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Did Perego write the Gospel Topics Essay on DNA?

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.

Ugo:  I actually took the lead on the project of writing that.  I wrote a much more extensive paper which has been published as well in the Interpreter, the online Mormon journal.  It’s about 40 pages long and then from that the Church condensed it down to what is the in Gospel Topics today. Some people will say, well if this is doesn’t say—they wanted to keep it short.  There are a lot of footnotes.  You can go and read more.  You have the full article on the other page.  There is another article with me in the other article[1], a more extensive article, and then we have several geneticists, even known Latter-day saint geneticists that I sent the manuscript, and asked, “what do you think about it?”  Forget that you don’t know, or you know about the Book of Mormon, but does the story make sense with the genetic context.  Am I presenting genetics and the principles in a fair manner, an honest manner?  I incorporated their feedback, and then I submitted that to the Church and that’s what we have today.  I was the main guy behind it but it was others, even known LDS geneticists that were involved.

[1] Other author is Jayne E. Ekins.  See http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/is-decrypting-the-genetic-legacy-of-americas-indigenous-populations-key-to-the-historicity-of-the-book-of-mormon/

We’ll also talk about Rodney Meldrum’s claim to have found DNA in Native Americans here in the Americas.

Rod Meldrum honestly, the Heartlanders, the people who promote the Book of Mormon geography in North America, and I don’t have a problem if they like to put the Book of Mormon there but as of today, we have absolutely no genetic evidence of their claims.  Fortunately they are hammering that nail DNA continually, saying that DNA is proving their theory, but it is not.  They can have other good evidence to support their theory but they should not use today DNA.  Maybe down the road there will be some new discoveries that will change how we are interpreting the data today, and we might be saying, oh maybe it was Middle Eastern.  Maybe we’re going to find X2A in Jerusalem that we never found before, right?  But as of today there is no evidence.

Critics of the Book of Mormon say this is the nail in the coffin.  Rod Meldrum says this is the nail in the coffin for his theory.  It depends how you look at it.  I honestly think that we are far from using DNA in favor or against the Book of Mormon.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our discussion about DNA and the Book of Mormon.  Check out our conversation…..

 

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Jim Tackles DNA & Book of Mormon

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.  Jim gave his testimony of the Book of Mormon in part 2 of our conversation, and we touched on the Book of Mormon in our previous episode, and we talked about Remnant scriptures including the Doctrine & Covenants and Book of Mormon.  Today we will delve deeper into mysteries such as whether issues surrounding DNA & Book of Mormon are compatible.  I first asked Jim if he believes the Book of Mormon is a literal history or simply a foundational scripture as the Community of Christ believes?

GT:  Let’s talk about the Book of Mormon.   We’ve talked about that.  I know in the LDS Church, most people I think believe it’s a literal history.  It seems like in the Community of Christ, most probably don’t. {chuckles}

Jim:  I would say you’re probably right.

GT:  Where does the Remnant Church fit on that spectrum?

Jim:  We believe that it is an absolute literal history.  We believe that there were Lamanites and Nephites and Jacobites and Josephites and all the different –ites that were here upon the land.  Obviously there’s a good debate on where they really were exactly for North and South America and so forth, and where maybe in North America and so forth.  But yes we do believe that it was a literal people that were here.

DNA & Book of Mormon

I also asked him some of the questions of critics.

GT:  One of the big knocks against the Book of Mormon is DNA.  A guy by the name of Simon Southerton, an Australian researcher has said you don’t find any evidence of DNA.  I think the LDS—well I won’t say the LDS Church response, [because] the LDS Church I believe is neutral on the issue, but a lot of LDS researchers have said, well the population was probably a lot smaller, so you wouldn’t have any evidence of that.  What do you think?

Jim:  Well you know, first of all, I think that whole study—I feel there was a motive to putting together that research, first of all.  I don’t feel that was fair and scientific in the way that it was done.  Considering if you really want to look at the groups of people, you could argue that Ishmael, is that really the name of a good practicing Jew?  I don’t know, but I have a lot of questions.  Oh by the way, how many peoples actually came to the Americas?  I’ll just put it that way.  We’ll summarize.  How many different people came?

Well there were a lot of people, and they’re finding a lot of archaeological evidence of a lot of people, so to say that we know that all the Indians were Lamanites I think is really a fallacy.  I don’t think you can really say that.  They may or may not be.  We really don’t know which ones really are or aren’t.  For them to go forward and try to put together DNA evidence based on that, plus the other thing is you’re talking about many, many generations back.  Trying to argue that you’ve got somebody you can match DNA with from that time period to this time period, I don’t think that science is quite there yet for that.

I really think that it’s a, “ah, we got them!  We’re going to disprove the Book of Mormon in one fell swoop.” It’s just kind of like, ”no guys, I don’t think so.”  I just don’t think that from my background, being in engineering, I don’t really feel like all the boxes were checked.  I don’t really feel like it was an exhaustive study.  I felt like there was more of a motive for putting together the research instead of actually looking at it objectively.”

Do you agree with Jim.  Did Simon Southerton have an agenda to prove the Book of Mormon was false?  Check out our conversation…..