CES Letter Core Question
Do we know the DNA of those mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Should it be Asian DNA?
DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelites but rather from Asia. Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon, shortly after the DNA results were released?
...the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indiansto
...the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians
CES Letter, Page 11
The recent criticisms against the Book of Mormon and DNA are better classified as propaganda rather than scientifically based discoveries.
In order to imply that DNA studies contradict the claims of the Book of Mormon, critics embrace extremely narrow interpretations of the Book of Mormon text that are not justified. The criticisms break down when the the claims are placed in an historical setting.
Recent research published in the National Geographic by Brian Handwerk declares: "Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome." Click Here
Another separate study demonstrates that DNA that was present as recent as 500 years ago on the American continent could be completely lost in today's indigenous inhabitants. Researchers "sequenced 92 whole mitochondrial genomes from pre-Columbian South American skeletons dating from 8.6 to 0.5 ka [8600 to 500 B.C.E], allowing a detailed, temporally calibrated reconstruction of the peopling of the Americas in a Bayesian coalescent analysis. . . All of the ancient mitochondrial lineages detected in this study were absent from modern data sets, suggesting a high extinction rate." (Bastien Llamas, et al, "Ancient mitochondrial DNA provides high-resolution time scale of the peopling of the Americas," Science Advances, [Accessed April 6, 2016].)
Critics who demand that Lehi's DNA be detectable today possess unrealistic expectations and are uninformed. See also Bec Crew, "Girl mummy reveals how early American lineages were wiped out by European migration."
Scientific studies also indicate that the Americas were populated with so many people in 600 BC that the DNA of one family would have changed nothing.
Despite the claims of several publications, no genetic studies have been designed or performed to identify the original DNA genome of the Lehites. Consequently, claims that they never inhabited this continent are based upon speculation.
It is impossible to accurately identify the DNA sequencing that could be used to positively identify individuals of Jewish ancestry despite its easily identifiable social grouping through the ages. The Lehites were not Jewish, and discovering their exact genome would be even more difficult.
Lehi’s colony comprise perhaps two dozen members. That they might have had a detectable impact in the gene pool already existing on this continent is naïve.