Brant Gardner – software consultant and DNA expert

Check out this Deseret Morning News story about Brant Gardner’s recent claim that DNA evidence is not damning of the Book of Mormon. A lot could be said about this idiocy, but I think the third to last paragraph says all that needs to be said,

“We’re often trying to compare our traditions versus science, but what does the Book of Mormon actually say? … No matter how many opinions someone might have about the Book of Mormon, if the opinion is wrong, it’s the opinion that’s wrong and not the book,” Gardner said.”

In debate, this is called circular logic and it is a logical fallacy. Basically Gardner is saying that it does not matter what someone says about the Book of Mormon or what evidence people bring to the table about it – the book is true because the book is true. Wow, can’t argue with that! Way to raise the level of debate, Mr. Gardner. We have moved up from, “Just take it on faith” to “It’s true because it says it’s true.” If only every apologist was this retarded, the jobs of Mormon critics would be so much easier… 😉


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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60 Responses

  1. Seth R. says:

    Heck, I’m even open to the “curse” being actually a obscure way of saying that the Lamanites mingled with other indigenous peoples nearby, whereas the Nephites held to the Mosaic tradition of not intermarrying with heathen cultures. Maybe that’s what the “curse” means.

    It seems a bit of a stretch to say this though. It’s certainly a tortured way for Mormon to say that Laman’s kids intermarried with local Native Americans. But I suppose it’s possible…

  2. exmoron says:

    Seth, on your post about what Joseph got right… Basically everything you said is outside the realm of measurement by science. That isn’t meant as a slam or a negative comment toward your position. I’m simply saying that what you consider to be positive contributions from Joseph Smith are not, in anyway, contributions to our scientific understanding of the world. I don’t know that you’ll disagree with that – I hope not. But that’s how I see it.

    As per your interpretations of the scriptural passages – yes, do look into the lineage of Jesus one. I think it’s intriguing.

    As for the racism/racial stuff in the BofM, that’s a reasoned response. I’ll give you credit for that. My only comment would be that the 1978 proclamation didn’t actually change doctrine, just practice. One could infer from the declaration that it was claiming to change doctrine, but the stronger position (not to criticize you, but it is kind of a criticism) would be: there never was a doctrine of racism, just a practice/policy. This is the argument made by people like Armand Mauss. I don’t actually find that argument compelling (primarily because a number of prophets said it was doctrine, but that will just open up the can of worms concerning when a prophet is a prophet), but that’s a stronger position for a Mormon apologist than saying it changed the doctrine.

    Anyway, my take on it… Thank you for the reasoned responses.

  3. Hellmut says:

    Hi Seth, you probably know that racism is essentially about marriage prohibitions.

    We all belong to the same species, which means that members can propagate successfully across any group’s boundaries. There can be no such thing as race unless somebody degrees that our people shall not marry one of those.

    Therefore Kimball’s speech unfortunately advocates the very essence of racism.

    With respect to the Church’s historical destiny, according to Georges Sorel and Karl Popper such ideas are the foundation of totalitarianism. You might enjoy The Open Society and Its Enemies or Reflections on Violence. For a short cut, I recommend the first three pages of Popper’s autobiography Unended Quest.

  4. Seth R. says:

    I think I would agree that Joseph’s contributions are primarily of spiritual significance. I think that is as it should be. Science ultimately, can only tell us “what.” It will never tell us “why.” Science is morally neutral. It doesn’t care what you do with the information it provides. Only something external to pure science and reason can provide morality.

  5. dpc says:


    “Requiring some sort of measurable objective evidence before assuming the hypothesis is true is more rational than assuming that it is true without objective evidence.”

    How is this ‘more rational’? And what kinds of evidence is considered ‘objective’? What kind of evidence would you consider objective evidence of the existence of God?

    “If you insist that I’m just deluding myself and that deep down I “just want atheism to be true,” then I think it’s a little presumptuous of you to tell me that you know me better than I know myself.”

    I’m not saying that you have some kind of hidden agenda or that there are subconscious forces at play. I’m not trying to analyze an atheist and say, “Here is the reason why they don’t believe in God.” But the grand question is why. Why do some people believe in God while others don’t believe in God? Is it because the believers are delusional and clutching a safety blanket against the wiles of the unknowable future, one which, despite the advances of humankind, remains a dark mystery? Is the because the second group is delusional and in spite of the varied religious and spiritual evidence of which there is a literal mountain, they cling to outdated notions of what is properly considered evidence?

    The answer to that might depend on which group you identify with. I believe that God (if He exists) has intentionally made it so that it is a pure choice. Hume said that reason is the slave of the passions. William James said that people take a pragmatic stance on what they believe. They regress only so far about what kind of foundational belief they have. Do I fault those who choose one over the other? Of course not, but I don’t think that any one should be immune from questioning why they chose what they chose. Although Sam Harris (author of “Letter to A Christian Nation” and “The End of Faith”) might be wrong about a lot of things, one thing he was right about was that it is good to question belief.


    “That’s your argument? That music has a special effect on us? Try again… Whatever effect it has on us is limited to what occurs in our brain. And whether or not we understand it perfectly now doesn’t mean it is somehow supernatural or mystical or religious… It just means we haven’t worked out all the details. Yeah, try again…”

    You missed the entire point of the link…

    Here’s my speech in praise of science. Science is great. As far as the physical world goes, it is the best way to understand that particular world around us. I think everyone can agree on that.

    So let’s move the discussion a bit. When scientific method is used in the social sciences and the humanities, then we begin to run into difficulties. The equations become a lot more complex. If I drop a quarter, it will fall to the ground 100 times out a 100 times (assuming some other force is not at play). When it comes to people, all of a sudden, it isn’t 100 out of 100 anymore. It might be 99 out of a hundred or 50 out of a hundred or 35 out a hundred. And as you move towards the humanities, you might be lucky if you get 10 out of 100 hundred. Science can only get us so far. And the idea that science will eventually reveal everything? Such faith is inspiring, but it’s not based on science.

    The idea that science explains everything or holds the key to all life’s mysteries is a nineteenth century product. You earlier complained about post-modernism, but the beauty of the post-modernism is that is criticized the modernist, rationalist mindset that has been prevalent in the West since Descartes. Post-modernism doesn’t see itself as an authority on anything. It’s a dialectical method used to lay bare the inconsistencies of modernist thought. It keeps modernism honest and shows that science , for all of it’s importance and relevance, is not the only way to acquire knowledge of the universe around us.

  6. dpc says:

    Seth R, Exmoron

    “First, a scriptural contradiction:
    Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 both give genealogies of Jesus. They are as different as day and night. If scripture is god’s word, how do you reconcile that? (I can give more, but this is a classic.)”

    Um….is this still an issue? Eusebius answered this one over 1600 years ago. He explains it better than I do, so you should read a copy of his “Ecclesiastical History”.

  7. Hellmut says:

    I know what you mean, Seth, but science actually answers why questions all the time. We ignore those answers at our peril. If Mormon leaders and members paid more attention to science’s answers, we would be much less obsessed about sex, for example, which could have saved the lives of Kip Eliason and Stuart Matis.

    More importantly, there are any number of philosophers who extrapolate the metaphysical implications of the latest scientific insights. Albert Einstein is a prominent example.

    In a sense, Joseph Smith did something similar. He synthesized various elements that he encountered in American culture.

  8. chanson says:

    This is the craziest thread isn’t it? We should go back and re-title it “Assorted debates on belief.” 😉

    dpc — Re: What kind of evidence would you consider objective evidence of the existence of God? and in spite of the varied religious and spiritual evidence of which there is a literal mountain, they cling to outdated notions of what is properly considered evidence

    It depends on which claim about God you’re attempting to prove. If you want to show that He exists, He could, for example, physically manifest Himself in such a way that He could be seen, or — if he does not reflect visible light — at least He could provide some sort of reproducible manner in which he could be detected. Courtrooms and peer-reviewed scientific journals have standards of what can be admitted as evidence. That is essentially the type of evidence I’m talking about. If you consider those standards of evidence “outdated” and you would like spiritual evidence to be admitted when drawing your own conclusions, then fine, but we’re clearly working from a different set of axioms here.

    Regarding But the grand question is why. Why do some people believe in God while others don’t believe in God?:

    I’ve given my answer to this before, and I’ll give it again: The hard questions of life are hard. The great thinkers throughout time have wrestled with them and there is no one consensus. I have looked at the evidence and reached my own conclusions — you may look at the same evidence and conclude something else: c’est la vie.

  9. Hellmut: I know what you mean, Seth, but science actually answers why questions all the time.

    I don’t mean to get into a whole can of worms about semantics here, Hellmut, but I think perhaps we’re getting a bit confused between what how and why mean here. Perhaps you mean “why” as in “Why does X happen?” and science answers, “Because process Y causes X to happen.”

    I think Seth means a more existential “Why?” which science categorically does not answer which is, “Why does process Y or event X exist at all?”

    Hellmut’s why is really a “How?” and Seth’s why is really a “What is the meaning of?”

    So, I think Seth’s point really does still stand: Hard science doesn’t even pretend to answer existential questions about the meaning of things.

  1. October 29, 2007

    […] Exmoron wrote a little about postmodernism in the comments of his last post about DNA. […]

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