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DNA 101 with Dr. Ugo Perego

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 over several episodes, so don’t think you’re going to learn everything today.  In our first episode we’re going to get an introduction to Dr. Perego, how he learned about DNA, his mission, and his education.

Ugo:  I’m a native of Italy of course.  I lived there all my youth.  I came to the [United] States when I was 21.  I served a mission in California.  That’s when I first learned English, and I’m still in the process as you can tell.

After my mission I went to BYU.  I came here to the BYU campus.  That’s where we are today.  I did my bachelors, my undergrad here in health sciences, and also did some other studies in scriptures and seminary teaching.  I did other things when I was here.  I got married.  My wife is from Missouri.  I lived here all my married life up to five years ago.

I worked for a large project, a worldwide project for 12 years after my schooling, for the Sorenson companies.  Our objective was to collect DNA samples and link them to family history, and build a large database of correlated genealogical and genetic information, help people trace their past, their history, connect to others through DNA whenever the paper trails would not be sufficient to provide those links.

As I did the work for them during those 12 years, a byproduct of that research was a tremendous amount of data that could be used for population studies.  I’ve learned more about the origin and relationship of different populations, not just individuals.  We had such a variety of data in this database.  During this time I had opportunity to do Ph.D.  I did with professor Torroni.

For those in the field, he’s the first person that used mitochondrial DNA to identify or differentiate a group of people, populations.  In fact the first group of people that he studied were Native Americans back in the early [19]90s.  So he was my graduate advisor, my mentor.  I did my Ph.D. dissertation on his suggestion.  It wasn’t the actual project that I had proposed to him.  I had another project in mind, but he actually wanted to take the one study that he did. It was a post-doc on Native Americans because he wanted to do that using more advanced techniques.  About 20 years have elapsed between the time he did the work and the time I was doing my Ph.D.  So my Ph.D. dissertation was on using this model, more advanced technique to be able to trace the origin of Native Americans through DNA.

So that’s a little bit where my studies are.  I have a Ph.D. in genetics and biomolecular sciences.  That was my Ph.D. dissertation.

I also asked him how identical triplets can have different ancestry.  How does that work?  (It’s not a simple discussion.  You’ll have to listen to hear his explanation.)  He also tells about an unusual case of twins!  Check out our conversation…..

Ugo:  There is also a proven case of a woman that had twins from two different men.  All you have to do is be fertile and having two mature eggs and have sexual relations within a very short amount of time with two different men and one fertilize one egg and the other fertilize the other egg.

GT:  I’ve never heard of that before.

Ugo:  It did happen.  So the woman becomes the vector to bring to life two brothers from two different men.  It’s very unusual but we have a case of that.

What do you think?  Did you learn anything?

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What are Remnant Beliefs about Temples?

Joseph Smith built temples in Kirtland and Nauvoo.  The LDS Church has more than 100 temples in operation now, worldwide.  In our last conversation with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I asked  if temples are a part of their worship.

Jim:  Yes absolutely.  In fact we have a recent revelation that talks about beginning to prepare for the building of the temple, but we haven’t had a command to build a temple yet, but to prepare for that.  We do believe in temples, absolutely.

GT:  I know the RLDS Church/Community of Christ, I actually remember going to the temple, I was so excited.  In the LDS Church, you can go to the open house but after that it’s hands off, and I was really excited to go to the Independence Temple.  Even in Kirtland, that’s a temple that’s open to the public.  Would you anticipate that would be the case as well?  That it would be kind of a special meetinghouse?

Jim:  As best as I can say, I would think it would be very similar to how we treat Kirtland:  reverently but it’s still open.  There’ s nothing anything in there that someone couldn’t see.

GT:  Ok.  I know baptisms for the dead.  I believe that’s something that was canonized in the RLDS Church for a time, although then it was later moved to an appendix and actually has been de-canonized.

Jim:  Yeah, section 107 is what it is for us.  In the 1970 conference they put that in the appendix, yes.

GT:  Oh, ok.  Joseph I believe said that baptisms for the dead should be done in the temple.  I know that before the Nauvoo Temple was completed, they did some in the Mississippi River.  Is that something that you guys would participate in the Remnant Church?

Jim:  No.  Here’s where we’re at with that revelation.  We don’t deny that Joseph gave what we call section 107 which was talking about finishing the temple, otherwise you’ll be rejected with your dead.  I’m not sure what section it is for you all.

GT:  I don’t know off the top of my head either.[1]

Jim:  Oh you don’t either.  The way we look at that is that we see that there was only two places that it was given instruction that it could be done.  One was in the temple in Nauvoo, and the other was in Independence.  The other part of that was, the other issue that we have with it is that we don’t have any instruction through Joseph from the Lord through Joseph on that particular instance—for instance like I was talking about your section 20 which is our section 17, the Lord was very specific in explaining how water baptism was to occur and what was to be said and so forth.  We don’t have anything like that and so we find that kind of spurious that there wasn’t any instruction given that we can point the reference to and so forth that that was to occur.

[1] LDS section 124 deals which Baptism for the dead is found at

We also talked about a lay clergy, differences with high councils, and I discovered they don’t have stakes yet!  I hope you enjoyed our discussions, and I hope you’ll check out parts 18 as well!  Check out our conversation…..


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Joseph was a Monogamist!

We’re continuing our discussion with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It’s been a long-standing tradition in the RLDS Church that Joseph Smith was a monogamist.  However current prophet/president Stephen Veazey announced that the RLDS Church, also known as the Community of Christ no believes Joseph Smith did not engage in polygamy.  What does the Remnant Church do?  Do they hearken back to the old RLDS positions, or do they agree that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?

Jim:  No I don’t believe he did.  Here’s what I would say to that.  Our position is what Joseph Smith III said which was he could find no evidence of it, but if there is, by some chance that he did, it was wrong.  That’s the position of our church.

I asked what he thought about D&C 132, and I mentioned that

The Community of Christ rejects a lot of those Nauvoo-era revelations, which 132 would have been.  How do you handle that?  You just don’t believe in any Nauvoo [revelations?]  Was Joseph a fallen prophet by then?

Jim:  No we don’t believe he was a fallen prophet.  We don’t believe he was at all.  I know there were people in the Reorganized Church and perhaps some in the Community of Christ.  I can’t tell, but I do know there was a belief that Joseph was a fallen prophet at some point because of some of the things that happened in Nauvoo.

The way we look at Nauvoo is different than I believe the way the old Reorganized Church looked at it.  They just kind of threw [it out.]  Nauvoo was there.  We don’t really want to talk about it.  We don’t want to talk about what happened because there were a lot of bad things that happened there.

The way we look at it was there was some good things, wonderful things that happened there, and there were some not so good things that happened there.  We tried to sift through those to see what’s there because to your point, there were just some revelations that didn’t [hold up]—and some of them, here also, we may not look at it as revelation.  We may question the authorship of and so forth and so on.  I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories or anything like that.  That’s not the rabbit trail I’m trying to go down.  It’s just we can’t tell.  For instance there was some things given in Far West, the Wentworth Letter.

GT:  Where the Articles of Faith are.

Jim:  Yeah.

GT:  The Articles of Faith are part of the Wentworth Letter.  That’s actually part of our Pearl of Great Price.

Jim:  Right.  That’s in there, but that’s not part of our Doctrine & Covenants.  As to why some of those things became, I hate to use the word ‘canonized’ because of where we are, why they weren’t included in the open canon, I don’t really know.  I can’t speak to that.  I’ve tried to go back and research through our line why the RLDS Church made some decisions they did and didn’t.  I think some of them were just, they just didn’t at that time know, and they just set it on the shelf and just left it there.

I also asked about some contemporary evidences, such as the Nauvoo Expositor, and whether they like to be called RLDS or Mormons.  Check out our conversation!  You might want to check out my episodes from Brian Hales where Brian talked about his evidences against Joseph’s  monogamy, and don’t forget to check our our other episodes from Jim!