Thursday, April 25, 2013

Comments from our DNA Series – Part II

Continuing with the comments received after our recent five-part series about DNA, which includes the newest developments in MtDNA that has been obtained over the past ten years from studies based on much larger sampling knowledge, here are more:
Comment #1: “Your Church says the events described in the Book of Mormon were confined to a small section of Central America, and that the Hebrew tribe was small enough that its DNA was swallowed up by the existing Native Americans, however, the DNA can't be "swallowed up" because mitochondrial DNA is passed on from the mother UNDILUTED” Janis J.
Response: Instead of passing on what you’ve heard from other critics, why not read the scientific papers and journal reports that have been available now since 2002 that MtDNA is not just passed on from the Mother and is not undiluted, but also from the father—old paradigms die hard, but why not keep up? In addition, the LDS Church has no stand whatsoever about where the Book of Mormon lands were located other than the Western Hemisphere, and no stand on any Limited Geography Theory. Individuals have ideas, as individuals always do. Central America, or more accurately, Mesoamerica, was originally the brainchild of several LDS archaeologists and anthropologists over the years since the early 1900s, and promoted vigorously by FARMS, at one time a private organization, now doing work with BYU in numerous areas, such as copying and preserving ancient documents (which my brother-in-law and his wife spent some time doing at BYU). In addition, the LDS Church has never made a comment about DNA being absorbed by a larger, indigenous population in the Land of Promise, and the Book of Mormon itself lays no claim or even suggestion or hint at any other people living in or around the Land of Promise during the time the Book of Mormon covers, about 2000 B.C. to 421 A.D. You quote, as do other critics, things that are not part of the Church’s stated doctrines or beliefs as though they are—however, such statements, when quoted correctly, are made from time to time by individual members or private groups who are speaking for themselves and almost always doing so in printed statements showing they are not connected with the Church as such. The problem with critics is they tend to hear others say things and repeat them blindly without checking out to learn the accuracy or inaccuracy of the statements. Such lack of fact-checking is a curse in our society today and has led to numerous organizations who are “fact checkers” offering their services to government, social and private groups. While your vigorous, and almost always inaccurate statements show your ignorance to those who know, you make yourself a laughing stock among intelligent individual who are not part of your criticizing world.
Comment #2: “Despite your lengthy tirade about DNA in your several posts, the basic problem is that Joseph Smith painted himself and the Church he founded into a corner. Back in the 1800s when he brought out the Book of Mormon, he could not anticipate the day when DNA evidence could be used to disprove the Book of Mormon claim that the Lamanites (native Americans) were descended from Middle Eastern ancestry. That makes the prophet, seer, and revelator look awfully stupid” Mervyn C.
Response: It seems that stupid belongs to the scientists who claimed mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) was passed on only by the mothers and claimed that Mitochondrial Eve existed 200,000 years ago in Africa as well as all the other people who jumped on the bandwagon in 1987 claiming MtDNA could then be used to trace everyone’s genealogy back to Mitochondrial Eve. How red their faces must have been when, in 2002, new studies showed that MtDNA is also passed on by the father, and there was no Mitochondrial Eve, and that these new findings showed that the earlier studies actually only led backward to about 6000 years for the beginning of the DNA!
On the other hand, Joseph Smith has been proven time and again to have proclaimed matters that have, over time, been shown to be uncannily correct, though unknown by anyone in his day. And if you are going to call someone stupid, perhaps you might want to look inward about matters you have obviously not studied.
DNA is not a proven science no matter how much people believe it is—matters keep changing as more evidences pile up and more studies are conducted by scientists who know they have not found out everything about DNA. In 1987, as an example, the amount of family group testing and DNA sampling was very small—today, that amount is far greater and provides far more accurate information. But for those who think we have learned it all about the most complex of biological breakdown of the human body, they would be wise to change their thinking. The one constant about scientific knowledge is that it keeps increasing. 
Comment #3: “I copied this off the internet and wondered how you would respond to it after reading your series on DNA: Since the late 1990s and the pioneering work of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and others, scientists have developed techniques that attempt to use genetic markers to indicate the ethnic background and history of individual people. The data developed by these mainstream scientists tell us that the Native Americans have very distinctive DNA markers, and that some of them are most similar, among old world populations, to the DNA of people anciently associated with the Altay Mountains area of central Asia. This conclusion from a genetic perspective confirms a large amount of archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic evidence that Native American peoples' ancestors migrated from Asia at the latest 16,500–13,000 years ago” Everette T.
Response: I have two very important problems with this. First of all, the quoted sentence at the last has a reference you did not quote and that is: “Settlement of the Americas and Genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas,” which states: “Human settlement of the New World occurred in stages from the Bering sea coast line, with an initial layover on Beringia for the small founding population. The micro-satellite diversity and distributions of the Y lineage specific to South America indicates that certain Amerindian populations have been isolated since the initial colonization of the region.” The idea of a Siberia to Alaska settlement has been discussed for decades and is really an old belief, not accepted today by numerous scientists, including archaeologists and anthropologists, since the vast majority of recent solid evidence shows a south to north settlement of the Americas, not north to south. Secondly, the dates of this type of discussion is untenable for anyone who believes in the Bible, which I do, for the Book of Genesis makes it very clear that there was a flood in the year 2344 B.C. that encompassed the entire planet and only Noah and his family (8 persons overall and what children they had—it took 100 years to build the Ark) were the only survivors. That means that whatever happened before that time (about 4357 years ago) has no meaning on anything that relates to mankind today such as the dates claimed above of 16,500-13,000 years ago. Thus, when seriously discussing DNA, we have no way of debating anything prior to about 4400 years ago, and the descendants of Noah beginning in 2344 B.C.

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