Does DNA evidence disprove the Book of Mormon?

I’m not sure how such a post has never made it on to the website, given the name of the website, but better late than never, I suppose. There are quite extensive posts on this elsewhere, although I think the best resource for detailed information on Mormons and DNA is from Jeff Lindsay’s site. But I’ll give my summary and own thoughts here.

The question goes like this–The Book of Mormon and Mormons in general claim that all Native Americans are descendants of the people of the Book of Mormon. If this is true, then we should find matching DNA between modern-day Jews and modern-day Native Americans. But we don’t, so therefore the Book of Mormon is false.

The statement sounds reasonable enough until you start thinking about it some more and learn more about what Mormons actually believe.

1. Neither the Book of Mormon nor Mormons in general claim that ALL Native Americans are descendants of the Book of Mormon people. Some are, some aren’t. What percentage are? Who knows. Maybe 90%, maybe 50%, maybe 1%. We don’t know. Unfortunately, prominent Mormons have assumed that a majority of Native Americans were descendants of the Book of Mormon people, and it’s easy to see how they came to this misconception such that they never questioned it, but the Book of Mormon itself says no such thing, neither is there any revelatory statement of such.

2. How do you go about getting the right DNA samples? As far as I know we don’t know what the DNA profile of a Hebrew or Jew from 600 BC, when the Book of Mormon people separated from those at Jerusalem, looks like. We don’t even know how “Jewish” the Book of Mormon people really were, in DNA terms. They could have already been quite mixed up with other strains of people. Then you combine what I said in point #1 and ask “If the Book of Mormon people were a relatively small group compared to others, how mixed up is that DNA with all these other people?”

That pretty much does it. In other words, any claims that DNA evidence refutes the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is based on flawed assumptions about what the Book of Mormon says, or on flawed science. For some more detailed explanations, check out these articles:

DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective

A Few Thoughts From a Believing DNA Scientist

Who Are the Children of Lehi?

Before DNA

Comments

  1. "Neither the Book of Mormon nor Mormons in general claim that ALL Native Americans are descendants of the Book of Mormon people."

    The DNA testing was done on decendents of the aboriginies in the regions thought to be believed by the LDS church where the BoM events took place.

    "How do you go about getting the right DNA samples?"

    DNA is interesting. It can prove whether or not a person is related to one another. Think about paternity tests.

    • the lds church is a fraud there wernt any people from isreal in a boat going to the new world..all joes lies just like the book of mormon concocted by joes lies.we have learned the truth the church is false..about steeling your money sex and dam lies from 16 false prophets..thank god we are free

  2. "The DNA testing was done on decendents of the aboriginies in the regions thought to be believed by the LDS church where the BoM events took place."

    Not true. The LDS Church has no statement, opinion, etc. on what the region is, other than "the Americas". There is much speculation by Church members, to be sure, but many of them disagree with each other. It does seem likely that somewhere in Central America would be the area, but there's nothing to say that the Book of Mormon people weren't one of many different tribes or peoples in that area at the time. Who's to say the DNA tests that have been performed were done on people who would have been descendants of Book of Mormon people, assuming they existed?

    "DNA is interesting. It can prove whether or not a person is related to one another. Think about paternity tests."

    This does not answer the question "How do you go about getting the right DNA samples?" In the DNA testing that has been done, whose DNA is being compared to whose DNA? We do not know what Lehi's family's DNA was, so how could any DNA test be conclusive one way or the other?

    • dna proves the church wrong but there going to make exscuses .just pay your gtithing dont ask questions the church is true in a pigs ass

  3. "In other words, any claims that DNA evidence refutes the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is based on flawed assumptions about what the Book of Mormon says, or on flawed science."

    I can claim the only persons I am related to that have the same last name as myself is my siblings, their children, and my children. Anyone can argue against this based on appearance or other assumptions. I may have certain physical features to others that have the same last name. Since my parents are dead, and my father's birth parents and adoptive parents are dead, I can prove it through simple DNA testing. I can also prove it through my father's adoption records. I also can prove it by his older brother who had the same birth parents and adoptive parents. My uncle goes by his birth last name. My father went by his adoptive last name.

    Families share specific traits that others do not. Based off the geneological records kept by my father I could easliy get DNA testing done to find out if our ancestors came from the regions mentioned in those records. The BoM is no different. If the people mentioned came from a certain region then we test those of that region to determine the validity of the statement.

    • "If the people mentioned came from a certain region then we test those of that region to determine the validity of the statement."

      What was Lehi's DNA? Was it the same as everybody else in Jerusalem 600 AD? Who today are the descendants of those who lived in Jerusalem in 600 AD? How do we know their DNA matches those who lived in Jerusalem 2600 years ago? How do we know they haven't mixed with other peoples, races, etc.?

      Then, what about the people in Central America? Whose DNA was tested? How many people? From how many different indigenous groups? How do we know that the descendants of the Book of Mormon people didn't end up mixing with other tribes, races, peoples, to the point where nobody today has more than 1% of the DNA of the Book of Mormon people?

  4. Have you ever did a thorough study on DNA testing?

    • I've looked into the DNA work that was done with regards to the Book of Mormon enough to know that it could hardly be called scientific.

      But what's your point? Do you have answers to any of my questions?

  5. Are you saying that DNA testing will not prove what region my ancestors came from?

    • Nope, I'm saying something else. We can get your DNA and of your recent ancestors. How do we get the DNA of Lehi, someone from Jerusalem circa 600 BC who we can verify as having DNA similar to Lehi's, or a descendant of Lehi whenwe don't know exactly who his descendants are?

  6. I thought the Native Americans were the descendants of Lehi, Nephi, and Laman. Isn't that what is taught in the LDS church? Isn't that what Joseph Smith Jr. and several Mormons taught to the Native Americans? Isn't this what is told to the Natives today?

    • That had been a widely held opinion of many members of the church over the years, including church leaders. It was taken for granted as fact by many, but there is no doctrinal basis for it. An examination of archeological clues in the Book of Mormon does not support the idea of the Book of Mormon people ever being anything but a fairly small, regionally concentrated group among many others, although there is substantial debate among Mormons on this point.

  7. Of the 4 or 5 possible scenarios where the majority of American Indians could have Near Eastern paternal ancestors, my current favorite is this. Many Native Americans typed as Q1a3a are actually Q1a3b. The mutation that separates these two lineage groups is called M323. I have read a number of DNA studies focused on Americans of pre-Columbian origin and none of them have listed M323 as one of the mutations tested for.

    BACKGROUND

    1. The Q1a3b Y-chromosome haplogroup includes 15% of Yemenite Jews. (Shen 2004)

    2. The Q1a3a Y-chromosome haplogroup includes 30% of American Indians and about 4% of Latinos in the US, (Hammer 2005)

    3. The Q1a3b haplogroup has never been found in a non-Jewish population which means that, at present, it is an Israelite marker.

    4. According to Yemenite Jewish folk history, a group of wealthy Israelites left Jerusalem for Yemen in 629 BC when they heard Jeremiah predict the destruction of the temple.

    5. The Q1a3a marker in American Indians is typically identified by testing positive for 2 mutations (M242 and M346) and negative for 1 mutation (M3). However, if you performed the same tests on a Yemenite Jew who belonged to the Q1a3b haplogroup you would get the same results; positive for M242 and M346 and negative for M3. You would test for the M323 mutation in order to find the difference.

    THEORY

    Until a reasonable search is made for the M323 mutation in populations of pre-Columbian American origin a direct link between the Middle East and pre-Columbian Americans via the Q1a3b haplogroup cannot be dismissed.

  8. How do you go about getting the right DNA samples? As far as I know we don’t know what the DNA profile of a Hebrew or Jew from 600 BC, when the Book of Mormon people separated from those at Jerusalem, looks like.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ———

    Advanced genetic testing, including Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotyping, of modern Jewish communities around the world, has helped to determine which of the communities are likely to descend from the Israelites and which are not, as well as to establish the degrees of separation between the groups. Important studies archived here include the University College London study of 2002, Ariella Oppenheim's study of 2001, Ariella Oppenheim's study of 2000, Michael Hammer's study of 2000, Doron Behar's study of 2008, and others.

    Key findings:

    The main ethnic element of Ashkenazim (German and Eastern European Jews), Sephardim (Spanish and Portuguese Jews), Mizrakhim (Middle Eastern Jews), Juhurim (Mountain Jews of the Caucasus), Italqim (Italian Jews), and most other modern Jewish populations of the world is Israelite. The Israelite haplotypes fall into Y-DNA haplogroups J and E.

    Ashkenazim also descend, in a smaller way, from European peoples from the northern Mediterranean region and even less from Slavs and Khazars. The non-Israelite Y-DNA haplogroups include Q (typically Central Asian) and R1a1 (typically Eastern European).

    Dutch Jews from the Netherlands also descend from northwestern Europeans.

    Sephardim also descend, in a smaller way, from various non-Israelite peoples.

    Georgian Jews (Gruzinim) are a mix of Georgians and Israelites.

    Yemenite Jews (Temanim) are a mix of Yemenite Arabs and Israelites.

    Moroccan Jews, Algerian Jews, and Tunisian Jews are mainly Israelites.

    Libyan Jews are mainly Israelites who may have mixed somewhat with Berbers.

    Ethiopian Jews are almost exclusively Ethiopian, with little or no Israelite ancestry.

    Bene Israel Jews and Cochin Jews of India have much Indian ancestry in their mtDNA.

    Palestinian Arabs are probably partly Israelite.

    http://www.khazaria.com/genetics/abstracts.html

    ——-

    DNA evidence links virtually all contemporary Jewish populations to ancient Israel. I have even read of a Negro tribe in Africa that practices a form of Judaism, and which has DNA markers pointing to ancient Israel. It is believed that they are descended from slaves owned many centuries ago by Jewish traders.

    The Book of Mormon makes no reference to the presence of Indians in the New World prior to the entry there of Nephi and his company.

    Even if Indians were here previously, if the Book of Mormon is true we would expect to find DNA markers in many contemporary Indians, and we do not.

  9. That had been a widely held opinion of many members of the church over the years, including church leaders. It was taken for granted as fact by many, but there is no doctrinal basis for it. An examination of archeological clues in the Book of Mormon does not support the idea of the Book of Mormon people ever being anything but a fairly small, regionally concentrated group among many others, although there is substantial debate among Mormons on this point.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——–

    Where is there any mention in the Book of Mormon of Book of Mormon people encountering people not descended from the original Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah? If what you say is true, the authors of The Book of Mormon would have certainly noticed them and recorded their existence.

  10. Until a reasonable search is made for the M323 mutation in populations of pre-Columbian American origin a direct link between the Middle East and pre-Columbian Americans via the Q1a3b haplogroup cannot be dismissed.

    – Doug Forbes

    ——-

    It should not be assumed. Efforts to find rational reasons to believe in the veracity of The Book of Mormon usually devolve into, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." In other words, the proof is out there. It will be found some day.

    I prefer to think along the lines of, "Extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence." The assertions found in The Book of Mormon are extraordinary. There is very little of anything that can possibly be called evidence in favor of The Book of Mormon. It lends itself to other interpretations.

  11. Here are my questions and points:

    1. What is the DNA profile of an Israelite from 600 BC? How as such a profile created? Are there bodies or other material containing DNA from 600 BC that have been used to create DNA profiles? How positive can we be that these profiles contain all possible DNA markers of Israelites from 600 BC? Would all Israelites from 600 BC have the same markers? Is it possible that a modern-day descendent of Israelites from 600 BC, whose familial line has mixed with members of other DNA profiles over a 2,600 year period (and the mixing was probably quite extensive over the past 1,600 years particularly), might not be traceable to existing DNA profiles?

    I'm not trying to prove anything with this first set of questions, per se, just trying to understand the details more thoroughly. I think it is reasonable to assume that Lehi and his family possessed the typical Israelite DNA markers of their day. I'm just wondering how we know what the markers of his day were, and what would happen to those markers as Lehi's descendents mixed with members of other groups with different DNA profiles. I suspect that mixing would have been minimal during the 1,000 years covered by the Book of Mormon, extending to 400 AD, but after that the mixing may have been prolific since the people of the Book of Mormon lost their cultural identity as Israelites at that point, whereas many other Israelited populations have maintained a strong cultural identity and therefore have tended to not mix with other DNA profiles as much as we might reasonably assume the Book of Mormon people did.

    2. Although we might reasonably assume that Lehi's descendents had the typical Israelite DNA markers, can we go beyond making a mere assumption? Is it possible that Lehi, even as an "Israelite", might have not had the typical DNA profile of his day, and therefore his descendents even less likely to possess the typical markers?

    3. "Where is there any mention in the Book of Mormon of Book of Mormon people encountering people not descended from the original Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah? If what you say is true, the authors of The Book of Mormon would have certainly noticed them and recorded their existence."

    There is simply no reason to expect the Book of Mormon to contain information about other people. Yes, the Book of Mormon people certainly would have noted the existence of other people, and given that they appear to have been quite literate we can reasonably expect them to have made note of this in their writings. But the Book of Mormon is a highly-abridged summary of the religious history of the people. It is not a general history. It is not comprehensive. The book itself claims that it doesn't cover anything close to 1/100th part of the history of the people. Perhaps there were 500 other books written during those 1,000 years that contain all sorts of writings about the interactions between the Book of Mormon people and their neighbors, but why should any of that be included in the Book of Mormon? The only reason it would be included would be if these other peoples went to war against the Book of Mormon people, or otherwise impacted their civilization in a major way. But why should we assume this would be the case, especially if the Book of Mormon people were a relatively small civilization living in an isolated area? I've traveled in Central America, and have seen firsthand how it would be quite easy for a civilization of hundreds of thousands of people could live in relative isolation from other people. There are mountain ranges and other geographical factors that lend themselves to isolating groups of people from each other.

    4. "Extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence."

    I agree completely. Would receiving an answer directly from God qualify as extraordinary evidence? Nothing else could convince me of the truth of the Book of Mormon. Without an answer from God, it all sounds too crazy.

  12. its all a dam lie made up by foseph smith..no truth to any of it..nothing has ever been found to verify the truth hoax scam fraud any way that you look at it

  13. My understanding is that DNA tests have improved quite a bit recently. They can tell now from the data that whatever Lehi’s DNA may have looked like there was no injection of DNA into the native population in 600 BC. The DNA is not static and changes with time. For Lehi not to be observed from the data it would require that his DNA had happened to change through his lineage in such a manner that it matched the DNA in the Americas at that same point in time. Maybe not a perfect proof but when you add it to everything else that disagrees with LDS truth claims from science to church history you should concede the facts. Keep in mind that the native americans in Missouri are referred to as Lamanites in the D&C.

    Here’s an analogous story. A man suspects that his wife is cheating on him but he isn’t sure. He hires a detective who follows her and he sees her meet a man at a diner and they leave together to a motel. They hold each other then take each others clothes off. Then the lights are turned off. After the detective relates these facts to the man he says,”that’s the hard part, not really knowing for sure,” to which the detective plants a face palm.

    • “They can tell now from the data that whatever Lehi’s DNA may have looked like there was no injection of DNA into the native population in 600 BC. ”

      Reference?

  14. When I was nineteen two Mormon missionaries proselytized me for about six months. I really did want to become a Mormon. However, I thought that Mormonism, uniquely among the world’s religions, lent itself to a rational evaluation.

    It is impossible to prove that Jesus rose from the dead after the crucifixion, or if he did not. It is impossible to prove that the Angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to Mohammed or that he did. The Book of Mormon claims to be a detailed history of pre Columbian history of the New World. If it is true, there will be independent evidence of events described in the Book of Mormon.

    After six months I was disappointed to discover that the Mormon faith is not true. At the time the following letter from the Smithsonian had not been written. You will find it here:

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/smithsonianletter.htm

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/smithsonianletter2.htm

    When I was nineteen I determined on my own that the manuscript Joseph Smith claimed to translate into The Book of Abraham was really a manuscript of The Book of the Dead.

    My discovery has been confirmed by scholars of the ancient Egyptians. The manuscript has been translated by credible Egyptian scholars. It makes no mention of Abraham, and concerns itself with ancient Egyptian deities.

    I advise anyone who is thinking of joining the Church of Latter Day Saints, or who is thinking of leaving it to read the material I have linked to, and to do a study of The Book of Abraham. This link is a good place to start.

    http://mit.irr.org/category/book-of-abraham

  15. “Unfortunately, prominent Mormons have assumed that a majority of Native Americans were descendants of the Book of Mormon people, and it’s easy to see how they came to this misconception such that they never questioned it, but the Book of Mormon itself says no such thing, neither is there any revelatory statement of such.”

    Here you go:

    D&C
    3:18, 20
    19:27
    28:9, 14
    30:6
    32:2
    49:24
    54:8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>