Gospel Topics DNA essay - Part 3c - DNA and evolution
In this series, I'm discussing the Gospel Topics essay from the perspective of missionaries whose investigators believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, as well as from the perspective of LDS people who interpret the Bible and latter-day scriptures literally.
I'm not saying any particular interpretation is "true" or "correct," but I am pointing out that there is a big difference between literalists and those who reject a literal interpretation of the Bible and the latter-day scriptures. In my view, the essay rejects the literal interpretation of the scriptures and ought to at least acknowledge such an interpretation as one of multiple working hypotheses.
As it stands now, the essay is another hurdle for Bible-believing investigators to overcome before they even read the Book of Mormon.
Please, don't fall for the DNA "evidence" being promoted by some members of the Church. We believe in the Book of Mormon with all our being, [as a Mesoamerican codex] but we also believe when we use science to prove something, then we should consult the experts and follow basic scientific methods. [This is a clever straw man fallacy. No one involved here is using DNA science to proveanything, but as we’ll see, the DNA evidence may corroborate the Book of Mormon narrative—just not in Mesoamerica, which is why BMAF wrote this statement.]
The Church (approved by the First Presidency on LDS.org) has just released a statement about using DNA to promote a Book of Mormon agenda:
“Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views, [notice, the actual essay refers to support, not proof] the evidence is simply inconclusive. [This sentence conflates the use of evidence to support a proposition with a claim that evidence is conclusive. These are two separate concepts. It's true that some anti-Mormon groups have portrayed the evidence as conclusive; i.e., that the DNA evidence disproves the Book of Mormon. That's an easy argument to refute, and the essay does a great job demonstrating that, because in reality, the evidence is not conclusive. But really, that's axiomatic. Scientists use evidence to support or falsify theories, but science is and must be open-ended, always subject to additional discoveries. The debate is really over what propositions the DNA evidence tends to support, not whether it is conclusive.]
Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples. [As I mentioned before, I think it’s safe to say we know Lehi’s people were of Hebrew descent and came from Jerusalem, which narrows down the possibilities from the entire universe of DNA to a fairly small subset of DNA possibilities, which is not “nothing.” A better phrase might be “Little is known.”]
Even if such information were known, processes such as population bottleneck, genetic drift, and post-Columbian immigration from West Eurasia make it unlikely that their DNA could be detected today. [The “unlikely” characterization is based on the undisclosed Mesoamerican assumption that Lehi’s people were all absorbed into a much larger Mayan culture. This is why it is so telling that the essay never even quotes from the scriptures, except in footnoted materials written to support the Mesoamerican theory.] https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-and-dna-studies?lang=eng.”
From Ugo Perego, PhD
There is a video circulating widely on the internet about NEW INCREDIBLE DNA EVIDENCE in favor of the Book of Mormon. I want everyone to know that I do not support the views presented in this video (here is the link on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mADM3RYKl5Y&feature=youtu.be).
I personally believe the Book of Mormon to be sacred scripture, but not based on genetic evidence. [Which is also undoubtedly true of everyone who believes the Book of Mormon to be sacred scripture; i.e., no one has a testimony based on genetic evidence.]
It is my opinion that the presenter in this video (Rod Meldrum) [We’ll discuss what Brother Meldrum presents later; for now, I’m explaining the context of the Gospel Topics essay and some of the motivations for the way it is written and footnoted.]
Here is something more official found on the LDS.org website: https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-and-dna-studies… [In classical citation cartel practice, Brother Perego cites his own essay, although, to be fair, he is a world expert on the topic, which I respect, so I don’t have a problem with this. But the Gospel Topics essay is unsigned, and people who read this BMAF version should be aware that Brother Perego wrote both essays. Actually, his BMAF essay is more accessible and understandable than the Gospel Topics version, but the gist is the same. The Gospel Topics essay is only partly a response to anti-Mormon critics; it is also an argument for why Church members should not believe Brother Meldrum and the link between the X2a haplogroup and the Book of Mormon.]