Thursday, September 17, 2009

Does DNA disprove Lehi story?

Excerpts of Does DNA disprove Lehi story?  by Michael De Groote,  Deseret News / Mormon Times

Ugo Perego tries to look with a scientist's eye at the controversy surrounding DNA and the Book of Mormon. He is a bit impatient with some of the strong conclusions of some critics and LDS apologists. There is too little data. We need to be cautious.

"I see that from both the critics' side and the LDS side there is quite a bit of misunderstanding on the subject," Perego said.

The first rumblings about DNA and the Book of Mormon came about 10 years ago, according to Perego, a senior researcher at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. Critics cobbled together data from a variety of early DNA studies and came to the unsurprising conclusion that the studies indicated an Asian origin for Native Americans.

However, for about 50 years most LDS scholars have argued that the Book of Mormon took place not in vast empty continents, but in a limited-geographical area in Mesoamerica.

If Lehi's group came to a crowded continent, then Perego says the critics' arguments fall apart.

The types of answers you receive depend upon the questions you ask, according to Perego. "If the question is, 'Are Native Americans of Asian origin?' The answer is, 'Yes.' (If the question is), 'Are Native Americans of Israelite origin?' The answer is, 'No.' "

Perego says the critic will then say, "OK. I've got my answers. I'm happy! Thank you! I'll put it in my book. The Book of Mormon is incorrect."

But, according to Perego, there are other questions to ask which bear more directly to the plausibility of the Book of Mormon narrative.

"Try to ask this question to a population geneticist: 'Is it possible that a small family from Israel could have arrived in America, to a largely populated continent, and that no genetic evidence would survive after 2,600 years?' " Perego says. "Why don't they ask that question? That is exactly the question they need to ask."

For [critics] criticism to be correct you have no choice — you must believe the continent was empty ... you must believe they are right about their narrow interpretation of the Book of Mormon and statements by select general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

No comments: