Dr. Thomas Murphy describes the strengths and weaknesses of the Church’s DNA essay.
Thomas: To the credit of the Church, the DNA essay acknowledges, basically, that that research that I surveyed back in 2001-2002, plus some more up to date stuff. They summarize that and acknowledge that the evidence clearly shows that the ancestors of the American Indians are coming from North and East Asia, or that’s where the closest affinities are between native DNA and the DNA from the old world. So they acknowledge basically what I got in trouble for saying. They say it. The Church says it.
GT: So that’s a strength of the essay. (Chuckling)
Thomas: Yes. Well, maybe it’s a biased perspective. I’m feeling vindicated myself. So that’s a major strength is that they acknowledge the DNA evidence that exists, and that DNA evidence provides no support for the Book of Mormon. The other strength is, I think it’s the first or second paragraph, but right at the very beginning, anyway, they say basically, the Book of Mormon is more spiritual than historical. That’s where the Church is going to end up. Right? I wish they had gone deeper with that. But, the evidence is just so compelling that that’s the only sustainable position for the Church to take is that the Book of Mormon is scripture, not history. They didn’t quite go that far. They acknowledge that it’s more spiritual than historical. It’s not historical at all. They could have said that, but they don’t go that far.
The Book of Mormon purports to be a record of ancient Native Americans. Have we compared Indian stories to look for parallels in the Book of Mormon? Dr. Thomas Murphy asks that question, and we’ll find out his answer.
It is well-known that Europeans wiped out many Native Americans. The Book of Mormon claims that darker skinned Lamanites killed the white-skinned Nephites. Is it possible that these genocidal killings wiped out all traces of Middle Eastern DNA among Native Americans? Dr. Thomas Murphy is here to answer that question.
Thomas: I think the settlers, long before Joseph Smith came along were developing ways of reconciling that. The ways that they were trying to reconcile that was that they said, well, the Indians around us they look like savages. But we look and we see all these monuments that–this evidence of great architecture, big mounds and evidence of sophisticated culture, couldn’t have been these Indians. It must have been an ancient white race that did this. Now, that’s convenient to suggest that, because if there was an ancient white race that created civilization in the Americas and the remnants of that civilization, then you can say, “Well, the American Indians and their ancestors must have destroyed them. They must have done what we’re doing right now.” So, it becomes a way of solace. It becomes a mythological tradition that helps settler colonists to reconcile their own violation of their own ethics.
Thomas: The essay, on one sense, blames American Indians for an ancient genocide of the Nephites that may have eliminated DNA. It also acknowledges the 16th and 17th century annihilation of most Native Americans. Now notice the timing of that 16th and 17th century. Why is that important? The 16th-17th century suggests that it was Spanish, French and Dutch, not the English. You really look at, the genocide continued in the 18th and the 19th century. Even Mormons themselves participated in it in the colonization of the Great Basin. So that destruction of native populations, kind of at its apex was around 1900. So, the 18th and 19th centuries, the essay ignores altogether. So we’re also critical of the essay for not acknowledging the English and American wrong in genocide. It really overlooks those and suggests blaming the Spanish and the French and the Dutch.
GT: And not the Americans is what you’re saying.
Thomas: Yeah, not the English and Americans who did it just as much, in fact, more so. Because the Spanish and the French–well the Spanish, their kind of colonial system was one where they incorporated indigenous peoples into an economic system at the lower rungs of society, as peasants, compasinos in Spanish. They are incorporated into the society, enslaved for sure, but incorporated into colonial society. The French had a little different perspective. The French kind of more incorporated themselves into the indigenous society and used trade and economics to their advantage but operating within an indigenous system. So, the social structure under the French was largely still indigenous. One of my mentors, Richard White, describes that as a middle ground of the French. Now the English, use a different strategy. The English, initially they were kind of incorporating, as I said earlier, bringing the kids into the homes and stuff. They were a little more like the Spanish in those initial periods, but eventually with what’s called the King Philip’s War, they adopted a different approach and that is to exterminate. They adopted a genocidal approach towards indigenous populations and wiped them out and removed them from their indigenous territories. That English approach is actually the more appropriate analogy for the Book of Mormon, than the Spanish and the French. So, Ugo just gets his history wrong, is what I’m saying.
We’ll look at a story of a 15th century Incan boy as well as some Egyptian mummies to see if DNA can disappear. We also talk about why Viking DNA doesn’t show up in Canada. Had you considered that the Church blames Spanish, French, and Dutch while ignoring American and English roles in destroying Indians. What are your thoughts on the DNA essay? Why don’t LDS let Indians (Lamanites) tell their Book of Mormon stories to corroborate the scriptures?