Book of Mormon and DNA Studies Part One

Book of Mormon and DNA Studies Part One

Off the bat, I feel like this one doesn't really fit into the same theme of answering the question, "Is the church hiding stuff?" So I'm going to approach this topic a little differently. For part one, I'll try to go through what I already know about this topic, my feelings, and my opinions on it before doing further research.

In part two, I'll go over the Gospel Topics Essay and point out anything new I learned from it. I've already looked at the essay a little bit, and I already know there is a lot of new stuff for me in there, because I am not a microbiologist. I did a semester of Biotech as a concurrent enrollment class in high school, so I don't know nothing about DNA[1], but I also don't know a lot. Consequently, I don't know that I will have enough authority to say if it holds water or not. I don't think I'll be talking about how I didn't grow up hearing anything about the founder effect in Sunday School... that seems silly to me, but we'll get more into that later.

And same as usual[2] for part three; I'll read and respond to the response in "The LDS Gospel Topics Essays: A Scholarly Approach" and see what they have to say on the matter.

Where Am I at Right Now?

I don't expect there to be any DNA evidence of the Book of Mormon in the same way that I don't expect the scientific community to give up on the Big Bang in favor of divine design.[3]

Similarly, I expect my church to talk about DNA evidence just like I expect them to teach me about Physics or Computer Science[4]. That is to say, I don't expect them to do that.

I am personally not too fussed about it. I don't see lack of DNA evidence as proof that the events of the Book of Mormon didn't actually happen any more than looking at pictures of quasars convinces me that the Big Bang happened.

I get the impression that the apparent lack of DNA evidence is a big deal for some. I get it. We rely on DNA a lot for criminal cases and it sure seems pretty flashy in movies. I know Rod Meldrum takes the DNA stuff pretty seriously, I've heard him tell the story of the sister from his ward that was losing her testimony over DNA issues, and his response wasn't "Boy she really needs to base her testimony of the spirit instead of whatever she's doing." Instead his response was, "Wow, I should really dig into DNA and try to understand it so I can help people like her." I don't want to minimize the DNA concerns, and I'm going to try and apply the same logic and compassion as I research this topic [5].

So for starters, while I don't think that there needs to be DNA evidence for the Book of Mormon for someone to believe it to be true, I do think it would be nice to have a plausible explanation for why there is not yet any DNA evidence, or if there is DNA evidence (as Rod Meldrum would suggest), why does the scientific community at large not accept it?

Ultimately, I don't think this is a deal breaker either way, at least for me. If there was DNA evidence for the Book of Mormon I would expect the skeptical community to find a way to not believe it, and I would simultaneously encourage fellow members to not base their testimonies on it[6]. And I would expect the same to hold in reverse if there was no DNA evidence. I would encourage skeptics to not discount the Book of Mormon because they haven't yet found evidence, and I would expect faithful people to still not base their testimony (or throw it out) over a lack of evidence. Lack of evidence is not proof of lack of existence.

And besides, science is a liar... sometimes[7]

  1. For example, I know this really jamming song about polymerase chain reaction (PCR) ↩︎

  2. I say this as if I have ever completed a part three on this blog... Yet, the Book of Mormon translation part 3 is still coming, I promise. ↩︎

  3. That is to say, I don't expect any mainstream scientist to ever come out and say "Hey, look, here's evidence that the Book of Mormon is real!" I would suspect such a scientist would be ridiculed and dismissed (and then transition to the following category). I would also expect any faithful scientist out there looking for DNA evidence of the Book of Mormon to be dismissed as a pseudoscientist. The foreword to Faith Crisis Volume 1: We Were Not Betrayed! by Hannah Stoddard, (the foreword is by Chauncey C. Riddle) put it pretty well. He discusses professional historians, but his observations certainly apply to professional scientists as well. He mentions that they must adhere to a specific metaphysical frame in all their research in order to be accepted by their peers, requiring that everything have a naturalistic explanation. No supernatural allowed. This idea has captured my attention, and I will certainly come back to it later; for now, it's just a footnote. ↩︎

  4. On the other hand, I did get a CS degree from BYU so maybe I did expect my church to teach me something about Computer Science 😅️ ↩︎

  5. But I will confess, I do not foresee myself being as consumed by this as I was about the Seer Stone. It's just not really calling to me, and I will certainly not dedicate as much time to is as has Rod Meldrum. So if you want just enough to help you keep your testimony, then you have come to the right place. If you want a deep dive, I highly recommend checking out the Book of Mormon Evidence Conference! ↩︎

  6. I think you should still study it even though I don't think you should base your testimony on it. I still go to the Book of Mormon Evidence Conference. I think it's great! But I go there to learn interesting little trivia; I go to church and read the scriptures to work on my testimony. ↩︎

  7. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Season 8 Ep. 10: Mac Evolution ↩︎


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