only in relation to their fathers and the Gospel contained in the record of their fathers... because they are of the blood of Israel" -- Orson Pratt, Journal of Discoursess Vol. 17, p.301, (1875)

"... the blood of Manasseh is found in the tribes and nations of the Indians of North and South America." -- Hyrum G. Smith, Conf report April 1929, p 123

"And we have scarcely touched the Indian races. There is an immense field spreading out before the Elders of this Church in the redemption of these poor remnants of the house of Israel. ... But here stretches out before us this immense continent on the south, peopled with descendants of the house of Israel" -- ; George Q Cannon, Collected Discourses Vol. 5, p.269

"These natives belong to the house of Israel.... The Lord has taken from this race any disposition for improvement even to this day; the best of them consider it a disgrace to work. Whatever drudgery is performed is done by their squaws, or by slaves captured from neighboring, tribes or bands. Ask any of them to work; the reply is, "me big Indian, me no work."... It is prophesied by Nephi as follows: "For after the book [Book of Mormon] of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed [the present American Indians.] And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews." -- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 10, p.359

"... to serve and to teach hundreds of the children of Father Lehi. One expression of appreciation from an Indian boy included these moving words: "Before I took LDS seminary I didn't have very much to live for. ... I had always felt that Indians could not do things as well as white people. Now I know that I am a child of God. I know that my people are of the house of Israel. ... " -- Neal A. Maxwell Conference Report, October 1970, p.93

"I have had the privilege of laboring among the true blood of Israel, through the loins of Joseph, through the two branches of the House of Israel--Ephraim and Manasseh -- a people whom the Lord loves -- a people whom the Lord chastens and forgives because of their great faith." -- E. Wesley Smith Conference Report, October 1950, p.47

"Here he [God] has the Indian or Lamanite, with a background of twenty-five centuries of superstition, degradation, idolatry, and indolence.... I present to you a people who, according to prophecies, have been scattered and driven, defrauded and deprived, who are a "branch of the tree of Israel -- lost from its body -- wanderers in a strange land"--their own land.... I beg of you, do not disparage the Lamanite-Nephites ... Do not scoff and ignore these Nephite-Lamanites... Do not prate your power of speech or your fearlessness unless you too could stand with the Prophet Samuel on the city wall, dodging stones and spears and arrows while trying to preach the gospel of salvation. The very descendants of this great prophet are with us. They may be Navajos or Cherokees.... Mayas or Pimas.... Piutes or Mohicans.... And in these living descendants ... will be redeemed, will rise and will become a blessed people. God has said it." Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1954, p.106-108

"In a sense I do not feel sorry for the Indian people because they are children of promise, belonging as they do to the house of Israel and are the posterity of Abraham, the father of the faithful, through whose lineage the Lord promised that all nations of the earth are to be blessed; therefore, they are a chosen race and people unto God, possessing a divine and royal heritage." Delbert L. Stapley , Conference Report, April 1956, p.56

"I presume that a majority of the brethren and sisters who are here this afternoon have read in the Book of Mormon the statement made by one of the writers, quoting the words of our Savior, in regard to the city of New Jerusalem, that the Gentiles should be called to assist the Lamanites, or the seed of the house of Israel, in the erection and building of that city. ... I begin to see a little of the preparatory work that I think is going to fit and prepare the seed of Lehi, or the Lamanites, to perform this great and glorious work that has been predicted upon their heads. One of the ancient prophets predicted that kings and queens should be the nursing fathers and nursing mothers of the seed of Israel in the latter days; and I find that, in a sense, this is being fulfilled in the stake over which I preside. The government of the United States, which, I presume, may be classed with the kingdoms of the earth, is establishing schools, and there is one in our neighborhood that I desire to refer to briefly. It is upon the San Juan river, among the Navajo Indians, and is costing several hundreds of thousands of dollars." -- Elder Walter C. Lyman , Conference Report, October 1907, p.86

"Guatemala is a country of about three million people. About half of them still dress in the Indian costume of a thousand or two thousand years back. They are wonderful people, very simple.... . I went... to present them with a Book of Mormon. I started to say, "I come to give you a copy of the Book of Mormon, a history of your people," and two chiefs immediately arose on their feet, and I started to say, "You are of the house of Israel," but before I could get it out of my mouth they jumped to their feet and said, "We are of the House of Israel." Elder Gordon M. Romney, Conference Report, April 1957, p.80

"That is the destiny of our Indian tribes... the Lord has rewarded unto them double for all the sins that were committed by their ancient fathers in their apostacy, and when he has visited them in judgment according to the prophecies that are contained in this Book of Mormon, and the times of the Gentiles who noir occupy this land are fulfilled, then the Lord will make have his arm, and he will redeem these remnants of Israel, that they may inherit the blessings promised to their ancient fathers." -- Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses Vol. 16, p.353 (1874)

"Neither will He suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren"—that is, the Lamanites proper. They were not to be permitted to destroy Nephi's seed that should be mingled among the Lamanites, nor should they be permitted to destroy the Lamanites—that is, the descendants of Laman and Lemuel. Nephi predicted this. To-day it is said that the Indians will perish, and that it is impossible to save them. Here is the word of God recorded in this sacred book. ... And strange to say—if anything can be said to be strange connected with the work of God—the descendants of those ancient covenant people of the Lord, have gladly received the testimony of the servants of God. Wherever we have gone and mingled with those people, with those Red Men, and been able to communicate to them the truths of which we are in possession, which God has revealed to us, ... and everywhere where those men with red skins dwell, they have gladly received the testimony of God's servants concerning the Gospel, and they rejoice in its fullness and in the knowledge that their fathers once possessed, and of the redemption that Jesus Christ has wrought out for them." -- George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 25, p.124, (1884)

The work of the Lord among the Lamanites must not be postponed, if we desire to retain the approval of God. Thus far we have been content simply to baptize them and let them run wild again, but this must continue no longer; the same devoted effort, the same care in instructing, the same organization of priesthood must be introduced and maintained among the house of Lehi as amongst those of Israel gathered from gentile nations. As yet, God has been doing all, and we comparatively nothing. He has led many of them to us, and they have been baptized, and now we must instruct them further, and organize them into churches with proper presidencies, attach them to our stakes, organizations, etc. In one word, treat them exactly, in these respects, as we would and do treat our white brethren.
(Mellennial Star 44:33; a letter from SLC dated Oct 18, 1882.)

In July 1843 a band of Potttawattamies came to see JS, looking for sympathy on having their lands taken from the.
JS told them:
"The Great Spirit has given me a book, and told me that you will soon be blessed again. The Great Spirit will soon talk with you and your children. This is the book which your fathers made. I wrote upon it (showing them the BoM). This tells what you have to do. Do not kill white men; it is not good; but ask the Great Spirit for what you want, and it will not be long before the Great Spirit will bless you, and you will cultivate the earth and build good houses like white men.
Vol 5, p. 381

And, in May 1844 a band of Sac and Fox Indians came and camped out in Nauvoo to see JS, complaining "they had been robbed of their lands by whites and cruelly treated." J.S.'s response was:
" I told them I knew they had been wronged, but that we had bought this land and paid our money for it. I advised them not to sell any more land, but to cultivate peace with the different tribes and with all men, as the Great Spirit wanted them to be united and to live in peace. 'The Great Spirit has enabled me to find a book [showing them the Book of Mormon], which told me about your fathers, and the Great Spirit told me, 'You must send to all the tribes you can, and tell them to live in peace;' and when any of our people come to see you, I want you to trear them as we treat you.'" (Vol 6, p. 401-402).

Identifying From Whom the Lamanites Originally Descended

from the Prophet Joseph Smith:

"When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels in the night season after I had retired to bed I had not been asleep . . . [

"[A]ll at once the room was illuminated above the brightness of the sun an angel appeared before me . . .

"[H]e said unto me, 'I am a messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things.'

"[H]e told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited.

"[H]e said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham."

(The Papers of Joseph Smith, Vol. 2, Journal, 1832-1842, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, copyright 1992, Corporation of the President, pp. 69-70), emphasis added

from the Book of Mormon:

“And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 30:4), emphasis added

Identifying Who the Lamanites Are Today

from President Spencer W. Kimball:

"The term 'Lamanite' includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people." (“Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971, p. 7), emphasis

Determining Where Scads of Lamanites Are Presently Living

from Boyd K. Packer, senior Apostle over Lamanite affairs:

",b>There are more than 60 million people of Lamanite extraction. It is no accident that the Church now prospers among them in Mexico, Central and South America, in the islands of the sea, and among the Indian tribes of North America."

(“President Spencer W. Kimball: No Ordinary Man,” Ensign, March 1974, pp. 3ff), emphasis added

"In contrast to the relatively few in North America who could claim Lamanite lineage (1.3 million), Packer pointed to the many millions in Mexico, Yucatan, Guatemala, and throughout South America: 'In all . .. . there are seventy-five million six hundred thousand who share in your [Native American Lamanite] birthright, of whom thity-one million nine hundred ninety thousand are pure Indians.'"

(address given during proceedings of the annual Indian Week at BYU, cited by Armand L. Mauss, All Abraham’s Children, p. 96), emphasis added

Determining the Present Location of Jewish DNA Among All These Readily-Available Lamanites from the Mormon Church

Well, ummm . . .

"There has been no 'official' response from the Mormon Church regarding the DNA research, Native Americans and the implications for the Book of Mormon, other than the statement posted on the website under the heading 'Mistakes in the News' which states:

"'DNA and the Book of Mormon
Various media outlets, 11 November 2003

"'The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is exactly what it claims to be — a record of God’s dealings with peoples of ancient America and a second witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"'The strongest witness of the Book of Mormon is to be obtained by living the Christ-centered principles contained in its pages and by praying about its truthfulness.

"Recent attacks on the veracity of the Book of Mormon based on DNA evidence are ill considered.

"Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes migration into the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin. The scientific issues relating to DNA, however, are numerous and complex. . . . '"



For an examination of the corner into which the Mormon Church itself and modern genetic science have painted the absurd LDS position on the subject of Lamanite DNA, see "Lamanites No More: DNA and Lost Ties to Father Lehi," at:

Subject: Awesome list! Here's a couple more
Date: Feb 17 10:03
Author: Feeling Henry Jacobs

1. We also bare testimony that the "Indians" (so called) of North and South America are a remnant of the tribes of Israel; as is now made manifest by the discovery and revelation of their ancient oracles and records.

2. Must we, because we believe in . . the Book of Mormon as the history of the aborigines of this continent, must we be expelled from the institutions of our country?
Joseph Smith, Appeal to the Freemen of the State of Vermont, the "Brave Green Mountain Boys", and Honest Men . . .December, 1843

Subject: Just read about 2/3 of your post to my TBM wife. Her reaction:
Date: Feb 17 11:35
Author: FeelingOfFreedom

A brief outline of a debate with my TBM wife moments ago:

- Backstory: Yesterday I emailed a link to the LA Times article to my wife. This morning, she mentioned that she had gotten the link.

- I was sitting in bed reading Deconstructor's post. She noticed what I was doing and I took the opportunity to read it out loud to her. I got about 2/3 of the way through it.

- She then expressed that it made sense that if God changed the Lamanites skin from light to dark, he would have changed their DNA as well (btw, if you believe this, then you believe that God is a white, male racist). I pointed out that if that was the case, then in the process he changed it to Asian DNA.

- At first she disagreed stating that we don't have solid answers to these questions yet.

- I made the point that DNA evidence, linguistics studies, and archeological evidence overwhelmingly indicate that the majority of American Indians were descended from Asians. I stated that neither the church nor the church apologists dispute this.

- She then stated that God may have changed their DNA to Asian DNA and that it didn't matter either way.

- She then expressed amazement at the lack of faith of the apostates on this board.

- As I was reading, she repeatedly made the comments "What's your point?" & "There's no point to any of this."

- After I got through most of Deconstructor's post, I told her that the point was simple:

1. Mormon scriptures and JS own words clearly state that the Nephites and Lamanites came to a virtually empty continent (1 Jaredite & a band of Mulekites, all of Semitic descent, no mention of anyone else) and that the Lamanites filled the northern and southern hemispheres.

2. The apologists, by means of the limited geography theory, argue against this.

- She said the apologists were wrong and lacked faith just like the apostates.

- I pointed out that the fact that the church website links to FARMS, an organization funded by church tithes, is a de facto acceptance of their position.

- She then changed her story agreeing that the Lamanites may have been a small group that was swallowed up (Huh? Does this mean that she now lacks faith?).

- I then reread the parts of Deconstructor's post that show that this position is untenable unless you reject the scriptures and many of JS's unambiguous statements.

- At this point, she became very angry and upset and stormed out of the room saying, "You just go ahead and keep reading those scriptures there. Maybe some of it will sink in."

Well, I did read them (I've read the BofM at least 20-30 times) and it did sink in - except not in the way she hoped.

There is no trace of discernible reasoning or logic when debating a TBM. It's OK to go through whatever mental gymnastics you need to maintain belief that IT IS TRUE. The righteous and elect can do this. Because of character flaws, weaknesses of the flesh, and the sophistries of Satan, fallen apostates cannot. They are doomed to live through the eternities inhabiting lesser spheres, unable to associate with their loved ones above them, pining away with the grief and unbearable weight of knowing what could have been...

Subject: TBM minds are like silly putty in the hands of the cult leaders.
Date: Feb 17 12:04
Author: Peep Stoner
...and that's why TBMs...are TBMs.

I wonder what your wife's response would be, if you gently reminded her that the type of thinking she just exhibited, namely a fluid jumping from one position to another (with each position being logically inconsistent with the others) in response to each uncomfortable challenge to her faith, is exactly the kind of thinking that Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, Moonies and people of many other cults exhibit in their strained efforts to avoid facing the possibility that their faith may be misplaced and unjustified.

Part 3 - DNA is used to prove a native African tribe is Jewish

If DNA can prove an ancient claim that an African tribe is Jewish, why is evidence lacking that proves the claim of the Book of Mormon?

Subject: DNA proves native African tribe is really Jewish!
Date: Feb 18, 2006
Author: Deconstructor

TBMs who refuse to believe that DNA can show Jewish ancestry should look at the case of the Lemba.

The Lemba are a native tribe in Africa that claimed they were descendants from Jews, because they have a tradition that they were led out of Judea by a man named Buba.

The problem was, several groups around the world practice Judaic rites or claim to be descended from Biblical tribes without having any ancestral Jewish connection. And there is no Buba in the records of Jewish history.

Did Buba (like Lehi) lead his family out of Judea, or was it just an made-up story? Were the Lemba people descendants from Jews or not?

It turns out that DNA evidence proved that the Lemba were indeed Jews.


Mormons should recognize the parallels.

DNA can and has been used to prove claims of Jewish ancestry. If the Angel Moroni and Joseph Smith were right about Native-Americans being Jewish descendants, then DNA would confirm it. But instead, the numerous DNA studies have all showed no connection between Jews and Native Americans.

Lehi is a fake version of Buba.

Subject: And the case of Madagascar shows how genetic evidence can be used to track ancient transoceanic migrations.
Date: Feb 18 12:25
Author: CraigC

The case of the Lemba shows that DNA evidence can confirm Hebrew ancestry, and the case of the inhabitants of the island of Madagascar establishes that genetic studies can provide evidence of transoceanic voyages by ancient peoples - even when those people subsequently intermingled with other people of different lineages.

Studies of human populations on the island of Madagascar indicate a mixture of Indonesian genetic markers and East African markers. The Indonesian lineages have been traced to Borneo. This means that about 1500-2000 years ago, Indonesians traveled by boat 4000 miles across the Indian Ocean from Borneo to Madagascar.

Yet there is no similar evidence for a transoceanic voyage for ancestors of Native Americans.

Subject: A show related to this will air on PBS's NOVA next week also has been on History Channel
Date: Feb 18 12:37
Author: FCI

Decon, Thanks for bringing this up. The Jewish DNA is clearly evident in obscure black South African tribes, but no evidence of DNA anywhere in the early Americas. As the church's statement said this week .... you must rely on faith...and I would add "lies".

"Lost Tribes of Israel"
NOVA PBS Airdate: February 22, 2000

NARRATOR: The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Devout Jews come to worship much as their ancestors did centuries ago. The time-honored traditions live on - the wearing of prayer shawls and head coverings, the wail of the shofar made of ram's horn. 4,000 miles from Israel, in southern Africa, a people known as the Lemba also heed the call of the shofar. They have believed for generations that they are Jews, direct descendants of the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However unlikely the Lemba's claims may seem, modern science is finding a way to test them. The ever-growing understanding of human genetics is revealing connections between peoples that have never been seen before. Opening new windows into the past. Tonight we travel across continents and seas - and into the microscopic world of the human genome - to unravel the mysteries of the Lemba, a people who believe themselves to be a lost tribe of Israel.

The Lost Tribe of Israel.
Last Aired on Sunday, January 22 at 3:00pm ET - Will play again soon

The mystery of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel has fascinated people through the ages. Explorers claim to have discovered evidence of the "lost tribes" all over the world, from Australia to Siberia, but few if any such claims have been backed up by solid evidence. But now a provocative possibility about the whereabouts of one of the tribes has emerged--and it's 4,000 miles from Israel--in Southern Africa. Host and explorer Josh Bernstein retraces the amazing journey that the Lemba people claim they made centuries ago. It stretches from the heart of modern South Africa to the ancient stone cities of Zimbabwe...and then onto the shores of the Mediterranean and the city of Jerusalem. And the evidence for this journey is more than anecdotal. As Josh discovers, recent DNA studies point to the Lemba's true origin in the Middle East.

Part 4 - The Mormon Church Response to DNA

Subject: Book of Mormon, DNA and FAIR
Date: Feb 16 15:07
Author: bob mccue

The way to approach this issue - what does DNA evidence tell us about whether the Book of Mormon is an historic record? - is the same one we use to analyze all similar questions. We use evidence coupled with probability theory. We do not think in terms of 100% proof.

The most credible Mormon and non-Mormon geneticists all say much the same thing - that the DNA case does not show with 100% certainty that no groups came from Jerusalem to the Americas, but does show that this is improbable, and that it is extremely improbable that any such migration contributed to a large scale civilization in the Americas. Hence, the Mormon apologist shift in emphasis toward the limited geography theory, which is much more difficult to attack than the common accepted theory of the BofM that underlay generations of belief that the Amerindians were in general descendants of people who crossed the ocean from Jerusalem. Religious people prefer hypothese that science can't mess with. Within Christianity there has been a trend toward such theories that is well over 100 years old. Fundamentalist leaning religions like Mormonism are latecomers to this game as a result of the social/information bubble they created for themselves.

The Book of Mormon DNA Controversy:
A Case Study in How Not to Think

Bob McCue


There is at the moment within the LDS community a debate respecting how much doubt the current evidence respecting DNA casts on the belief Joseph Smith ("JS") and most other Mormons have held that the American Indians descend from the House of Israel. While this story is far too long to tell here, I will provide its outline and then use it to illustrate what in my view is one of the primary ways in which Mormon and other religious thinking runs off the rails.

The Principle of Parsimony

Most of the best decisions humans make consciously or unconsciously use the "principle of parsimony" (sometimes called "Occam's Razor" after the Bishop of Occam who in the 14th century was one of its early and best know practitioners) as a criterion for deciding among competing theories or explanations of what "is". The principle states that we should always choose the simplest explanation of a phenomenon – the one that requires the fewest leaps of logic. This is one of science's basic decision making rules.

Another way to think of parsimony when it comes to decision making is that it makes use of probabilities. That is, it requires us to ask something like, "given all we know about question "x", what is most likely to be the correct answer?" It recognizes that certainty is not possible in answering most if not all questions. This is how scientists, lawyers, judges and others in the business of decision making try to think.

The Book of Mormon DNA Controversy

It is fair to say that there is much DNA based evidence to suggest that JS and all those who have followed him were incorrect respecting the ancestry of Native Americans. That is, it appears that they did not descend from the Israelites. The Church's response to recent summaries of the scientific evidence in this regard, most notably provided by Tom Murphy in various published papers, has been to indicate that "all is well" on its official website, followed by a reference to articles from the "Journal of Book of Mormon Studies" respecting DNA and the Book of Mormon that were prepared to rebut Murphy. See,15331,3885-1,00.html But one has to read those articles carefully to understand what they mean with respect to this complex issue. They do not conclude that all is well with the Church's theory. If fact, the most reasonable scientific conclusion that can be drawn from those articles is that while the best evidence today indicates that the Church's theory is incorrect, it is still possible that at some future time more evidence will be found to support the Church's theory. That is, we are not certain at this point that the Church is wrong. And the Church makes no apparent attempt to estimate how likely it is that science will vindicate it's position.

Precisely the same thing can be said about the earth's shape as the Church says about the DNA issue respecting the Book of Mormon. That is, the best evidence indicates today that the earth is round, but it is still possible that more persuasive evidence that it is flat will someday be produced. This is what Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould said in his introduction to James Watson's "DNA: The Secret of Life". Such statements are useless from a decision making point of view. To make a decision that depends upon a state of fact, I need to understand the relevant probabilities.

For example, many of my clients are in the oil business. Before they drill a well, they spend a lot of money collecting information that allows them to estimate the probability that oil or gas will be found at a particular location, and at a particular depth underground. They then determine how much it will cost to drill the well, and decide based on their best estimate of the probability that oil or gas will be found whether it makes sense to spend that amount of money to drill that particular well. If they asked their geologist whether to drill a well and he all he was prepared to answer was, "Well, no one can prove that there isn't oil or gas there, so let's drill!", he would lose his job. This is tantamount to what the Church says across a wide range of issues. You can't prove God does not exist, so we will assume He does. You can't prove JS lied about a lot of things, so we will assume he is believable. You can't prove that JS did not speak with angels and translate the Book of Mormon from golden plates, so we will assume that he did, while respecting each of these and many other similar issues there is plenty of evidence from which to make a probability based decision. But I digress.

So, particularly with respect to scientific questions such as what kind of light DNA evidence shed's on the Book of Mormon's authenticity, I think it is fair to expect any scientist addressing the issue to do so in a probabilistic way. I suggest that we should be suspicious of any who do not do so. It is my experience that because of what the probabilities in this regard indicate, the Church and those who are faithful to it both consciously and unconsciously resist this kind of analysis when it comes to things like the Book of Mormon. The manner in which the Church's apologetic scientists framed their analysis respecting the DNA question is a textbook example of this.

And as noted above, the kind of probabilistic analysis I have described can be applied to most of the issues that underpin the Church's faith claims. Historical analysis works on the same kind of probabilistic principles as does scientific analysis. And yet we find more or less continual resistance from the Church and those who defend it with respect to this kind of approach.

What Do the Church's Scientists Say About DNA and the Book of Mormon?

Since the question of the application of DNA theory to the native American population base is scientific in nature, one would expect the principle of parsimony to be on prominent display, and indeed one (but only one) of the articles linked to the Church's announcement that "all is well" refers to it. In that regard, D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens ("Who Are the Children of Lehi?") note that there is no scientific evidence to support the traditional LDS theory that the Native Americans descended from the Israelites and there is much evidence that must be counted against it. They then indicate that the principle of parsimony indicates that the simplest theory should accepted until refuted (see pp. 43 – 44). Any scientist reading this would understand them to say that based on the evidence extant, the Church's theory should be rejected until compelling evidence can be found to support it. This means that if a decision had to be made today that depended on whether the Native Americans descended from the Israelites, science would advise us to assume that they did not.

However, Meldrum and Stephens did not say this in the kind of clear fashion that would be required for a layperson to understand it. And then they go on set out a number of other theories, none of which are supported by any evidence, which could lead to the conclusion that the Native Americas did descend from the Israelites. So, given how oblique Meldrum and Stephens' statement against the Church's theory was, and how they indicated ways in which the Church's theory still could be true if evidence to support it was found, and how the Church's website referred to them as supporting the Church's position, most members who take the time to read what they have written will not understand it, and will likely conclude that these scientists are saying that science supports the Church's theory.

Each of the other articles referred to on the Church's website as supporting its position respecting the origin of the Native Americans takes a similar approach, but does not refer to the principle of parsimony. All they show is that science has not proven with 100% certainty that JS's theory of American Native origins is incorrect, and hence they invite Mormons to continue to believe that JS was correct.

For example, Michael F. Whiting (See "DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic
Perspective") sets up a straw man by saying that LDS critics claim certain proof of BofM falsity based on DNA alone. He then sets out to prove that of course does so. The difficulty of proving a negative is well known. In addition, contrary to the belief of most non-scientists, science does not purport to prove anything with 100% certainty. Even the basic principles of mathematics were shown by Kurt Godel to be uncertain. So of course it has not been proven that JS was wrong. Without an assessment of the probability based on the best evidence available to date as to who is right and who is wrong, this type of analysis tells us nothing. I should be embarrassing to a scientist such as Whiting (who I understand is reputable) to provide such analysis.

Whiting's paper, which provides all kinds of interesting and useful analysis respecting relatively unimportant issues, reminds me of a tax opinion produced by the local office of one of the world's largest accounting firms. I had to review it in the context of the significant commercial transaction. It was 65 pages long and provided an admirable summary of the taxation principles (I am a tax attorney) in question, great analysis respecting many relevant points, and then in one sentence buried deep inside that dense document rendered itself useless by assuming away the essential point respecting which the opinion had been requested. That accounting firm lost a client. Whiting similarly did not address the most important issue respecting the DNA and the Book of Mormon.

John M. Butler's article ("A Few Thoughts from a Believing DNA Scientist") also appears impressive. But again, he gives us no probabilistic analysis. All he has succeeded in doing is to show that the case against the Book of Mormon is not air tight. I note that Butler's specialty is DNA forensics and so it is not surprising that his analysis above is suited to the criminal justice process respecting which "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is the test most often in issue. To thwart proof beyond a reasonable doubt, as is required to prevent a criminal conviction, all that is required is a small probability that the case against you is flawed. Who can forget O.J. Simpson in that regard.

Newton on "Evasion by Hypotheses"

In "A History of Knowledge", Charles Van Doren summarizes the manner in which Newton created the scientific method, and indicates that the formulation Newton laid down still accounts for most of what scientists do. Newton had four rules, which when taken together constitute the scientific method. As Van Doren indicates at p. 210:

The fourth rule of reasoning is, in Newton's view, perhaps the most important of all. The entire rule should be quoted:

In [science] we are to look upon propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as … very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur, by which [the existing propositions] may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions. … [and] the argument of induction [that is, the principle he just stated] must not be evaded by hypotheses.

Newton loathed hypotheses. He saw in them all of the egregious and harmful errors of the past. By "hypotheses" he meant the kind of explanations that the Scholastics had dreamed up to explain natural phenomena, the theory of the Elements, the assumption of Quintessence, and the tortured explanations of so-called violent motion, which even the Parisian theologians had not been able to accept. And he was more than willing to admit that he did not know.

As noted earlier, even some of the Church's apologetic scholars are prepared to admit that on the basis of the extant evidence, the principle of parsimony would cause science to side with those who induce from DNA evidence that at least the part of LDS doctrine and culture that indicates an Israelite origin for a large civilization in the Americas is not accurate. There is no doubt in my mind that the same thing can be said respecting a host of other elements of the Book of Mormon. That is, if we follow Newton's "argument of induction" or the scientific method, the Book of Mormon should be accepted as ahistorical. We then note that after paying lip service to the "principle of parsimony", which is encapsulated by the first of the four rules in Newton's scientific method, the Church's apologetic scientists (an oxymoron if there ever was one) proceed for formulate one highly improbable hypothesis after another, each designed to cause those who read them to doubt the propositions that emerge from an inductive analysis of the evidence at hand. In short, the Church's scientific scholars defend the Church's position in the DNA debate by setting up precisely the kind of hypotheses Newton "loathed", and using them in precisely the fashion he said that they should not used.

The Use of Probabilities in Decision-Making

The interplay between the Church and science's position respecting DNA illustrates something that is endlessly displayed as Mormons attempt to understand the "reality" of their faith. For the psychological and other reasons set out at (p. 6 and following) and, those who believe tend to regularly accept arguments like those offered by the Church in favor of its DNA theories, despite the fact that the evidence is heavily against them. While discussing religious issues such as the one related to DNA, I often hear the faithful discount the most probable theory by referring to the fact that there are many possible ways of explaining what happened, and so allow their faith to determine what is or is not. We do not ignore probabilities in our scientific work or in any other significant aspect of our lives. We should not do so respecting our religious beliefs either, despite the powerful psychological incentives that been built into us to do that.

It is natural for people to assess probabilities about the things that are important to them, and so that almost everyone other than faithful Mormons wish to do this respecting the Book of Mormon is not surprising. When I see the kind of bafflegab I just have coming from the Church's apologists, I can think of only two possible alternatives: Either they are dancing away from the probabilities because they don't want to say them; or as a scientific matter it would require so many assumptions to get to the point where probabilities could be assessed that it would not be responsible to make such an assessment. Were that the case, I would expect them to have said this.

Apologists and Faithful Mormon's Follow President Hinckley's Example

The sloppy reasoning outlined above can be traced within Mormon culture all the way to the top, and appears to used to accomplish an important organizational objective – keeping the faithful in line. For example, President Gordon Hinckley said the following at the Church's General Conference held in the Spring of 2003:

The book of Revelation declares: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15–16). ….

Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.

This is classic scare/control message, particularly when linked to the rest of the LDS dogma that only obedient Mormons will be able to stay with their families after death. It also stands in complete contradiction to other LDS scripture and prophetic teachings that encourage one to “study things out” and which compare knowledge to a growing plant – the antithesis of “hot or cold”.

It is my view that Church and how it operates make the most sense when viewed through a control/authority paradigm. As soon as I began to use that paradigm to try to understand how the Church has influenced me, things came into focus and I was able to both find the threads that unite my past experience and predict with a high probability of success where things were headed. The "one true church" idea is near the foundation of the LDS control and authority oriented system of religious belief.

The "all black or all white" argument is an oft-repeated Mormon leadership theme, and is nothing more than a false dichotomy that performs the function of a debating trick, except Gordon Hinckley uses it on people who will believe almost anything he says because of the Mormon belief that the utterances and writings of the prophets (including Pres. Hinckley, the rest of the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of which Jeffrey Holland is a member) are modern scripture that override the Bible and all other scriptural authorities.

How can anyone who has experienced the good side of Mormons conclude that Mormonism is 100% bad and fraudulent? Of course there are good things within the Mormon tradition, as there are within all human traditions. Therefore, if Mormonism can only be either all truth or all fraud, it must be all truth. This is the conclusion toward which President Hinckley directs as many people as possible. This position makes no sense in light of my life experience in general or experience with and study of Mormonism in particular. I cannot think of anything in life that is as simple as Pres. Hinckley represents this particularly complex issue to be, and my review of Mormon history and theology has brought me the conclusion that there are serious inaccuracies in the story the Church tells, and pervasive pockets of error within the LDS tradition that continue to influence it today. In short, Mormonism is a mixture of good and bad; truth and error. It is grey and hence the only sensible way to make decisions respecting it is to use the principle of parsimony, probabilities etc. in the fashion outlined above. But nonetheless, President Hinckley attempts to win the debate by the manner in which he frames it, and due to how he is trusted, he will be effective in this regard with many people, and was effective until recently in my case.

To test the sensibility of the black v. white approach, try to think of any other aspect of life in which it would serve us well as a decision making model. Do we accept all of what any school of political thought tells us? How about parenting or child rearing theory? Relationship theory? Educational theory? Economics? Medicine? I cannot think of any other aspect of life in which I would be comfortable accepting the ideas that come from a single source as being my sole guide. Religious belief, in my life, had been established as a unique phenomenon, respecting which all of the rules that governed the remainder of my life were suspended. My acceptance of the one true church concept is what made this possible.

I do not accuse Pres. Hinckley of conscious trickery. But I believe that he is so sure that he is right that he is incapable of checking the intellectual linkages that underpin the means he uses to push those who follow him toward what to him seems to be the only possible conclusion. JS suffered from the same debilitating, philosopher king delusion. That is, he felt justified in misleading his follows because he knew what was best for them. As the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Fynman said, we cannot learn until we question. Certainty kills learning.

Teachings such as those of Jeffrey Holland and Gordon Hinckley seem calculated to, and in fact do, cause Church members to become less questioning and hence less apt to learn, and more fearful and hence more passively obedient and accepting of LDS authority. This is the worst of Mormon and all other religious cultures. It is stupefying. It justifies Marx's dictum about religion being the opiate of the masses. It is the stuff of philosopher kings. It is a Dark Ages idea.

As one writer I recently read put it, the question is whether we have religious faith, or whether religious faith has us. If we are well enough informed about what our faith is and how it works in our lives to use it to help us live a full and joyous life, then we have religious faith. If, on the other hand, our beliefs are used by others to control us, then our faith has us. Those others need not be current religious leaders. It is possible to surrender our free will to people who wrote books thousands of years ago that purport to tell us what we should do, or even to abstractions of our own invention. I have resolved to do what I can to ensure that from now on I have faith, instead of being had by it.


Mormons are real people who have to make real decisions. For example, put yourself in the shoes of a 19 year old boy who has to decide whether to go to the Ukraine and drink potentially radioactive water (which my son recently did) while telling probably misleading stories about JS and the Book of Mormon (including that the Native Americans are Israelites) for two years, or to continue his university education while doing a Peace Corp stint or two in the foreign culture of his choice. If that boy is rational, he will want to hear about the probabilities of the Book of Mormon being what the Church says it is based on the best evidence collected to date, as well as a host of other things that are analyzed on the same basis.

In order to make the best decisions they can, Mormons need access to information that will allow them to determine to the best of their ability the probabilities of a host of things relevant to their religious beliefs. The Church goes out of its way to prevent information of that type from circulating among the members. See for a summary of concerns in that regard. The example presented by the Church's assurance to its faithful and the world that Mormon beliefs have nothing to fear from DNA evidence is another example of this.

Richard Feynman once explained the concept of "honesty" as follows:

By honest I don't mean that you only tell what's true. But you make clear the entire situation. You make clear all the information that is required for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind. ("The Meaning of It All", p. 106)

I have long known that the Church's leaders fall far short of this standard. The above analysis makes it clear that the Church's apologetic scientists have similar moral deficiencies. That is not to say that they are conscious liars, but rather that their faith has blinded their reason, and regrettably their stature within the LDS community will likely cause many whose faith is under threat to gratefully close their minds upon being offered the thin excuse outlined above to do so.

Subject: "Hollow Men Filled With Straw:" Notice in the Mormon Church's official response to the scientific evidence cited in the LA Times article on Lamanite DNA that . . .
Date: Feb 17 , 2006
Author: steve benson

the LDS Church does three particularly revealing things:

1) It simply acknowledges that the DNA issues are extensive and complicated.

2) It offers references to DNA-related writings, but emphasizes that none of these writings constitute the Mormon Church's official position on the DNA question.

3) In providing those references, it cites only Mormon apologists who have written for Mormon publications or who have ventured forward with a pro-Mormon defense.

From the Mormon Church's official "non-official" response:

"Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes migration into the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin. The scientific issues relating to DNA, however, are numerous and complex.

"Those interested in a more detailed analysis of those issues are referred to the resources below.

"The following are not official Church positions or statements. They are simply information resources from authors with expertise in this area that readers may find helpful:

"'DNA and the Book of Mormon'
By: David M. Stewart, MD

"'Detecting Lehi's Genetic Signature: Possible, Probable, or Not?'
By: David A. McClellan

"'Nephi's Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations'
By: Matthew Roper

"'Swimming in the Gene Pool: Israelite Kinship Relations, Genes, and Genealogy'
By: Matthew Roper

"'Elusive Israel and the Numerical Dynamics of Population Mixing'
By: Brian D. Stubbs

"'Before DNA' (John L. Sorenson and Matthew Roper, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2003) Download PDF document (715 KB) 

"'DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective' (Michael F. Whiting, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2003) Download PDF document (431 KB)

"'A Few Thoughts from a Believing Scientist' (John M. Butler, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2003) Download PDF document (169 KB)

"'Who Are the Children of Lehi?' (D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2003) Download PDF document (427 KB)

"'Does DNA Evidence Refute the Book of Mormon?' (Jeffrey D. Lindsay, Ph.D., 16 November 2003) Download PDF document (478 KB)"



In short, when it comes to the current questions surrounding Lamanite DNA, the Mormon Church is officially speechless, hapless, helpless, clueless, toothless, pointless, directionless, gutless, rudderless and, well, completely isolated from the scientific mainstream.

Perhaps more to the point:

When it comes to Lamanite DNA, the Mormon Church finds itself absolutely abandoned and on its own, with no place to turn (except inward) for support of its long-held, heretofore official, scripturally canonized and, now, totally repudiated position that Native Americans descended from Hebrews.

Where are the voices of the modern-day Mormon prophets on this one?

Poet T.S. Eliot speaks for them:

"We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar."

Subject: Mormon Church has already come down against science.
Date: Feb 18 01:49
Author: Mathmatica

Thomas S. Monson, “The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church,” Ensign, Feb. 2001, 2

President Monson says:

Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: ‘I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.’”

I keep this quote handy to remind me of the lunacy of the speaks volumes. I would expect to see more of this if DNA starts to become a much more public and pressing issue. They'll just discredit the science, and the vast majority of members won't even give it a second thought.

Subject: In all of these discussions about the BOM/DNA issues, let's keep in mind that the Mopologists' responses.....
Date: Feb 18 22:15
Author: Randy J. not contain any positive evidence for the Book Of Mormon's authenticity in any way. Rather, they are merely excuses for *lack* of evidence. They are futile, juvenile attempts to explain away why we can't find a single physical artifact which would show that a population of hundreds of thousands of Hebrew-descended, horse-domesticating, chariot-riding, metal-tool-and-weaponry-using, Christian-worshipping people existed somewhere in the Americas only 1600 years ago.

Can't find any Hebrew/Semitic DNA amongst Amerinds? Why, it was all washed away by interbreeding with other groups.

So, who are the "Lamanites" today?

Why, they are the Amerinds, who while not being actual blood descendants of the BOM's "Lamanites," are in fact descendants of the Asian-origin Amerinds who were incorporated into the "Lamanite" tribes, so we just call them "Lamanites" too, as a tribal distinction, not as a blood relation affiliation.

Can't find any horse remains? Why, they were actually deer or tapir, so we shouldn't expect to find any horse remains. Alternate excuse: We can't find any remains of Hunnic horses in Europe either. Alternate excuse No. 2: All the BOM horses were killed off at the battle of Cumorah, and since we haven't yet found the location of Cumorah, we shouldn't expect to find the horse remains either.

Can't find any steel swords? Why, "steel swords" could have actually meant "wooden clubs with sharp stones attached which could cut like a sword."

Can't find any "Nephite" cities? Why, they were all built over by the predominant Asian-descended people. Alternate excuse: Archeologists haven't overturned every square mile of Mesoamerica yet, so Nephite cities could yet be discovered. Just because they haven't been found, doesn't mean they didn't exist.

Can't find ANY EVIDENCE FOR THE BOM'S AUTHENTICITY WHATSOEVER? Why, the Lord expects us to believe in the BOM on faith, not by physical evidence. (Duhhh, so why do the Mopologists continue to push their spurious "evidences", and why does the church continue to finance FARMS?)

The bottom line here being that NOT ONE OF THE MOPOLOGIST'S ARGUMENTS COMPRISE ANY ACTUAL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE BOM'S AUTHENTICITY. They are merely obfuscatory excuses for *lack* of evidence. They are similar in nature to O. J. Simpson's lawyers assertions that some unknown, unidentified "real killers" are out there who committed the crimes---while not providing one iota of evidence to support that naked assertion.

For those of you who debate these issues with TBMs: When they repeat these lame excuses, I suggest that you point it out to them that none of what they are saying amounts to any positive evidence for the BOM's authenticity---and that any advocate of any belief system (or other items such as UFOs, Bigfoot, etc.) can and do respond with the same type excuses that Mopologists use, and are no more credible. Tell them that when they can provide some positive evidence to support their assertions, you will begin giving them some credibility.

Subject: Another problem with the Limited Geography Theory

"And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east." [Helaman 3:8]

Where in Mesoamerica exists a region wherein those "Book of Mormon people" could cover their land to the shores of four "seas," and yet still supposedly comprise an insignificant minority of the total population, and be dwarfed by Mayans?

And these are the people whose presence Daniel Peterson claims was so insignificant in Mesoamerica that we shouldn't expect to find any DNA evidence of their modern descendants?


Related topics:

DNA and the Book of Mormon August 2005.  Read the article in the USA Today.  The story that Dr. Simon Southerton submitted to us as to why he left Mormonism due to DNA evidence is at whyleft125.htm.  On July 31st, 2005, a church court was held on Simon in Australia.  The court proceedings and discussion can be read at Mormon412.    Background information about the court is at Mormon406.  Also, an interesting discussion on Mormon apologetics and DNA is at Mormon391. 

Tactics of Mormon Apologists.  Read the discussion Mormon376

Is FARMS, the Mormon funded apologetic group, credible?  Read the discussion on peer review Mormon333


Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church

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