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Archaeology & the Book of Mormon

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In the last part in this series, we saw that the Bible is reliable, being textually pure and verifiably accurate in many places. Therefore, the Mormon can have confidence that the Bible is the Word of God and that it can be accurately translated. In this chapter we will examine the Book of Mormon to see how it holds up to the historical test. The Mormons at your door will tell you that many findings within archaeology have confirmed the Book of Mormon time and time again. Is this true? What does the historical data we have tell us about the events recorded in the Book of Mormon?

1. There is no specific confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology.

A. What Mormon archeologists say.

Brigham Young University (BYU) is owned by the Mormon Church and has a department of professional archeologists who are dedicated to archaeology as it pertains to the Book of Mormon. These professionals, who are practicing Mormons, are to be applauded for their honesty. What many of them have to say will be a shock to the lay Mormon who is unaware that archaeology and the Book of Mormon are at odds with one another. The lay Mormon is told by the Mormon Church that archaeology continues to confirm the Book of Mormon, while Mormon scholars, who actually study archaeology for a living, have something quite different to say.

“[It appears that the Book of Mormon] had no place in the New World whatsoever…. [It] just doesn’t seem to fit anything … in anthropology [or] history…. It seems misplaced” (endnote 20, continuing from endnote 19 in Part 2).

“The first myth that we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists. Titles on books full of archaeological half-truths, dilettante on the peripheries of American archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists regardless of their education, and a Department of Archaeology at BYU devoted to the production of Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that Book of Mormon archaeology really exists” (endnote 21).

“What I would say to you is there is no archeological proof of the Book of Mormon. You can look all you want. And there’s been a lot of speculation about it. There’ve been books written by Mormon scholars saying that ‘this event took place here’ or ‘this event took place here.’ But that’s entirely speculative. There is absolutely no archeological evidence that you can tie directly to events that took place” (endnote 22).

“Now, I’m an archeologist, and I work in Mexico where some people think that the events occurred. So a lot of Mormons ask me every week if I find any evidence. And I tell them, ‘No.’ … [T]he question of how to translate what the Book says in terms of real evidence that we can grab in our hands, archeologically, is still a huge problem” (endnote 23).

Keep in mind that all of these are practicing Mormons who are professional Book of Mormon archeologists!

B. What non-Mormon archeologists say.

Earlier we read from the Smithsonian Institution’s statement “The Bible as History.” We saw that archaeology confirms much of the Bible and that professional archeologists use the Bible in their work. The Smithsonian also has a “STATEMENT REGARDING THE BOOK OF MORMON.” This statement can be requested at the same address. Every one of the statements are damaging to the reliability of the Book of Mormon. Here is the first of eight statements: “The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”

In 1989, Michael Ammons wrote to the National Geographic Society requesting information on the Book of Mormon and archaeology. The Society replied in a letter dated April 26, 1989:

“Neither the Society nor any other institution of equal prestige has ever used the Book of Mormon in locating archaeological sites. Although many Mormon sources claim that the Book of Mormon has been substantiated by archaeological findings, this claim has not been verified scientifically.”

Also in 1989, Linda Hansen wrote to the Department of Archaeology at Boston University with a similar request. In a reply letter dated April 5, 1989, Julie Hansen of the department responded:

“The Archaeological Institute of America has never used the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide in locating historic ruins on the Western Hemisphere…. Over the past 30 years The New World Archaeological Foundation, located at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has conducted numerous scientific excavations in Mesoamerica, originally with a view to confirming the claims in the Book of Mormon. They have discovered no evidence that supports the Book of Mormon in any way. Nonetheless, they have published in full detail the results of their excavations in Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, Volumes 1-55, 1959 and following…. They are accepted by the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society of American Archaeologists as legitimate scientific investigations and the New World Archaeological Foundation is to be commended for publishing the results of their work that essentially refutes the basic beliefs of the Mormon Church on which the Foundation is based” (endnote 24).

Therefore, there is a consensus from professional archaeologists, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, that there is no specific confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology.

2. The lack of archaeological evidence is sometimes damaging.

A) The Book of Mormon claims that the ancient inhabitants spoke and wrote in “Reformed Egyptian” and Hebrew (endnote 25). If this were the case, we would expect to find artifacts with writings in these languages. However, the Smithsonian’s eighth statement regarding the Book of Mormon says:

“Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.”

B) The Book of Mormon states that the two peoples mentioned (Nephites and Lamanites) had Jewish beliefs that became Christian when the resurrected Christ appeared to them. However, there is no evidence that the ancient inhabitants in the Americas had either Jewish or Christian beliefs.

C) Hill Cumorah is located in New York, southeast of Rochester. Joseph Smith claimed that when Moroni appeared to him, he was told that Moroni’s father, Mormon, buried the gold plates upon which the Book of Mormon was based on the hill Cumorah just before the great final battle there (Mormon 6:6). In the Pearl of Great Price, Smith writes that the day after his second vision, he went to a large hill outside of the village where his family lived (the hill Cumorah) and found the gold plates (endnote 26). This identifies the hill where Smith dug up the plates as the same hill where Mormon buried them and where the great battle took place. In Mormon 6:10-15, it is claimed that hundreds of thousands of people were killed on or near the hill Cumorah during that final battle. It says that “their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth” (Mormon 6:15). In other words, their bodies were left there, unburied.

To help you understand the magnitude of casualties at hill Cumorah, let us consider another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War, 55,000 soldiers were wounded, including 6,000 of them killed on the battlefield and 4,000 more whose wounds were mortal. Eyewitnesses said that there was so much blood from the dead and injured that there were parts of the battlefield that seemed like streams of blood. So many men and horses died that all could not be buried at once and many corpses were left on the battlefield until a few days later when others were hired to do the task.

If 6,000 men died on the battlefield at Gettysburg, what would a battlefield look like with hundreds of thousands dead? Since they were left unburied at hill Cumorah, wouldn’t there be some artifacts made of metal and stone? Bullets by the thousands are found at Gettysburg. Nothing, however, has been found at hill Cumorah.

University of Rochester paleontologist and stratigrapher Carl Brett has worked in the Palmyra, N.Y, area where hill Cumorah is located and is familiar with the hill and its geologic conditions. He says that if hundreds of thousands were slaughtered at the hill and not buried, there would still be skeletal remains on the surface today, even after 1,600 years. Scavengers and weather conditions would account for why much is gone, but there would still be quite enough left to look at. Metallic artifacts from weapons and armor would also be easily found (endnote 27). But nothing has ever been found at hill Cumorah.

3. Attempts by Mormons to answer the archeological problem fail.

During a series of conversations I once had with a Mormon friend and some Mormon missionaries, I turned to them in the first meeting and said that one objection I had to Mormonism was that there is no archaeological evidence to support the stories in the Book of Mormon. One of the missionaries smiled confidently and claimed there was a lot of evidence from archaeology to support the historical truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I asked him to show me some. He said he did not have any information with him but would bring some to our next meeting. He did. Needless to say he was shocked when I quoted the Mormon scholars below who refuted the very materials he had in hand!

“Few of the writings they have produced are of genuine consequence in archaeological terms. Some are clearly on the oddball fringe; others have credible qualifications. Two of the most prolific are Professor Hugh Nibley and Milton R. Hunter; however, they are not qualified to handle the archaeological materials their works often involve” (endnote 28).

“Those volumes which most flagrantly ignore time and space and most radically distort, misinterpret, or ignore portions of the archaeological evidence are the popular Farnsworth volumes. Also inadequate, from a professional archaeologist’s point of view, are the well intentioned volumes by Milton R. Hunter and a number of smaller pamphlets and works by various authors…. New World Old World comparisons have been less popular but fraught with problems. The best known examples are the two volumes by Nibley which suffer from an overdose of Old Worlditis…. He does not know New World culture history well, and his writing ignores the considerable indigenous elements in favor of exclusively Old World patterns” (endnote 29).

“In situations where sources of religious and secular authority conflict with each other, a Latter-day Saint sometimes finds himself in a quandary. He has been assured by a folklore transmitted in lessons, talks and church literature that archaeologists (usually Gentiles) are steadily proving the Book of Mormon authentic, while through his formal education and secular literature he has become aware that in actuality the experts seem to contradict the scripture” (endnote 30).

“Science does not arrive at its conclusions by syllogism, and no people on earth deplore proof demonstration by syllogism more loudly than real archaeologists do. Yet, Mr. Jakeman’s study is nothing but an elaborate syllogistic stew. The only clear and positive thing about the whole study is the objective the author is determined to reach” (endnote 31).

Again, every one of the above are practicing Mormons. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, BYU is owned by the Mormon Church and has a department dedicated to Book of Mormon archaeology. According to BYU anthropologist John Clark, virtually all of the professional archaeologists there admit that archaeological finds which specifically tie the past to events in the Book of Mormon are missing. These practicing Mormons call books and their authors that list sensational findings not qualified, inadequate, and speculative.

Some Mormons will respond that these archeologists do not represent the official church position, so their opinions are not credible. But why trivialize and dismiss the findings of the overwhelming consensus of practicing Mormons who are professional archaeologists, yet accept, without question, the official Mormon Church position? Could it be that the ground’s silence is indicative of a Mormon Church position that is false? After all, if it is false, silence from archaeology is precisely what we might expect to find.

It is fair to mention that professional Mormon archaeologists claim there is general confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology, citing peoples existing where it is thought Book of Mormon peoples may have existed. This general confirmation, however, does not show that the Mormon picture of history is true. These same archaeologists (Johnson, Clark) admit that conclusions regarding the findings are pure speculation. The issue is not, “Did people exist in the Americas between 600 B.C. through A.D. 400?” We know that they did. The issue is, “Can we identify these civilizations as the ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon?” And the answer from virtually all professional Mormon and non-Mormon archaeologists alike is no.

In the last part of this series we saw that the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts in our possession today allow us to have an accurate translation of the Bible. Therefore, even by Mormon standards, we can be confident that we have the Word of God. We also saw that secular history has attested to the accuracy of the Bible so that we can know with certainty that many of the events recorded in it took place. Unfortunately, the Mormon cannot have this same confidence when it comes to the Book of Mormon. Archaeology and secular history are silent when asked if the events took place. Not only is this silence disturbing to professional Mormon archaeologists, but it is evidence against Mormonism when no artifacts turn up in areas which should be abundant with relics such as the hill Cumorah. However, as damaging as these may be, Mormonism’s greatest challenge concerns another one of their scriptures, the Book of Abraham, which will be the subject of the next part in this series.
–30–
Mike Licona is the director of apologetics & interfaith evangelism at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

ENDNOTES

20 Dr. Ray Metheny, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. Address at the Sixth Annual Sunstone Theological Symposium, Salt Lake City, 8/25/84.

21 Dr. Dee Green, Former Editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter “Book of Mormon Archaeology: The Myths and the Alternatives,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), pp. 77-78.

22 Dr. David Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. In a personal telephone conversation, 7/23/97.

23 Dr. John Clark, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. In a personal telephone conversation, 7/25/97.

24 Copies of the reply letters from the National Geographic Society and Boston University were provided by Jim and Judy Robertson of Concerned Christians.

25 Mosiah 1:4; Mormon 9:32-33. Also see Joseph Smith. History 1:64.

26 Joseph Smith. History, verses 51-52. Hill Cumorah is located in Manchester, N.Y., about 25 miles east of Rochester. Smith lived in Palmyra, about five miles away from the hill.

27 A personal telephone conversation on September 8, 1997.

28 John L. Sorenson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Sociology, BYU. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1, No. 1 (Spring 1966), pp. 145-246.

29 Dee Green, General Officer, Univ. Archaeological Society. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), p. 74.

30 John L. Sorenson, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), p. 81.

31 Dr. Hugh Nibley, quoted by Dee Green. Book of Mormon Archaeology, p. 75.

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=27018

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DANGER: The Church of Christ By David J. 218

DNA proves the Book of Mormon to be fals 142

So Joel Osteen says Mormons are Christia 128

 

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DNA and the Book of Mormon By Bill McKeever

http://www.mrm.org/topics/book-mormon/dna-and-book-mormon-record 

One of the fundamental tenets taught to Mormon children and new converts is that the Book of Mormon is an account of real people and real events. Mormon leaders, apologists, and scholars have been adamant in declaring the Book of Mormon to be actual history. Dr. Robert Millet, the well-respected professor at Brigham Young University, stated, “The historicity of the Book of Mormon record is crucial. We cannot exercise faith in that which is untrue, nor can ‘doctrinal fiction’ have normative value in our lives…Only scripture-­writings and events and descriptions from real people at a real point in time, people who were moved upon and directed by divine powers­-can serve as a revelatory channel, enabling us to hear and feel the word of God” (“The Book of Mormon, Historicity, and Faith,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies Vol. 2, number 2, p.1).

One of the claims made in the Book of Mormon is that it records the story of a Hebrew man named Lehi who sees in a vision the destruction of Jerusalem around 600 B.C. He then flees with his family to escape the impending onslaught of Babylonian conquerors and eventually sails to the Western hemisphere. Following the death of Lehi, circumstances led to the colonizers splitting into primarily two groups, known as Nephites and Lamanites. As the story goes, the exploits of the Nephites and Lamanites were recorded on gold plates that were ultimately buried in the ground and found by Joseph Smith several centuries later. 

The Hebrew Connection  

The introduction to the Book of Mormon states that the book is “holy scripture comparable to the Bible” and that it is a “record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.” It goes on to claim that the Lamanites “are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.” Mormon apologists have been quick to point out that the introduction makes no claim for infallibility. While that is true, we know of no General Authority who claims that the introduction teaches error.

However, the title page to the narrative states that the Book of Mormon is “an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi, and also of the Lamanite– written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel.” In an article written for the Mormon periodical Times and Seasons in 1842, Joseph Smith made it a point to mention “that the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated; the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that, said title page is not by any means a modern composition either of mine or of any other man’s who has lived or does live in this generation” (3:943.)

We are told in the Book of Mormon that Nephi was “the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh” (Alma 10:3).

Nephi, one of the primary characters in the Book of Mormon narrative, made it clear that the people mentioned in the Book of Mormon “are descendants of the Jews” (2 Nephi 30:4).

Speaking in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1881 Wilford Woodruff, who later became Mormonism’s fourth president), stated, “The Lamanites, now a down-trodden people, are a remnant of the house of Israel. The curse of God has followed them as it has done the Jews, though the Jews have not been darkened in their skin as have the Lamanites” (Journal of Discourses 22:173).

Mormon Apostle James Talmage noted that, “The Nephites suffered extinction about 400 A.D., but the Lamanites lived on in their degraded course, and are today extant upon the land as the American Indians” (Jesus the Christ, 23rd ed., p.49).

Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote in his book Doctrines of Salvation that this connection is also noted in Doctrine and Covenants 3:264: “Not only in the Book of Mormon are the descendants of Lehi called Jews, but also in the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 19, this is found: ‘Which is my word to the Gentile, that soon it may go to the Jew, of whom the Lamanites are a remnant, that they may believe the gospel, and, look not for a Messiah to come who has already come.'”

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, under the subtitle “Native Americans,” states that “the Book of Mormon tells that a small band of Israelites under Lehi migrated from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere about 600 B.C. Upon Lehi’s death his family divided into two opposing factions, one under Lehi’s oldest son, Laman (see Lamanites), and the other under a younger son, Nephi” (3:981). 

The Controversy  

In the fall 1997 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, LDS author Brigham Madsen discussed the difficulty that many Latter-day Saints are having with accepting the Book of Mormon as an historical document (Reflections on LDS Disbelief in the Book of Mormon as History). Many who have closely examined the contents of the book in light of scholarship have come to realize that it cannot possibly be true history. Madsen raised an interesting challenge in his article when he refers to the history and origins of the American Indian. He wrote, “…perhaps it can be anticipated that before long some scholar will examine the DNA of early inhabitants of eastern Siberia and the DNA of early American Indians for confirmation of their relationship. All that would be left would be for an interested Mormon to compare the two findings to the DNA of Israelites who lived about 600 B.C.E.” (p. 91). It appears that the day of DNA confirmation has arrived.

The book American Apocrypha (Signature, 2002) contains an essay titled Lamanite, Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics. The essay’s author, Thomas W. Murphy, is both a member of the Mormon Church and an anthropologist who offers information that conflict with traditional assumptions regarding the heritage of the Indians. He notes, “So far, DNA research has lent no support to the traditional Mormon beliefs about the origins of Native Americans. Instead, genetic data have confirmed that migrations from Asia are the primary source of American Indian origins” (pp. 47-48). He goes on to say, “While DNA shows that ultimately all human populations are closely related, to date no intimate genetic link has been found between ancient Israelites and indigenous Americans, much less within the time frame suggested in the Book of Mormon” (p.48).

Murphy cites the works of several experts in the field of anthropology and genetics, including that of Michael Crawford, a biological anthropologist at the University of Kansas who said, “I don’t think there is one iota of evidence that suggests a lost tribe from Israel made it all the way to the New World. It is a great story, slain by ugly fact.” Murphy says that Crawford’s “work shows that Amerisraelite Lamanites could not possibly have been the ‘principle ancestors of the American Indians,’ as claimed in the current introduction to the Book of Mormon” (p.53). He also mentions Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes and Russian geneticist Miroslav Derenko “who have substantiated Crawford’s conclusion through agreement that ‘the Indian gene pool is Siberian, not Middle Eastern'” (p.53).

In his essay, Murphy responds to some of the claims made by LDS apologetic groups such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR). On page 62 he says, “FARMS has played a role in offering revisionist interpretations that seek to reconcile faith with science. But the DNA research may make this effort more difficult as the views of intellectuals and those of traditional Mormons continue to diverge.”

In response to an inquiry made to FARMS in 1997, I received the following from Dr. John Tvedtnes: “The most recent mitochondrial DNA study demonstrated that there were three known separate migrations to the New World, one certainly connected to Siberian peoples, the other thought to be Asian. Among Amerindians, samples were taken in Canada, the United States, and Peru. None were taken in Mesoamerica, where most LDS scholars believe the story of the Book of Mormon took place” (e-mail received 11/14/97).

Statements such as this would make it appear that there was still hope that research done in Mesoamerica (which includes countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador) would offer the elusive connection. However, such research has been performed and no link has been established. Murphy states on page 62, “While FARMS researchers are careful to note the importance of cultural influences on the construction of categories, they express confidence in an Israelite genetic presence in Central America and perhaps as far away as Arizona to the north and Colombia to the south. As we have seen, genetic studies of indigenous peoples throughout North, Central, and South America have failed to link Native Americans from these locations to ancient Hebrews.”

In 1997 I wrote to Scott Woodward, the renowned molecular biologist at Brigham Young University, to ask if any DNA studies had been done at BYU. He wrote me the following: “We have an active research project addressing some of these questions but most of the data is still too preliminary to make any hard conclusions. Most of all the evidence to date would point to Asian populations as the source of at least the great majority of contemporary Native American gene pool.” In the same post, Dr. Woodward also stated that he believed “that the Americas were moderately populated at the time of arrival of the Lehi group, the Jaredites and any other group that may have come from the Middle East” (e-mail received 11/14/97).

According to Murphy’s essay, it appears that Woodward is still not at all optimistic that a link will be found. Although Murphy notes how Woodward “believes that the presence or absence of genetic linkages to the Near East in the Americas is neither proof nor disproof of the Book of Mormon” (p. 66), on page 65 he says, “it would not surprise Woodward if geneticists ultimately failed to find any traces of mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] from Lehi’s party, Jaredites, or Mulekites.”

While speaking on this subject at the 2002 Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City, Murphy cited others who have come to conclusions similar to his. For instance, Dr. David Glenn Smith, a molecular anthropologist from the University of California Davis, said, “Genetic research, particularly that using mitochondrial and Y chromosome markers, provide quite emphatic refutation of any such relationship between Jews and Native Americans.”

Murphy closed his remarks by asking, “Now what do we as Mormons do? We’ve got a problem. Our beliefs are not validated by the science.” Murphy believes that Mormons have a moral and ethical responsibility to relegate this notion as a “mistake of men.”

William S. Bradshaw, a molecular biologist teaching at BYU, responded to Murphy’s Sunstone talk. Bradshaw opened his response by saying, “Let me repose a question that Tom has put to us. Is there scientific evidence based in molecular biology to substantiate the statement in the introduction to the Book of Mormon that Lamanites are the principle ancestors of American Indians? The answer is no.” He admitted that he could not discount the conclusions made by Murphy, but he urged the crowd to be cautious of those conclusions. If true, however, he felt that this mistake of man was no more than “the mistake of overreaching. The mistake of saying we know more than we know.” He also urged listeners not to make judgments “about mistakes that were held by people decades ago without trying to understand the context in which they made those statements.” 

Mormonism’s Defenders Respond  

As expected, many in the LDS apologetic community have vilified Murphy for his public statements. Allen Wyatt, a Mormon apologist working with the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), made no pretense in accusing Murphy of behaving like an “apostate” despite the fact that his church has declined to charge Murphy with apostasy for his public statements http://www.fairlds.org/apol/antis/200207.html). Some at least, have chosen to refrain from the typical ad hominem argument so prevalent in Mormon apologetics and have at least attempted to offer some sort of an explanation.

Mormon apologists don’t seem to deny that current genetic evidence shows no connection between Lamanites and Hebrews. In a December 8, 2002 article in the LA Times, Dr. Daniel Peterson, a BYU professor and researcher at FARMS, was quoted as saying, “The idea that America may have been overwhelmingly peopled by folks from northeastern Asia is perfectly compatible” with Mormon doctrine, said Daniel Peterson, a lifelong Mormon and professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young. Genetic evidence that some Native American ancestors came from the Middle East could easily be lost over thousands of years, he said.”

In their essay titled, “Who are the Children of Lehi,” Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens wrote, “As biologists we accept the published data dealing with Native American origins and view those data as reasonably representing American-Asian connections” (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol.12, number 1, 2003, p.38). On page 41 of the same essay they state, “The data accumulated to date indicate that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.” On page 42 they say, “There has been little if any evidence seriously considered by the mainstream scientific community that would indicate a Middle East origin, or any other source of origin, for the majority of contemporary Native Americans.” Like many Mormons, they dismiss the conclusion that a lack of a DNA link between Indians and Hebrews discredits Joseph Smith’s claim as prophet.

Like Peterson, Meldrum and Stephens hold to the theory that the genetic gene pool was diluted through intermarriage with other people groups. “We propose that Book of Mormon is the account of a small group of people who lived on the American continent, interacting to some degree with the indigenous population but relatively isolated from the general historical events occurring elsewhere in the Americas” (Ibid., p.44).

Such conclusions are only speculative since there is no hard evidence to support the notion that the Lehi colonizers lived simultaneously with other non-Semitic cultures. Nothing in the Book of Mormon clearly suggests this. To say the genetic link could have been lost gives the impression that the offspring of those in the Lehi party remained relatively small. 

“Other Nations”?  

First, let’s examine the claim that the offspring of the Lehi party intermarried with another culture. In 2 Nephi 1:6 Lehi prophesies “that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” He goes on to state in verses 8-9, “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance.”

We learn from this that no other nation had knowledge of this land at the time of the arrival of Lehi’s party, thus excluding the notion that other cultures shared the same area. We also learn that such an arrangement would continue as long as those who were brought out of Jerusalem continued to keep God’s commandments. However, should the people “dwindle in unbelief,” God would bring “other nations unto them and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (vv. 10,11). As to when exactly such an incursion would take place is not specified in the prophecy.

Acknowledging this prediction, retired BYU anthropologist John Sorenson asks how long it could have been before other nations would have come and intermingled with the Nephites and Lamanites. He notes on page seven of his article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?” that the Lamanites “dwindled in unbelief within a few years.” Dr. Sorenson asks, “How then could Lehi’s prophecy about ‘other nations’ being brought in have been kept long in abeyance after that?” He then notes, “The early Nephites generally did the same thing within a few centuries.”

While I agree that both the Nephites and Lamanites had their times of unbelief, the Book of Mormon fails to mentions other nations who came in to “take away from them the lands of their possessions,” especially those whose genetic makeup would take us to Asia. This can only be argued from silence.

J. Reuben Clark, writing for the LDS magazine Improvement Era, stated, “The Lord took every precaution to see that nothing might interfere with this posterity of Joseph in working out their God-given destiny and the destiny of America. He provided, and so told Lehi at the very beginning of his settlement, that: . . it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations ; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. (2 Nephi 1:8.) The Lord so kept the land for a thousand years after Lehi landed. He so kept it in His wisdom for another thousand years after the Nephites were destroyed, perhaps to give the Lamanitish branch another chance” (“Prophecies, Penalties, and Blessings,” Improvement Era, 1940, Vol. xliii. July, 1940. No. 7). Several LDS leaders have stated that this was fulfilled when the Gentiles came to America.

The Book of Mormon does mention other groups of people, but in most cases it appears that these are merely sub-groups that can be traced back to Lehi or other Jewish groups whose DNA should lead us back to Israel. For example, Omni 1:15 in the Book of Mormon tells of a group of people who lived in Zarahemla who “came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.” Mulek, supposedly the only son of Zedekiah who was not killed when Jerusalem fell, led the people of Zarahemla. According to Mosiah 25:3, these people, known by Mormons as “Mulekites,” outnumbered the Nephites, but together the Nephites and Mulekites were only half as numerous as the Lamanites.

Dr. Sorenson is among some Mormons who offer the possibility that a remnant of Jeredites intermarried with the colonizers. In an article posted on the Mormon website Meridian Magazine, Geoffrey Biddulph writes, “Chances are extremely high that at least some, and perhaps a majority, of modern-day Native Americans are descended from the Jaredites, and would have Asian blood. And of course Brother Murphy’s writings and public comments virtually ignore the Jaredites”

(http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/030128anti.html). Biddulph’s use of the phrase “extremely high” and “perhaps a majority” must be taken as nothing more than hyperbole. There is no way such a comment can be proven.

According to the Book of Mormon the Jaredites came to the western hemisphere around the time God confounded the languages at the Tower of Babel. Even if this theory is correct, we probably have more reason to believe that a genetic link would take us back to the Middle East, not Asia or Siberia, given the fact that the Tower of Babel was believed to have been built somewhere in Babylonia. Hebrews, like Babylonians, both fall within the category of Semitic people. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, the record of the Jaredites “hints at an epic genre rooted in the Ancient Near East” (2:717).

The Jaredite theory poses another problem if we are to believe the Book of Mormon record for what it actually says. According to the fifteenth chapter of Ether, King Coriantumr gathers “all of the people upon all of the face of the land, who had not been slain (except the prophet Ether) for a final battle against the army of Shiz, which also consisted of “men, women, and children being armed with weapons of war” (15:15). Such was the slaughter that in both armies all had fallen by the sword except the two leaders (15:23-29). Shiz is beheaded and Coriantumr, weakened from battle, is later “discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons” (Omni 1:21).

Mormon Seventy B.H. Roberts felt that the Jaredite race came to be extinct. “In their last great war, which resulted in the extinction of the race, to the last man, it is stated that ‘two millions of mighty men had been slain; and also their wives and their children.'” Roberts believed that Coriantumr was the “last Survivor” (Studies in the Book of Mormon, p. 164, emphasis mine) However, Roberts was aware of the argument that quite possibly some Jaredite survivors married into Mulek’s colony but noted that such a theory is “merely a matter of conjecture” (New Witnesses for God 3:137).

Even if we gave this theory the benefit of the doubt, the fact that Mormon leaders and scholars have described the demise of the Jaredites with words like complete annihilation (Ludlow), exterminated (Hunter), wiped out (Nibley), extinction (Roberts), etc., tends to tell us that if there were any Jaredite survivors at all, they would indeed be a very small number. If Mormons wish to cling to the idea that genetic evidence was somehow lost, it would seem more probable that Jaredite genes would be the ones in short supply, not Nephite or Lamanite genes.

Sorenson offers this suggestion, “And if the Lord somehow did not at those times bring in ‘other nations,’ then surely he would have done so after Cumorah, 1100 years prior to Columbus” (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, v.1, Fall 1992). This seems to be the theory held by Seventy Milton R. Hunter. “Following the close of Nephite recorded history, Mongolians, Vikings, and perhaps small groups of wanderers from other lands, came to the Americas and intermarried—to a greater or less extent—with the descendants of Book of Mormon peoples. Their posterity constituted the numerous aboriginal tribes found in the New World by the Europeans” (Archaeology and the Book of Mormon p.15).

If this prophecy came to fruition after the battle of Hill Cumorah, the time frame involved becomes much shorter, making a diluted gene pool less likely. 

Lost Genetic Evidence?  

Next, let us examine the claim that the genetic gene pool was somehow diluted to the point where we should not expect to find a Hebrew link.

The Book of Mormon gives the impression that the Nephites and Lamanite populations were anything but small. Helaman 3:8 in the Book of Mormon states, “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.” In commenting on this passage, the Book of Mormon Student Manual, published by the LDS Church, notes, “No one knows the details of Book of Mormon geography. But the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed some information that suggests that at some time in their history the spread of the Nephites unto the ‘land northward’ included what we know today as North America” (1979 edition, p.354). This coincides with Doctrine and Covenants 54:8, which states that the borders of the Lamanites extended to the “land of Missouri.”

Mormon 1:7 adds, “The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.” A footnote at the bottom of the page dates this passage at around A.D. 322.

Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt believed that the Lamanites “gathered by the millions” at the battle of Hill Cumorah! (Journal of Discourses 17:31.) Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie agreed with this assessment when he wrote, “Neither the Nephites nor the Jaredites repented when rivers of blood flowed on their battlefields and millions of their number were slain by the sword” (The Millennial Messiah, p. 386 –387, emphasis mine).

It could be argued that the battle at Hill Cumorah severely diminished the population of remaining Lamanites. However, this does not seem to be the position of some LDS leaders. For instance, tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith let it be known that the Lamanite influence was not restricted to North America. “The history of this American continent also gives evidence that the Lamanites have risen up in their anger and vexed the Gentiles. This warfare may not be over. It has been the fault of people in the United States to think that this prophetic saying has reference to the Indians in the United States, but we must remember that there are millions of the ‘remnant’ in Mexico, Central and South America” (Church History and Modern Revelation 2:127, emphasis mine).

Speaking in conference in October 1921, Elder Andrew Jenson, a member of the staff of the LDS Church’s Historian’s Office, stated, “We, therefore cast a glance southward into old Mexico and through the great countries beyond — down through Central America and South America, where there are millions and millions of Lamanites, direct descendants of Father Lehi.” (Conference Report, October 1921, p.120, emphasis mine).

On page 601 of The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth Mormon prophet stated, “About twenty-five centuries ago, a hardy group left the comforts of a great city, crossed a desert, braved an ocean, and came to the shores of this, their promised land. There were two large families, those of Lehi and Ishmael, who in not many centuries numbered hundreds of millions of people on these two American continents” (emphasis mine).

Probably the most damning quote that undermines this notion that the Lamanite genetic link could have been lost to the point of nonexistence is found on page 596 of the same book. Kimball wrote, “Lamanites share a royal heritage. I should like to address my remarks to you, our kinsmen of the isles of the sea and the Americas. Millions of you have blood relatively unmixed with gentile nations” (emphasis mine).

The obvious question is, “How do you lose the genetic link of millions of people who allegedly have not mixed their blood with another culture?” Notice also that Kimball refers to the “kinsmen of the isles of the sea.” Many are unaware that according to the teachings of LDS leaders, the Lamanites were not restricted to merely the western hemisphere. In a message given in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on February 11, 1872, Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt proclaimed, “Here let me say again, according to the Book of Mormon, many of those great islands that are found in the Indian Ocean, also in the great Pacific Sea, have been planted with colonies of Israelites. Do they not resemble each other? Go to the Sandwich Islands, to the South Sea Islands, to Japan–go to the various islands of the Pacific Ocean, and you find a general resemblance in the characters and countenances of the people. Who are they? According to the Book of Mormon, Israelites were scattered forth from time to time, and colonies planted on these islands of the ocean” (Journal of Discourses 14:333). 

“What would Lehi’s DNA look like?”  

Clinging to the presupposition that the Lamanitish gene pool was diluted, some Mormon apologists have insisted that it would be next to impossible to know exactly what Lehi’s DNA would look like. Perhaps that answers lies with Mormon President Gordon Hinckley.

On more than one occasion, President Hinckley has mentioned the Hebrew/Lamanite connection in dedicatory prayers given at Mormon temples. For instance, in his prayer at the dedication of the Mexico City temple in December 1983, he stated, “Bless Thy Saints in this great land and those from other lands who will use this Temple. Most have in their veins the blood of Father Lehi” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?mexico_city&chronological)

In December of the following year, he gave a dedicatory prayer at the Guatemala City, Guatemala temple where he stated, “Thou Kind and Gracious Father, our hearts swell with gratitude for Thy remembrance of the sons and daughters of Lehi… We thank Thee O God, for lifting the scales of darkness which for generations clouded the vision of the descendants of Lehi” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?guatemala_city&chronological)

In his March 6, 1999 dedicatory prayer given at the Colonia Juaréz Chihuahua Temple, Hinckley he said, “Bless Thy Saints that they may continue to live here without molestation. May they live in peace and security. May they be prospered as they cultivate their farms and pursue their vocations. May the sons and daughters of father Lehi grow in strength and in fulfillment of the ancient promises made concerning them.” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?colonia_juarez&alphabetical).

In August 1999, Hinckley made a similar statement as he was in Guayaquil, Ecuador to dedicate another new LDS temple. “It has been a very interesting thing to see the descendants of father Lehi in the congregation that have gathered in the temple…So very many of these people have the blood of Lehi in their veins, and it is just an intriguing thing to see their tremendous response and their tremendous interest” (Salt Lake Tribune 11/30/2000).

When James Faust, Gordon Hinckley’s second counselor, gave the dedicatory prayer for the Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico temple on March 12, 2000, he stated, “We invoke Thy blessings upon this nation of Mexico where so many of the sons and daughters of Father Lehi dwell.” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?tuxtla_gutierrez&chronological)

Thomas Monson, Gordon Hinckley’s first counselor, made the same connection when he prayed at the dedication of the Villahermosa, Mexico temple on May 21, 2000: “May Thy eternal purposes concerning the sons and daughters of Lehi be realized in this sacred house. May every blessing of the eternal gospel be poured out upon them, and may the suffering of the centuries be softened through the beneficence of Thy loving care.” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?villahermosa&chronological)

Suffice it to say that plenty of sources can be cited to demonstrate that Mormon leaders have taught and believed that not only are Lamanites related to “Father Lehi,” but they can apparently be identified. 

Conclusion  

Once again Mormons are placed between a rock and a hard place. They can choose between the spin coming out of Provo or continue to believe that their leaders are incapable of leading them astray. Choosing the former will certainly help them retain their faith in the Book of Mormon; however, in taking this direction, consistency would demand that their divinely appointed prophets and apostles were misleading members when they said that millions of direct descendants of Lehi are now living.

For further study, we suggest the video DNA vs. The Book of Mormon by Living Hope Ministries. This is available through Mormonism Research Ministry. To watch the video online please see http://www.mormonchallenge.com/dna/dna.htm.

To order the book American Apocrypha, containing Thomas Murphy’s entire essay, please see: http://www.mrm.org/bookstore/books_on_mormonism/

 

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The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts

Brigham H. Roberts is revered in Mormon history as one of the Mormon Church’s greatest theologians and historians. His six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church is still one of the most respected works of Mormon history. Roberts was a General Authority, member of the Mormon Church’s First Council of the Seventy, a group which is second only to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 1898 he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, although he was never seated because he was a polygamist.

As a young missionary in Tennessee, Roberts began to formulate his defense of the Book of Mormon. Upon one occasion he debated a Campbellite minister on the authority of the Book of Mormon. That debate was the beginning of his reputation within the Mormon Church as a leading defender of the Book of Mormon. In time he became recognized as the expert Book of Mormon apologist. In 1909 he published his chief defense of the Book of Mormon, entitled, New Witnesses for God.

The Doubts Begin

In 1921 an event occurred which forever changed Roberts’ life. A young Mormon from Salina, Utah, William Riter, wrote to Apostle James E. Talmage with five questions challenging the Book of Mormon. Riter had been asked the questions by a man from Washington, D.C. who was investigating the claims of Mormonism. Talmage was too busy to answer the questions, so he sent the letter on to Roberts. This was the beginning of an investigation which would trouble Roberts until his death in 1933. The study deeply challenged his faith in the Book of Mormon and ultimately changed his opinion of its divine origin.

Roberts’ personal struggle with his waning confidence in the Book of Mormon is recorded in three documents he produced in the last years of his life. None of these works was published during his lifetime, but they are now available. A comprehensive study of these documents was published in 1985 as Studies of the Book of Mormon by the University of Illinois. This book is edited by two Mormon scholars: Brigham D. Madsen edited the manuscript and Sterling M. McMurrin wrote an introductory essay.

Roberts studied the questions for four months without replying to William Riter. Riter finally wrote to him, asking if he had completed his response. On Dec. 28, 1921, Roberts wrote back saying he was studying the problems, had not yet reached a conclusion and would soon respond. The next day Roberts wrote an open letter to President Heber J. Grant, to Grant’s counselors, to the Twelve Apostles and to the First Council of Seventy, requesting an emergency meeting with all of them to discuss the matter.

Roberts told the General Authorities:

“I found the difficulties (raised by the five questions) more serious than I thought…it is a matter that will concern the faith of the Youth of the Church now (and) also in the future.”

President Grant responded immediately to Roberts’ request for an emergency meeting of the Church’s top leadership. Within a week the brethren assembled for an intense two-day conference at which Roberts delivered a 141 page report entitled, “Book of Mormon Difficulties, a Study.” Roberts appealed to the collective wisdom of the brethren and said he was seeking the inspiration of the Lord in order to answer the questions.

Disappointed

It is fair to say the General Authorities “stonewalled” Roberts at the meeting. After two days, he came away disappointed and discouraged. In a letter to President Grant four days after the meeting he said:

“I was greatly disappointed over the net results of the discussion…There was so much said that was utterly irrelevant, and so little said…that was helpful.”

Roberts continued to discuss the matter through letters with President Grant and continued for some months to meet with a committee formed out of the larger group comprised of one of Grant’s counselors, Talmage, and Apostle John Widsoe. But, Roberts never was satisfied with the response of the brethren.

As his investigation continued, he became more and more disillusioned with the Book of Mormon; and he always resented the response he received at the two-day seminar. Two months before his death he told a friend, Wesley P. Lloyd, former dean of the graduate school of BYU, that the defense the brethren made for the Book of Mormon might “satisfy people who didn’t think, but (it was) a very inadequate answer for a thinking man.” He said Apostle Richard R. Lyman did not take the matter seriously and the others, “merely one by one stood up and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. George Albert Smith-in tears-testified that his faith in the Book of Mormon had not been shaken by the questions.”
Roberts told Lloyd “in a Church which claims continuous revelation, a crisis had arisen where revelation was necessary.”

Concerning the Five Questions

THE FIVE QUESTIONS ROBERTS COULDN’T ANSWER

The five questions the Mormon General Authorities could not answer:

1. Linguistics: Riter asked-if the American Indians were all descendants of Lehi-why there was such diversity in the languages of the American Indians and why there was no indication of Hebrew in any of the Indian languages?

2. The Book of Mormon says that Lehi found horses when he arrived in America. The horse described in the Book of Mormon (as well as many other domestic animals) did not exist in the New World before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.

3. Nephi is stated to have had a “bow of steel.” Jews did not know steel at that time. And there was no iron smelted on this continent until after the Spaniard conquest.

4. The Book of Mormon frequently mentions “swords and scimiters (scimitars).” Scimitars are unknown until the rise of the Moslem faith (after 600 A.D.).

5. The Book of Mormon says the Nephites possessed silk. Silk did not exist in America in pre-Columbian times.

 

Of the five questions, Roberts was most concerned about the linguistic problem. (See accompanying sidebar “The Five Questions.”) However, he also discovered new problems. He told Lloyd he saw literary problems in the Book of Mormon as well as geographic problems. Where, he asked, were the Mayan cliffs and high mountain peaks in the Book of Mormon? The geography of the Book of Mormon, Roberts said, looked suspiciously like the geography of the New England where Joseph Smith was raised!

Joseph Smith Did Not Get The Book of Mormon From God!

Roberts eventually concluded that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself-that he did not translate it from gold plates. Smith produced it, Roberts said, by drawing upon his own natural talent and materials like Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews (published near Joseph’s home a few years before the translation of the Book of Mormon).

Roberts’ Reaction

Roberts became convinced that View of the Hebrews was “the ground plan” for the Book of Mormon. Roberts, the man who had started his missionary career defending the Book of Mormon and became its staunchest apologist, had to admit the evidence proved Joseph Smith was a plagiarist.

One must empathize with the elderly Roberts as he came to realize he had spent a lifetime defending something which he now knew was a fraud. It is heartbreaking. It is perhaps, this fraudulent perpetration of the Book of Mormon that is the most heartbreaking aspect of Mormonism. Millions of Mormons base their faith in Mormonism upon this book which is no more than the invention of Joseph Smith. Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt correctly identified the essential question concerning the Book of Mormon when he declared:

“If true, (the Book of Mormon) is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man. If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who sincerely receive it as the Word of God, and will suppose themselves built upon the rock of truth, until they are plunged, with their families, into hopeless despair.”

What was the final resolution for Brigham H. Roberts? No one can say for sure. However, I am afraid for him. I fear that this giant intellectual, who could stand against the president of the Church and call the Apostles to task, committed intellectual suicide. In a conversation with Wesley Lloyd, just two months before his death, Roberts showed him what he called “a revolutionary article on the origin of the Book of Mormon.” In Lloyd’s opinion, Roberts’ work was, “far too strong for the average Church member.”

What Lloyd saw was “A Book of Mormon Study,” a 300-page document in which Roberts sets forth his reasons for concluding that the Book of Mormon was not of divine origin. In the document, Roberts investigated the documents (including View of the Hebrews) which Joseph Smith could have consulted in writing the Book of Mormon. He investigated “the imaginative mind of Joseph Smith.” He quotes Joseph’s mother who recalled how Joseph would give “amusing recitals” in which he would describe, “the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship.” All this, Roberts acknowledged, “took place before the young prophet had received the plates of the Book of Mormon.” Roberts suggests that Smith became caught up in spiritual “excesses” out of which he imagined prophecies and manifestations:

“His revelations become merely human productions. . .Morbid imagination, morbid expression of emotions [were] likely to find their way into the knowledge of Joseph Smith and influence his conceptions of spiritual things.”

The Gold Plates Didn’t Exist

Roberts, according to Lloyd, concluded that Smith’s visions were “psychological” and that the gold plates, “were not objective”-that is, they didn’t really exist! They existed only on a “spiritual”, or subjective plane.

Conclusion

Evidence indicates that B. H. Roberts was so steeped in the deception of Mormonism that he was unable to escape its spiritual hold. In his last conversation with Lloyd, with only two months of life before him, Roberts indicated that he had not yet given up on Joseph Smith. He said that although the Book of Mormon was of obvious human origin, perhaps the Church was still true. Perhaps he could yet establish the divinity of Joseph’s call. If the Book of Mormon failed him, perhaps he could find divinity in the Mormon Church’s secondary book of scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants!

http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/138.htm#5questions

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THIS VIDEO SHOWS THE BOOK OF MORMON TO BE FALSE

 

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DNA and the Book of Mormon By Bill McKeever

http://www.mrm.org/topics/book-mormon/dna-and-book-mormon-record

 

One of the fundamental tenets taught to Mormon children and new converts is that the Book of Mormon is an account of real people and real events. Mormon leaders, apologists, and scholars have been adamant in declaring the Book of Mormon to be actual history. Dr. Robert Millet, the well-respected professor at Brigham Young University, stated, “The historicity of the Book of Mormon record is crucial. We cannot exercise faith in that which is untrue, nor can ‘doctrinal fiction’ have normative value in our lives…Only scripture-­writings and events and descriptions from real people at a real point in time, people who were moved upon and directed by divine powers­-can serve as a revelatory channel, enabling us to hear and feel the word of God” (“The Book of Mormon, Historicity, and Faith,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies Vol. 2, number 2, p.1).

One of the claims made in the Book of Mormon is that it records the story of a Hebrew man named Lehi who sees in a vision the destruction of Jerusalem around 600 B.C. He then flees with his family to escape the impending onslaught of Babylonian conquerors and eventually sails to the Western hemisphere. Following the death of Lehi, circumstances led to the colonizers splitting into primarily two groups, known as Nephites and Lamanites. As the story goes, the exploits of the Nephites and Lamanites were recorded on gold plates that were ultimately buried in the ground and found by Joseph Smith several centuries later.

The Hebrew Connection

 

 

The introduction to the Book of Mormon states that the book is “holy scripture comparable to the Bible” and that it is a “record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.” It goes on to claim that the Lamanites “are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.” Mormon apologists have been quick to point out that the introduction makes no claim for infallibility. While that is true, we know of no General Authority who claims that the introduction teaches error.

However, the title page to the narrative states that the Book of Mormon is “an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi, and also of the Lamanite– written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel.” In an article written for the Mormon periodical Times and Seasons in 1842, Joseph Smith made it a point to mention “that the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated; the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that, said title page is not by any means a modern composition either of mine or of any other man’s who has lived or does live in this generation” (3:943.)

We are told in the Book of Mormon that Nephi was “the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh” (Alma 10:3).

Nephi, one of the primary characters in the Book of Mormon narrative, made it clear that the people mentioned in the Book of Mormon “are descendants of the Jews” (2 Nephi 30:4).

Speaking in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1881 Wilford Woodruff, who later became Mormonism’s fourth president), stated, “The Lamanites, now a down-trodden people, are a remnant of the house of Israel. The curse of God has followed them as it has done the Jews, though the Jews have not been darkened in their skin as have the Lamanites” (Journal of Discourses 22:173).

Mormon Apostle James Talmage noted that, “The Nephites suffered extinction about 400 A.D., but the Lamanites lived on in their degraded course, and are today extant upon the land as the American Indians” (Jesus the Christ, 23rd ed., p.49).

Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote in his book Doctrines of Salvation that this connection is also noted in Doctrine and Covenants 3:264: “Not only in the Book of Mormon are the descendants of Lehi called Jews, but also in the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 19, this is found: ‘Which is my word to the Gentile, that soon it may go to the Jew, of whom the Lamanites are a remnant, that they may believe the gospel, and, look not for a Messiah to come who has already come.'”

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, under the subtitle “Native Americans,” states that “the Book of Mormon tells that a small band of Israelites under Lehi migrated from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere about 600 B.C. Upon Lehi’s death his family divided into two opposing factions, one under Lehi’s oldest son, Laman (see Lamanites), and the other under a younger son, Nephi” (3:981).

The Controversy

 

 

In the fall 1997 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, LDS author Brigham Madsen discussed the difficulty that many Latter-day Saints are having with accepting the Book of Mormon as an historical document (Reflections on LDS Disbelief in the Book of Mormon as History). Many who have closely examined the contents of the book in light of scholarship have come to realize that it cannot possibly be true history. Madsen raised an interesting challenge in his article when he refers to the history and origins of the American Indian. He wrote, “…perhaps it can be anticipated that before long some scholar will examine the DNA of early inhabitants of eastern Siberia and the DNA of early American Indians for confirmation of their relationship. All that would be left would be for an interested Mormon to compare the two findings to the DNA of Israelites who lived about 600 B.C.E.” (p. 91). It appears that the day of DNA confirmation has arrived.

The book American Apocrypha (Signature, 2002) contains an essay titled Lamanite, Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics. The essay’s author, Thomas W. Murphy, is both a member of the Mormon Church and an anthropologist who offers information that conflict with traditional assumptions regarding the heritage of the Indians. He notes, “So far, DNA research has lent no support to the traditional Mormon beliefs about the origins of Native Americans. Instead, genetic data have confirmed that migrations from Asia are the primary source of American Indian origins” (pp. 47-48). He goes on to say, “While DNA shows that ultimately all human populations are closely related, to date no intimate genetic link has been found between ancient Israelites and indigenous Americans, much less within the time frame suggested in the Book of Mormon” (p.48).

Murphy cites the works of several experts in the field of anthropology and genetics, including that of Michael Crawford, a biological anthropologist at the University of Kansas who said, “I don’t think there is one iota of evidence that suggests a lost tribe from Israel made it all the way to the New World. It is a great story, slain by ugly fact.” Murphy says that Crawford’s “work shows that Amerisraelite Lamanites could not possibly have been the ‘principle ancestors of the American Indians,’ as claimed in the current introduction to the Book of Mormon” (p.53). He also mentions Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes and Russian geneticist Miroslav Derenko “who have substantiated Crawford’s conclusion through agreement that ‘the Indian gene pool is Siberian, not Middle Eastern'” (p.53).

In his essay, Murphy responds to some of the claims made by LDS apologetic groups such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR). On page 62 he says, “FARMS has played a role in offering revisionist interpretations that seek to reconcile faith with science. But the DNA research may make this effort more difficult as the views of intellectuals and those of traditional Mormons continue to diverge.”

In response to an inquiry made to FARMS in 1997, I received the following from Dr. John Tvedtnes: “The most recent mitochondrial DNA study demonstrated that there were three known separate migrations to the New World, one certainly connected to Siberian peoples, the other thought to be Asian. Among Amerindians, samples were taken in Canada, the United States, and Peru. None were taken in Mesoamerica, where most LDS scholars believe the story of the Book of Mormon took place” (e-mail received 11/14/97).

Statements such as this would make it appear that there was still hope that research done in Mesoamerica (which includes countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador) would offer the elusive connection. However, such research has been performed and no link has been established. Murphy states on page 62, “While FARMS researchers are careful to note the importance of cultural influences on the construction of categories, they express confidence in an Israelite genetic presence in Central America and perhaps as far away as Arizona to the north and Colombia to the south. As we have seen, genetic studies of indigenous peoples throughout North, Central, and South America have failed to link Native Americans from these locations to ancient Hebrews.”

In 1997 I wrote to Scott Woodward, the renowned molecular biologist at Brigham Young University, to ask if any DNA studies had been done at BYU. He wrote me the following: “We have an active research project addressing some of these questions but most of the data is still too preliminary to make any hard conclusions. Most of all the evidence to date would point to Asian populations as the source of at least the great majority of contemporary Native American gene pool.” In the same post, Dr. Woodward also stated that he believed “that the Americas were moderately populated at the time of arrival of the Lehi group, the Jaredites and any other group that may have come from the Middle East” (e-mail received 11/14/97).

According to Murphy’s essay, it appears that Woodward is still not at all optimistic that a link will be found. Although Murphy notes how Woodward “believes that the presence or absence of genetic linkages to the Near East in the Americas is neither proof nor disproof of the Book of Mormon” (p. 66), on page 65 he says, “it would not surprise Woodward if geneticists ultimately failed to find any traces of mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] from Lehi’s party, Jaredites, or Mulekites.”

While speaking on this subject at the 2002 Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City, Murphy cited others who have come to conclusions similar to his. For instance, Dr. David Glenn Smith, a molecular anthropologist from the University of California Davis, said, “Genetic research, particularly that using mitochondrial and Y chromosome markers, provide quite emphatic refutation of any such relationship between Jews and Native Americans.”

Murphy closed his remarks by asking, “Now what do we as Mormons do? We’ve got a problem. Our beliefs are not validated by the science.” Murphy believes that Mormons have a moral and ethical responsibility to relegate this notion as a “mistake of men.”

William S. Bradshaw, a molecular biologist teaching at BYU, responded to Murphy’s Sunstone talk. Bradshaw opened his response by saying, “Let me repose a question that Tom has put to us. Is there scientific evidence based in molecular biology to substantiate the statement in the introduction to the Book of Mormon that Lamanites are the principle ancestors of American Indians? The answer is no.” He admitted that he could not discount the conclusions made by Murphy, but he urged the crowd to be cautious of those conclusions. If true, however, he felt that this mistake of man was no more than “the mistake of overreaching. The mistake of saying we know more than we know.” He also urged listeners not to make judgments “about mistakes that were held by people decades ago without trying to understand the context in which they made those statements.”

Mormonism’s Defenders Respond

 

 

As expected, many in the LDS apologetic community have vilified Murphy for his public statements. Allen Wyatt, a Mormon apologist working with the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), made no pretense in accusing Murphy of behaving like an “apostate” despite the fact that his church has declined to charge Murphy with apostasy for his public statements http://www.fairlds.org/apol/antis/200207.html). Some at least, have chosen to refrain from the typical ad hominem argument so prevalent in Mormon apologetics and have at least attempted to offer some sort of an explanation.

Mormon apologists don’t seem to deny that current genetic evidence shows no connection between Lamanites and Hebrews. In a December 8, 2002 article in the LA Times, Dr. Daniel Peterson, a BYU professor and researcher at FARMS, was quoted as saying, “The idea that America may have been overwhelmingly peopled by folks from northeastern Asia is perfectly compatible” with Mormon doctrine, said Daniel Peterson, a lifelong Mormon and professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young. Genetic evidence that some Native American ancestors came from the Middle East could easily be lost over thousands of years, he said.”

In their essay titled, “Who are the Children of Lehi,” Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens wrote, “As biologists we accept the published data dealing with Native American origins and view those data as reasonably representing American-Asian connections” (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol.12, number 1, 2003, p.38). On page 41 of the same essay they state, “The data accumulated to date indicate that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.” On page 42 they say, “There has been little if any evidence seriously considered by the mainstream scientific community that would indicate a Middle East origin, or any other source of origin, for the majority of contemporary Native Americans.” Like many Mormons, they dismiss the conclusion that a lack of a DNA link between Indians and Hebrews discredits Joseph Smith’s claim as prophet.

Like Peterson, Meldrum and Stephens hold to the theory that the genetic gene pool was diluted through intermarriage with other people groups. “We propose that Book of Mormon is the account of a small group of people who lived on the American continent, interacting to some degree with the indigenous population but relatively isolated from the general historical events occurring elsewhere in the Americas” (Ibid., p.44).

Such conclusions are only speculative since there is no hard evidence to support the notion that the Lehi colonizers lived simultaneously with other non-Semitic cultures. Nothing in the Book of Mormon clearly suggests this. To say the genetic link could have been lost gives the impression that the offspring of those in the Lehi party remained relatively small.

“Other Nations”?

 

 

First, let’s examine the claim that the offspring of the Lehi party intermarried with another culture. In 2 Nephi 1:6 Lehi prophesies “that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” He goes on to state in verses 8-9, “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance.”

We learn from this that no other nation had knowledge of this land at the time of the arrival of Lehi’s party, thus excluding the notion that other cultures shared the same area. We also learn that such an arrangement would continue as long as those who were brought out of Jerusalem continued to keep God’s commandments. However, should the people “dwindle in unbelief,” God would bring “other nations unto them and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (vv. 10,11). As to when exactly such an incursion would take place is not specified in the prophecy.

Acknowledging this prediction, retired BYU anthropologist John Sorenson asks how long it could have been before other nations would have come and intermingled with the Nephites and Lamanites. He notes on page seven of his article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?” that the Lamanites “dwindled in unbelief within a few years.” Dr. Sorenson asks, “How then could Lehi’s prophecy about ‘other nations’ being brought in have been kept long in abeyance after that?” He then notes, “The early Nephites generally did the same thing within a few centuries.”

While I agree that both the Nephites and Lamanites had their times of unbelief, the Book of Mormon fails to mentions other nations who came in to “take away from them the lands of their possessions,” especially those whose genetic makeup would take us to Asia. This can only be argued from silence.

J. Reuben Clark, writing for the LDS magazine Improvement Era, stated, “The Lord took every precaution to see that nothing might interfere with this posterity of Joseph in working out their God-given destiny and the destiny of America. He provided, and so told Lehi at the very beginning of his settlement, that: . . it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations ; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. (2 Nephi 1:8.) The Lord so kept the land for a thousand years after Lehi landed. He so kept it in His wisdom for another thousand years after the Nephites were destroyed, perhaps to give the Lamanitish branch another chance” (“Prophecies, Penalties, and Blessings,” Improvement Era, 1940, Vol. xliii. July, 1940. No. 7). Several LDS leaders have stated that this was fulfilled when the Gentiles came to America.

The Book of Mormon does mention other groups of people, but in most cases it appears that these are merely sub-groups that can be traced back to Lehi or other Jewish groups whose DNA should lead us back to Israel. For example, Omni 1:15 in the Book of Mormon tells of a group of people who lived in Zarahemla who “came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.” Mulek, supposedly the only son of Zedekiah who was not killed when Jerusalem fell, led the people of Zarahemla. According to Mosiah 25:3, these people, known by Mormons as “Mulekites,” outnumbered the Nephites, but together the Nephites and Mulekites were only half as numerous as the Lamanites.

Dr. Sorenson is among some Mormons who offer the possibility that a remnant of Jeredites intermarried with the colonizers. In an article posted on the Mormon website Meridian Magazine, Geoffrey Biddulph writes, “Chances are extremely high that at least some, and perhaps a majority, of modern-day Native Americans are descended from the Jaredites, and would have Asian blood. And of course Brother Murphy’s writings and public comments virtually ignore the Jaredites”

(http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/030128anti.html). Biddulph’s use of the phrase “extremely high” and “perhaps a majority” must be taken as nothing more than hyperbole. There is no way such a comment can be proven.

According to the Book of Mormon the Jaredites came to the western hemisphere around the time God confounded the languages at the Tower of Babel. Even if this theory is correct, we probably have more reason to believe that a genetic link would take us back to the Middle East, not Asia or Siberia, given the fact that the Tower of Babel was believed to have been built somewhere in Babylonia. Hebrews, like Babylonians, both fall within the category of Semitic people. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, the record of the Jaredites “hints at an epic genre rooted in the Ancient Near East” (2:717).

The Jaredite theory poses another problem if we are to believe the Book of Mormon record for what it actually says. According to the fifteenth chapter of Ether, King Coriantumr gathers “all of the people upon all of the face of the land, who had not been slain (except the prophet Ether) for a final battle against the army of Shiz, which also consisted of “men, women, and children being armed with weapons of war” (15:15). Such was the slaughter that in both armies all had fallen by the sword except the two leaders (15:23-29). Shiz is beheaded and Coriantumr, weakened from battle, is later “discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons” (Omni 1:21).

Mormon Seventy B.H. Roberts felt that the Jaredite race came to be extinct. “In their last great war, which resulted in the extinction of the race, to the last man, it is stated that ‘two millions of mighty men had been slain; and also their wives and their children.'” Roberts believed that Coriantumr was the “last Survivor” (Studies in the Book of Mormon, p. 164, emphasis mine) However, Roberts was aware of the argument that quite possibly some Jaredite survivors married into Mulek’s colony but noted that such a theory is “merely a matter of conjecture” (New Witnesses for God 3:137).

Even if we gave this theory the benefit of the doubt, the fact that Mormon leaders and scholars have described the demise of the Jaredites with words like complete annihilation (Ludlow), exterminated (Hunter), wiped out (Nibley), extinction (Roberts), etc., tends to tell us that if there were any Jaredite survivors at all, they would indeed be a very small number. If Mormons wish to cling to the idea that genetic evidence was somehow lost, it would seem more probable that Jaredite genes would be the ones in short supply, not Nephite or Lamanite genes.

Sorenson offers this suggestion, “And if the Lord somehow did not at those times bring in ‘other nations,’ then surely he would have done so after Cumorah, 1100 years prior to Columbus” (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, v.1, Fall 1992). This seems to be the theory held by Seventy Milton R. Hunter. “Following the close of Nephite recorded history, Mongolians, Vikings, and perhaps small groups of wanderers from other lands, came to the Americas and intermarried—to a greater or less extent—with the descendants of Book of Mormon peoples. Their posterity constituted the numerous aboriginal tribes found in the New World by the Europeans” (Archaeology and the Book of Mormon p.15).

If this prophecy came to fruition after the battle of Hill Cumorah, the time frame involved becomes much shorter, making a diluted gene pool less likely.

Lost Genetic Evidence?

 

 

Next, let us examine the claim that the genetic gene pool was somehow diluted to the point where we should not expect to find a Hebrew link.

The Book of Mormon gives the impression that the Nephites and Lamanite populations were anything but small. Helaman 3:8 in the Book of Mormon states, “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.” In commenting on this passage, the Book of Mormon Student Manual, published by the LDS Church, notes, “No one knows the details of Book of Mormon geography. But the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed some information that suggests that at some time in their history the spread of the Nephites unto the ‘land northward’ included what we know today as North America” (1979 edition, p.354). This coincides with Doctrine and Covenants 54:8, which states that the borders of the Lamanites extended to the “land of Missouri.”

Mormon 1:7 adds, “The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.” A footnote at the bottom of the page dates this passage at around A.D. 322.

Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt believed that the Lamanites “gathered by the millions” at the battle of Hill Cumorah! (Journal of Discourses 17:31.) Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie agreed with this assessment when he wrote, “Neither the Nephites nor the Jaredites repented when rivers of blood flowed on their battlefields and millions of their number were slain by the sword” (The Millennial Messiah, p. 386 –387, emphasis mine).

It could be argued that the battle at Hill Cumorah severely diminished the population of remaining Lamanites. However, this does not seem to be the position of some LDS leaders. For instance, tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith let it be known that the Lamanite influence was not restricted to North America. “The history of this American continent also gives evidence that the Lamanites have risen up in their anger and vexed the Gentiles. This warfare may not be over. It has been the fault of people in the United States to think that this prophetic saying has reference to the Indians in the United States, but we must remember that there are millions of the ‘remnant’ in Mexico, Central and South America” (Church History and Modern Revelation 2:127, emphasis mine).

Speaking in conference in October 1921, Elder Andrew Jenson, a member of the staff of the LDS Church’s Historian’s Office, stated, “We, therefore cast a glance southward into old Mexico and through the great countries beyond — down through Central America and South America, where there are millions and millions of Lamanites, direct descendants of Father Lehi.” (Conference Report, October 1921, p.120, emphasis mine).

On page 601 of The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth Mormon prophet stated, “About twenty-five centuries ago, a hardy group left the comforts of a great city, crossed a desert, braved an ocean, and came to the shores of this, their promised land. There were two large families, those of Lehi and Ishmael, who in not many centuries numbered hundreds of millions of people on these two American continents” (emphasis mine).

Probably the most damning quote that undermines this notion that the Lamanite genetic link could have been lost to the point of nonexistence is found on page 596 of the same book. Kimball wrote, “Lamanites share a royal heritage. I should like to address my remarks to you, our kinsmen of the isles of the sea and the Americas. Millions of you have blood relatively unmixed with gentile nations” (emphasis mine).

The obvious question is, “How do you lose the genetic link of millions of people who allegedly have not mixed their blood with another culture?” Notice also that Kimball refers to the “kinsmen of the isles of the sea.” Many are unaware that according to the teachings of LDS leaders, the Lamanites were not restricted to merely the western hemisphere. In a message given in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on February 11, 1872, Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt proclaimed, “Here let me say again, according to the Book of Mormon, many of those great islands that are found in the Indian Ocean, also in the great Pacific Sea, have been planted with colonies of Israelites. Do they not resemble each other? Go to the Sandwich Islands, to the South Sea Islands, to Japan–go to the various islands of the Pacific Ocean, and you find a general resemblance in the characters and countenances of the people. Who are they? According to the Book of Mormon, Israelites were scattered forth from time to time, and colonies planted on these islands of the ocean” (Journal of Discourses 14:333).

“What would Lehi’s DNA look like?”

 

 

Clinging to the presupposition that the Lamanitish gene pool was diluted, some Mormon apologists have insisted that it would be next to impossible to know exactly what Lehi’s DNA would look like. Perhaps that answers lies with Mormon President Gordon Hinckley.

On more than one occasion, President Hinckley has mentioned the Hebrew/Lamanite connection in dedicatory prayers given at Mormon temples. For instance, in his prayer at the dedication of the Mexico City temple in December 1983, he stated, “Bless Thy Saints in this great land and those from other lands who will use this Temple. Most have in their veins the blood of Father Lehi” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?mexico_city&chronological)

In December of the following year, he gave a dedicatory prayer at the Guatemala City, Guatemala temple where he stated, “Thou Kind and Gracious Father, our hearts swell with gratitude for Thy remembrance of the sons and daughters of Lehi… We thank Thee O God, for lifting the scales of darkness which for generations clouded the vision of the descendants of Lehi” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?guatemala_city&chronological)

In his March 6, 1999 dedicatory prayer given at the Colonia Juaréz Chihuahua Temple, Hinckley he said, “Bless Thy Saints that they may continue to live here without molestation. May they live in peace and security. May they be prospered as they cultivate their farms and pursue their vocations. May the sons and daughters of father Lehi grow in strength and in fulfillment of the ancient promises made concerning them.” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?colonia_juarez&alphabetical).

In August 1999, Hinckley made a similar statement as he was in Guayaquil, Ecuador to dedicate another new LDS temple. “It has been a very interesting thing to see the descendants of father Lehi in the congregation that have gathered in the temple…So very many of these people have the blood of Lehi in their veins, and it is just an intriguing thing to see their tremendous response and their tremendous interest” (Salt Lake Tribune 11/30/2000).

When James Faust, Gordon Hinckley’s second counselor, gave the dedicatory prayer for the Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico temple on March 12, 2000, he stated, “We invoke Thy blessings upon this nation of Mexico where so many of the sons and daughters of Father Lehi dwell.” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?tuxtla_gutierrez&chronological)

Thomas Monson, Gordon Hinckley’s first counselor, made the same connection when he prayed at the dedication of the Villahermosa, Mexico temple on May 21, 2000: “May Thy eternal purposes concerning the sons and daughters of Lehi be realized in this sacred house. May every blessing of the eternal gospel be poured out upon them, and may the suffering of the centuries be softened through the beneficence of Thy loving care.” (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/cgi-bin/prayers.cgi?villahermosa&chronological)

Suffice it to say that plenty of sources can be cited to demonstrate that Mormon leaders have taught and believed that not only are Lamanites related to “Father Lehi,” but they can apparently be identified.

Conclusion

 

 

Once again Mormons are placed between a rock and a hard place. They can choose between the spin coming out of Provo or continue to believe that their leaders are incapable of leading them astray. Choosing the former will certainly help them retain their faith in the Book of Mormon; however, in taking this direction, consistency would demand that their divinely appointed prophets and apostles were misleading members when they said that millions of direct descendants of Lehi are now living.

For further study, we suggest the video DNA vs. The Book of Mormon by Living Hope Ministries. This is available through Mormonism Research Ministry. To watch the video online please see http://www.mormonchallenge.com/dna/dna.htm.

To order the book American Apocrypha, containing Thomas Murphy’s entire essay, please see: http://www.mrm.org/bookstore/books_on_mormonism/

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