We had some interesting discussions with Dr. Perego on the creation of the earth. Is evolution compatible with the Bible?

Ugo:  Even if I am a scientist and I like to push boundaries of knowledge, when it comes to things that pertain to the church either you sustain brethren or you don’t.  Either you can go with what they are doing or try to see things why they are doing and you accept that or you don’t.  In my mind is if the church openly has said that we don’t have an official position on what happened before Adam and Eve, how Adam and Eve came to be as physical beings, we don’t have an opinion or revelation or a position on evolution.  We don’t have a position with Book of Mormon geography.  We don’t have a position on the Nephites, of the biological population of the Nephites to the American continent, then you are leaving a lot of room open for everything.  Everybody can be correct and everybody can be wrong when it comes to their point.

Maybe I’m too naïve but I still don’t understand why some people become so feisty—is that the right word, feisty—about issues where the church has decided not to take a position on it.  There must be some reason why they didn’t.  I don’t think it is fear.  I don’t think they have the answers and they don’t want to tell you.

It doesn’t matter if Bruce McConkie said so and so, if Joseph Fielding Smith said that, if Joseph Smith said that.  If the church says today that we don’t have an official position about Book of Mormon geography, that is the final answer.  That is it.

Just express your thoughts, share your conclusion, share what evidence that you have about your ideas, but don’t impose them, don’t come to me and say you are wrong because I am right.  I am sticking with the brethren.  This is my position.

Going to your question, can there have been people living in America 15,000 years ago, pre-flood time, pre-Adam and Eve time?  The answer is, why not?  Because the [LDS] Church does not have a position about who lived before Adam and Eve.  We know through revelation there was an Adam and Eve.  We know that we are descendants of them, but the Church has never said there was nothing before.  They haven’t said that.

We had an interesting poll a few weeks ago, and while most readers here seem to agree with Dr. Perego’s position, there was one particularly feisty commenter that seemed to disagree.  This led to a discussion about evolution and the creation.  Dr. Perego points out

Ugo: February 2016, What does the Church believe about dinosaurs?[1]  That’s the title of the statement.  In October 2016 in the New Era, What does the Church believe about evolution?[2]  Church statements, but very clear to me; the one about dinosaurs says you should not take the biblical account as literal.  Ok.  What is literal and what is not?  It doesn’t say in the article.  It just says that the account in Genesis is not meant to be taken literally.  It does not mention or describe the methods or processes or the time involved with the creation.

The one in October about evolution, it says that nothing about the creation of the body of Adam and Eve has been revealed.  We know that they are spirit children of our heavenly father and they have been created spiritually in their likeness, in their image, but we don’t know anything about their physical happenings.

So could it have been that there is some human like individuals under the direction of Heavenly Father as he is involved in the creation of the earth over billions of years?  There was some sort of evolving process, the word utilized to create what we have today.  At a certain point, a spirit was placed in this already existing physical body.  Can God put spirits in bodies?  We know that, right?  How in the world a child is born from a mortal woman receive an eternal spirit unless there is somebody that makes that happen.

We witness evolution every child that is born.  From one cell you have a being.  You have a nine month evolution.  That does happen.  He evolves into a [baby], and then when it is born it takes another 20 years until he evolves into a full adult.  So we believe in that process of changing forms. But the point is the spirit goes into the physical body.  Enough said.  I don’t know the details.  I don’t know if it is correct or not, but what I know is that the church is leaving the door wide open to physical, genetic, biological beings being around more than 6,000 years ago.  It leaves it open.  You can’t deny that.  The church leaves that open.  They are not taking a stand on that.

[1] Statement can be found at https://www.lds.org/new-era/2016/02/to-the-point/what-does-the-church-believe-about-dinosaurs?lang=eng Retrieved September 13, 2017.

[2] See https://www.lds.org/new-era/2016/10/to-the-point/what-does-the-church-believe-about-evolution?lang=eng

In our second discussion, we talked about why Lamanite DNA is not found in Native Americans.  (We got into a surprising discussion about polygamy and concubines.) What does Ugo think about the population numbers cited in the Book of Mormon?

Ugo :  Either the numbers are exaggerated or the Nephites and the Lamanites are immediately mingling with people here…people say the Book of Mormon is not historical.  It is a fictional production from the 19th century from Joseph Smith.  In my mind, that is one way to read it.  That’s one way to understand it, but if there were really a lot of people here and Lehi’s group was very small, and there was as it looks like from these Book of Mormon passages that we talk about it, some sort of mixture, intermingling, their DNA would have disappeared within five or six generations.

GT:  Really?

Ugo: Yeah.

GT:  So here’s something….

Ugo interrupts:  Even the ancestry kit that you bought, it’s guaranteed to help you find relatives only up to five or six generations in the past because after that it becomes too diluted.  You don’t have all your ancestors DNA with you.  The majority of your ancestors are not genetically represented in you.

GT:  But I’ve heard that we have Neanderthal DNA in us.

Ugo: Of course.

GT:  If we’re dying out in five generations, how are we able to get….

Ugo interrupts:  It’s called direct sampling.  We are not testing descendants of Neanderthals.  We are testing direct samples…Now because we know the anatomy of the Neanderthal, we take the Neanderthal bones and we ran a complete sequence of DNA from those bones, so now we have a Neanderthal reference.  How do we know that that’s Neanderthal?  How do we know that that’s Neanderthal DNA?

GT:  Because we found the bones?

Ugo:  Because we have the skeletons.  We first classified the skeletons, then we got the DNA from them.  Then we compare the DNA of Neanderthal with Homo sapiens, which is us.  (I just hit my microphone.)  We saw differences between them.  We actually found out the average European carries about 2-3% of Neanderthal DNA still today in some of the most conservative areas of our genome….I can find a little tiny piece of bone today in a cave, and not know what that belongs to because anatomically it’s too small to know which species it belongs to, but because now I have the reference of the DNA, I can test the DNA on the little piece of bone and I can tell you if it is Neanderthal or modern human, Denisovan, all these other archaic hominids.  With Lehi, we cannot do that because we don’t have his body.

I must say I was pretty surprised to hear that Nephite DNA could have disappeared within 5-6 generations.  What do you think?  We’ll continue to discuss DNA and the Book of Mormon next week, but what do you think of Perego’s assertions so far?  Is this a good explanation for why Native American DNA does not match Israel?  What do you think of his positions on evolution and the Bible?