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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Genetics of the Book of Mormon

Earlier we mentioned discussions of DNA and the Book of Mormon. Orson Scott Card wrote a July 9th Deseret News Mormon Times post about the same issue. It's quite good. He breaks down the "controversy" into four fallacies:
  1. Haplotype, mitochondria and Y-chromosome tracking is done using tiny samples from the populations in any given area. This is necessary and perfectly acceptable, because the scientists are not trying to eliminate the possibility of intermixing of populations, but rather trying to trace the general ancestry of large groups.
  2. Any variation from the predominant DNA strains will be interpreted, correctly, as "contamination" and either disregarded or removed from the study as long as it exists in only trivial amounts. The only question that would be hard for them to answer is when the contamination took place.
  3. Since the dominant strain that populated the Americas shares a common ancestry with Fertile Crescent ancestors, some haplotypes that might have pointed to the Middle East are already in the entire population and therefore invisible.
  4. Many of their findings deal with populations that have been tracked through history. Yet the genetic record does not account for "trivial" population movements like the conquest of India, Persia, all of Europe and much of Asia Minor by Indo-European tribes, or repeated conquests of China by borderland nomads.
Furthermore, he states:
Here is the remarkable thing: Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, among believers, there are many genuine skeptics who question everything, who test everything.

We are not afraid to look at any evidence, and when we are convinced, we change our frame-of-view to accommodate the new information. At the same time, we recognize that none of our knowledge is final and might be revised -- by new evidence, by new revelation.
That's why OSC is one of my favorite Mormon writers. He says it like it is.