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Frequently this proof—and criticism of Gentile (non-Mormon) science—is delivered to church members by General Authorities speaking during world conferences. Consequently, Mormons remain deeply suspicious of Gentile theories, particularly any that conflict with widely accepted beliefs of the church.

I don't know that this is entirely fair; certainly phrasing it as "Gentile science" implies a mindset not unlike the Nazis mistrusting "Jewish science." In my experience, what Mormons are suspicious of:

1) Science as spun by those who have a pre-existent axe to grind against the Church (the most-publicized recent genetics claims fall into this category); and

2) Those who use absence of evidence in secular research as evidence of absence. I'm thinking here of anti-Mormons displaying the Smithsonian letter on the Book of Mormon as some sort of disproof. To these people, fact that evidence hasn't been found by people who honestly weren't looking for it is somehow damning in and of itself.

Of course, it pays to remember that it was the Smithsonian that first issued "the Smithsonian letter," which seems to have taken on a life of its own in the interim. Furthermore, it was issued not at the request of non-Mormons or "anti-Mormons," but in response to continuous inquiries by Mormons about whether faith-promoting rumors circulated in LDS circles about the Smithsonian's use of the Book of Mormon as a guide to research were accurate. The letter was to give a definitive statement that the rumors were not at all accurate and a form letter that could be sent out to those making such inquiries.

(the most-publicized recent genetics claims fall into this category)

Murphy & Southerton are only relating secular, non-religious research to the BoM and following it to its logical solutions. If the whole DNA thing did not have some validity, then why the rapid rise of the LGT? Sure, Lindsay et al make some attacks on the validity of using DNA, but he is not a geneticist, and I would tend to side with the scientists.

I wonder what the LDS community response would be if DNA evidence would have supported Semitic ties. I can't imagine that the argument 'that science does not matter, it is the faith that matters' would be promoted. Quite the opposite, I am sure.

The title of Southerton's book is unfortunate, as it implies that he thinks the book claims to be a history of one of the Lost Tribes. Clearly, he has read the book and knows better. Unfortunately, the title does not lead to a first impression that he is familiar with the book. But it is a catchy title.

I thought I must have slept through all those frequent crtiicisms of "Gentile science" in conference, so I checked on lds.org. I found 83 references to "science" and 24 to "scientist", virtually all of them positive. There were a few references to science supporting the Book of Mormon, but such references seemed to pretty much die out after the '70s. The statement that this stuff is frequent in General Conference seems just a tad overstated.

Do we really know what initially prompted the Smithsonian letter? It seems to me that beleivers who have heard that the Smithsonian uses the Book of Mormon would be less likely to seek confirmation than would skeptics who have heard that claim from believers. Once the letter originated, it does seem to have acquired a life of its own, probably fueled by critics who wanted their own copy, rather than Saints who were checking up on the rumor. I have never heard anyone make the claim that the Book of Mormon is used by the Smithsonian, so the initial rumor (if it ever existed) seems to be as dead as a doornail, even though the letter lives on.

The LGT has not exactly had a "rapid rise". It was propounded >75 years ago in General Conference, just a little while before DNA came onto the scene. I know of at least one book popular in the '70s that suggested that most of South America was underwater, and that the Book of Mormon took place on an island (in what is now Peru) formed by the flooding of South America. I found the book less than convincing to say the least. However, other less whacky limited geography ideas have been around for awhile, and have been widely accepted in some circles for at least 25 years, well before the current DNA brouhaha.

No, Lindsey isn't a geneticist, but then neither is Murphy. And Whiting is a geneticist. I take it that Whiting is not among the scientists that Darren sides with?

If I remember correctly, Whiting pretty much accepts that the scientific evidence thus far rejects any Semetic genetic ties to N. Americans, but rather sides with the LGT. My understanding is that Whiting is a brilliant geneticist, and I commend him on his advances in the field.

What is really fun is the number of Jews who lack good dna for being semetic.

Or almost any modern people and those who were on the same land thousands of years before.

Given Rome and its spread of dna we should all have some markers.

btw, when I read ... it’s well known that when the Israelites returned from Babylon that they only brought back about 10% of their markers. my first thought was that they really needed to learn when to fold 'em.

(markers, in case you didn't know, is also used to refer to the equivilent of poker chips, and the quotes from Kenny Rogers and the Gambler/Kip Kraddick and the Weatherman just made me smile in that context -- the Israelites lost 90% of their markers in Babylon).

But, is that really true? That is a relatively short time they lost 90% of their markers? How much loss and drift is usual? I'm really curious.

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