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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…..

 

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Best Reasons for the Baja Theory

This is our last conversation with David Rosenvall.  In our last few episodes we’ve tried to poke holes in David’s theory of the Baja Theory of the Book of Mormon.  In this episode, we’ll talk about strengths of the theory.

I think one of the other things that makes Baja a little unique is this concept of being isolated.  The text over and over seems to imply that they were alone.  They didn’t have encounters with other people.  They were always the kings.  They were always fighting with their brothers.  When they found the Mulekites they were so excited that they put it in their record.  When they found evidence of another culture that had been wiped out, they put it in their record.  So you have to have some location that seems very isolated.  How do you isolate a group of people for that long that they don’t talk about anyone else?  In a peninsula like Baja, even today is isolated from mainland Mexico, even with all we have, so it’s a great place for isolation.  It’s a semi-arid, isolated environments are probably two of the strongest strengths that we have.

We’ll talk about the narrow neck of land.

There’s only one place you can actually see mainland Mexico from Baja.  It’s in the area just a little bit north of halfway down here at a place called Bajia De Los Angeles where you can actually see across here.  Everywhere else you can’t actually see, which is interesting because the text talks about, in this very location, the text says where the sea divides the land.  We assume they could see it, so here it’s about 40 miles.  Everywhere else it gets up into 60, 70, 80 miles.  The only place they could have seen mainland Mexico is right where it was described, right where the narrow neck, the line of defense.  We actually look at that geographically that their one location, and the only on Baja where you have a place that you can across, it’s kind of exciting.

You might want to watch this episode on YouTube.  We will zoom in on his map as he talks about different geographical features of the Baja Peninsula that he thinks correlate with the Book of Mormon.  (Don’t forget to check out our previous post on DNA.)  I hope you check out our conversation….

 

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Baja vs Meso: Who Wins?

We’re continuing our conversation with David Rosenvall.  He’s the guy who came up with the idea that the Book of Mormon lands may have occurred in the Baja Peninsula.  I’ve also asked him to critique John L. Sorenson’s theory.  Sorenson has the dominant theory where the Book of Mormon took place in Central America.  I’ll ask David to critique John’s theory.

David:  One of the things that I think the Mesoamerican models do is they focus very much on the human geography, and I think they’ve done a really good job at identifying things in Mesoamerica that can be tied back to the Book of Mormon culturally: language perhaps, structures, some of those types of things.  Where they get in trouble is where they try to place the physical geography on top of that, things start turning sideways, distances and so forth, you get all sideways.

GT:  Well let’s talk about that for a second.

David:  You bet.

GT:  To me that’s one of the biggest problems.  When you think of North and South America, well north and south makes a lot of sense.  But when you get to Mesoamerica, the narrow neck of land is actually situated east and west.  It’s not north and south.

David:  Yeah, so the orientation is a problem.  One thing we do in the text is we assume it was given to us by the gift and power of God.  We don’t need to retranslate it.  If it says east, it’s east.  If it’s west, it’s west.  If the swords rusted, they’re made of steel.  Animals are the animals stated and so forth.

When you get into some of the other geography, you’re having to rotate things and stretch distances.  That’s ok; let them work that out.  But our model is, what does the text say?  And apply it using the science we know today.  We find a location that can fit.  That’s the basis.  That’s it.  Read the text and use science to try to review it.

There is a post at Wheat and Tares where someone explains why Sorenson’s model is ok.

I also want to point to an area that David has focused on is the area of language.

There’s a great work done by Brian Stubbs that has followed the language of some of these people.  He’s tied a group of Native Americans called Uto-Aztecan people, identified by their language and you can see how they have moved and they ended up as the Aztecs in Central America.  If that’s who are the Book of Mormon people, you would see their culture where they were found when the Europeans found them.  But trace them back to where their language came from and you’ll find it’s southern California and northern Baja.

We’ll talk more about language in a future episode, but let me ask you.  Do you see think the east-west orientation is a problem for Sorenson’s model?  What do you think of the Baja model?

Check out David’s introduction to the theory in the previous post, and check out the video below or audio above.  Don’t forget there are less than two weeks to sign up for the free book!