Monday, February 27, 2006

DNA vs The Book of Mormon: The Illiterati Weigh-in

So I use customized Google news feeds to keep-up on subjects of interest to me... one of which is the keyword "mormon". And last week (when I was too busy to blog it), this little gem from PhysOrg.com pops-up on my newsreader, stating that DNA contradicts Mormon scripture. Now, I'm familiar with the general discussion... but I can't imagine a poorer distillation of the relevant facts could be composed.

It's a short article, so I'll just do some in-line commentary below. But I must warn you: the level of snark in my commentary is high — but commensurate with the myriad failures of the article.

The Mormon Church teaches American Indians are descended from a lost tribe of Israel, but modern DNA test results contradict that tenet.

First off, the least they could do is get the name right. Next, they should differentiate between folk religion and actual doctrine... many Mormons believe that the people spoken of in the Book of Mormon are the primary ancestors of the aboriginal peoples of both North and South America. But it's a view not supported by a thorough reading of the Book of Mormon. And finally... "modern DNA test results" ... is DNA testing old enough to have anything but modern DNA tests available? I think the author meant "recent DNA test results".

The DNA tests reveal the ancestors of the American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East, thereby casting doubt on many of the historical depictions found in the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old book of religious facts the church regards as literal and without error, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

And since I'm being picky, the author should be told that the Middle East is almost entirely within Asia... I believe, however, that the DNA tests concluded that the ancestors of Native Americans are of East Asian and not Semetic origin. And I'm not sure that we've ever considered the Book of Mormon to be without error... in fact, on several occasions the author/compilor of the book pleads with readers to forgive any errors in the book, and not to condemn the doctrine found therein.

The Book of Mormon is the central doctrine that divides The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from other Christian faiths.

It's a bald statement... but not entirely without merit. So I'll throw the author a bone on this one. He got something (more or less) right.

Critics now insist the Mormon Church admit its mistake and apologize to millions of Native Americans it converted. Church leaders, however, dismiss the DNA test results as heresy, noting the prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed the Book of Mormon the "most correct of any book on Earth."

Oh, good heavens.

The Mormon leaders say the DNA test results are being twisted to attack the church.

Not to mention being twisted by inept UPI copy jockies.

Okay... that's not fair... the author could have been under all sorts of deadlines, or may have been over edited ... I don't know. So it's a cheap shot, and I'm sorry. But it just seems that news organizations really need to go the extra mile to get the facts straight... And that starts with naming the actual study being discussed, the parties that were involved... perhaps even adding some value beyond regurgitating said facts.

If you want some good laughs, though, you should check-out the discussion thread on the article.

3 comments:

Elohimus Maximus said...

rediculous accusations. The mormons were mostly right about everything, they just don't have the whole truth. If I were you, I would repent and join your church (becuase if I were you then you'd be me).

Silus Grok said...

I think that your comment may be the most cryptic I've received (well, except for the comment spam I occasionally get).

: )

RoastedTomatoes said...

Silus, I would also advise repenting and joining your church.

Because I'm the kind of guy who enjoys saying things that I can't understand.