Sunday in Outer Blogness: BoM DNA edition!!
The voting for the Brodies is off to an excellent start, with tons of votes coming in from the exmo subreddit and other places!! If you’ve been nominated and would like to win, you may want to send your fans here. And whether you’re in the running or not, please take the opportunity to review some of the best LDS-related content of 2013, and vote for your favorites!!
(Related: The results of the Wheaties/Tareific awards are in and analyzed!)
The big news this past week is that the CoJCoL-dS posted a new essay claiming that DNA evidence does not disprove the Book of Mormon.
Now, if you’re like me, you may be wondering why this is news. I mean, what do you expect them to say? “Wow, looks like the evidence disproves the Book of Mormon after all… I guess we’ll just have to close up the church and give everyone their tithing back!” lol. But it turns out that there’s some really interesting stuff in there!
The biggest, most doctrinally significant point in this essay was explained by David T:
The essay never directly admits that these â€œothersâ€ already here came 10,000 â€“ 30,000 years ago, but says, loosely that â€œâ€¦people migrated from northeast Asia to the Americas by way of a land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska.â€ For this claim, they reference a paper by Ugo Perego, Mormon geneticist, which does date the migrations to older than 10,000 years ago.
Indeed the essay references over a dozen scientific articles (several more authored by Ugo Perego) to support its discussion on why ancient American DNA studies do not discredit the claims of the Book of Mormon. All of these references state directly or imply strongly that the DNA studies of ancient American migrations date to more than 10,000 years ago, pre-dating any events described in the Book of Mormon, or the bible and Pearl of Great Price, for that matter.
The upshot is, the LDS Church concedes that humans in America arrived before Adam and Eve were on the earth.
Regardless whether or not the DNA of the Lamanites, Lehites, Mulekites or Jaredites are lost in the sea of population dilution, the desert of genetic drift or even the confusing city of religious myth, the LDS Church now affirms that humans lived before the â€œthe first flesh upon the earth, the first man alsoâ€ called Adam (Moses 3:4).
This is a huge concession. It has many implications.
Implications outlined by Steve Bloor:
The Mormon Church has just unintentionally admitted there was no Great Flood, or Tower of Babel. That people existed on the Earth many thousands of years before Adam and Eve, and that there was no Fall.
It looks like the CoJCoL-dS is moving towards admitting the BoM stories didn’t really happen. There were some other interesting insights such as the fact this means that the CoJCoL-dS is officially accepting evolution. But it was a tangential point in this post that really jumped out at me:
On this point, I lost all faith in any Church published book last year when I found that the book Articles of Faith by Apostle James E. Talmage had been significantly altered on this point sometime between the first printing and the 1989 edition that I had as part of my missionary library. Talmage was absolutely certain in 1901 that the Nephites and Lamanites filled the whole of North America from east coast to west coast. Pseudo-Talmage in 1989 only says that a traditional belief was that Nephites spread into some part of North America. The book contains no note/forward/appendix/introduction saying that significant passages had been completely rewritten. This is considered completely dishonest without question in the publishing industry. (I wrote a post about this a few months back with exact quotes and page numbers.)
Of course, despite DNA and archaeology, the Book of Mormon still has an argument in its favor: its absurdity.
The second scandal of the week arrived when Newsweek published a portrait of the exmo community that was less-than-flattering. Andrew S explained that this says as much about Mormonism as it does about leaving Mormonism. And Runtu countered with a beautiful portrait of his own experiences with the exmo community:
Thatâ€™s the key for me. Whether Iâ€™ve wanted to admit it or not, I had that big void in my life, and I filled it by becoming part of the ex-Mormon community. And I thank God they were there to understand and support me when I needed it. Iâ€™ve met some of the greatest people I know in that community, and as different as they are, the one thing they have in common is integrity. I have never met a group of people with as much integrity in my life. I think their integrity is part of what led them to leave the LDS church in the first place: they couldnâ€™t just go along to get along or pretend or quietly sit in the pews. They did what they thought was right.
I laughed at the meetings devoted to learning how to drink alcohol or purchase underwear, but these silly things illustrate just how jarring the experience is and how much of your life you have to figure out, even to the level of what kind of underwear youâ€™re going to wear (boxer-briefs, in case you were wondering).
It’s inspiring each week to see people have learned some profound lessons in their journey through Mormonism and out: Mormon 411 encouraged fellow atheists to reflect on the humanity they share with believers. There’s a stereotype that exmos are just flipping to some equal-and-opposite rigid ideology, but what I see time and again is folks like Mablun encouraging former believers to avoid “the anti-halo-effect” of simply dismissing everything about the church and its members as bad, stupid, etc. I agree, and have said many times that if the CoJCoL-dS were 100% harmful, it would not have lasted so long — it’s interesting to analyze the ways that it works for some people.
An exmo thanked his TBM marriage counselor for encouraging both parties to respect each other and treat each other well regardless of religion. I love to see people put their family before their ideology. Interfaith interactions aren’t easy — see this fail. (See also some good tips on what to say when your Mormon friend comes out as gay.)
The third kerfluffle this week began when Nate Oman decided to post some musings on the Inevitable Failure of the Ordain Women Movement inspiring a pointed response. The inequality is hard to deny — maybe you’d like to take this survey about it. Also, I don’t know if it’s related, but there was some harsh criticism of attempts at being an ally (but some positive views as well), plus some feminist poetry.
Then there was quite a bit of sexy stuff to follow up that wacky BYUI masturbation-as-war video. The Mormon Sex Girls’ position is basically that Well, we can’t get away with claiming masturbation is not a sin, but….. If you’re short on material, check out Tom Clark’s beautiful nudes. I loved Emma Smith’s tales of losing her virginity and especially of finding people to celebrate her joy! And there were some very poignant personal stories touching on romance and sexuality and the consequences of viewing women in terms of their uteruses (sp? uteri?).
This week’s scripture study included some interesting points about the benefits of a social safety net (a idea that’s pretty dramatically unpopular in Utah). The Bible predicts both teams as winners of the Superbowl, and even predicts the score, but Satan favors the Patriots. Related, Heather has been sharing her YW lessons. But my favorite is Daniel’s lesson about the official disavowal of racist doctrines:
The Church’s statement on ‘Race and the Priesthood’ is something of a landmark. Thankfully, it repudiates racism among its members.
Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curseâ€¦. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.
It also lists a few things members have believed in the past. Here’s one:
According to one view, which had been promulgated in the United States from at least the 1730s, blacks descended from the same lineage as the biblical Cain, who slew his brother Abel. Those who accepted this view believed that Godâ€™s â€œcurseâ€ on Cain was the mark of a dark skin.
Ask: Where might Latter-day Saints have gotten this idea?
Read: Moses 7:22
22 And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.
In other fun, since Utah has outsourced the office of Utah Attorney General to an Idaho lawyer, why not outsource the legislature? Not to mention a protest of the opening of a Starbucks in Provo and how Mormonism makes you fat!
And what do we do when we’re not talking about Mormonism? Well, Varina is knitting up a Christmas Mitten-pocalypse, Roger Hansen is visiting the Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Erin explained why her toddler is crying, Heather is making pesto-chick-pea sandwiches, littlemissattitude is reading defaced library books, and Suede Swayzee is learning some amazing lessons in happiness from a little girl.
Sorry to give you so much new stuff to read right after asking you to get down to business on the Brodies, but it was just an amazing week in terms of interesting topics!!! Good luck, and happy reading!
You know, you get used to reading all sorts of ridiculous things when study Mormonism, but this, from Wheat and Tares that you link to above, is a whole new range of wacky:
Greek mythology reaches the level of absurdity found in Hebrew mythology. Does that mean it’s true too?
I had exactly the same thought reading the wheat and tare article. The difference between the mythological absurdity and what he claims is scientific absurdity is the the fact that the ‘preposterous’ scientific claims come from repeated test and evaluation.
@1 & @2 Sure, those are good points if you are using logic. But applying his counter-logic, you can see that his post could only have been created by the prophetic, God-intoxicated mind.
You missed that a former stake president and another Mormon lawyer were arrested for hundreds of felony counts: http://rationalfaiths.com/infallibility-vs-arm-flesh/
@4 Thanks for the heads-up! There was so much going on this past week that it’s hard to catch all of the top stories!
I suspect that we all lie to ourselves from time to time to keep our boat on an even keel. We may, for example, tell ourselves that a task is worth doing, when we really want to chuck the whole thing but we persist because of how we think others might perceive us if we did abandon the task. But what does it mean that in order to keep an increasingly implausible story plausible we have to tell ourself such whoppers?
Regarding absurdity equals truth, this is an age-old argument. The Scholastics of medieval Europe were interested in proving the Bible is true, until a bunch of Greek philosophy made its way into Europe emphasizing “science.” The debate raged for hundreds of years, until along came 19th C. Danish philosopher SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard, who argued that absurdity can equal truth:
This is basically how the Church operates when it comes to things like DNA evidence or the Church’s racism. It’s not so much about resolving the absurdity, as it is about maintaining a certain degree of absurdity to require faith (and sustain faith). For if the absurdity were resolved, there would be no reason for faith. But if there were no attempt to resolve it, it would go beyond absurdity into insanity.