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How Americas were Populated (Part 8 of 8)

We’re concluding our conversation with Dr. Thomas Murphy.  Last time we talked about why modern Egyptians don’t match current Egyptians.  Dr. Murphy says a similar case arises with Native Americans.  We talk about how Native Americans migrated from Asia, and how long they’ve been in the Americas.

Thomas:  The dating of the entry into the Americas is hugely debated. There’s some archaeological evidence suggesting 130,000 years ago, but the DNA evidence suggests that indigenous people were separated from their closest Asian relatives around 30,000 years ago. Then, we’re finding more and more archaeological evidence pushing that date of the migration back. But our challenge is that not a lot of fossils older than 12,000 years old are in the Americas. There’s some archaeological sites and stuff that we found in the Americas that are older than that. But, the DNA suggests that the ancestors of the American Indians have been here longer than anthropologists typically thought, maybe used to think. So, now we’re much more open to the idea that people were here before the Ice Age. It’s really the ice age that is kind of the controlling factor there.  The assumption of most anthropologists before the rise of DNA evidence, was that people came after the melting of the ice, the end of the ice ages, so that would put it after 12,000 years ago, that the ancestors American Indians came.  Just down the road from me, there’s a mastodon that’s got a stone point embedded in the bone that’s older than the ice ages, 13,000 years old. So, how did it get there if there weren’t people? Most definitely, I think we can say now that people arrived here before the ice ages. That raised the point of how did they get here? Because that idea before was that there was this land bridge and then there was an ice-free corridor between two of the glaciers that opened up, and that people must have come down through that ice free corridor.

GT:  The Bering Strait, right?

Thomas:  Yes. They actually looked at the ice-free corridor and looked at the ecology of it using this environmental DNA work. The plants and animals weren’t there to sustain people early enough for that to be a viable entry point for people into the Americas.  So, from my perspective, that’s been refuted.

GT:  Whoa. There’s not a land bridge? They had to come a different way, not on the land bridge. Is that what you’re saying?

Thomas:  They had to come from Asia, because that’s where the relatives are. But coming through an ice-free corridor, from basically the Beringia through an ice-free corridor into the Americas, we know that’s wrong now.

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Dr. Thomas Murphy says the first Native Americans probably didn’t come across a land bridge in Beringia.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Murphy!

473: Possible to Lose DNA?

472: Who Killed the Indians?

471: Strengths & Weakness of DNA Essay/ Comparing Indian & BoM Stories

470: Behind the Scenes of DNA Essay

469: Untold Story of Indian Slavery in America

468: Religious Fights over DNA

467: Native American DNA Scholarship


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Who Killed the Indians? (Part 6 of 8)

It is well-known that Europeans wiped out many Native Americans.  The Book of Mormon claims that darker skinned Lamanites killed the white-skinned Nephites.  Is it possible that these genocidal killings wiped out all traces of Middle Eastern DNA among Native Americans?  Dr. Thomas Murphy is here to answer that question.

Thomas:  I think the settlers, long before Joseph Smith came along were developing ways of reconciling that. The ways that they were trying to reconcile that was that they said, well, the Indians around us they look like savages. But we look and we see all these monuments that–this evidence of great architecture, big mounds and evidence of sophisticated culture, couldn’t have been these Indians.  It must have been an ancient white race that did this. Now, that’s convenient to suggest that, because if there was an ancient white race that created civilization in the Americas and the remnants of that civilization, then you can say, “Well, the American Indians and their ancestors must have destroyed them. They must have done what we’re doing right now.”  So, it becomes a way of solace. It becomes a mythological tradition that helps settler colonists to reconcile their own violation of their own ethics.

Thomas:  The essay, on one sense, blames American Indians for an ancient genocide of the Nephites that may have eliminated DNA.  It also acknowledges the 16th and 17th century annihilation of most Native Americans. Now notice the timing of that 16th and 17th century. Why is that important? The 16th-17th century suggests that it was Spanish, French and Dutch, not the English. You really look at, the genocide continued in the 18th and the 19th century.  Even Mormons themselves participated in it in the colonization of the Great Basin. So that destruction of native populations, kind of at its apex was around 1900. So, the 18th and 19th centuries, the essay ignores altogether. So we’re also critical of the essay for not acknowledging the English and American wrong in genocide. It really overlooks those and suggests blaming the Spanish and the French and the Dutch.

GT:  And not the Americans is what you’re saying.

Thomas:  Yeah, not the English and Americans who did it just as much, in fact, more so. Because the Spanish and the French–well the Spanish, their kind of colonial system was one where they incorporated indigenous peoples into an economic system at the lower rungs of society, as peasants, compasinos in Spanish.  They are incorporated into the society, enslaved for sure, but incorporated into colonial society. The French had a little different perspective. The French kind of more incorporated themselves into the indigenous society and used trade and economics to their advantage but operating within an indigenous system. So, the social structure under the French was largely still indigenous. One of my mentors, Richard White, describes that as a middle ground of the French. Now the English, use a different strategy. The English, initially they were kind of incorporating, as I said earlier, bringing the kids into the homes and stuff. They were a little more like the Spanish in those initial periods, but eventually with what’s called the King Philip’s War, they adopted a different approach and that is to exterminate. They adopted a genocidal approach towards indigenous populations and wiped them out and removed them from their indigenous territories. That English approach is actually the more appropriate analogy for the Book of Mormon, than the Spanish and the French. So, Ugo just gets his history wrong, is what I’m saying.

We’ll look at a story of a 15th century Incan boy as well as some Egyptian mummies to see if DNA can disappear.  We also talk about why Viking DNA doesn’t show up in Canada.  Check out our conversation….

The Church’s DNA essay claims Lamanites killing Nephites could have wiped out middle eastern DNA, as well as European Colonists.  Was is Lamanites or Europeans who killed so many Indians?


Please check out Dr. Ugo Perego’s arguments about Vikings.

77: How do Lemba Tribe & Viking DNA Relate to the Book of Mormon? Part 2 (Perego)


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Religious Fights over DNA (Part 2 of 8)

To say Dr. Thomas Murphy’s research about DNA and the Book of Mormon raises eyebrows among LDS Church leaders is an understatement.  Not only did it cause concern among his LDS friends, but evangelicals came looking for anti-Mormon material as well.  Tom shares his dealings with these two different groups.

Thomas:  So, my Stake President called me in to talk about that article. He said somebody had given him a copy and he was concerned that a member of the church would make the conclusions that I made. Particularly, I had said that there’s no DNA evidence to support the idea that the ancestors of American Indians came from Israel.

I didn’t think it was that radical of a conclusion. I figured the Church would eventually get there. But I was a little bit ahead of it, of where my Stake President wanted me to be. He asked me if I’d reconsider my conclusion.  I said, “Well, only if the evidence changed. If the evidence is different, yeah, I’ll consider that. But, I’ve got to be honest about what the evidence is.” He says, “Well, then I think we need to schedule a disciplinary council.”  So I said, “Well, if that’s what you want to do. It’s your decision, but I don’t want that.” That created–well, I went home that night. That was like the night before Thanksgiving, Wednesday night, right before Thanksgiving back in 2002. I wrote an email to a lot of friends, kind of a group email that I sent out explaining what had happened. I’d included it in that the editors for American Apocrypha, and some of the folks at Signature Books. They asked my permission first and then asked if it would be okay if they shared my email with the Associated Press.

But it just kind of blew up into a media frenzy. I talked to the Associated Press reporter the day after Thanksgiving, in the morning.  In the afternoon, Brent sent me an email. He said that the story’s out. “You need to get on the internet and check it out.” So I got on, I think it was ABC News or something, and it was already one of the top forwarded stories of the day. I was like, “Oh, wow.”  It kind of went crazy after that. The next couple of weeks I was having television, newspaper reporters follow me to class.

He was also recruited by an evangelical group.

Thomas: They assured me that they were trying to make a balanced perspective and so on. So I said, “Okay, I’ll sign this, then.” They interviewed me and cut out everything I said that might have challenged the historicity of the Bible, especially the dating, the timing. All of that was completely gone. Then what appears in the film are all the things that challenge Mormonism.

GT:  Oh, that’s interesting.

Thomas:  But anyway, the reason I was telling this story is that my relatives on my father’s side, they were going around Twin Falls and knocking on people’s doors and leaving this video. Then my relatives on my mom’s side, were the ones getting this video, that’s being left on their doorstep. So, I created a little bit of tension at family reunions.

Check out our conversation….

Religious Fights over DNA erupted between evangelicals and Mormons over Dr. Murphy’s claims.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Dr. Murphy.

467: Native American DNA Scholarship