Sunday, February 24, 2013

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")

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