DNA Science Challenges LDS History
Article ID: DM520
By: Bill McKeever
This article first appeared in the News Watch column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 1 (2004). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org
DNA evidence is offering a serious challenge to the Mormon claim that Native Americans are descended from Hebrew colonizers who came to the Americas around the time Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians hundreds of years before Christ.
Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, claimed that an angel named Moroni appeared to him when he was 17 and told him of golden plates buried in a stone box near his family’s home in Palmyra, New York. The angel also told Smith that the plates contained an “account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.” Smith retrieved the plates, and his translation of them was published in 1830 and titled the Book of Mormon.
The title page of the Book of Mormon states it is “an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites — written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel.” The main theme of the book revolves around the descendents of a prophet named Lehi, who was a descendent of the biblical Manasseh, according to Alma 10:3. Nephi and Laman, two of Lehi’s sons, play principal roles at the beginning of the book. Nephi is described as the righteous son of Lehi while Laman is described as wicked. As a result of his evil behavior, Laman and those who followed him were cursed with dark skin. Many Mormons believe Native Americans are the dark-skinned descendents of the Lamanites.
Several anthropologists, biologists, and geneticists have challenged this assumption, but probably none have gained more notoriety in recent months than Thomas Murphy, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. What makes his claims so intriguing is that he is a member of the Mormon Church.
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