Sunday, February 2, 2014

DNA Part 2: Defense Now Amorphous – two-fisted cherry picking

This is Part 2 of my response to the LDS Church’s Book of Mormon and DNA studies essay.  Part 1 is here.  

I want to focus in this part on the DNA claims (or disclaimers) in the essay.  But first, let me address one disclaimer.

Disclaimer:  “the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is more spiritual than historical”

For an essay that claims to be defending a book that is “more spiritual than historical” they sure do spend MUCHO space defending it on scientific grounds, but it's a DNA--Does Not Answer anything.  Actually, it’s a Defense Now Amorphous essay.  As we’ll see, they are willing to morph themselves and cherry pick science with both hands--one picking, one hiding--in order to defend against the mounting evidence.

I feel for them.  It must be very hard to work as an LDS apologist.  The facts keep stacking up against the centuries old doctrines you’re hired to defend.  The amount of patch compound they go through repairing the church must cost a hefty amount at the hardware store.

Claim: “Human cells also have DNA in a component of the cell called the mitochondria.”

Yes.  I know, this seems silly to bring up this side-issue, but the essay exploits mitochondrial DNA and its haplogroups to justify its dilution, drift and bottleneck arguments.  In the one hand, they cherry-pick with a mitochondrial basket.  On the other hand, they actually miss a very important point about mitochondria.

Mitochondria is found in multiple places inside every human cell, and it got there because of early evolution as single cell life (prokaryotic cells) evolved into multicellular life (eukaryotic cells).   Mitochondria arrived in our cells long ago in evolution when either a single “bacterium” like prokaryotic cell became “endosymbiotic” inside our larger cells, or from a split during the evolution away from prokaryotic life into multicellular eukaryotic life. (see this paper for more details.)

The point here is, the LDS Church uses mitochondria DNA to explain the absence of the evidence they can’t find, all the while ignoring that mitochondria in human cells is strong evidence that life (and us) evolved from single cell life billions of years ago.  This is a fact that is hard for many LDS to swallow—that humans evolved out of the same single cell pathways as all other life and are not specially formed by God’s hand out of the dust of the earth and made alive when he breathed the spirit into them. 

Disclaimer:  “a 2013 study states that as much as one-third of Native American DNA originated anciently in Europe or West Asia and was likely introduced into the gene pool before the earliest migration to the Americas.”

“The 2013 study in question was on nuclear DNA (not mitochondrial or Y-chromosome) isolated from 24,000-year-old remains recovered in Siberia. It was observed that about one-third of the individuals DNA originated in Europe or West Asia. That is not very surprising for someone living 24,000 years ago in Siberia and it certainly does not challenge any of the conclusions derived from mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA.”

In other words, so what?  If Amerindians share 24,000 year old DNA with West-Asian/Europeans, that doesn’t help the Book of Mormon case.  IT HURTS IT.  Why?  Because, studies can go all the way back to 24,000 years ago and find a link to older DNA from very slight sources that eventually made their way into multiple parts of the world.  However, not a single study can show that specific DNA from 2,600 years ago (about a tenth in time ago) coming from West Asia into America.  That should be considerably (probably at least 10x, depending...) easier to find than DNA from 24,000 years ago. 

The Topic Essay is purposely misleading in cherry picking this 2013 study by stating “this study paints a more complex picture” without giving the one detail—it was about 24,000 year old DNA—that makes it not relevant to their claim that Hebrews landed in America 2,600 years ago.  It’s not complex if you state all the facts.  It’s consistent with all the other studies and “does not challenge any of the conclusions” prevalent in science today. 

Disclaimer: The Founder Effect – “One reason it is difficult to use DNA evidence to draw definite conclusions about Book of Mormon peoples is that nothing is known about the DNA that Lehi, Sariah, Ishmael, and others brought to the Americas. Even if geneticists had a database of the DNA... it would be impossible to know exactly what to search for.”

Besides being wrong for ending that in a preposition, its argument is utter bullshit.  As Simon Southerton has written in another blog on the Swedish Resue
“It is nonsensical to claim that because we don't know what the DNA of Lehi's family looks like we cannot possibly find Lehite DNA today. We know that Lehi and Mulek were members of two different Israelite tribes and that they and their families lived in Jerusalem. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that both the Lehites and Mulekites were Israelites.”

In fact, the Book of Mormon supports that there should be ample DNA to test against.
Alma 10:3 "Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren."

1 Ne:5:14 "Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob"

Mulek was a descendant of royal blood, as son of King Zedekiah, whose genealogy is given in the Bible.

Hel 8:21 "And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us. . ."

Hel 6:10 "Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah"

Mulek's city Zarahemla was the largest of the Nephite cities.

Mosiah 25:2 "Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness."

Given that the BoM claims that Mulek descended from the Royal Jewish line (king Zedekiah) and founded the largest city (Zarahemla), his alleged DNA is or would be very well known.  At the end of the blog, I will post some links to Jewish royalty DNA databases and studies, which include both mitochondrial DNA (mother) and Y-chromosome DNA from Jewish ancestry.  The apologist can't argue that because we don't know Sariah, the mother's ancestry, we can't match--well, just use the Y-chromosomes then, to match with the male lineage.  

Just because LDS leaders and scientists are ignorant to the claims about DNA (descendants) in the Book of Mormon doesn’t support their claim that “nothing is known about the DNA” of the Book of Mormon people.  These guys need to read their own scripture.  This is pathetic that I have to teach them verses from their own scripture in replying to their ridiculous Topic Essay.  I have half of mind to stop here and go watch Leave it to Beaverreruns. Beaver knows a helluva a lot more about life than these guys.

Disclaimer: Population Bottleneck – “In addition to the catastrophic war at the end of the Book of Mormon, the European conquest of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries touched off just such a cataclysmic chain of events. As a result of war and the spread of disease, many Native American groups experienced devastating population losses.”

Ok, there’s nothing like using the very hypothesis (the Book of Mormon) as evidence to support your hypothesis.  The Book of Mormon is true because it tells us that there were catastrophic wars, and that means we can’t find evidence for it.  So there!

The idea that disease killed off those with Hebrew DNA in America is a little interesting, since one of the strongest theories for why the Amerindians were so susceptible to European disease is because they never had domesticated sheep, cows, and other farm animals that led to diseases like smallpox and measles.  Yet, the Book of Mormon claims the Jaredites and Lehites brought these animals with them (even though not a trace of them are left—a disappearing act even better than the bottleneck magic trick conjured here). 

“Agriculture began in the world about 12,000 years ago. The place where it began was the fertile crescent, the area that today is Iraq, Iran, and Syria….it was also the beginning of the evolution of nasty germs like smallpox and measles that played a key role in European conquest of the new world. It was smallpox and measles and other germs that killed 95 percent of native Americans. But those germs evolved in dense agricultural societies that arose in the fertile crescent and then China 11,000 years ago.”

Now, had the Lehites, who were clearly a part of the agricultural societies mentioned, brought their DNA and their domesticated animals, perhaps they would have been spared the germ genocide.  This actually argues against the bottleneck affecting the Lehites as it affected the descendants of Siberian migration who crossed the Bering Strait long before the development of agriculture and farm animal domestication of 11,000 years ago. 

Again, on one hand, they cherry picked the idea of the bottleneck, but they hide the relevant facts (from their own BoM) with the other hand.

Here are some of the relevant quotes from their own scriptures they conveniently forgot here.

JS History 1:34  "[Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang."

D&C 49:24  “the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.”

1 Ne 13:30-31  “wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy (Nephi's) seed, which are among thy brethren. Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren.”

Hela 3:5-8   “Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and ... they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.”

Moroni wrote in the BoM Title Page:
"Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people... who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers."

The Book of Mormon clarifies the bottleneck problem—it’s a nonissue.  On the one hand, they use the wars talked about in the BoM to support the bottleneck while ignoring the prophesies and other declarations saying that the house of Israel remnant would flourish.

Disclaimer: Genetic Drift (dilution) – “the effect of drift is especially pronounced in small, isolated populations or in cases where a small group carrying a distinct genetic profile intermingles with a much larger population of a different lineage.”

Much of the essay seems to be written from the words of two apologists: Rodney Meldrum and Ugo Perego.  The argument made here is that “genetic drift make it unlikely that [BoM people’s] DNA could be detected today” because they were a small group carrying a distinct genetic profile intermingling in a continent full of Siberian expats.  

To support these genetic drift/dilution arguments, the essay references works from 2003 and 2008.  However, these are outdated. 

DNA testing is much more sensitive than it was a few years ago. And even in 2008, it was sensitive enough that we can find the Lemba.  These are a group of people that demonstrate pretty conclusively the claim above is wrong.

The Lemba descended and separated from Jews around 600BC (same time as Lehi and Mulek), they intermingled with the subcontinent of Africa.  Yet we can find the small founder moment from their (diluted) Jewish line in genetics studies today. (see for the Lemba story.)

If Mulek were real and had descended from Jewish royalty to  found their largest city, then as it is with the Lemba, his DNA should be popping like popcorn on the cherry-picking tree. 

In the Lemba case, the sensitivity of the DNA tests are so high that they can identify, 2,600 years later, that the "Buba clan which, in Lemba oral tradition, had a leadership role in bringing the Lemba out of Israel."  The Buba clan is a single family line among many in a diluted sea of a sub-continent and searching for Jewish DNA found it.

Even more interesting is that the LDS lead scientist, Ugo Perego performed a study on a founder event from 10,000 years ago.  In his haplotypic study, which is Reference 4 of the Topic Essay, Ugo Perego himself contradicts the dilution argument. He writes that there is a "novel X2 branch...named X2g, and its presence in Native Americans most probably indicates an additional and very rare Native American founder..."

Ugo’s study of haplogroups X2g, X2a and the rare D4h3a, as I understand, is used to theorize that a rare founder entered the Amerindian lineage more than 10,000 years ago.  This founder entered across the Bering Strait and then in Figure 3, Perego, shows that 10,000 years later (present day) they can map where descendants of D4h3a (the rare founder) reside today, differing from larger group of X2a descendants.  This is precise location of a single founder, from  10,000 years ago, that contained a small split in a sub-group of a sub haplogroup of the main gene used to identify Amerindian mtDNA in geo-locations across two continents.

Okay, again, the upshot is:  if a 10,000 year old gene inserted from a founder into the American continent can be found and mapped across the two north and south continents today, then why can’t Ugo do the same for Mulek’s DNA?

 I'm sure there's a detectable haplotype from the Davidic line that can be seen from entry into a population 2,600 years ago.

When, Ugo, will you get to that study?  The Jewish royalty DNA exists in databases (see below).  Search, buddy, search!  Run, Forest, Run!!

Ok to the essay conclusion--
Disclaimer: “It is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon... the Book of Mormon stands as a volume of sacred scripture with the power to bring them closer to Jesus Christ.”

Well, as I showed in Part 1 of my rebuttal, it seems to dismantle Jesus Christ. 

But, let's take the apologists at their freaky theory: Drift, bottlenecks, and dilution have eradicated all traces of Israelite DNA/lineage from the Amerindians.  Let’s take their conclusion that in fact the Book of Mormon is scripture meant to bring people closer to Jesus Christ. 

Ok, what people?  Do they ignore the title page, where Moroni claims it was primarily "Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers"?

Who are the disappearing remnant Lamanites? Who's blossoming as a rose? Who's like a lion among the beasts? Who will be renewed as a great people?

I’ve seen arguments by the same apologists now say that Lamanites are not physically related to Israel because of dilution and bottlenecks.  So now, they’re only spiritually related to Israel.

If that’s where the argument for the Book of Mormon is going, then let’s evaluate it purely on a spiritual level.  But that is a treatise for another day.

extra notes/links

The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event

MtDNA evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the early history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population )

For paternal matching (think of recent advances in admixture studies) see: where they've identified Y-DNA12, Y-DNA37, or Y-DNA67 markers as royalty, going all the way back to David. How fortunate for the Mulek searchers!


  1. I've said this before on this blog. You either believe there is a God and Jesus Christ or you don't. If you believe there is a God and Jesus Christ then the Mormon belief makes the most sense. If you do not believe there is a God and Jesus Christ then ALL religions are wrong. David T. only picks on the Mormon religion and in a very funny and ironic way proves the Mormon religion right be picking only on the Mormon religion as an ex Mormon.

    Science is ever changing and EVER changing its findings. I think I'll wait until the dust settles, (Which will be when the Lord comes, or I die.) before I decide which scientist findings are accurate.
    I will continue to follow the Holy Spirits guide...which by the way, is not always in agreement with the actions of the leaders of the church.

    1. Yes, you've said this before... and your head is still shoved so far up your butt that oxygen continues to flow to your brain. Try again.

    2. "continues to FAIL to flow to your brain."

    3. Lol, love the angry come back...hilarious!

    4. If someone being against an ideology makes that ideology true, then you can find 500,000,000 true ideologies by googling the word "against." Wow, look at all the anti dog whisperer critics picking on the dog whisperer. The dog whisperer must be true!

    5. Haha. Spoken by someone who has never experienced God- whatever, however, whoever he she it they is are- on terms other than the very narrow LDS narrative? Quite a few non sequiturs in there too I might add.

    6. My scientific credential is that I have read the Book of Mormon. That proves the content of the Essay is mostly nonsense. Smackdown. Perhaps if the authors had read the book they wouldn't have undermined it with their own nonsense. Perhaps if the lds leaders had read the book themselves, they wouldn't have let this essay out. This essay was the Best anti material I have ever read

    7. If you believe there is a God and Jesus Christ, then Mormonism STILL doesn't make any sense.

      At least traditional Christianity works within a verifiable historical context we know is real. The events of the New Testament did not take place in a land of make-believe.

    8. You impugn science as unreliable because it is ever changing, yet the same could be said of Mormonism; although science changes because of more science, and Mormonism changes because of more science.

      Don't put your trust in your emotions-acting-as-holy-spirit. Trust in good reasons and better evidence to take away bad excuses and no evidence.

  2. For an example, scientist at one time believed that the earth revolved around the sun. That changed belief changed with improved tools and science. Science can only look with what exist and often looks for only the known. There is a lot of supposition as to what the earth looked like a long time ago. For all we know it may have been one huge land mass, with ocean surrounding it.

    Scientist are constantly changing their minds. You can't use science to prove or disprove religion.

    1. So therefore you should take great confidence in the fact that this topic is using science to prove its point. What if Ugo Perego (a scientist) changes his mind? O.o

    2. Remind me again when was the last time scientist changed their minds about about heliocentrism. Oh, that's right it was 200 years before the scientific method was developed. The scientific body doesn't just "change it's mind" willy nilly. It is slowly refined to be as precise as possible. It is rare for a finding to overturned by something that isn't even in the same ballpark because findings are based off of empirically found facts. Science is a self correcting process.

      Religion on the other hand. Let's take a look from the Mormon perspective. If Mormonism is true than everyone else is wrong. Mormons / Everyone = 00.2%. So religion as a whole is 99.8% unreliable. I think I'll stick with the reliability that science affords.

    3. Your are in error. The Scientific Revolution began with Copernicus, Galileo, et al. They were challenging religion's claims. Science did not believe the sun revolved around the earth, religion did. Religion relied on the authority of the scriptures. Science (Copernicus, Galileo, et al.) came along, observed phenomena that contradicted the scriptures and disproved religious truth, at great personal risk to themselves. In the end, religion, not science, changed its view in order to fit reality.

    4. Jason, and David T, you don't get it. It wasn't just religion's that made those claims it was the scientist of that time that thought the earth revolved around the sun. And frankly, the discovery that the earth revolves around the sun is still limited to the archaic tools we have i.e. inferior, telescopes and space vehicles. As science tools continue to improve and evolve we may discovered that there are many more moons, suns, planets like earth etc. And David what you're bringing up something I haven't even touched on and that is expert scientist coming up with different conclusions.

      The point is either you believe there is a God, or if you like, Gods and Jesus Christ or not. If not then you don't believe in any religion and you do not believe in life after death.

    5. The difference is that science doesn't claim to have all truth and come directly from the creator of the universe.

      So we have tonnes of evidence that the LDS church isn't everything it claims to be. But they're screwed because they can't say 'we made a mistake'. Doing so is an admission that the information isn't from God and then the whole system falls apart (or even more splinter groups will form).

      I personally no longer believe the claims of the church. It's been tough, I've had a lot of sleepless nights and family struggles, but I couldn't find any way to make their teachings make sense after being an active member my whole life. I was 33 when I figured it out. I realized that I had been a victim of mind control techniques or I would have figured it out a lot earlier.

      I love the average members. I wish I could help them, but ultimately I can't even convince my own wife. I read an excellent post once by a member who chose to believe even after knowing about the problems, and they said that they chose to be religious. That was their choice. I choose not to be.

    6. Andrew, you forget. If there be errors, they are from the weakness of men.

    7. Oh yes...the favorite defense of Mormons everywhere. Everything good done by these men is because they are prophets who are led by God. Any mistakes these same men make are because they are men.

      Oh the mental gymnastics!

  3. Well, done. Funny, how region always seems to slowly align with science isn't it. That road only seems to go one way though.

  4. David T. What are your scientific credentials? Why should we trust your view here?

    1. I've worked in the education system long enough to know that educational credentials are a JOKE! In fact products of the educational system are often the biggest idiots, and that is the TRUTH!

    2. "Also, I don't expect you to trust my viewpoint. Go ahead, study it for yourself, get the facts from as many places, papers, studies, experiments and more as you can. Verify, validate, rinse n repeat."

      And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The difference between Mormonism and science. One welcomes questioning, independent investigation, verification, multiple lines of evidence; it practically BEGS to be proven wrong. It should come as no surprise that, once in a while it is. The other says "Trust us. Don't question. Just believe."

      Most religions which make exclusivist claims are like Mormonism to at least some extent, but most also haven't said so many specific things which can be examined from other directions. You can believe what they say without having to reject so much of what can otherwise be shown to be true.

  5. Perhaps one can't use science to disprove religion or the existence of god, but what science can do and does very wel,l is disprove the biblical narrative and concurrently disproves the narrative of the BOM and POGP. Man did not have have its beginning in Missouri 6000 years ago, there was no global deluge that baptized the earth, millions of species were not gathered on to a boat. There most certainly was death (and life) long before the alleged "creation". a trip to any real natural history museum and a middle school text book proves otherwise. No rational peraon , even self a programmed er proclaimed believer would claim such nonsense as literal fact. Of course there are some who profess such a belief but thankfully they are a minority. Regardless, the evidence is there and has allowed millions to move beyond the superstitions. So to claim science cant disprove is very myopic. Science can, has, and will continue to liberate people from the oppressive mythology.

    1. Again, science is imperfect and ever changing. To claim that anyone believing in God, and Jesus Christ is not rational is a not a rational statement made by an irrational person.

  6. Bradley,

    Apparently, you're just one idiot shy of a clue. By the way, man invented the rules for languages. NOTE I said languages and each language has its own set of rules. Oh, and there are tons of "experts," in this field as well who argue what is right and wrong. PLUS, this ever changing as well.. Note the following:

    The often heard but misleading “rule” that a sentence should not end with a preposition is transferred from Latin, where it is an accurate description of practice. But English grammar is different from Latin grammar, and the rule does not fit English. In speech, the final preposition is normal and idiomatic, especially in questions: What are we waiting for?

    Let me write this again since you apparently didn't read it the first time. NO HUMAN IS PERFECT! Therefore nothing is done perfectly here on earth. Did that help Bradley?

  7. There is an invisible pink dragon dwelling in my garage. It is completely irrational for you not to believe in pink inivisble garage dwelling dragons.

    1. As long as you keep them in your garage everything will be fine.

  8. Actually, if you believe in the claims of Christianity, God invented languages, and by extension, their rules. There was this little incident called the Tower of Babel. You may have heard of it.

  9. You just don't get it, do you?

  10. Holy shit! Using Perego's own paper, from the LDS article itself, and destroying their arguments on genetic drift was a major coup, Mr. David. That nailed the coffin in their DNA arguments. Where can they possibly go now?

    1. If one were to count your's and David T's puny opinions. lol

  11. Janar ranaj, do you even know what Mormon's believe vs other religions? Lol, yes all the people who are commenting against the Mormon faith are puny!

  12. David T. you're assuming I'm a male, you do know what happens when you assume? Only you are more the a**. Will it make you feel better if you can tie a name to me? Okay, you can call me Hillary or Beaufort, which ever name floats your boat. lol