Damned DNA: Why do all recent DNA studies conclusively and without exception show that Native Americans are of Siberian/Asiatic and not of Hebrew/Middle Eastern Origin?
As the following statements by leaders in the field indicate, based on DNA evidence alone there is no nexus between the Middle-Eastern peoples and the aboriginal peoples of the Americas.
As Michael Crawford1 at the University of Kansas puts it,“I don’t think there is one iota of evidence that suggests a lost tribe from Israel made it all the way to the New World. It is a great story, slain by ugly fact.”
DNA comprises four pairs of “molecular bases”– adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine that form a ribbon-like chain in a molecule that is then twisted upon itself twice (a double helix.) You have likely seen the Watson-Click model somewhere in your educational experience.
As Simon Southerton points out, “Each base is always opposite its complementary base, A with C, and G with T or vice versa. They can thus be understood as a coded sequence (which they are), and replication occurs because the complementary pairings always line up with stray molecules (called nucleotides) when reproduction takes place. A single change in the sequence represents a “mutation” that can be detected.
In human mitochondria (for simplicity think of this as a part of a cell), there are approximately 16,500 “letters,” and five sequences are found among Native American populations in what is identified as “haplogroups.” These five haplogroups also exist among the Siberian population of Eastern Asia in the same statistical proportions.
Significantly, these haplogroups are not found in Semitic populations, and additionally, there are other haplogroups found among the peoples of the Middle East that are not found in Native Americans.” 2
Got that, mutually exclusive.
Meldrum and Stephens two leaders in DNA analysis have found that “The data accumulated to date show that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.” 3
Many other leaders in the field of genetics have also stated:“The data accumulated to date show that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.”4
“Genetic research, particularly that using mitochondrial and Y chromosome markers, provide quite an emphatic refutation of any such relationship between Jews and Native Americans.”5
Recent DNA testing conducted on 150 tribes located across the Americas have shown conclusively, that contrary to traditional Mormon claims, their ancestors migrated from Asia between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago.
Even Mormon anthropologist Thomas W. Murphy commented on these findings:
“Some Latter-day Saints have expressed optimism that DNA research would lead to a vindication of the Book of Mormon as a translation of a genuine ancient document… The results, though, have been disappointing… Genetic data repeatedly point to migrations from Asia between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago as the primary source of Native American origins. DNA research has substantiated the archaeological, cultural, linguistic, and biological evidence that also points overwhelmingly to an Asian origin for Native Americans.”
Investigation of mitochondrial DNA of over 5,500 living Native Americans reveals that 99.4% can be traced back to Asia… Only 0.6% came from Africa or Europe, most likely after 1492.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon, in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community:
“…the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
“…the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”
With the change of a few words, the Lamanites went from being the ancestors of every native American, as President Kimball had once declared to merely living among these native populations.
Then following this striking display of core belief malleability, the ‘Brethren’ begin their gaslighting, claiming there is nothing new here, this was all common knowledge written about for years. It is not the Church’s fault that members were too stupid or lazy to search these things out.
The Mormon Essay on DNA states the following:
“Basic principles of population genetics suggest the need for a more careful approach to the data. The conclusions of genetics, like those of any science, are tentative, and much work remains to be done to fully understand the origins of the native populations of the Americas. Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples, and even if their genetic profile were known, there are sound scientific reasons that it might remain undetected. For these same reasons, arguments that some defenders of the Book of Mormon make based on DNA studies are also speculative. In short, DNA studies cannot be used decisively to either affirm or reject the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon.”6
I agree that there are explanations as to why it is possible that no Hebrew DNA has been discovered, but, there is wide disagreement as to how sound they are. As is usually the case, the Church, and her apologists are adrift in the defensive world of possibilities, not probabilities.
Genetic drift is such a possibility.
Genetic drift is the gradual loss of genetic markers in small populations due to random events.
The Church’s essay uses the illustration of colored marbles to make the case, a simple illustration of the concept of genetic drift:
“Fill a jar with 20 marbles—ten red, ten blue. The jar represents a population, and the marbles represent people with different genetic profiles. Draw a marble at random from this population, record its color, and place it back in the jar. Each drawing represents the birth of a child. Draw 20 times to simulate a new generation within the population. The second generation could have an equal number of each color, but more likely it will have an uneven number of the two colors. Before you draw the third generation, adjust the proportion of each color in the jar to reflect the new mix of genetic profiles in the gene pool. As you continue drawing, the now-uneven mix will lead to ever more frequent draws of the dominant color. Over several generations, this “drift” toward one color will almost certainly result in the disappearance of the other color.”
The marble metaphor seems to make sense with 20 marbles, and 20 draws although to complete the story, it would have been good to know how many ‘generations,’ and color adjustments and draws it would take to end up with all the same colored marbles.
The law of probabilities would predict we would get an equal number of red and blue marbles from the draws over time, but since the sample is so small, you might get 9 of one and 11 of the other one time or 8 and 12 another time and so on. That being the case and assuming that the draws are almost always one-sided (say blue marbles coming out on top – not likely) after about ten or eleven generations, all the marbles would be the same color.
The marble scenario falls apart however when the numbers become greater, say 10,000 or 20,000 marbles It is estimated that it would take 1,000 or 2,000 generation (25,000 – 50,000 years) to even possibly see the same results. We would still expect to find a lot of red marbles, that is, Semitic DNA!
In his review of William B. Provine’s “The ‘Random Genetic Drift’ Fallacy,” Christopher Jensen, Associate Professor, Pratt Institute indicates that the‘Marble Metaphor’ is both simplistic and unlikely.
“Different alleles at a single locus are represented as marbles (or as beads, or as jelly beans for the most voracious students of evolution). The metaphor is compelling: if each marble in the jar represents an allele possessed by an individual, then the whole jar represents the “gene pool”. By randomly sampling from the jar as a way of representing alleles being passed on to the next generation of offspring, we can see that in small populations the probability of losing an allele to chance is far greater than in larger populations.”
“But are alleles well-represented as marbles in a jar? This question — as absurd as it may seem — is at the heart of The “Random Genetic Drift” Fallacy‘s argument. Provine emphatically says “no”, suggesting that what we call genetic drift is really inbreeding, and inbreeding creates very different evolutionary outcomes than fixation of particular alleles at particular loci. There is no gene pool and there is no drift at particular gene loci because genes are located on chromosomes and chromosomes are replicated via the process of meiosis. Meiosis was not well-understood until just after Fisher, Wright, and Haldane had formulated the foundational theory of population genetics; according to Provine, population genetics has been out of synch with reality every since.” 8
1 Michael Crawford, at the University of Kansas, as quoted in Thomas Murphy, Mormon anthropologist, American Apocrypha, p. 53.
2 Simon Southerton, “Losing a Lost Tribe,” Signature Books, 2004
3 Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens, “Who are the Children of Lehi,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, v. 12, no. 1, p. 41
4 Dr. David Glenn Smith, U.C.-Davis molecular anthropologist, 2002 Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City
5 From an essay entitled, “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics.>”
6 Book of Mormon and DNA Studies, An LDS Essay
7 “Debate Renewed with a Change in Book of Mormon Introduction,” Deseret News (8 Nov. 2007).
8 Review of William B. Provine’s “The ‘Random Genetic Drift’ Fallacy”
FairMormon’s Comments on my questions on DNA Issues
Comment No. 1
Response to claim: “Why do all recent DNA studies conclusively and without exception indicate that Native Americans are of Siberian/Asiatic and not of Hebrew origin.
FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES
DNA evidence cannot be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon.
I agree that DNA evidence IN ITSELF cannot be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon, but it is another arrow in the investigator’s quiver.
Here again, the Mormon Church’s apologists are on the defensive because they have no affirmative arguments to the implications that this science has on the Joseph Smith ‘story.’
DNA is a well understood and established science. The criminal justice system accepts it as reliable and its identification so accurate that people are often convicted of capital crimes on the basis of it. So when the best DNA researchers say that 99.4% of Native populations in North, South and Central America have Eastern Asian DNA, we need to sit-up and listen.
FairMormon, however, suggests that the accepted conclusion that the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of North and South America migrated from Asia is tentative.
If by tentative FairMormon mean the absence of absolute certitude, then the accepted conclusion that DNA is our genetic building blocks can also be considered tentative or for that matter that the ‘theory’ that the Earth is round is tentative.
The conclusion FairMormon calls tentative is based on evidence. Evidence that shows that there have been NO middle-Eastern markers found in the more than 12,000 samples taken from North and South American aboriginal populations.
I can’t seem to find anywhere in the reams of FairMormon musings where they present any affirmative evidence showing “Middle Eastern” or “Jewish/Hebrew” DNA in native populations.
Second, to say that nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon people is disingenuous. We know, according to the story that Joseph Smith tells that they were Jews, from the Middle-East, of the ‘House of Israel.’ We know what Middle-Eastern Jewish DNA looks like. Geneticists have identified the unique markers. And none of those markers have been found in the Americas.
The simple fact is that DNA testing conducted on 150 tribes located across the Americas have shown, that in direct contradiction to traditional Mormon claims, their ancestors migrated from Asia some 7,000 and 50,000 years ago.
These populations got to North America across the 50-mile gap in the Bering Strait between the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and the Seward Peninsula in the U.S. state of Alaska. This 50-mile aperture was almost certainly closed in the day.
Comment No. 2
“The Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon, in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community.
FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY to INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER
How can one claim that the Church “quietly” changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon when they published news of the change in the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News in 2007? From the Deseret News, 8 Nov. 2007:”
FairMormon also takes umbrage with my statement that, “The Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community.” They assert:
To refute my comment, FairMormon tells us that “they published news of the change in the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News in 2007?” referring to an article by Carrie Moore entitled, “DNA claims rebutted on Book of Mormon.”
Is the “they”referred to here the First Presidency of the Church?
Am I correct in assuming that this “one-word” change was not announced officially by the First Presidency other than in this Deseret News article that “they,” instructed (or directed or allowed) Ms. Moore, to write?
If I am mistaken, I would challenge FairMormon share with me the official pronouncement.
Yes, ‘quietly’ is a relative term.
According to the LDS Church’s statistical report tabled by F. Michael Wilson at the 2006 General Conference the membership of the Church was 12,868,606 persons.
The circulation of the Deseret News as advertised in their ‘2015 Media Kit’is 84,891 (In-State: 34,838 Out-of-State: 50,053). I do not have the circulation numbers for 2006, but it would be reasonable to assume it was probably less than 2015.
Does the publication of an article in a periodical with a very limited circulation, (6/10 of 1% of the Church’s membership) represent a ‘quiet’ announcement?
I will let the reader decide.
But, let me be generous and give FairMormon a ‘C’
On the next page, I will examine Alma’s assertion that there was no death of any kind upon the earth before the ‘Fall of Adam.’
I welcome your questions and comments: