Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

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gospeltangents
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Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by gospeltangents » 26 Sep 2017, 12:24

I just finished up an interview with Dr. Ugo Perego on DNA and the Book of Mormon. It was a really fun interview. I've always been concerned (and still am) that there isn't any evidence linking Native Americans to the Middle East. An African tribe called the Lemba Tribe claims Jewish ancestry. A DNA test was done about a decade ago, and it came up positive! Lemba actually have jewish DNA!

I asked Perego about that, and he acknowledged the issue, but noted that the tests of Native American's aren't as conclusive as anti-Mormons want to claim. There was an interesting exchange I had with him.
Ugo: Do you think we can determine DNA from 1800 versus DNA from 1000 A.D. from Europe found in America?

GT: I would think so.

Ugo: The answer is no. Do you know the Vikings were in Greenland from 1000-1400 A.D., 400 years? We have written documentation that they were here, the Icelandic woman actually kept their record of their voyages.[1] We have villages, remains of Viking villages in Greenland that around 1400, they just left. They just left. We also have DNA from Native Americans in Iceland, which pre-dates Christopher Columbus, that’s been there. So we know probably these Vikings took some women to Iceland, and that’s why we have their DNA there. But where is the Viking DNA in America?

GT: That’s a great question. I have no idea.

Ugo: Well I’m sure it’s there, but there is not enough time for the post-Columbus DNA, to differentiate it from the pre-Columbus DNA. So whenever we find European, Middle Eastern, or African DNA in the Americas, even among tribes, native tribes, by default, scientists always say, we think this is post-Columbian admixture. But we don’t know, because the rate of mutation of DNA is not as fast as 100 years or 200 years.

Mitochondrial DNA, we actually measure one mutation every 5,000 years, mitochondrial DNA, which is one of the studies that have been done. So the point is we do find European DNA among Native tribes, but we always think that came with the Spaniards or with the Europeans. The first 200 years that they were here, they did whatever they wanted.

So you go to a reservation and you test a hundred people, you find 60 of them that might have Native American DNA, and then you find 40 that have European DNA. You think, well, this is the Spaniard mixing with them. They kept culturally their identity, but genetically we don’t know. We don’t know where that came. 2,600 years ago is not enough time to differentiate DNA from Europe, from post-Columbian to pre-Columbian DNA. It took 15,000 years for DNA to slightly differentiate it from the Asian counterpart.

Even today if you take a DNA test with Ancestry.com or with 23andMe or Family Tree DNA, they put Asian and Native American together in the same group, because they can’t make the differentiation. So if you find European DNA in a native group, you put it with Europe, but you think by default. In fact if you read any paper by any population scientist, they will not say, this is post-Columbian DNA. They say, most likely it is post-Columbian DNA, but we don’t know.
Were you aware that scientists can’t distinguish between Viking DNA and Columbus DNA? Do you think it’s possible that the DNA from Lamanites simply can’t be distinguished?
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by dande48 » 26 Sep 2017, 14:49

That is disappointing; I never liked non-evidence.

If there were any decendants of Lehi in the Americas around 600BC, I'm sure their DNA is intermixed with the vast majority of Native Americans. It is also very apparent that there were people living in the Americas long before Adam and Eve was believed to be created (4000-ish BC, according to OT geneology). Under the assumption that the Book of Mormon is true, I think it is very likely that "Lamanite" DNA is indistinguishable from the rest, using modern specimins.

HOWEVER, if we were able to find some archeological evidence of the Nephite/Lamanite cities, and uncover a few of the graves, AND if those graves held bodies which were preserved either by embalming or natural preservation, we should be able to tell if they were related to Ancient Israelites. Unfortunately, it seems like all evidence of the Nephite civilization is VERY well hidden...

In my honest opinion, religious scriptures as a whole has been rather poor predictors for the past, present, and future. The Book of Mormon could very well be true, through and through. But for now, I respectfully feel the evidence against it is greater than the evidence for it. I will be more than happy to update my beliefs as further evidence presents itself.
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by Roy » 26 Sep 2017, 15:29

gospeltangents wrote:
26 Sep 2017, 12:24
Were you aware that scientists can’t distinguish between Viking DNA and Columbus DNA? Do you think it’s possible that the DNA from Lamanites simply can’t be distinguished?
What seems difficult to tell is when the DNA entered the population pool. In this case, we might not be able to distinguish between European DNA introduced by the Vikings from European DNA introduced by the conquistadors from European DNA introduced by the Mountain men of the American frontier. However, we are not looking for European DNA. We are looking for Hebrew DNA.

Of course the lack of evidence will never be conclusive but it seems to have been compelling enough to get the church to change the introduction of the BoM back in 2007 from "principle ancestors" to "among the ancestors"

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/695 ... ction.html
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by gospeltangents » 26 Sep 2017, 21:43

Jewish DNA is generally considered European DNA. Israel is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, which is part of southern Europe.

Ugo told me in fact that the Cohen haplotype (a Jewish marker) has been found in America, but it is generally believed to have been brought here with Spaniards. He says that DNA can't tell us when it arrived, unless it is thousands of years. Mitochondrial DNA changes every 5000 years or so. Asians and Native Americans are so similar, despite the fact that they separated 15,000 years ago, their DNA is still quite similar.

It makes me wonder something though. I've studied lots of geography theories. One that has been widely panned is an African theory. As I understand it, someone took the Book of Mormon and then annotated it to show geography markers in Africa, specifically Eritrea, near Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia. (It touches the Red Sea.) I believe BYU or FARMS slammed it in a review, but it gave me a thought. The Lemba Tribe is located in South Africa and Zimbabwe, much further away. They have maintained some Jewish customs. It would be interesting that the Lamanites were cursed with a skin of blackness. Given that Lemba have Jewish DNA, I wonder if they could be Lamanites? I don't think anyone has explored this (and trust me I've explored a lot.) The Malay Theory is another outlandish theory and the main problem I have with it is it is so far from America. But Moroni could have travelled anywhere in the world in 30 years after the final battle. DNA would seem to show a greater resemblance between Lemba and Israel than any other theory (although Malay, as wild as it is, has some interesting things too.)

I was also surprised that Ugo was quite complementary to the people working on the Baja Theory. He even said he didn't care if Meldrum uses the Heartland Theory, but he thinks Meldrum needs to own up to the DNA science better or people are going to discount everything Meldrum says. Meldrum has a big problem with picking and choosing only the good stuff and ignoring the bad.
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by LookingHard » 27 Sep 2017, 05:25

I think this whole DNA area is very complicated. I generally see tons of evidence saying there is no evidence of BOM DNA with Native Americans and only a very few apologist wiggling around that. I at this point I can't go get a PhD in this topic, so I am fine ignoring the chatter and come back in another 5 or 10 years and see what the discussion is on this.

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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by Roy » 27 Sep 2017, 10:14

Interesting.

I would think that there are fairly big differences in DNA between a Norwegian and a Hebrew.

I would assume that the Cohen haplotype is found is such small quantities or small number of samples to be statistically negligible. Otherwise I think we would hear more about it (as evidence that Hebrews might have been here in pre-colonial days). However, I willfully admit that I am no expert in this field and may be wrong.
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DancingCarrot » 30 Sep 2017, 09:39

This may be showing my extreme ignorance of the topic, but are there any societies that have stories/oral traditions regarding Christ descending from the sky? To me, that would be the biggest indicator of historicity of the BoM. I think I remember of other things mentioned in the BoM not being found in either North or South America, at least not in the time frame that the book indicates (steel and other metals, horses, chariots). However, wouldn't a Christ story make it through somehow, if it had happened where people think it happened?
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by gospeltangents » 30 Sep 2017, 11:37

I would think that there are fairly big differences in DNA between a Norwegian and a Hebrew.
That's what I thought too, but no. Ugo said the differences between Asians and Native Americans is slight, even after 15,000 years of separation.
are there any societies that have stories/oral traditions regarding Christ descending from the sky?
A lot of older apologists tried to claim this (like making parallels with Quetzalcoatl) , but it is generally untrue and hasn't been claimed for a few decades.
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DancingCarrot » 30 Sep 2017, 13:18

gospeltangents wrote:
30 Sep 2017, 11:37
are there any societies that have stories/oral traditions regarding Christ descending from the sky?
A lot of older apologists tried to claim this (like making parallels with Quetzalcoatl) , but it is generally untrue and hasn't been claimed for a few decades.
So there is no evidence for Christ, or even a revered prophet claiming to be from another part of earth, visiting any North or South American societies? That right there would make it difficult for me to follow any DNA findings because isn't that what is touted as the major part of the BoM? If it didn't happen, then why try to prove anything else is real/historical/linked through other means?
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Sep 2017, 15:27

Add in the possibility that Sariah was Egyptian (not likely, but certainly possible, given Levi's obvious connection to Egypt), and that there surely was some Egyptian mixture in the post-Joseph years that eventually ended in slavery (especially with the younger sons), and that Lehi and Ishmael both were descended from Joseph's sons (the tribe that probably intermingled most with the Egyptians), and the DNA issue gets even trickier.

Add in solid speculation that the Jaredites were of Asian descent, that the Lamanites intermarried with "Native Americans" (which had to have happened, given the population numbers in the BoM) who probably were of Jaredite and/or other Asian descent, and that the Nephites then intermarried with the Lamanites/Native American people after the visit of Jesus (which is stated explicitly in the BoM) - then follow that with 1,700 years of continued dilution (including European conquering groups and continued intermarrying to this day) . . .

When you read the BoM as history (whether or not it actually is) and analyze the issue in that light, there simply is no proof one way or another, for or against. We simply don't know enough about some critical elements.
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