Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Changing the Lamanite Skin Color – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the DNA of an individual and how it determines our physical appearance and who we are.
As discussed in the last post, DNA is a very long molecule, and is broken up into sections called chromosomes. In humans, there are 46 chromosomes, in the form of 23 pairs, and are supercoiled and wound around storage proteins called histones so the DNA can be packaged very compactly. Scientists consider that most of DNA appears to be junk—that is, the base sequences do not seem to make any sense, and cells don't seem to use them for much.
The coding sections are called exons, and a collection of exons make up a gene, which can then be read by the cell's machinery in a process called transcription. A process called translation then occurs, which as the name suggests 'translates' the sequence of DNA bases into a polypeptide chain, hence making a protein.
As has now been shown, there is only a small part of DNA that is involved in specific differences between, say, Asians and Caucasians. Things like eye shape and color, skin color and hair texture take only the tiniest fraction of DNA.
However, there are differences between people, especially in appearance. A group may all be Caucasian, but they do not look exactly alike. There are differences, noticeable differences. Even long exposure to identical twins can produce an awareness of differences in appearance. Some people have long, straight noses, others are wide, some are pug, others turned up, etc. Eyes are narrow, wide, slits, wide apart, narrow, etc. Ears are very different, as are jaws, cheekbones, hairlines, and even the shape of the head. Some of these differences seem to be racial, others regional, most ancestral. These differences, great or small, come from having slightly different DNA.
Faces can be quite different from one another in the same racial group: Caucasian Top LtoR: Fat face; narrow face; round face; square face; African-American Center LtoR: Narrow face; triangular face; square face; round face; Mexican Bottom LtoR: Square face; narrow face; round face; oblong face
As an example, a person’s DNA can make one person tall, another short; one person muscular, big boned, and hefty, another thin, wiry and long-limbed. Most characteristics, however, have little to do with whether a person is Asian or Caucasian, but more to do with differences found between any two people. What this means is that most DNA differences are not specific to any ethnic group; however, some, though minor, characteristics are indeed racial, such as skin color.
In fact, the biggest different between some races is their skin color, and there are only a couple of genes that determine the general color of a person's skin—these are the genes, containing masses of DNA, that explain why, for example, more people of African descent are darker than Europeans, or why most Asians are lighter than native Australians.
In addition, there are lots of other skin color genes that are not ethnic group specific. These are the genes that give slight shading variations between people of the same group. As an example, not all Europeans are equally pale nor all Africans equally dark.
The differences in these genes are almost certainly shared between ethnic groups. A light skinned Asian may share certain genes with a light skinned European. Meaning that for skin color, the lighter Asian may have more in common genetically with the lighter European than with a darker Asian.
But skin color isn't all there is to skin. There are a ton of other genes that tell your skin cells to look the way they do or make it possible for skin cells to do their jobs. Almost none of these are specific to any ethnic group. Everyone's skin cells need to cover their body; they form a protective barrier against diseases and other problems. This means there are many genes that tell your skin cells to have strong connecting bonds with each other so nothing can sneak in between.
Other genes tell the skin cells where to grow—obviously you wouldn't want skin cells growing in your brain or your heart, and certainly you want them on the outside of your body! And look at the skin on your arms and compare it with the skin on your face or the skin on the bottom of your feet. Genes are needed to tell your skin to be softer on your face and tougher on your feet.
If you took a random bunch of people and shook their hands, you would notice that everyone's palms are different. Some people have softer skin, some have calluses and hard skins, some have wet sweaty palms, and some have super dry skin. These are another set of genetic traits of skin that aren't dependent on what one's ethnic background is. So most of our skin differences aren't between ethnic groups. A dry-skinned darker Asian has a lot more in common with a dry-skinned darker Caucasian than with a sweaty, pale Asian, etc.
The important thing to understand is that all these genes are predicated upon what is received from the father and mother, passed on genetically, from one generation to another
Thus, the human genome is the sum total of all the genetic information contained in a human being. The information in the genome is stored as DNA, a molecule with a sugar-phosphate backbone (which keeps the shape of the characteristic DNA helix) and the bases adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The order of the four bases describes the information stored in the DNA. This is passed on from one person to another and, combined with the other marriage partner, from one generation to another.
Consequently, when the Lord changed the color of Cain’s skin, a new genome trait, or DNA encoding, took place so that when combined with that of his wife, continued to produce the dark skin Cain had been given. In this way, his DNA then was different from that of his father Adam, and mother Eve, creating a new encoded set of DNA instructions.
The same can be said for when the Lord changed the skin color of the Lamanites: “as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21).
Thus, the Lamanite skin color was changed instantly—“And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23)—as the Lord altered the DNA coding regulating the skin color and whatever other features were involved to make the Lamanites “loathsome” unto the Nephites (2 Nephi 5:22).
In this way, the DNA of the Lamanites was forever changed, and since most of the “Indians” of the Western Hemisphere came through this line, their DNA would be slightly different from that of the Nephites and, consequently, that of the Near East from which Lehi came.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Changing the Lamanite Skin Color – Part I

At one time, the brothers Cain and Able, not only basically looked alike, but had the same color skin. However, because of Cain’s disobedience and subsequent killing of his brother (Genesis 4:8), the lord placed a mark upon him (Genesis 4:15) of a black skin (Moses 7:8, 22). This mark was placed upon Cain in a short time to keep him from being killed by those who saw him (Genesis 4:14; Moses 5:40).
Much later, in another age, Lehi and Sariah had four sons when they left Jerusalem: Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi. However, at one point after Lehi’s death in the Land of Promise, Nephi and Sam and those who would go with him separated themselves from Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael who sought Nephi’s life. At that time the Lord told Nephi:
“The word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities. And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:20-23).
From this we learn five important happenings: 1) There are always consequences for our actions; 2) The Lord changed skin color instantly; 3) That skin color change became hereditary; 4) That skin color was passed on to anyone who joined the Lamanites; and 5) The offspring of such joining of white and black became hereditary.
Like the seed of Cain was black, the seed of Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael became black. And in neither case did this take several generations to accomplish, but happened immediately—“And the Lord spake it, and it was done.”
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16)
Perhaps to understand this, we need to consider God and who he is. That is, he is the creator of all things, and through his son, Jehovah/Jesus Christ (Moses 6:57), he created the heaven and the earth (Moses 2:1), and all things in it (Moses 2:29-31), and millions of earths like this one, and more than the particles of these earths put together (Moses 7:30) were his creations. God, of course, created man (Moses 2:27), and in so doing, was the author of DNA, genes, chromosomes, and gnomes, and other particle that makes up our bodies.
The God who created all this is certainly the God who can make changes to it as he chooses.
First of all, DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material and nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA, or MtDNA).
Each human cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes, and each chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein, which is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide acid sequences—a succession of letters that indicate the order of nucleotides within a DNA or RNA molecule.  These nucleotides are subunits of DNA, with each nucleotide made up of a sugar, a phosphate and a base.
There are about 3.17 billion base pairs in a strand, and if completely unwound the strand would have a length of about six feet, and since most cells are diploid and have two copies, the total would be about 6.34 billion base pairs, and measure about 12 feet unwound.
The human gnome (a complete set of genetic information, called genetic code, is stored as DNA sequences within the 23 chromosome pairs) comprises about 3.2 billion nucleotides of DNA, divided into 24 linear molecules, with the shortest about 50-million and the longest 260-million nucleotides. Each contained in a different chromosome.
The mitochondrial genome is a circular “DNA molecule of 16,569 nucleotides, multiple copies of which are located in the energy-generating organelles called mitochondria. Life is specified by genomes. Every organism has a genome that contains all of the biological information needed to build and maintain a living example of that organism. The biological information contained in a genome is encoded in its DNA and divided into discrete units called genes. Genes code for proteins that attach to the genome at the appropriate positions and switch on series of reactions called gene expression.
It should be noted that chromosomal DNA encodes most or all of an organism’s genetic information--or stated differently, chromosomes are made out of DNA and a section of DNA is called a gene, which are small segments of DNA that are situated along the chromosomes. DNA is read at each gene and the code (genetic code) is translated by the cell into proteins. Simply put, a single gene carries a code, with different genes carrying many codes, which is called an alleles. Thus, DNA contains our genetic material...everything that makes us who we are (not counting the environmental factors). Therefore, all the genes that are expressed in our body are contained within our DNA. Genes are simply pieces of DNA that code for a specific polypeptide. DNA is coiled around histone proteins very tightly during cellular division; DNA + histones are called chromosomes.
So how is skin color determined? How was the skin color changed in the Lamanites? How was skin color changed immediately, and not as slow disbursement through several generations?
(See the next post, “In Changing the Lamanite Skin Color – Part II,” and how the skin color of different peoples, specifically the Lamanites, were altered)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Second, Closer Look at DNA – Part III – The Problems With DNA “Science”--The Demise of Mitochrondrial Eve

Continuing from the last post, it was not forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden that caused mitochondrial Eve’s demise this time around.  The “passing” of one of evolution’s most familiar icons is due to new scientific facts that have surfaced since her introduction in 1987. If humans received mitochondrial DNA only from their mothers, then researchers could “map” a family tree using that information.  And, if the mutations affecting MtDNA had indeed occurred at constant rates, then the MtDNA could serve as a molecular clock for timing evolutionary events and reconstructing the evolutionary history of extant species. 
It is the “ifs” in these two sentences that are the problem.
Note the built in time of the molecular clock, with divisions every 25 million years, which promotes older ages in the process
Another study that was published in 2002 pointed out a built-in, natural bias for older ages that result from use of the molecular clock.  The researchers who carried out the study noted: “There is presently a conflict between fossil- and molecular-based evolutionary time scales.  Molecular approaches for dating the branches of the tree of life frequently lead to substantially deeper (older) times of divergence than those inferred by paleontologists. Here we show that molecular time estimates suffer from a methodological handicap, namely that they are asymmetrically bounded random variables, constrained by a nonelastic boundary at the lower end, but not at the higher end of the distribution.”
Big surprise, right?
As Francisco Rodriguez-Trelles went on to add, “This introduces a bias toward an overestimation of time since divergence, which becomes greater as the length of the molecular sequence and the rate of evolution decrease.  Despite the booming amount of sequence information, molecular timing of evolutionary events has continued to yield conspicuously deeper dates than indicated by the stratigraphic data.  Increasingly, the discrepancies between molecular and paleontological estimates are ascribed to deficiencies of the fossil record, while sequence-based time-tables gain credit.  Yet, we have identified a fundamental flaw of molecular dating methods, which leads to dates that are systematically biased towards substantial overestimation of evolutionary times.”
LtoR: Thomas J. Parsons, Ann Gibbons, David S. Muniec
Until approximately 1997, we did not have good empirical measures of mutation rates in humans.  However, that situation greatly improved when geneticists were able to analyze DNA from individuals with well-established family trees going back several generations.  One study led by Thomas J. Parsons and David S. Muniec of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, found that mutation rates in mitochondrial DNA were eighteen times higher than previous estimates.
Science writer Ann Gibbons authored an article for the January 2, 1998 issue of Science titled “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” the subheading of which reads: “Mitochondrial DNA appears to mutate much faster than expected, prompting new DNA forensics procedures and raising troubling questions about the dating of evolutionary events.” In that article, she discussed the new data which showed that the mutation rates used to obtain mitochondrial Eve’s age no longer could be considered valid, and added,  “Regardless of the cause, evolutionists are most concerned about the effect of a faster mutation rate.  For example, researchers have calculated that “mitochondrial Eve”—the woman whose MtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people—lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6,000 years old.”
6,000 years old! Does that time sound familiar to anyone?
Gibbons quickly went on to note, of course, that “no one thinks that’s the case.”
Naturally, no one in the scientific community is going to talk about an earth, or a descendancy less than hundreds of thousasnds of years; however, the point is that evidence shows a 6,000 year old tree, not 100,000 to 200,000 years. As Gibbons concluded with the fact that many test results are (to use her exact word) “inconclusive.” She then noted: “And, for now, so are some of the evolutionary results gained by using the MtDNA clock.”
We now know that the two key assumptions behind the data used to establish the existence of “mitochondrial Eve” are not just flawed, but wrong. That is, the assumption that mitochondrial DNA is passed down only by the mother is completely incorrect (it also can be passed on by the father).  And, the mutation rates used to calibrate the so-called “molecular clock” are now known to have been in error.  (To use the words of Rodriguez-Trelles and his coworkers, the method contains a “fundamental flaw.”)
With the early results, Philip Awadalla (left) the University of Montreal researcher was able to study the rate of mutation of human DNA in a generation. "For the first time, we had access to the complete sequences of the DNA of two couples and their children. Developing appropriate computer algorithms, we were able to compare the billions of base pairs to see where the differences were”
Philip Awadalla and his coworkers noted in Science (1999 Vol 286, p2525): “Many inferences about the pattern and tempo of human evolution and MtDNA evolution have been based on the assumption of clonal inheritance.  There inferences will now have to be reconsidered.” However, rather than merely “reconsidering” their theory and attempting to revamp it accordingly, evolutionists need to admit, honestly and forthrightly, that “mitochondrial Eve,” as it turns out, has existed only in their minds, not in the facts of the real world. 
Science works by analyzing the data and forming hypotheses based on those data.  Science is not supposed to massage the data until they fit a certain preconceived hypothesis. All of the conclusions that have been drawn from research on mitochondrial Eve via the molecular clock must now be discarded as unreliable.  A funeral and interment are in order for mitochondrial Eve.
Like so many things in science—what is earth-shattering news of a new paradigm one day is rescinded the next, and a new paradigm established in its place. That is, all those who have been assigning locations for DNA, figuring clans, groups, geographical locations, and genealogical ancestry, need to take another look at what they have been touting since DNA is an ever-changing process and is quickly being adjusted with each new discovery.
One thing is for certain. DNA has not advanced far enough for anyone to make a serious claim that Western Hemisphere ancestry is known and understood today through DNA testing and research!

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Second, Closer Look at DNA – Part II – The Problems With DNA “Science"

Continuing from the last post, it was not forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden that caused mitochondrial Eve’s demise this time around.  The “passing” of one of evolution’s most familiar icons is due to new scientific facts that have surfaced since her introduction in 1987.  If humans received mitochondrial DNA only from their mothers, then researchers could “map” a family tree using that information.  And, if the mutations affecting MtDNA had indeed occurred at constant rates, then the MtDNA could serve as a molecular clock for timing evolutionary events and reconstructing the evolutionary history of extant species.  It is the “if"s in these two sentences that are the problem.
Researchers say that Eve was sturdy and fruitful and problem lived in a small group that scoured the plains for food, though they cannot decide whether it was Asia or Africa
Mitochondrial Eve is alleged to have lived in Africa at the beginning of the Upper Pleistocene period (between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago).  She has been described as the most-recent common ancestor of all humans on Earth today, with respect to matrilineal descent.  The validity of these assertions, however, is dependent upon two critically important assumptions: (1) that MtDNA is, in fact, derived exclusively from the mother; and (2) that the mutation rates associated with MtDNA have remained constant over time. However, we now know that both of these assumptions are wrong!
First, let us examine the assumption that MtDNA is derived solely from the mother.  In response to a paper that appeared in Science in 1999, anthropologist Henry B. Eyring of the University of Utah lamented: “There is a cottage industry of making gene trees in anthropology and then interpreting them.  This paper will invalidate most of that” (as quoted in Evelyn Strauss, “MtDNA Shows Signs of Paternal Influence,” Science, Vol 286, p2436, 1999).  Just as women thought they were getting their fair shake in science, the tables turned.  As one study noted:
"Women have struggled to gain equality in society, but biologists have long thought that females wield absolute power in a sphere far from the public eye: in the mitochondria, cellular organelles whose DNA is thought to pass intact from mother to child with no paternal influence."  However, a study by Philip Awadalla of the University of Edinburgh and Adam Eyre-Walker and John Maynard Smith of the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K. finds signs of mixing between maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) in humans and chimpanzees.  As Strauss stated: “Because biologists have used MtDNA as a tool to trace human ancestry and relationships, the finding has implications for everything from the identification of bodies to the existence of a “mitochondrial Eve” 200,000 years ago.”
Geneticists claim that DNA can be a valuable tool when doing genealogical research on a family and that tests can indicate clan relationships and connect a family tree back to a distant ancestor
One year later, however, researchers made this startling admission:
Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) is generally assumed to be inherited exclusively from the mother.  Several recent papers, however, have suggested that elements of MtDNA may sometimes be inherited from the father.  This hypothesis is based on evidence that MtDNA may undergo recombination.  If this does occur, maternal MtDNA in the egg must cross over with homologous sequences in a different DNA molecule; paternal MtDNA seems the most likely candidate. Morris and Mightowlers added, “If MtDNA can recombine, irrespective of the mechanism, there are important implications for MtDNA evolution and for phylogenetic studies that use MtDNA.”
In 2002, a new study was conducted by Schwartz and Vissings that concluded: “Nevertheless, even a single validated example of paternal MtDNA transmission suggests that the interpretation of inheritance patterns in other kindreds thought to have mitochondrial disease should not be based on the dogmatic assumption of absolute maternal inheritance of MtDNA.”  Williams added that this case study “Is more than a mere curiosity.”
And now we know that these are more than small “fractional” amounts of MtDNA coming from fathers.  The August 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contained the results of the Swartz and Vissing study, which concluded:
“Mammalian mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) is thought to be strictly maternally inherited. Very small amounts of paternally inherited MtDNA have been detected by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in mice after several generations of interspecific backcrosses.  We report the case of a 28-year-old man with mitochondrial myopathy due to a novel 2-bp MtDNA deletion.  We determined that the MtDNA harboring the mutation was paternal in origin and accounted for 90-percent of the patient’s muscle MtDNA. Ninety percent!  And all this time, evolutionists have been selectively shaping our family tree using what was alleged to be only maternal MtDNA!
As scientists have begun to comprehend the fact, and significance, of the “death” of mitochondrial Eve, many have found themselves searching for alternatives that can help them maintain their current beliefs regarding human origins. But this recombination ability in MtDNA makes the entire discussion a moot point. As Strauss noted: “Such recombination could be a blow for researchers who have used MtDNA to trace human evolutionary history and migrations. They have assumed that the MtDNA descends only through the mother, so they could draw a single evolutionary tree of maternal descent—all the way back to an African “mitochondrial Eve,” for example. And Harpending added, “with recombination there is no single tree.” In addition, Eyre-Walked says.“ Instead, it has been found that different parts of the molecule have different histories, and as Eyre-Walker concluded, “there’s not one woman to whom we can trace our mitochondria.”
In fact, we couldn’t agree more.
Secondly, the assumption that the mutations affecting 
mtDNA did indeed occur at constant rates, and that researchers who made the initial announcement about Eve not only gave a location for this amazing female, but also proposed the time period during which she was supposed to have lived.  However, in order for the mtDNA theory to be of any practical use, those scientists had to assume that random mutations in the DNA occurred at documented, steady rates.  As stated in the last post, if the speculation was one mutation every 1,000 years, and they found a difference of 10 mutations between us and our ancient hypothetical ancestor, they then could infer that that ancestor lived 10,000 years ago. Scientists who used this concept to determine the age of mitochondrial Eve referred to this proposed mutation rate as a “molecular clock.” One group of researchers, headed by Rodriguez-Trelles, described the process as follows:
“The hypothesis of the molecular clock of evolution emerged from early observations that the number of amino acid replacements in a given protein appeared to change linearly with time.  Indeed, if proteins (and genes) evolve at constant rates they could serve as molecular clocks for timing evolutionary events and reconstructing the evolutionary history of extant species.” And, of course, it sounded good in theory, but the actual facts tell an entirely different story.  As these same researchers went on to admit:
“The neutrality theory predicts that the rate of neutral molecular evolution is constant over time, and thus that there is a molecular clock for timing evolutionary events.  It has been observed that the variance of the rate of evolution is generally larger than expected according to the neutrality theory, which has raised the question of how reliable the molecular clock is or, indeed, whether there is a molecular clock at all. The observations are inconsistent with the predictions made by various subsidiary hypotheses proposed to account for the overdispersion of the molecular clock.”
(See the next post, “A Second, Closer Look at DNA – Part III – The Problems With DNA “Science” Part II, The Demise of Mitochondrial Eve,” and further information on the problems with previously thought female-only MtDNA)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Second, Closer Look at DNA – Part II

Continuing from the last post, one aspect of DNA that has been a huge stir among scientists, anthropologists and historians since 1987, when a “scientific discovery” seized the attention of the popular press, with the headline:
“Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution.” A paper by Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan C. Wilson, which appeared in the January 1, 1987 issue of Nature, and in the January 28, 1988, issue of Newsweek magazine, under the heading of “Everyone’s Genealogical Mother: Biologists Speculate that Eve Lived in Sub-Saharan Africa,” behind a provocative front cover presenting a snake, tree, and a nude African couple in a “Garden of Eden” type setting, with Eve offering an apple to Adam.
In a 2001 book by Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes, The Seven Daughters of Eve (W.W. Norton), the theory is presented of human mitochondrial genetics being traced back to seven “clan mothers” who lived about 45,000 years ago. He also has a list of 27 other “clan mothers” of other than Caucasian descent (Fufei, Ina, Aiyana/Ai, Yumi, Nene, Naomi, Una, Uta, Ulrike, Uma, Ulla, Ulaana, Lara, Lamia, Lalamika, Latasha, Malaxshmi, Emiko, Gaia, Chochmingwu/Chie, Djigonasee/Sachi, Makeda, Lingaire, Lubaya, Limber, Lila, Lungile, Latifa and Layla), and his seven daughters of Eve trace back to a single Mother Eve (Mitochondrial Eve) living in Africa between 140,000 and 290,000 years, which science has averaged out to a round 200,000 years ago. While presented as science, Sykes’ works is thought to be more fictional than fact.
The map of Sykes’ seven daughters of Eve and where they originated some 45,000 years ago. His mother Eve, is said to have originated in Africa 200,000 years ago
The theory is based on the idea that theoretically, if scientists could look farther and farther into the past, they would find that the number of women who contributed the modern varieties of mitochondrial DNA gets less and less until, finally, we arrive at one “original” mother.  She, then, would be the only woman out of all the women living in her day to have a daughter in every generation till the present.  Coming forward in time, we would see that the MtDNA varieties found within her female contemporaries were gradually eliminated as their daughters did not have children, had only sons, or had daughters who did not have daughters.  This does not mean, of course, that we would look like this supposed ancestral mother; rather, it means only that we would have gotten our mitochondrial DNA from her.
While the idea of a single Mitochondrial “Mother Eve” strikes at the imagination of people, and is applauded by the evolutionary community, and pretty much accepted as fact by many scientists—especially the idea of MtDNA traceable back through the mother (they claim men do not have MtDNA)—there is less proof of this than has been presented.
First of all, the theory is that mitochondria have their own DNA, and are tiny organelles that live in the cytoplasm of cells, the fluid-filled space between the cell nucleus and the outer membrane, with thousands of mitochondria in each cell—each having its own small circle of DNA, a reminder of their distant bacterial ancestry. What they claim makes mitochondrial DNA (MtmDNA) so special and so useful is its unique inheritance pattern.
The theory is that human eggs are full of mitochondria, while sperm have only a hundred or so, just enough to power it while it swims towards the egg. After fertilization, when the sperm penetrates the egg, these few male mitochondria are immediately destroyed. This means that, while we all receive our nuclear DNA, with the exception of the X and Y sex chromosomes, from both parents, we get all of our MtDNA from our mothers. She got it from her mother, who got it from hers – and so on back in time. To some, this makes MtDNA useful in connecting the maternal lines of living people in different parts of the world.
The other handy thing about MtDNA is that it changes about 20 times faster than nuclear DNA, because mitochondria lack an efficient proof-reading system to check for errors when DNA is copied. The high mutation rate means that there is plenty of variation in the sequence of MtDNA between people, and variation is the lifeblood of genetics.
Secondly, to find a distant, original ancestor, researchers compared the different varieties of MtDNA in the human family.  Since MtDNA occurs in fairly small quantities, and since the researchers wanted as large a sample as possible from each person, they decided to use human placentas as their source of the MtDNA.  So, Rebecca Cann and her colleagues selected 145 pregnant women and two cell lines representing the five major geographic regions: 20 Africans, 34 Asians, 46 Caucasians, 21 aboriginal Australians, and 26 aboriginal New Guineans, with all placentas from the first three groups coming from babies born in American hospitals—only two of the 20 Africans were born in Africa. In theory, then, mtDNA should be the same as our mother’s mtDNA with small changes (or mutations) in the genetic code, which can and do arise, which have no effect on the proper functioning of either the DNA or the mitochondria. These mutations are then preserved and carried on to succeeding generations.
To figure how far back the generational line went, the scientists developed what they called a “molecular clock” that was based on mutations in the MtDNA. The rate at which the clock ticked was determined from the accumulation of changes over a given period of time. That is, if the assumption was made that there was one mutation every 1,000 years, and if scientists found a difference of 10 mutations between us and our ancient hypothetical ancestor, they then could infer that that ancestor lived 10,000 years ago. So the researchers compared MtDNA from humans with that from chimpanzees, and then used paleontology and additional molecular data to determine the age of the supposed common ancestor.  This (and similar calculations on other species) revealed a mutation rate in the range of 2% to 4% per million years. 
Then they compared the groups in their study that were close geographically, and took the age of the common ancestor from estimated times of settlement as indicated by anthropology and archaeology. Again, 2% to 4% every million years seemed reasonable to them, and a time frame back to the original ancestor was adjudged to be between 140,000 and 290,000 years ago, with 40,000 years to the seven daughters, and 290,000 years to the original Mother Eve chosen as suitable round numbers. The results obtained from this analysis of mitochondrial DNA eventually led to what is known in evolutionary circles as the “Out of Africa” theory, which is the theory that the descendants of mitochondrial Eve were the only ones to colonize Africa and the rest of the world, supplanting all other hominid populations in the process. 
Many evolutionists claim that such an interpretation is in accord with archaeological, paleontological, and other genetic data, and while they have accepted the mitochondrial DNA tree, they differ widely in their views regarding both the source of the nuclear DNA and the “humanity” of Eve.  Some believe that Eve contributed all the nuclear DNA, in addition to the mitochondrial DNA.  Some believe she was an “archaic” Homo sapiens, while others believe she was fully human.  The exact interpretation is hotly debated because mitochondrial DNA is “something of a passenger in the genetic processes that lead to the formation of new species: it therefore neither contributes to the formation of a new species nor reveals anything about what actually happened.”
However, things change rapidly in science.  What is popular one day, is not the next.  Theories come, and theories go.  And so it is with mitochondrial Eve.  She once was in vogue as “the woman of the moment,” so to speak.  Now, she has become virtually the “crazy aunt in the attic” that no one wants to admit even exists.
(See the next post, “A Second, Closer Look at DNA – Part III, “ to see how the two critical assertions about MtDNA are now under critique and coming up short of fact)

A Second, Closer Look at DNA - Part I

Someone asked me this question recently, and I thought I would answer it here, also, since it has a lot to do with our understanding of the location of the Land of Promise and its people.
His question: A point that must be considered about Jewish royalty and DNA is that Joseph, the son of Israel, married an Egyptian which means the DNA of the Lamanites will not be the same as the brother Judah, from a different mother. In fact the bloodline DNA results of Lamanites would match closer to an Asian Egyptian. We also must take into account that Moses did take an Ethiopian wife (dark skin) so that would make the childrens’ DNA no longer of the same Levite DNA. Also the Jewish Royal family did marry outside Israel with many heathen nations. Solomon had a 1000 wives of all sorts of nationality, so lots of mixed DNA results will occur there, and the King of Israel Jehoram (or Joram) was a king of the northern Kingdom of Israel, the son of Ahab and Jezebel, and she was not an Israelite so the royal blood line DNA was tainted with heathen DNA. So if a person tried to say the European Jew from the tribe of Judah DNA is pure what about the DNA of Menassah tribe who Lehi claims to be from…didn´t they find Zarahemla and intermarry with the Mulekites mixing their DNA with the Phonecians?” Adley.
My Response: I am not a proponent of DNA for numerous reasons, one of which is that it is a new science, with limited background and little experimentation, but like all science, is touted as a near absolute—and considered a total absolute by the average person. As an example, the term DNA fingerprint implies that the VNTR pattern for a given person is utterly and completely unique to that person; however, all that a VNTR pattern can do is present a probability that the person in question is indeed the person to whom the VNTR pattern belongs. Given, that probability might be 1 in 20 billion, which would indicate that the person can be reasonably matched with the DNA fingerprint; but on the other hand, that probability might only be 1 in 20, leaving a large amount of doubt regarding the specific identity of the VNTR pattern's owner. There simply has not been enough experimentation on enought people over enough generations to know how many that number might be, and to what extent another might share the same VNTR--of course, science is always so positive that it knows everything, no one will admit that.
This illustrated infographic shows what parts of your DNA come from which parent. Each and everyone of us is made from two people’s DNA. We inherent parts of DNA from both parents (mother and father)
Because the VNTRs are results of genetic inheritance, they are not distributed evenly across all human population. A given VNTR cannot, therefore, have a stable probability of occurrence; it will vary depending on an individual's genetic background. The difference in probabilities is particularly visible across racial lines—as an example, where some VNTRs occur very frequently among Hispanics, they may occur very rarely among Caucasians or African-Americans. Currently, not enough is known about the VNTR frequency distributions among ethnic groups to determine accurate probabilities for individuals within those groups; the heterogeneous genetic composition of interracial individuals, who are growing in number, presents an entirely new set of questions. Further experimentation in this area, known as population genetics, has been surrounded with, and hindered by, controversy, because the idea of identifying people through genetic anomalies along racial lines is not "politically correct."
In addition to all of this, natural problems come alarmingly close to the eugenics and ethnic purification movements of the recent past, and, some argue, could provide a scientific basis for racial discrimination. In addition, there are numerous problems encountered with DNA Sequencing, such as failure of the reaction, mixed signal or multiple peaks in the trace, short read lengths, poorly resolved trace peaks, excessive free dye peaks, misshaped or noisy trace peaks, primer dimer formation in the sequencing reaction, sharp signal spikes in the chromatogram, DNA polymerase slippage on template mononucleotide regions, sequence stops in difficult template regions, breakdown of the DNA sequencing BigDye chemistry, insertion or deletions (indels) in the DNA template, chimeras and sequencing rearrangements, delayed start of trace signal in the raw signal channel, a G dye blob at approximately base 190 and 400, excessive trace data collection times, and numerous other problems, such as degradation of samples, array fabrication, limitations of equipment, organizing, distributing and interpreting of data, cataloguing the expression behavior of thousands of genes in a single experiment, DNA profiling being prone to errors, etc., etc., etc.
Just take the last item listed, profiling. The number of people profiled for a certain single test can change the odds from great to small—that is, the more people tested, the lower the statistical probability. For example, the probability of one in a million may nosedive to one in 10,000 or less if enough people are profiled for a single test. In addition, DNA data bases are vulnerable to exploitation via hackers, and incorrect information can result from cross-contamination. All in all, DNA is promoted by science, scholars, and authorities as proof-positive of identity and group connections, however, it is already admitted that older DNA profiling technologies were prone to errors, which could give false-negative or false-positive results. Who is to say that a future, improved method, might also show that existing technologies are also prone to error?
Mitochondrial DNA is a circular spiral that has a neutral section that collects mutations, about one mutation for every 10,000 years, and is used to track connections between the generations. It is stable and comes down to us through our mothers, the one parent we know without a doubt is the parent
Now, for your particular points. DNA mitochondrial (MtDNA) is known through the mother and is a powerful tool for tracking ancestry through females (matrilineage) and has been used in this role to track the ancestry of many species back hundreds of generations because, unlike nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents and in which genes are rearranged in the process of recombination, there is usually no change in mtDNA from parent to offspring. Although mtDNA also recombines, it does so with copies of itself within the same mitochondrion. Because of this and because the mutation rate of animal mtDNA is higher than that of nuclear DNA. And you are right, of course, that there have been various mothers in the groups cited. On the other hand, we have no idea how many children Solomon had through his 700 wives and 300 concubines—only three are mentioned in the Bible: Rehoboam, Taphath and Basemath. It should also be kept in mind that numerous wives of a king (Solomon) or important person (Moses), etc., who often took additional wives in order to satisfy affairs of state and to seek alliances with her people, were not necessarily also "known" wives. Children (or sex) was not always the reason for marrying among people of that social level in the past. Consider 1,000 wives. There is no way all were "known" by solemn. While we know that Lehi’s wife, Sarah, was of Ephriam lineage, we do not know what lineage was the wife of Ishmael, the mother of the five daughters who married Lehi’s sons and Zoram. We know that Mulek was of the royal house of Judah, but absolutely nothing else about those who came with him, but as has been written here many times, it is unlikely Phoenicians were involved in any way with Mulek and those who came with him. On the other hand, Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal (Ithobal) king of Pyre, and a Phoenician, however, we do not know the nationality of her mother.
One last thought about DNA, which has been mentioned here many times. Since Laman, Lemuel, Ishmael’s sons, and two of Ishmael’s daughters had their skin color and facial features changed by the Lord, it is very likely that their DNA would be considerably different than it had been  before this change, since it is the DNA that has to be changed in order for a hereditary change (generation-to-generation) to take place. The Lord, who created all things, also created the DNA, and he could, of course, change it, as would have been necessary in the hereditary dark skin and features change of the Lamanites.

(See the next post, "A Second, Closer Look at DNA - Part II," and specifically about MtDNA and both the "Demise of Mitochondrial Eve" and the so-called "Molecular Clock")

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Real Meaning of the Book of Abraham

Whether there was additional papyri besides the fragments we know of today that held the actual writings of Abraham, which Joseph Smith interpreted and has since been lost, possibly in the Chicago fire, or whether the papyri merely served to bring Joseph Smith’s attention to a point where the Lord could inspire him to record the Book of Abraham, and the vignette scenes were merely representative of the idea of Abraham’s events is of little importance. What is of import is that the Book of Abraham gives us a better and clearer understanding of the doctrines of the Lord’s gospel and the very character of the ancient prophet.
As an example, from the papyri we see that Abraham:
1. Understood at an early age the blessings his ancestors enjoyed;
2. Knew and understood priesthood ordination;
3. Knew the ancient patriarchs from Adam onward held the priesthood;
4. Knew his immediate ancestry had turned away from the Lord and his holy commandments;
5. Knew idolatry was wrong and that idols held no conscience or power;
6. Knew human sacrifice was evil and that life was a God-given gift;
7. Knew the genealogy of the royal family of Sumeria back nine generations to Ham;
8. Talked with Jehovah face-to-face, as one man talks to another;
9. He was promised a land for himself and his posterity;
10. Had all the records in his possession that dated back to Adam, including the record of the rights of the priesthood;
11. He had the Urim and Thummim;
12. He knew and understood the Creation, and knew about the planets and the stars as they were made known unto the fathers, some of which he wrote on the papyri;
13. He went into Egypt to declare the knowledge of the Universe and the Lord unto the Egyptians.
As we read the Book of Abraham, we learn:
1. Through Abraham’s seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed with the Gospel and eternal life;
2. The blood of Ham’s wife, or the Canaanite blood, was preserved after the flood through their daughter, Egyptus’ first born son, whom she named Pharaoh;
3. When Egyptus first reached the land now called Egypt, it was still underwater from the Flood and she settled there as the waters rescinded;
4. The government Pharaoh established in the land of Egypt was after the government of Ham, or patriarchal;
5. That this first Pharaoh was a righteous man, and established his kingdom and judged his people wisely;
6. Pharaoh strove to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, even to the reign of Adam;
7. Noah blessed Ham with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him pertaining to the Priesthood;
8. Pharaoh was not entitled to the Priesthood;
9. All later Pharaohs feigned a claim to the Priesthood and in so doing, led astray Abraham’s father, Terah, by their idolatry;
During this time Abraham learned:
1. About the planet Kolob, and it being the nearest to where God dwelt;
An international team of astronomers led by the University of Central Lancashire in the UK has discovered “the largest known structure in the universe” (it is 1200 Mpc at its widest point—by comparison, the distance between the Milky Way Galaxy and Andromeda Galaxy is about 0.75 Mpc)
2. That one day to the Lord is the same as 1000 years on Earth;
3. The principle that governs the planets, stars, and moons, as well as their rotational times, and the order that governed their orbits;
4. That all celestial bodies have a set time to their orbits and that the slower a celestial body rotates, the higher is its order, and that these orders were set to a higher and higher level all the way up to Kolob;
5. Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time;
6. Kolob governs all the planets, from its rotational level down to that of Earth;
7. All the stars have set times to their rotation;
8. The Lord made all the stars, planets, and celestial bodies, a number so numerous Abraham could not see the end of his creations in a vision that opened his eyes to them;
In the Adamic language, the Lord called the Sun (Shinehah, a Star (Kokob), the Moon (Olea), all the Stars or the great lights (Kokaubeam)
9. Spirits vary in order and intelligence, and one spirit is more intelligent than another;
10. Spirits have no beginning and no end, and shall exist forever because they are eternal;
11. God is the most intelligent of all the spirits and his wisdom exceeds all;
11. God rules in the heavens above and in the Earth beneath in all wisdom and prudence over all the intelligences;
12. Intelligences were organized in the beginning before the world was;
13. God chose different intelligences, or spirits, for their roles on the Earth before they were born;
14. Abraham and others were chosen before the world was and before they were born to specific callings and positions during Earth life;
15. Our position or status at birth was due to how we performed and lived our lives in the spirit before the world was organized;
16. The purpose for all of us coming to this Earth is to prove ourselves in our obedience to God;
17. The role of the Savior, Jehovah, Jesus the Christ, was determined in a Grand Council of spirits in this pre-mortal period;
18. Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, fell from grace when he demanded God’s glory for saving all mankind and was cast out of the pre-mortal sphere.
There is still more in the Book of Abraham, but the above should suffice in showing how important this writing of the ancient prophet, this interpretation by Joseph Smith at the hand of the Lord and through the Spirit, is to all of us. And knowing these things is essential to our salvation and exaltation. What a shame so many so-called professional people would prefer to stick to their old paradigms than to move forward with knowledge essential to their salvation, and how sad it is that people will rush to find fault and criticize the Book of Abraham they have probably never read, rather than try to learn what it has to say and its value in their lives.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Book of Abraham and the Facsimile Image-Part X – Ur of the Chaldees

Continuing from the last few posts regarding the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith’s translation along with the facsimiles used, we now look at Ur of the Chaldees, for more information on Abraham and where he was nearly sacrificed to Elkenah.
Abraham’s home in the Sumerian city of Ur (Ur Kasdim; Ur of the Chaldees), now in Iraq, where the sacrifice of Abraham was to take place, is claimed by archaeologists to have been first settled in the third millennium B.C. Though not stated specifically in the Tanakh (canon of the Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic Text or Miqra), Ur is widely accepted as the birthplace of Abraham, though in the Islamic world it is considered to be a cave near Adma, later called Edessa, and then Sanliurfa, in upper Mesopotama, now called Syria.
Ur is located along the banks of the Euphrates River; Egypt is in the lower left; Turkey (Asia Minor), is in the upper left; and Elam is to the middle right
During this time, around 2000 B.C., Ur was a major urban center on the Mesopotamian plain. It is possible that Shulgi (Dungi), son of Ur-Namma (Ur-Gur), the second king of the Sumerian Renaissance period in the Third dynasty of Ur, who reigned for 48 years, proclaiming himself a god in his 26th year as king, was the ruler during Abraham’s early years at the time of the attempted sacrifice.
Ur of the Chaldees, according to the Book of Jubilees (11:3), was founded by Ur, son of Keśed, presumably the offspring of Arphaxad. Jubilees also portrays Abraham’s immediate ancestry as dwelling in Ur Kaśdim, beginning with his great-grandfather, Serug, and including his grandfather, Nahor, and his father, Terah.
Based on the cuneiform inscriptions recently uncovered, and the Book of the Cave of Treasures, a sixth century A.D. sacred history written by a Jacobite, containing Jewish, Greek and Mesopotamian histories, and tracing the descent of Christ back to Adam, which was translated from the Syriac text of the British Museum (London 1927) by Sir Wallis Budge, much is known about Abraham’s day.
At the time, the inhabitants of Ur were given up wholly to idolatry, their Sumerian chief object of worship being Nannar (Nanna), the Moon-god (Sin to the Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia). The symbol of Nannar was the crescent moon (Sakar), and spelled Nanna-ar by the Assyrians. Sometimes called “Lord of Wisdom,” “Chief of the Gods,” “Father of the Gods,” and “Creator of All Things.” Nanna’s chief sanctuary at Ur was named E-gish-shir-gal (House of the great light). It was at Ur that the role of the En Priestess developed. This was an extremely powerful role held by a princess, most notably Enheduanna, daughter of King Sargon of Akkad, and was the primary cult role associated with the sect of Nanna/Sin.
According to Jubilees, not only did Abraham smash his father's idols when a youth, but under the divine guidance he freed himself from the Sumerian custom of offering up a son to devils. Further, when he saw his city attacked by hosts of enemies from the north and from the low-lying lands to the south, there was nothing left for him to do but migrate to the country which God promised to give him. Putting all the evidence together, it is clear that Abraham was a great, strong and independent chief in Mesopotamia, and that his power waxed greater when he established himself at Harrân.
Top 2 Images: An Ur street of well-preserved private houses excavated in 1920 built around the time Abraham and his father Terah were living in Ur. The interior walls were built of clay bricks and the floor of the courtyard paved with flat tile-like bricks. The gallery and roofs were supported on wooden pillars, and animals were stabled and stores were kept in the rooms on the ground floor which were entered through arched doorways. The sleeping and sitting rooms were entered from the gallery, and a stairway led from the ground floor to the gallery and the roof; Bottom: A typical Sumerian kitchen of Abraham’s time
What is not regularly known, or even accepted by many scholars once it was discovered by archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley in 1927 digging in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, was that ancient Sumerian kings, not even listed on the King’s List, were buried with their attendants who had been sacrificed for the burial. This startling discovery pointed out that what once was thought, and still believed by many today, was actually inaccurate and that there were far more early Sumerian kings than believed, and their practice of human sacrifice was quite evident, from as few as half a dozen, to as many as seventy to eighty, including courtiers, guards, musicians, handmaidens and grooms—in fact, a new examination of skulls from the royal cemetery at Ur appears to support a more grisly interpretation of human sacrifice associated with elite burials, including the driving of sharp pikes into their heads. This was also done in ancient Egypt and referred to as retainer sacrifice, including high officials.
We also find in the religion of the Semites, Babylonian-Assyrian priests who, under the name “Chaldeans,” practiced sacrifice (nisakku), and among the semitized Phoenicians, Amonites, and Philistines, these ominous deities found special veneration with howling and dancing priests who sought to appease the bloodthirsty Moloch by sacrificing children. Women and children were sacrificed to the Canaanite god Ba’al, also venerated by the Egyptians, and to Astarte, and during the time of King Achaz to that of Josias, thousands of innocent children were sacrificed to Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem.
(Image D – At the time of Abraham: Left: The Ziggurat at Ur, the temple of the Moon God, Nanna(r); Right: A bald-headed Sem high priest of Sumeria
During Abraham's early years in Ur, there was a cult of Egyptian worshippers, with evidently a single main priest over the group and its followers. Whether he was named Elkenah, or there was an area named Elkenah (Kenah) from which he originally came, or he represented a god unknown to history named Elkenah, cannot be ascertained. It would appear, though that this priest was a bald-headed Sem (see above), a high priest, whether self-appointed, or so named by a distant Egyptian pharaoh, again is unknown.
However, it should be kept in mind that the area of Ur of the Chaldees was about 800 miles away as the crow flies, but some 1300 miles travel distance from Egypt. Any word or control would be slow in coming to Ur from the Pharoah or even the temple leadership. In any event, there was a custom in Ur of sacrificing the a son to appease the gods. In fact, it has been written after a lengthy dissertation on the birth and life of Serug and Nathan, and the introduction of the worship of idols, that:
“And in the days of Terah, in his ninetieth year, sorcery appeared on the earth in the city of Aôr (Ur), which Horon, the son of `Abhâr, built. Now, there was in the city a certain man who was very rich, and he died at that time. And his son made an image of him in gold, and set it up upon his grave, and he appointed there a young man to keep guard over it. And Satan went and took up his abode in that image, and he spake to the son of the rich man after the manner of his father. And thieves went into his house, and took everything that the youth possessed, and he went out to the tomb of his father weeping, and Satan said, "Weep not in my presence, but go and fetch thy little son, and slay him here as a sacrifice to me, and forthwith everything which thou hast lost shall be returned to me here." And the youth did as Satan told him, and he slew his son, and bathed in his blood. And Satan went forth immediately from that image of gold, and entered into the youth, and taught him sorcery, and enchantments, and divination, and the lore of the Chaldeans, how to tell fortunes, and foretell events, and destinies. And behold, from that time the children of men began to sacrifice their sons to devils and to worship idols, for the devils entered into the images, and took up their abodes therein.”
The Sumerians in Ur had a pantheon of gods, sorcerers, and man-gods at a time when Satan was rampant in Mesopotamia
At about this time, Terah agreed with the Sumerian priest to sacrifice Abraham, his son. And Abraham was taken and bound on the altar of Elkenah and would have been slain had it not been for the angel of the Lord (represented by the hovering bird in the vignette).
All of this Abraham depicted in his drawing known as Facsimile 1.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Book of Abraham and the Facsimile Image-Part X – Understanding Elkenah

Having discussed the purpose of canopic jars in the last post, a look at Facsimile 1 shows the hawk-headed canopic, called Elkenah, beneath the lion couch (altar) on which Abraham is bound. Obviously, as shown in the last post, Elkena, was not a god associated with funery canopic jars. At the same time, the word “canopic” is not found or implied in the text of the Book of Abraham.
What is found is a drawing, Facsimile 1, which shows four objects labeled as “gods” in the “Explanation of the Above Cut,” that everyone has called canopic jars. However, while there are four objects under the lion couch, or altar, they are representative of named gods, not as jars anymore than the offering table or lotus plant are actually there as a table or a flower, i.e., the lotus flower, commonly associated with Upper Egypt, one of the two lands, when part of the funery imagery actually represented re-birth—in fact, the Book of the Dead contains spells for “transforming oneself into a lotus” and thus fulfilling the promise of resurrection. At the same time, the offering table in a funery scene represents the “offering formula,” a formal set of offerings in the name of the king (Htp Di nsw=hotep di nisu: “A gift [offering] which the king gives”) that includes phrases to confirm that speaking the offering formula would allow n-kA-n imAh, “for the ka of the revered one,” to gain access to the offerings listed after it on their trip into the afterlife.
Like many symbols in Egypt, the Lotus flower had many meanings. In this tomb painting, it is representative of fertility. In other images, it represents the universe, and sometimes considered to be magical, and sacred, and appears as a common motif in numerous ancient paintings 
These items are representative of things, not objects in and of themselves. As an example, the “offering formula” was the principal inscription on the False Door from the Early Dynastic period onward, and overcame the Egyptian concern of not being prepared when entering their tomb in death.
The canopic jars beneath the lion couch in a funery scene, actually contained the four principle organs of the deceased that had been removed from his body during mummification, and the heads upon the later jars represented the gods who guarded and protected those organs into the afterlife when they would be needed once again by the deceased. The gods represented in the Facsimile 1 scene are not there to contain or protect anything, nor do they represent the viscera of the deceased, but are strictly representative of the idolatrous gods involved in the “four corners” of the Egyptian world.
That is, while the Babylonians thought the earth was hollow to provide space for their underworld, Aristotle believed the earth was a sphere, though George Gamow thought it flat, and the monk Cosmas Indicopleustes described it square as did Egyptians, who thought the earth not only square, but having four corners, and mountains at the edge supporting the vault of the sky.
The Egyptian gods of the four corners, shown in the funery canopic jars, were: Qebehsenuef for the West; Hapi for North, Imsetyh for South, and Duamutef for East. As for the gods Abraham describes, shown in imagery beneath the altar, we have the Egyptian understading of the four corners, along with the Sumerian idolatrous gods, or the four directions of the earth:
1) The god Libnah, meaning “white, light, shining,” and in Hebrew, the root lbn, means lebonah and in Greek, libanos, Arabic lub-anun, which also applies to El Lubban, or to Labanah, meaning the “moon.” All of these are representative of “white.” As for a directional country, Labanon, associated with the snow covered Antilibanus, and Libanos in the Greek for the entire Mountain Range. Robert Smith, a Cuneiform and Assyrian scholar, in his commentary on the Book of Abraham identified the jackal-headed as Libnah, the correct designation for the West. And the Egyptians connected it with the white land, which is the meaning of the name. And Anubis, the God of the West, the White land of the Westerners, and is associated with the moon! The Egyptologist Hermann Kees noted that the epithet, nb ta djesr, "Lord of the White Land" derived from the idea of "Lord of the shining, sanctified land." That is a euphism for the necropolis itself, which is in the West. That would make him Lord of the Westerners! In addition, Egyptologist Brusch claims the four canonical colors of Egypt always has white as the color the West. Also the Libyans to the West of Egypt were noted for their white skin and blue eyes. Thus, we have the god Libnah  (meaning White Land), having the god mask of Anubis (god of the West), representing the West corner of the Egyptian world.
2) The god Mahmackrah, the ape’s head, baboon head or bull’s head, interchangeable in canopic jars, which the Egyptians always placed in the north. The mackr element of this name is very important in Canaanite names such as Mhr-Anat which means "champion, or upholder of the goddess Anat." Ramses II called himself Mahr-B'l meaning upholder of Ba'al, the Canaanite god. Mahr-Rah would be the champion or upholder of Rah, the Egyptian equivilant of Ba'al. We need to note that the "h" in the root must have a heavy sound in order not to be swallowed up by the "r" which follows. The shift between the "k" and the "h" can be seen in our own name Mi-cha-el which the Jews wrote Mi-ka-el. Incidentally, the form of the name rather neatly parallels our Ma-mackr-rah. Mi-cha-el, like Mi-ca-iah (1 Kings 22). The Canaanite name Maq'arah means a burning, a form of sacrifice. The idolatrous god of Beth-shan is called "Mkl'a", the great god. The first element in his name, Mkl is Canaanite, while the ending "a" is Egyptian. Another interesting name form is the Egyptian Mai-m-hqa meaning "the lion is ruler." Thus, the god Mahmackrah would be Mai-m-akr-ah which would mean The lion Akr is great! Akr being the earth god as lion, and Abraham is on the Lion Couch. Obviously then, the name is not meaningless.
3) The god Korash, with the variant spelling of Koash, correlates to the South, and could be the Land of Cush, the region south of Egypt, called Nubia or Ethiopia in Hebrew and other ancient languages which expanded south of Elephantine and Syene (aswan). The names of the four brothers, Mizraim, Punt, Canaan, and Cush, which obviously refers to the division of the world into four regions, with the Queen of Punt living in the South. The natives of Saba, at the far south end of Arabia worshipped a goddess Iagouth, who came from Heliopolis, and a local form of the Goddess Hathor, the regent of Heliopolis, worshipped at Punt and Saba. Her people were known as the Koraish! They were also called the Beni Qananee, or sons of Canaan. And in Heliopolis, she went by the name of Wadjit which was Semiticized into Ozza, under which title she turns up as one of the principle idols of the Qoreish in Mekkah. This Qoreish is the diminutive of the name Koraish.
4) The god Elkenah. H. Seebass notes that the Kenites provide the link between the Patriarchal period and the desert period of Israel in their original home being the Negev, and are from the Egyptian point of view, "the people to the East." Their name El-kenah might well refer to the god of an eastern region or people. It should be noted that in one system of classification the East is the hawk-headed disc Re-Harahkte, Lord of Heaven. J. De Witt has noted in the "Chron. D' Egypte," at the purification of the king, the East is the Hawk. In addition, Elkenah corresponds with the Egyptian "qen" or "qeni" the sound of a hard "k". The Egyptian element "qen" [Ken] means mighty or powerful and is used in various names of kings according to the Berlin Dictionary, which also claims that in Palestine and Syria, it is common to find such names combining Egyptian and West Semitic elements.
The four angels (their wings symbolize power) seen by John, “four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth” (7:1) may well be the basis of the four corners of the world in Egyptian thought and their four “gods” standing at the corners
Robert Smith also mentioned that Elkenah correlates with the Biblical Hebrew word El-qanah, a name for six or more persons mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis 14:19 we read "El Elyon qoneh shamayim we'aretz," "El, the Exalted one, Creator of Heaven and Earth." It is a common hypocoristic form in the late Hittite story of Asherah and El-Qone-ersi: "El-Creator-of-the-Earth" (which is written El-ku-ni-ir-sa and pronounced Elkoners according to Albright and Clifford. El-Qone-ersi means "El-Creator-of-the-Earth," El-Qone-ersi is written Elkunirisa, and Elkunirisa is pronounced Elkoners. Thus, the East was identified with the falcon headed canopic counterpart of Elkenah. All in all, the names of the four idolatrous gods Abraham mentioned correlate to the exact correct regional directions of which are depicted on the heads of the four god images under the altar in Facsimile 1.
(See the next post, “The Book of Abraham and the Facsimile Image-Part VIII – Ur of the Chaldees,” for more information on Abraham’s home and his nearly being sacrificed to Elkenah)