The first question I have is this: In my youth I studied biomedical science and something has developed now that was in its sub-infancy when I was a student. It is mitochondrial DNA which no one was sure even existed until fairly recently.
It is not in the nucleus. When I was in university we were told there was RNA, but not deoxyribonucleic acid in the cytoplasm, it was all in the nucleus; only RNA was known to be in the cytoplasm. People began to speculate that you could have in the mitochondria of cells, mitochondria like the power houses of the cells where the work is actually done, the biochemical level, it’s where metabolism takes place for the most part, we have a form of DNA that is non-mutative because it does not go through the nucleus. And it will go from generation to generation to generation as long as you get a good strand.
The Book of Mormon has the fundamental teaching of two ancient Jewish tribes arriving, one about 600 B.C., in North America or Central America. They had a war – Nephi and the tribe that became known as the Lamanites – and the Lamanites won. The sinful tribe had won. And God punished them for their sin by darkening their complexion, making it reddish – red Indians. Yet they defeated the tribe who’d been faithful, for some reason, so the book of Mormon tells us. This is fundamental to their beliefs. When Jesus said, “I have other sheep not of this fold”, (Jn. 10:16) He came to North American Indians.
Anthropologists, however, have long speculated that North American Indians were people who crossed the Bering Straits from Siberia. They were Asians who came from Siberia down via Alaska, Canada, and into North America, and from there to Central and South America. Some people like Thor Heyerdahl tried to prove they could have crossed the Atlantic, but essentially the anthropologists disagreed.
One of the benefits of mitochondrial DNA is its capacity to conclusively prove ancestry. There were a number of Mormon scientists, specifically microbiologists and biochemists, who were well-versed in biogenetic engineering who are interviewed on a video I watched about DNA and the Book of Mormon. Some of them had been apologists or advisors to the Mormon apologetics society called “FARMS” at Brigham Young University, but these were Ph.D. scientists, all Mormon. And they were interviewed and they looked at the evidence independently. These Mormon scientists said the following: “Mitochondrial DNA absolutely and conclusively proves from all the specimens taken all over Canada, North America, United States, Central and South America from dozens of Indian tribes that these people have the same mitochondrial DNA as people from Siberia.”
There is nothing in common with Semitic DNA. We can look at Jewish DNA, we can look at Sephardic-Jewish DNA, Yemanite-Jewish DNA, we can even look at Arab DNA, Persian DNA, other Semitic DNA, but the mitochondrial structures are different. The nucleotides just don’t add up, The sequence is completely – completely – of another strain of people. Racially and ethnically it cannot be the case. And these Mormon scientists said on the basis of the mitochondrial DNA evidence that they can no longer accept the Book of Mormon as factually true in its historicity. Some of them work with mitochondrial DNA in their own secular work all the time. A few of them have been honest enough to say there have always been questions about the personal honesty of Joseph Smith, who of course was accused of being a swindler and was killed in the aftermath of an alleged swindle in America back in the 19th Century.
My question to you, my friend – and I'm speaking to you as a friend, not as an enemy – if Mormon scientists, if Latter-day Saints scientists – some of them from Brigham Young University – people who are involved actively in microbiology about biogenetic engineering have considered the mitochondrial DNA evidence and have arrived at the same conclusion as non-Mormon microbiologists, that the anthropologists are proven right and vindicated, that North American Indians cannot be from an ancient Semitic people who were Jewish who were called “Lamanites”, but in fact are descended from the same people who presently inhabit Siberia, how can you expect me to believe the Book of Mormon when your own scientists say its credibility has been made into Swiss cheese?
I'm just asking a question. I invite you to watch the video. If you’re in Utah, go to Salt Lake City to the Lighthouse. You’ll find it in the yellow pages or on the Internet. They’ll give you a copy of the video. If you really want to see a copy, e-mail us. If you’re a Mormon, e-mail us; we’ll make sure someone meets with you and shows you a copy.
That's my question. The belief that the Lamanites were ancient Jews and there were people arriving about 600 B.C., how can you possibly say that is correct when the mitochondrial DNA says otherwise and your own scientists – Ph.D. scientists – so acknowledge it? It’s a fair question, the believability, the plausibility of the fundamental premise of the Book of Mormon.
You claim to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let’s see what the last thing Jesus Christ said in the New Testament because as Mormons, of course, you believe in the King James Bible. The last thing Jesus said in the book of Revelation 22 is that anyone who adds to this book, God will add to them the plagues that are in the book. (Rev. 22:18) Now that does not only apply to the book of Revelation, Moses was told the same thing – “Do not add to the words”. (Dt. 4:2) First Corinthians 4:6 says the same thing, “Do not exceed what is written” in the Judeo-Christian Bible. And of course in Matthew 15, Jesus said the same thing, “Do not teach other doctrine other than what’s there, they’re the inventions of men”. (Mt. 15:1-14)
The Book of Mormon must add to the New and Old Testaments in order for the Church of Latter-day Saints to exist. And fundamental to it, it claims this story of the Lamanites being ancient Hebrews. But your own scientists say otherwise. Please answer my question: How can you expect me to believe something your own scientists do not?