New Light on DNA and the Book of Mormon

Coming at the scientific community like a ton of bricks, it has been revealed that Native American’s are not of exclusively Eastern Asian heritage. As the National Geographic states, “Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought.” The discovery of 24,000-year-old Siberian youth and a second 17,000 year old human remains nearby contain a third of western Eurasians genomes related to Middle East and Europe ancestry.

Needless to say, the discovery has been shocking to scientists who have for years insisted that there was only one DNA explanation for Native Americans. In the linked article, co-author and ancient-DNA specialist Eske Willerslev, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, says, “These results were a great surprise to us . . . I hadn’t expected anything like this. A genome related to present-day western Eurasian populations and modern Native Americans as well was really puzzling in the beginning. How could this happen?” Not that there weren’t clues that indicated things weren’t what was expected long before this discovery. According to the scientists, it answers some long standing questions and anomalies. The mysterious Kennewick Man, who to some doesn’t look either East Asian or Native American, might not be a complete anomaly. In fact, it has always been something of a puzzle why, “no contemporary East Asian populations really resemble Native Americans,” Willerslev said. The evidence is growing from genetic, linguistic, and physical evidence that America has ancient migrants from multiple peoples.

Despite all the evidence, there are some things that can be concluded and others not about The Book of Mormon and the DNA discoveries. It is not as clear cut for both sides, no matter how strong feelings are about the issues. What does this mean? That question will be answered in response to relatively standard comments already made by others.

This proves the Book of Mormon is true.

Not really, although it helps to answer critics who claim there is no DNA support. Remember that the genetic material is several thousand years behind the first mentioned Book of Mormon migrations. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t others that came before or that the scriptural dates are accurate according to modern methods of time keeping. The Tower of Babel is itself rejected by scientists and historians, so nothing new there. That combined attack against both the Book of Mormon and Judeo-Christian scripture is an ongoing subtle theme that religious critics don’t seem to process in their point scoring arguments.

Always in the background, even in the Book of Ether, are those never mentioned because they aren’t part of the purpose of the sacred story (see 2 Nephi 1:5-8). The DNA evidence might be found in very ancient people and not even on the American continents, but it does make the Book of Mormon people’s more possible. There can no longer be any pointing to quick and easy (lack of) evidence for refutations. It is amazing that the critics who put science on a pedestal still act as if there are with such having already evaporated.

This proves the Book of Mormon false, because the dates are way too early.

This is the complete opposite argument as the above. Although true that this doesn’t have any direct relation to the Book of Mormon dates and peoples, it is still significant. The scientists themselves are saying it changes how we should look at the genetics of all Native American’s up to the present. That would, by logic, include the years 6000 and 600 B.C. that critics are denying as migration dates. It cannot be said the DNA of European and Middle Eastern genomes are found this far back, then they disappear again before the Book of Mormon can be validated. No, the evidence is indicating that Israelite DNA cannot be dismissed. It neither proves nor disproves the Book of Mormon, but takes absolutes out of the equation. Since the DNA criticism is that no support exists, that can no longer with these findings be used as a justification for rejection. At best for critics the arguments begin once more at square one.

This proves Creationism wrong, and therefore the Book of Mormon false.

Almost all of the arguments mention this for some reason. Like stated above, non-religious critics want to take down more than Mormonism. They would like to dismiss all of Christianity as a bonus. Religious critics will blithely quote and repeat them without any care for the ramifications for their own beliefs. Anything to get a word against those pesky Mormons.

The truth is that Mormonism and Creationism are not yoked together like a fine fitting puzzle. It is true that the Book of Mormon often interprets the most traditional readings of Biblical events, but close readings indicate even those are complicated. It always accompanies these discussions with the idea more is to be learned. Unlike other religions or as taught in the book itself, the Book of Mormon is not believed to be the last word. This is especially the case when other Mormon scriptures, such as the Book of Abraham, are brought into the mix. There is the idea that time and creation are countless years old, with new “stars and planets” forming before time as we mortals know it existed. The LDS Church, although rejecting Evolution as a theology and philosophy, has no official stance on it as a scientific theory. Brigham Young University, the Mormon educational flagship, teaches evolutionary biology with some outside praise. That wouldn’t be the case if it was dismissed as completely evil and wrong.

Religious people should stay out of Scientific discussions.

Such an elitist attitude is why a larger number of people have a low opinion of scientists. They are always getting talked down to or lectured by those who claim to know better than the rube off the streets. Whenever someone tries to make an argument, no matter how backed up by other or alternative evidence, the knee jerk reaction is publish it or read in peer reviews. In other words, it doesn’t matter unless the “in crowd” gets a chance to accept or reject its inclusion in a hard to acquire and expensive magazine. Often a publication that no one other than the most elite know exists. That isn’t to say people don’t like science, but that scientists have a Sheldon Cooper public relation problem.

Besides, religious people staying out of the scientific discussions is hard to do when the scientists themselves love to poke their noses into religious affairs. It doesn’t really matter. With all the gnashing of teeth against the religious by vocal scientists, they can’t force anyone to shut up. Everything they study is intimately connected to how humans perceive reality, agreeing with the diverse worldview or not. Dialogue will continue with or without their consent.


New arguments against the Book of Mormon are starting to sound like the old ones. They are no longer potent except to those who cling to anything that might even vaguely sound valid, even if they aren’t. That doesn’t mean that the Book of Mormon can now be proven. It does mean it cannot, at least with DNA evidence, be disproven. Once again the only evidence that can be used (when all evidence is honestly evaluated) is personal opinion or the gift of Spiritual witness. There are still some hard questions about the Book of Mormon, but they don’t represent an insurmountable challenge.

12 thoughts on “New Light on DNA and the Book of Mormon

  1. Interesting. This appears to have been published 14 months ago, but I didn’t see anything about it from the usual sources that are so eager to point out these articles when they supposedly lend credence to the notion that Joseph Smith was a flagrant fraudster.

    Now we learn that these issues are extraordinarily more nuanced and complicated than it originally seemed. Gee, go figure.

    I truly feel bad for those folks who abandoned their pretense of having a testimony of the gospel when it appeared that the ship was sinking. Turns out, it was just the bilge pump having a temporary leak; the ship was entirely seaworthy all along.

  2. The DNA criticism that there is no support of the BOM is still valid. There is still no evidence that there is middle eastern/Jewish DNA in Native American ancestry today. The findings of mixed ancestry in the remains of someone who lived in Asia 17,000 and 24,000 years ago adds nothing to the argument for DNA evidence of the BOM. Members will need to continue to choose faith over evidence on this one.

    I disagree completely that “no East Asian populations resemble Native Americans”. They actually look very similar. Go watch “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, then watch “Last of the Mohicans” and see how similiar the Asian and Native American actors look. They are virtually exchangeable. Anyone who claims Asians and Native Americans don’t resemble one another needs to travel more.

    I’m Asian and visited a reservation in New Mexico. While there, I was asked by a tribe member what tribe I was from.

  3. TM according to the scientists, findind DNA of this kind directly disproves that modern Native Americans only have Asiatic ancestors. I agree there is more work to be done and it doesn’t prove the Book of Mormon, but I suspect your beef is with the scientists and not my OP that you probably didn’t read in its entirety.

  4. I am a believer in the historicity of the Book of Mormon. I am also a believer in the usefulness of genetic studies: it has been an important part of my profession for 30 years. What was obvious to me when the controversy broke several years ago is that the issues are so complex that genetics and Book of Mormon historicity will never inform the other. It will only get worse in time as the complexity of study results increases. If a current Middle Eastern genotype was discovered in Native Americans it would mean nothing for historicity and vice versa. For starters, what was the genotype of Asenath? What was the genotype of the mother of Mulek and the others that came from Jerusalem at the same time? We need a very detailed genetic analyses of ALL the original Book of Mormon migrants before we know what to begin to look for genetically with any precision. If we had that analyses, would we expect to find it? No! By the way, my wife’s family is Chinese and I have spent much time involved with health care on several Native American reservations: they look nothing alike.

  5. Jettboy, this really just proves that there was a larger batch of east Europe/middle eastern descent in the mix. It was already well know that there was that in the mix. It’s much much larger than expected. The article I read was 1/3. But the whole eastern land bridge thing is still the primary source.

  6. My ex husband is Chinese and I am from the mix of people who inhabited the British Isles. Our children have been mistaken by knowledgable people as being Thai, Apache, Polynesian and a variety of other ‘races’. The third generation, in which Polynesian, Chinese, and central European all have an input are very diverse, but most have at least a hint of an epicanthal fold on their upper eyelids. Many people, including most Mormons, have the idea that other than the Siberian land bridge, the American continents have been isolated for several thousand years until 1492. In spite of evidence that seafaring people from many origins have found their way to the Americas, most DNA evidence of the diversity introduced by these visitors will likely continue to be ascribed to modern intrusions.
    I believe that God deliberately leaves obscurity. We are meant to exercise faith in accepting certain things including the Book of Mormon.

  7. My experience is that God gives me just enough tangible evidence to assure me that He and His Church are not disproved. Then He sits back and watches to see what I want to believe.

  8. Thanks Jettboy for posting this. Interesting topic and discussion. One thing we need to remember is when Native American peoples came in contact with European peoples 90% of the Native American peoples died, mainly from disease. When you have that much of the original DNA lost, and the subsequent admixture of European and African DNA, plus 500 years, the old DNA is hard to nail down.

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