I’m excited to introduce Dr. Ugo Perego all the way from Italy. This is going to be the first of several conversations where we’re going to talk about DNA. You can think of this first episode as DNA 101 as we learn a little bit about DNA science, but we will continue to learn more about this big topic
DNA evidence seems to show that Native Americans came from Asia rather than from the Middle East as the Book of Mormon implies. Dr. Ugo Perego is a population geneticist. How does he explain this?
If you’ve listened to my interviews on the Book of Mormon, I’ve asked a few people, like Jim Vun Cannon and David Rosenvall about the Lemba Tribe in Africa. They’re a tribe that has Middle Eastern DNA, unlike Native Americans who don’t.
I asked Dr. Ugo Perego about this tribe and we’ll get a good introduction into the Lemba Tribe. We’ll also talk a little bit about Viking DNA. Can that be distinguished from Columbus DNA? Check out our conversation…
In January 2014, the LDS Church produced a new Gospel Topics Essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon. I asked Dr. Ugo Perego if he had anything to do with writing that essay. I think you’ll find his answer very interesting.
We’ll also talk about Rodney Meldrum’s claim to have found DNA in Native Americans here in the Americas. Check out our conversation…..
Some people have been critical of Dr. Perego’s work, especially with regards to these paternity tests. In this episode, Ugo will discuss this criticism. Is he trying to hide something? Check out our conversation…
LDS critics often claim “all reputable” scientists or scholars say this or that in relation to the LDS Church. Broad, sweeping claims. Often lots of bravado and bluster.
Absolutely no evidence for this. Absolutely no evidence for that.
Is it true? Science checkmated the LDS Church?
How could it be true when more and more faithful Latter-day Saints are doing Science. The very Science the critics claim disproves the LDS Church.
Science is simply a method to understand truth. Mormons are good geologists, statisticians, chemists, and are distinguished in every field of Science. How Mormons interpret data for their personal lives is unique. So is the way in which life-long agnostics interpret non-scientific data.
Experiments on bacterial genetics, plant growth, and other topics won’t prove or disprove God. Won’t prove or disprove the Book of Abraham. Nor the Book of Mormon. Or a long list of issues.
Science answers how. Faith answers why.
To repeat, has Science check mated the LDS Church?
Quick summary: Nope.
Longer summary: evaluate each specific critical claim in context. When all relevant data is on the table “all scientists” don’t tend to agree and/or the argument is often itself flawed with biases.
Let’s first consider what “all scientists” believe. Scientists, like most academics, tend to be very secular.
Many, many non-believers. Do non-believers believe in the Book of Mormon?
Moreover, the individual critic frequently herself lacks a fundamental understanding of Science and how exactly Science would perform an experiment to unequivocally illuminate the question under discussion.
To unequivocally prove the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon, or other topic is obviously false — contrary to many critics’ belief system — turns out to be quite challenging. In fact, it’s impossible.
For example, a critic might say that no self-respecting scientist believes major battles with steel swords and wheeled, horse-driven chariots took place in Palmyra, NY around 400 AD. And further, no archaeologists have found lots of steel blades, metal armor, and wheels in the ground.
Book of Mormon defeated in a single swipe? Nope!
This is an example of a straw man. I and every LDS scientist would agree. Yet, there’s more nuance to this situation than you may initially appreciate.
1) Joseph never called the hill near his home the Hill Cumorah. That belief — that the hill where Joseph got the plates was the same site as the final Nephite battle — sprung up long after Joseph Smith passed away, as folks hypothesized where the Book of Mormon took place. It didn’t help that well-meaning Church leaders latched onto the idea.
The final Nephite and Jaredite battles likely happened in Mesoamerica — near where the entire narrative occurred. Moroni wandered northward for decades. 36 years total. A trek from Mesoamerica to NY can be accomplished by a fit person in around a year.
2) Nephi mentioned the fine steel of his bow and the Sword of Laban. Both of these could have been made with technology of the time. The Book of Mormon text doesn’t otherwise mention steel swords.
Dr. Wade Miller discusses iron, steel, swords, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon.
4) No archaeologists have excavated the Hill Cumorah. Farmers have plowed the field, but no organized excavations have been undertaken.
I’d be suprised if anything were found, but the point still remains that nobody has done the research to rule out presence of metal Nephite objects.
So, when aspecific example is given by critics — and not simply exaggerated generalizations — the Book of Mormon typically stands on reliable evidence. Sure, questions still exist, but critics’ sweeping claims are nearly always uninformed and imprecise.
The same thing applies with claims toward the Lehites and DNA. When one looks at all the evidence — and not simply listens to critics’ absolute and usually unsupported statements — the picture becomes clearer.
Watch Ugo Perego and Michael Whiting dispel common misconceptions. These two scientists are leaders in the field of genetics, and see no conflict between their science and the Book of Mormon narrative.
Another scientist, Dr. Keith A. Crandall, converted to the LDS Church. He discusses DNA and the Book of Mormon below:
A larger point should be emphasized: how does one prove the Book of Mormon? How does one disprove the Book of Mormon? I’ll argue one can do neither.
To say there’s not a shred of evidence for the Book of Mormon historicity is a mischaracterization. Haven’t we — that is, LDS and non-LDS scholars — found things in Mesoamerica and elsewhere that are in sync with the narrative of the Book of Mormon? Yep!
Critics used to say say steel wasn’t known till 100s of years after Lehi. And they mocked Joseph and the Book of Mormon for that. That’s clearly no longer believed. We could list item after Book of Mormon item (silk, swine, iron, etc) that is no longer a mismatch or an anachromism.
See trends below:
I like the trend:
Surely, not everything matches and much work remains. But to say there’s no evidence is untrue. To prove or disprove is not possible. To find supporting evidence is possible and is under way. A complete fraud wouldn’t be expected to get so many matches.
LDS scientists are the ones (no surprise!) who are interested in finding support for the Book of Mormon. Other scientists typically don’t care or are perhaps mildly opposed to such ventures and findings. Again, no surprise.
Do atheist, Catholic, evangelical, or other scholars, who find wheat (or other disputed item in the Book of Mormon) in Guatemala, refuse to admit wheat was in the area? No.
They’re scholars doing scholarly work. They publish their findings, regardless of implication.
Does finding wheat in Mexico change non-Mormon opinion of the LDS Church? The Book of Mormon? Probably not in the least.
Does wheat in Guatemala (if found) absolutely prove the Book of Mormon? No. Evidence for? Absolutely.
So, let’s allow scientists — Mormon and non-Mormon — to do their jobs: Science. And publish all findings.
The truth will take care of itself. I expect more and more evidence will be uncovered to support the Book of Mormon.
This video discusses the horrors of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, what led up to it, if Brigham Young ordered the massacre, the aftermath and some lessons we can take from this stunning and horrific event.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre took place just a year after the Handcart Rescue. Richard Turley and Emily Utt discuss both events and consider what factors can lead us toward tragedy or heroism.
Barbara Jones shares her insight with Gospel Tangents on this horrible tragedy:
Geneticist Ugo Perego shares his research as part of understanding this tragedy (near the end).
Ugo first talks about DNA and Joseph Smith’s polygamy, followed by DNA and the Book of Mormon.
Click below to hear Ugo on LDS Perspectives Podcast:
The Mountain Meadows Massacre (MMM) used to be a top 3 for LDS critics. However, because of exhaustive research this topic no longer occupies such a position.
In the recent past the LDS Church utilized massive resources to look at every journal & every possible connection to the MMM. The results were published by Oxford University Press. Nothing to hide.
Most critics don’t ever publish their jumble of claims in journals. Instead, they repeat what they have heard, which isn’t always based on confirmed research. The most significant critical claims: blood atonement & God told Brigham to do it.
If critics are honest they’ll see Latter-day Saints were reacting to many factors at the time. Of course, the Saints were not justified to murder. Anyone. And Brigham Young didn’t hatch the plot. He tried to stop it.
Side note: Joseph’s supposed polyandry will likewise soon fall out of everyone’s top 3. It’ll take more time and understanding of the research done by Brian Hales.
The above video is only 28 minutes long. Continue to the end of Bro. Turley’s speech by watching #3 and #4 below:
Another video on this topic — by LDS geneticist, Ugo Perego — that discusses genetics that were long debated. Now, they’re understood and that understanding make the picture clearer.
LDS scholar Gene Sessions discusses the Mountain Meadows Massacre in his 2003 FAIR conference address:
No, DNA evidence doesn’t (and cannot) refute the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. This is worth watching!
Michael Frank Whiting is the director of the Brigham Young University (BYU) DNA Sequencing Center and an associate professor in BYU’s Department of Integrative Biology. Whiting received his bachelor’s degree from BYU and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Dr. Whiting is a widely respected expert on DNA and genetics.
Whiting has also written on why the critics of the Book of Mormon on DNA issues have overstated their case. He gives a superb speech below:
Dr Ugo Perego speaks at the FairMormon Conference in Kungsbacka, Sweden, 18 June 2016.
Ugo is a world expert on DNA and Native Americans.
More from Ugo on DNA, the Book of Mormon, and Native American Genetics: