In this episode, three geneticists respond to the LDS Essay “Book of Mormon and DNA Studies,” and to Apologist Michael Ash’s article entitled “The DNA Challenge to the Book of Mormon that Fizzled.”  The respondents are as follows:

12011706_10207551637653918_1539143381_oJamie Hanis Handy has a B.S. in Zoology and an M.S. in Biological Science Education and Genetics from Brigham Young University. She is the mother of 5, a pianist, a photographer, and a lover of science, truth, and sensibility.  Jamie is the author of a recent article entitled “DNA and Mormonism.”  Jamie also has a general topics podcast called “The Cereal Podcast.”

Simon Southerton completed a PhD in plant science at the University of Sydney in 1989. For 15 years he worked at CSIRO, Australia’s national research organization, where he Unknown-1
led its forest genomics team. In 2014, in partnership with his brother Bob, he formed a CSIRO spin off company named Gondwana Genomics. Gondwana provides DNA testing services to tree breeders to enable them to select better trees when they are seedlings. Simon first encountered DNA research on Native Americans and Polynesians in 1998
while serving as a bishop in Brisbane, Australia. In response to Mormon apologetics in 2004 he published Losing a Lost Tribe, which explores the origins of Amerindian and Polynesian DNA and its implications for LDS beliefs arising from the Book of Mormon. Simon is married to Jane who is an English teacher/librarian. They live in Canberra along with their five wonderful offspring.  Simon’s blog on DNA and Mormonism can be found here.

Eric Fairfield has a Ph.D. in moleular biology from State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is currently EricFairfieldfounder and owner of Cognitive Architectures for Learning, a company that understands cell by cell and synapse by synapse what learning and memory are and how to build devices from this knowledge. Eric has also run a number of church courses and seminar series bringing together science and religion. He is the proud father of a female nanotech physicist. He is also a geneticist and biochemist with expertise in genes and their enzymes across many organisms. When there is time, Eric is a swimmer, photographer and chef.


  1. Bob September 16, 2015 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    I had a run in with Michael Ash years ago. I have no use for the guy. His level of arrogance is frustrating to one’s senses. His logic is wearisome and fuzzy. I don’t think it matters what evidence there is to the contrary, he and his apologetic ilk are all the same and reject all claims other than his argument that there may be some evidence, “someday”. The Church has to be true because he couldn’t survive outside of the Church and it’s culture.

    No group migrates to another place and makes up new names for their cities. They use what they’re familiar with.

    it’s a tactic of the Church is to make things so complicated that people give up trying which they can do because of the money they have.

  2. Bob September 16, 2015 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    If the only thing holding the apologetic defense together is a reinterpreted BOM then they’re in big trouble, that dog ain’t gonna hunt for very long. The book very plainly talks about them being alone. Isn’t that even why they brought Ishmael and his daughters? There’s some verses that also talk about the land being preserved for them. And then as pointed out it fails to mention this existing population even once. And how did they become the “nephites” and “lamanites”? So they were assimilated into these existing groups and then also became the leaders of those groups? How’d they do that? Wouldn’t there have been issues? Language, culture, religion, etc? How’d they overcome these problems? Book fails to mention any of this. This honestly seems like an even harder problem than the DNA discrepancies to begin with.

    • RJ January 11, 2020 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      I must must say that questions are better than answers. Read Immanuel Velikovsky. World in Collision and other books.
      Science is only in the finite moment of history with no reference point. DNA has no history much less reference points. Good luck seachers

  3. Mike Ash September 17, 2015 at 7:01 am - Reply

    Just listened to this podcast and was a bit surprised by the content. I don’t question the credentials of the guests in their respective fields but I was astonished at how much they proved some of my points in my own article. Jamie, who dominated 95% of the conversation, is, unfortunately, a master of misreading what people write. It’s obviously hard to know if this is intentional or unintentional (so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt) but at the very least it shows the irony of Dr. Southerton’s comments near the end—when he basically attributes the work of faithful apologists to seeking evidence to confirm an already determined conclusion. Jamie’s comment about my entire article being pejorative is also nearly humorously ironic in light of this podcast discussion.

    While the three geneticists certainly did spend some time addressing the genetic issues, it seems to me that a much greater portion of the time was spent addressing their views of how Mormons _should_ read the Book of Mormon. Again, ironic, in light of what I said in my article: “critics try to attach the DNA argument to the beliefs (not doctrinal beliefs, mind you) of early Latter-day Saints….” I’m curious if Southerton would now is disavow his earlier stand that if the Lehites truly were a small incursion into a larger existing population that their markers could now be difficult if not impossible to detect.

    Jamie’s misreading of my article creates an army of strawmen that I would think were illusions in her mind only if not for the fact that they seem to be shared by the guests (who, it seems more likely, simply like to agree with each other—just like they do with all the suggestions John Dehlin fed them—because they have a common enemy). For the record I don’t discount science or DNA science _at all_. I embrace science and believe it is _big_ part of God’s truth. I believe it is science (and of course the interpretation of BoM passages) which have, and will continue to, prove these guests wrong on the DNA issue.

    In order to create a caricature of my views, I’m accused of throwing past prophets under the bus and re-writing the entire BoM history. Seriously? What a simplistic and naïve way to understand the more complex issue (but, of course, actually trying to understand my views don’t help in the creation of the more easily clobbered strawman). That’s like saying that those who reject the ancient cosmology of the earth with its pillars to hold up the waters of heaven are throwing Moses and OT prophets under the bus. It’s a silly argument and it serves no other purpose other than as a rhetorical stick with which you can strike faithful apologists (and I should remind these guests that they, too, are apologists for their beliefs).

    Jamie and Simon claim that the BoM has a “plain” reading. Is that really the statement an educated scholar wants to make about a text which is supposed to be a modern translation of an ancient text? Do they really believe there is such a thing as a “plain” interpretation of a document produced in another time? The “plain” obviously refers to the _doctrine_ and I’m astounded that Jamie and Simon are unable to recognize this distinction.

    Jamie’s misinterpretations nearly everything I wrote, from the rejection of science, to the claim that it’s too complex for the average Mormon to understand, to the claim that the fictional dialogue intimates that DNA is fiction, to the “surprise” that anyone who has questions implies that the person is a moron (and the list could go on). It’s obvious that she recreated my article in her own image just so she could beat it down. This, of course, is her “Mormon Code”—she’ll reinterpret what I say so that it fits what she wants it to say, not what I actually said.

    It would actually be a fascinating psychological study to go through this entire podcast, point by point, and note all the comments of LDS critical confirmation bias, hyperbole, over generalizations, and logical fallacies, but I it wouldn’t have any impact on the arguments of these critics, so it would be a waste of time (and I have more things on my plate)—but it would be a fun project.

    Well, this was a drive-by post. I work LOTS of hours, and I’m not sure if I’ll have time to respond to all the haters that will now pile up on my comments. And many years of engaging critics has proven that such debates are a waste of time because people tend to stand their ground regardless of which side they’re one. I feel better, however, knowing that at the very least, I could respond to the fact that I feel misrepresented and that I don’t reject science, don’t think it’s too confusing, and don’t think that people are morons for asking sincere questions.

    • Greg September 17, 2015 at 10:27 am - Reply

      Well Simon is right. Apologists do start with the conclusion (the Church has to be true, the Spirit told me so as well as the prophets) and then try and find evidence to confirm it. From my readings the apologists never have good answers. Nothing more than grasping at straws and trying to muddy the waters.

      • Ed Goble September 17, 2015 at 1:15 pm - Reply

        I, being an apologist, have no issues whatsoever making the admission that Apologists start out with a conclusion and find evidence to confirm it. Why not? Why should we not? I admit that we base a lot on faith until it is upheld by research and evidence. But to the degree that I can find evidence that it is available, its stupid to think that I would not try to. I don’t expect that I will find evidence for everything I believe and know by the Holy Ghost. The true problem lies not in the admission of this on the side of apologists, which we ought to do, conceding that it is the case. We are certainly not objective in the sense of being willing to accept defeat just because in some areas we don’t have as much evidence as we would like. It is that the Holy Ghost is the sign post that says, if you follow this direction far enough, and not give up on it, and are patient, eventually, something will be found that is suggestive that it is the case, even if it does not prove it. The lazy and unproductive and impatient and faithless mindset of the critics is the true problem here. Because they (1) refuse to acknowledge when apologists DO have evidence that actually IS suggestive that their point of view is plausibly correct. And (2) they declare victory prematurely and impatiently when the evidence is not before us that gives PROOF that it is so. (3) They forget that God was the one that told us in the Book of Mormon in the first place that we are intentionally in a state where he intentionally withholds evidence from us to see what we will choose. That doesn’t mean that he magically withholds it, but rather, it is done by naturalistic means. Nevertheless, the effect is the same. The effect is such that the faithless, with their lazy and impatient mindset will lead themselves to forbidden roads, because they refuse to have faith. And the apologists, with enough work and patience, actually will find evidence. It is true that the Church’s truth claims in their nuances have to be adjusted when we have the full picture. This doesn’t mean the Church isn’t true. It just means that where before, we only had an indication that something is some way, but with more evidence, it comes into sharper focus, and we start to know in what way things are actually true, while the original claim is still basically upheld. This means it is a this AND ALSO that proposition, not a this OR ELSE that proposition. In other words, just because one thing is true, it is not true to the exclusion of the other fact. For example, it is true that the Book of Mormon is historical, and it is also true that native Americans have Asian DNA. This is a more agile mindset than trying to say that it is this OR ELSE that. And often, the difficulty in finding or recognizing evidence for something lies in the complexity of the evidence where multiple things are true at the same time that makes it difficult to tease out the facts of the matter. And so, those with lazy and impatient mindsets are not willing to work with complexities or longer time frames for getting results. They want results now, and they want it to be simple, and they are unwilling to consider that neither of those desires will yield proper results. If we applied this kind of logic of wanting things now and wanting things to be simple, we would never have come up with the standard model of Physics and the understanding of quantum physics, because we would have been too stuck on Newtonian ideas. So what I’m saying here is not limited to Mormon issues at all, but is quite common in science, and is usually the case when a certain theory doesn’t overturn the previous theory entirely, but only modifies it in its nuances. When things are modified in their nuances, then the complexities of the deep truths start to manifest. And often, Mormon claims lie in deep truths with complex data sets that cannot be treated with the mindset that the critics wish to treat them with, because it is not proper to get real results. So to all of you I say, of course Apologists start out with a conclusion and look for evidence to support it, because we are interested in real results, and we don’t have an impatient or lazy mindset like some critics who want it simple and want it now.

        • Erick Kuhni September 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

          I almost agree with Mr. Goble’s point…except that he probably doesn’t treat every ghost story on the planet with the same intellectual deference that he provides to Mormonism. From a standpoint of strict empirical logic he’s correct that the proofs against Mormonism are not conclusive, but using his argument I could just as easilly defend a case for haunted houses. Simply because a large corporate religion advocates a ghost story to support its claim for divine authority doesn’t mean that the ghost story should be taken so seriously. Yes, not the most scientifically robust dismissal of the Book of Mormon, but I also hold ghost stories to higher standard of proof than the evidence of “you can’t prove it aint so” and “see, we have a book”. Personal spiritual testimonies are just outside the domain of reasonable debate. I can’t refute a testimony any more than someone can demonstrate one, so everything from there is entirely reduced to speculation of the “is-so is-not” variety. So, I agree that I’m not compelled to give Mormonism the same kind of intellectual opportunity that I would give to quantumn mechanics…but then again, why should I? And sbould I also entertain haunted houses with the same kind of intellectual honesty? If not, then why?

          • Ed Goble September 18, 2015 at 1:29 am

            That’s right. Why should you? If that is what you choose, then that is what you choose. Miracles and manifestations of the Spirit are what are offered to those of faith. If you don’t want that, I’m not telling you that you should. I’m saying that for me, I personally have the communications with the Spirit and the manifestations that keep me in Mormonism, and that drive me to find evidences for it. I’m telling you what compels and drives an apologist to defend the faith. I never told you what you ought to do. If you don’t find Mormonism more compelling than a haunted house, I can’t help you with that. I can only tell you that the promise of the Holy Ghost is the same for all, manifesting according to the spiritual gifts of each person. Choose ye this day. But its pretty clear already what your choice is.

          • Erick September 18, 2015 at 9:59 am

            Just a comment to Ed Goble: Ed I’ve read your response to my comment to you. While I ultimately disagree with you and am in no way compelled by your claim to have “communication with the spirit”, leaving your epistemology in a place of spiritualism is not something I will debate or challenge you on, I’m satisfied with your response. I don’t share the priority you place on spiritual matters, but I don’t begrudge you for your take on that.

        • Robert M Hodge September 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm - Reply

          I am glad for your admission that objectivity is not your strong suit. But does not your methodology seek to ignore any evidence that does not support your faith based hypothesis? A true scientist makes a hypothesis then does everything in his power to prove it wrong. You take the opposite approach, an approach guaranteed to give you the answer you want.

          • Ed Goble September 18, 2015 at 1:42 am

            The manifestations of the Holy Ghost are not a faith-based hypothesis. They are miraculous signs that follow an exercise of faith.

            The domain of science has different rules, and doesn’t cross over into Spiritual things and never made that claim. Science is a tool for me to know truth, as far as it goes. Its limitations are pretty clear in that it has nothing to say for or against God. It has nothing to say for or against the things of the Spirit. This is why you are mistaken when you say that somehow I ignore evidences. I ignore no evidences at all on any side. The conclusions of science have no bearing on Spiritual things, because they are all about empiricism. This is why Atheists make a mistake when they try to conclude somehow that science, being non-theistic somehow can be used as a tool to prove their atheism. Atheists that try to say that a thing that is non-theistic such as science proves athiesm are just as bad as Intelligent Design theorists that say that somehow science can prove that there was an Intelligent designer. Neither side can use science to say anything about God or anything about spiritual things.

            So, if you say that somehow there is evidence against my belief in the Book of Mormon historicity, for example, because science has not proven that there were horses yet, my response is to say, yes, science has not proven there were horses yet, but that is what science said about it. That means that it has no evidence to prove there were horses. It really has nothing to say about the existence of horses, yet you take it as proof positive that there were none. You can choose that if you want, but all it says is that there are no scientific evidence of horses the way apologists would hope. Therefore, I make no such claim.

            Rather, I come to a religiously based conclusion that there were horses. That is religious. I never said science had anything to say about it. And I especially never said that a Tapir can be a candidate for Book of Mormon horses. All I’m saying is that a religious conclusion leads me to know there were horses. I made no scientific claim about it. Therefore, I never said there was any scientific basis for that claim, and never appealed to science for that claim in the first place on that point, nor would I ever pretend to do such a thing.

        • Marcus September 18, 2015 at 10:23 am - Reply

          Mr. Goble, there is too much to respond to in your long statement. However, a few points of interest. When one makes an assertion that faith must be used to prop up beliefs that are “plausible” then, under that premise, one must also accept as truth all other scenarios that may be equally “plausible.” It should not, and indeed cannot be used to verify one’s personally preferred story over any other equally plausible tale. The acceptance of “all that is Plausible” would likely not be your preferred stance — as it opens the door to many other belief systems and stories. Plausibility has become the favorite tack of apologists lately – to pretend that at some future date when more information is known, the validity of that faith will be proven. (e.g., horse bones will show up in BofM lands). So firmly believe whatever we tell you is true. After over a century of excavations (including those sponsored by the church) not one shred of evidence has appeared to validate the BofM as an historical document. These excavations have been extensive an broad. While it is “plausible” that miraculously some new dig will reveal a small contained civilization that proves the BofM, it is not at all probable (and not doctrinal) – a stance held by all but mormon apologists (even the church is no longer digging anywhere). This is the conclusion that the scientists have reached. However, science by nature allows admission of new data when proven, and should that day come, however unlikely, the findings would reflect the data and not the data skewed to fit a desired scenario.

          Your assertion that those who do not believe as you, and that have made statements finding the church historical claims as riddled with faults are somehow “lazy” is nothing short of dishonest. You well know the extreme research, years of effort, and extent of studies that have been made in arriving at these conclusions. Even the church, which once excommunicated people for revealing some of these things now publishes a version of it in their essays. For you to repeatedly refer as “lazy” to those that find the data shows an alternate history than the sanitized church version is completely discrediting to your assessment. Notwithstanding the years of study that were undertaken in these things, it should also be mentioned the personal costs in delving into the history and doctrines. Many many many former true believing mormons have experienced dramatic personal tragedy through the proving of the skeptics points through church sources. The depths of personal struggle, mighty prayer, fasting, temple attendance, and crying of the soul from its deepest places are known most poignantly by those that have discovered the untruthfulness of some church claims. Unable to reconcile the found facts with church stances, some have experienced divorce, family break up, disfellowship, excommunication, shunning, loss of friends and family, experienced deep depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks and the like. AND STILL, they chose their personal integrity and truth over tradition. It is not a lightly undertaken path done while watching TV with a soft drink at hand. Do you think that if it had been an easy matter to just stay with the tradition that they would not have done so, and saved themselves the wrenching of heart and family??

          You rely on professions of the Spirit that speaks to you in confirming, in spite of definitive evidence to the contrary, that that which you wish to believe will one day be found true. It does not take much of a search to locate and demonstrate peoples of various religions and sects that profess identical faith claims. Indeed, the bombers that flew planes into buildings no doubt possessed similar zeal (and now each have 72 virgins at their disposal). Would you confirm that they were guided by the Spirit in executing divine will since they acted upon spiritual conviction not unlike that you profess? There are some interesting studies that have been performed researching human emotions. “Feelings” are what the church has latched onto as “the Spirit.” I do not believe that they are synonymous, though this distinction is rarely made in church. This equation of warmth = Spirit may not be the case at all as it can be explained through simple biochemical processes. Otherwise, how may one explain that verisimilitude of the “warm fuzzy” of “the spirit” and the same feeling that I had at a Led Zeppelin concert? Or that people with opposing religions profess the exact same experience. It would seem that this is a very unreliable method of determining truth alone, and has surely led people into grave mistakes (Jonestown suicides). Still, you have the prerogative to follow your beliefs as you choose. Truth will, of course, continue independent of what you or any other person prefers it to be. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes not so right. Faith may make one feel good, and compliment one for upholding the things that they already wish to uphold. But that is no measure of it’s objective truthfulness.

          I would encourage you in the future to surely stand for what you believe. But name calling only diminishes the believability of your own message.

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm

            It is not dishonest to state that people that refuse to work toward a testimony and say that God just never answered them, or who just give up in the middle of the process are indeed lazy and impatient. Sorry. It is impatient to give up because it didn’t come one one’s own timing. It is lazy to not put in the work and effort necessary. It may be somewhat of a judgement, and it may be offensive. Nevertheless, unlike other apologists who love to be politically correct and sugar coat everything they say to people that they disagree with, I have long lost patience with ex-Mormons and others a very long time ago, and have no time or patience myself for people like this who make excuses about their lack of follow-through in their testimony-getting process, and I will not give them a pass on it. They have to do the same thing that the rest of us had to do if they want results. And they can’t say, I gave it such and such amount of time. Because if they did, and finally decided that it was never coming, then they gave up. Furthermore, there is no excuse for assuming that just because a burning never came, that that was one’s spiritual gift through which the Spirit would deliver the answer, so they gave up, impatiently, before they even sought to find out in which way the answer would come.

            You see, you say that we believe that a feeling is a measure of objective truthfulness. No. It is not a measure of objective truthfulness at all. It is simply a sign post on a journey which has no end in mortality. It is an indicator of the way to further light and knowledge, and if one of the stop-off points for someone that ends up in Mormonism eventually happens to be that they go THROUGH Evangelicalism to get there, than that is the path that the Lord led them through in order to get there, in order for a preparation period. Even Mormonism is not the final destination. The Church of the Firstborn in Eternity is the final destination. Mormonism is a temporal, mortal waiting spot where one makes covenants in preparation for more.

        • Rude Dog September 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm - Reply

          Man. I’m lazy, I’m impatient, I’m too dumb that I hadn’t heard of the extent of Joseph’s polygamy until a few years ago from the three new enemies of the church (Google, Wikipedia and Youtube). I should have known about many things but was lazy. Evidently all those early mornings in a drafty apartment on my mission, reading the Book of Mormon over and over didn’t count. All those years of teaching, of leadership, of service, of temple attendance was too lazy. All my study was for naught as I evidently missed the most important stuff of peep stones and Helen Mars. You know, whenever I read or hear from apologists like yourself, there is always a bad vibe in the air. Perhaps it is dawning on me. I don’t deserve to be a member of this church. Myself, my wife, our kids, our advanced degrees and our finances are too un-sophisticated for this church, and to truly follow Jesus lies seemingly beyond our ability. Stay your course Ed, for you’re a chosen spirit, saved for the last days to bless all mankind, a Saturday Warrior. You are wheat, we are chaff. Sometimes you just gotta know when to throw in the towel.

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

            It is indeed a lazy mindset to refuse to work toward finding evidence that is faith promoting and saying that such things cannot be found. It is indeed an impatient mindset to say that because one does not have evidence for a point right now, that one will give up on Mormonism. It is indeed an impatient mindset to say that because one has not had a burning feeling, or because one’s burning feeling manifest on the Muppet Show like John, that the Holy Ghost never manifests through one’s true personal spiritual gift, which may not be a burning, but rather some other type of manifestation. It is a lazy person that refuses to find what his gift is through which the spirit does communicate with him if it so happens to NOT be the burning of the bosom. If the burning of the bosom is what John experienced with the Muppet Show, apparently it wasn’t his spiritual gift, and he gave up. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Sorry if it offends you. I can’t sugar-coat it.

          • Gary in Oregon September 21, 2015 at 2:08 pm

            Well, Ed, sounds to me like that’s exactly what you’re doing: sugar coating what’s naturally quite bitter on its own merits.

            Geeze! This [whatever] does not look very faith promoting. Let’s sugar coat it until we convince ourselves that it’s not what it appears to be.

        • Doubting Thomas September 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

          For God’s sake man use paragraphs!

        • Rob Hastings September 18, 2015 at 10:02 pm - Reply

          Mr. Goble,

          What you are getting at is, in my opinion, the last stage of Mormon philosophy where the earthly is earthly and the heavenly is heavenly and never the twain shall meet. This was the issue that Thomas Aquinas dealt with during the last years of his life. There is an excellent (and brief) biography of him written by G.K. Chesterton that addresses your current epistemology. Granted, Thomas Aquinas belonged to that “Great and Abominable Church, the Whore of Babylon”; but, to the best of my knowledge, he had no unkind things to say about Mormons; therefore, I don’t think that you would take a personal affront to his scholarly dissertations. Nevertheless, if Thomism proves too strong a wine for your sensibilities, try the pagan Aristotle or the post-modern Ayn Rand. They had nothing unkind to say about Mormons, either; but they have solid reasons for reconsidering the epistemology which you are attempting to espouse. Compare their writings with Joseph Smith’s and then tell me who you think practices better mental hygiene
          In all sincerity, I admire you as an apologist, far more than I admire your ” prophets, seers, and revelators” (with their insipid, generic, testimonies delivered, not to the world, but to an ever decreasing Limited Geography in the Utah-Southern Idaho region).
          At least, you and the other apologists have some passion: You will not be the lukewarm spittle ejaculating from the Almighty’s mouth.
          BYU is not throwing good money after bad by funding any research in the field of B of M archaeology. Your prophet’s spoken testimony in regards to Joseph Smith can only be called “damning with faint praise”. As for the brethren: you are left with Dallen Oakes (who is universally regarded as a pompous ass) and Jeffrey Holland (whose cognative disconnect is so severe that he spends hours at time fretting over which pair of socks to put on in the morning). Good God Man! The ship that would carry you to godhood is listing! Your captain and crew have put on their life vests long ago. Does this not bother you in the slightest?

          • Rob Hastings September 19, 2015 at 1:25 pm

            Having just read what I wrote last night, I wish to apologize to Elder Holland and to all of you for repeating an internet rumor in regards to his mental health for which I have no evidence that it has it’s basis in fact. There is enough legitimate material out there in the public domain with which to disagree without resorting to innuendo. It was dishonest of me and again I sincerely apologize.

            Rob Hastings

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm

            I never said never the twain shall meet. I am saying that they don’t meet yet, and so, they are in the domains where they are for the moment, and every person individually does the best he can with them. It boils down to choice to believe or to not believe as one part of one’s epistemology, not some overriding lack or preponderance of evidence on either side that proves one’s assertions.

        • Gary in Oregon September 18, 2015 at 10:21 pm - Reply

          … And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things …

          The insightful video by askreality (linked below) shines a bright light on the primary method upon which Mormons and prospective Mormons are instructed to rely as their primary Truth Detector. This includes, of course, Mormon Apologists:

          The starting point for Mormon Apologists is to unquestioningly assert the a priori, self-evident, foundational claim as follows:

          “The burning I feel in MY bosom automatically trumps any burning YOU might feel in YOUR bosom, in the event that what MY burning bosom tells ME differs from what YOUR burning bosom tells YOU.”

          No disrespect intended, but why is YOUR bosom an accurate Truth Detector, and the bosoms of literally BILLIONS of your fellow human beings on Planet Earth are Defective Truth Detectors? By what magical process did YOUR personal bosom become Calibrated as a bulletproof detector of God’s Ultimate Truth?

          You are basing your Apologist deduction processes from Square One on the presumption that your personal bosom is Pre-Calibrated by God to never lead you astray (unlike those unfortunates with uncalibrated bosoms who do not realize they are running around with bosoms that tell them lies).

          OK. Let’s continue …

          I commend Ed Goble for admitting the obvious: that Mormon Apologists start with the conclusion (based on a calibrated bosom) and thereafter cherry pick available evidence to support the foregone conclusion. In addition, data/evidence that would lead to a different conclusion cannot be considered, because the conclusion is already predetermined. Or else, contrary evidence must be massaged and transmogrified until it can be construed to suggest the desired meaning, regardless of how tortuous or pretzeled the train of thought has to be to get there.

          Confirmation Bias is unfortunately a deeply ingrained, natural human behavior. We are all guilty a lot of the time. Critics of Mormon beliefs are certainly not immune to Confirmation Bias.

          Having said that, a generally useful maxim suggests that the simplest conclusion supported by an uncomplicated interpretation of available evidence has a higher likelihood of being correct than strained, obtuse theories based on nuance interpretation of overtly contrary evidence.

          Even allowing for Confirmation Bias, the foundational truth claims of Joseph Smith consistently FAIL the simple, uncomplicated interpretation of available evidence test. The Book of Mormon FAILS for a long list of reasons, including a simple interpretation of DNA. The Book of Abraham FAILS for not being a translation of anything. The nine versions of the First Vision all FAIL for contradicting each other. The revisionist (back dated) history of the restoration of the two Priesthoods both FAIL. Joseph FAILED the Kinderhook sting. The list goes on …

          The job of Mormon Apologist is a horribly challenging occupation. However much they pay you, Ed, it’s not nearly enough for the brain abuse you must endure to generate the appearance of success for your Mormon audience.

          Ed, I’m sure some of your comments impugning some of the assertions of the panelists as logical fallacies have merit. Your bottom line, foregone conclusion, unfortunately, is ultimately based on your Calibrated Bosom. You’ll have to admit that is a true statement, that your Testimony is your foundation.

          Mormonism is based on Calibrated Bosoms being superior to Uncalibrated Bosoms.

          How to tell the difference? The answer is a No Brainer:

          Calibrated Bosom: The Church is True

          Uncalibrated Bosom: Something else (Not the Church) is True

          • Bob September 19, 2015 at 9:11 am

            Well said. To me the bearing of one’s testimony and not considering any other opinion is akin to pretending you’re dead when you’re attacked by a bear. Those with strong religious viewpoints are trying to save their entire identities. To consider the possibility that the Church isn’t what it claims to be is a horrific discovery. The ides of “cherry picking” and skewing information, the mental gymnastics required to believe in the Church is crazy making which is why most rank and file believers don’t give any real thought to their beliefs. Jeremy referred to them as “chapel Mormons”. They read only things that support the narrative regardless of how ridiculous the information is. And it’s part of why people have such a difficult time leaving the Church particularly when they have their entire families involved and it’s the dominate culture. Great comment.

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

            Actually, my spiritual gifts through which I get the manifestations of the spirit to me are not usually anything to do with my bosom. There is no calibrated bosom with me.

            “They” don’t pay me a dime, and I’m sure Mike Ash, who I’ve talked to in person several times, is horrified at some of my answers. But there is a lot we do not agree on ourselves, nor would he consider me an apologist of the caliber of FAIR anyway, since I haven’t been a part of FAIR since like 2011 because of my disagreements with the management. So, what I say, I say on my own, and there is no “they.”

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm

            Oh, I forgot to mention “Gary in Oregon.” You say that the Book of Abraham isn’t a translation of anything.

            My own personal site that apologists like Mike don’t agree with demonstrates how much I disagree with you on that, as well as how much I even disagree with the Church on that when they say that the papyri were not translated by Joseph Smith in the new book of abraham document put out by the Church in the gospel library on


            I disagree with the LDS Egyptologists so much on this particular point, that I had to actually do this research on my own. And I’m not saying that you would agree or that even someone like Robert Ritner would agree with me. Nevertheless, you will notice that my core evidences in my research happen to be the FORENSIC EVIDENCE of the Papyri and the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. Even if you or anyone else does not agree with my conclusions, it says a lot that a case could be made apologetically at all for that, where no other apologist seems to want to go.

          • Brian Dalton September 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm

            Allow me to add…

        • Jaasiel Rodriguez September 19, 2015 at 11:40 pm - Reply

          The thing is the church’s claims are not so nuanced. If you were a hispanic growing up your whole life justifying the polygamy and racism of a foreign authority that claims to have divine privilege to the knowledge of your ancestry, makes you give priority to their pioneer culuture because it is an intrinsic part of what got them that privilege, then see them start to change the claim, it’s not AT ALL nuanced. It’s the way of life of a person, of a people. Just the same you feel a great discomfort at the thought of your doctrine not being true, at it being attacked, so do we hispanic lamanites, at least the honest ones seeking for truth, feel a great discomfort at the thought of our heritage not being what we were taught by an authority asking you for your faith and life’s devotion.

          If the truths are so nuanced, then why are you so up in arms about what is being said against it? Is it perhaps because it is at the core of who you are? That is the problem: these things are at the core of our being.

          That is the shame of the whole thing: you are so preoccupied with maintaining the cohesiveness of your culture and it’s narrative -what you consider truth- that you’ll disregard the experience of other peoples. You take that simple sentence in the introduction of the Book of Mormon and treat it as nuanced, failing to see an entire history of 150 years of racially based remarks and decisions by Mormon authorities about hispanics. If it were so nuanced, why has the church simply not sent out a letter informing all members and missionaries to stop treating hispanics as lamanites? Why does it try to just let this problem sweep itself under the rug? For an organization concerned deeply with proclaiming the truth, it sure is willing to stay quiet on these minute changes.

          Will it ever apologize to their own hispanic membership some of the things it has said and done? That they will have turn white in order to be glorified? I guess by the voice of your own apostles, no.

          Further, though in a softer tone, your anology to the scientific revolutions in science is flawed. You don’t seem to understand exactly in what part of a scientific revolution you are in. You are in the midst of a crisis. Except, in a religion, it seems one can disregard the crisis because of subjectivity. Unfortunately, that does not mean that the decisions of people in their religions will not affect others.

          You ought to read Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The actual historical, sociological, and anthropological processes of changes in science are better presented therein.

          Even more, advancements in theories have not been simple modifications of nuances in scientific theory. The paradigm of quantum mechanics is a sureal change from the assumptions of classical Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian physics. We aren’t talking about a few nuanced changes in the mathematics. It would be more analogous to saying that the church accepts that indeed Joseph was wrong, and that old paradigm of lamanites will be abandoned for a newer one.
          So go on, and hold to your paradigm, but when your rejoicing in your peculiar traditions causes others to treat you backwards, when you insist on holding to the old paradigm, analogous to a practitioner of the phlogiston theory amongst statistical physicists, it has been your choice.

          I leave that on your conscience.

          • Rude Dog September 21, 2015 at 11:42 am

            Beautiful. Profound. Thank you.

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 11:25 pm

            Jaasiel, I spent two years of my life dedicated to delivering the message of the gospel to your people. I love your people a lot, and am happy to have had that opportunity.

            I feel no discomfort whatsoever about the overturning of doctrines. There are very few things that I feel that I need to defend. I feel no discomfort in the overturning of young earth creationism in favor of old earth. I feel no discomfort in the overturning of global flood for a limited flood in America, with Noah having a sea voyage to the coast of Mesopotamia, rather than a mountain. I feel no discomfort when things are overturned at all that were previous assumption that were not well-based. The faith-based things that I’m committed to are very few, and the rest are entirely up for modification if necessary. There are very few things that have to be historical to maintain historicity. And in their details, those things are very negotiable in many cases. And Joseph’s conception of truth is not the end of the restoration. It is an ongoing thing that does indeed overturn even some of Joseph Smith’s cherished assumptions. We honor him as the prophet of the restoration, but he does not have the perspective we have. Nevertheless, the core of his testimony is the standing reality, and it will continue to be so.

            You are wrong about the overturning of previous theories, because you are overstating it. It is not as you say at all. You have a profoundly mistaken conception because you follow Kuhn and old theories like his. If you are truly as erudite as you make yourself out to be, you ought to expand your reading to that of scientists that are more up to date.

            I leave THAT on YOUR conscience.

            Only some revolutions are as you say, very few, where they are entirely overturned in the very beginnings of things. Many are indeed modified in their details, but continual modification is the case in nuances and details in a great many theories in science today. Seldom now does it happen the way Kuhn suggests.

            “Will what we now know about the universe today still be correct in a thousand years? While these ideas will remain theories, tested and transformed by further data, we now have a picture of the universe that may very well stand the test of time–and further discoveries. Most people think this is impossible, because scientific theories always overthrow the previous theories, and this new one will also someday be overthrown. This misunderstanding is due to a famous book of the 1960s, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, which gave many people a profoundly mistaken impression of how science works. Kuhn basically argued that scientific research proceeds for long periods of time within a certain manner of thinking (a “paradigm”) until too many pieces of evidence have turned up that are unexplainable and even paradoxical, and then suddenly there is a great leap (a “paradigm shift”) and the old theory is abandoned for a new theory that explains much more . . .”

            “This was indeed what happened in the Copernican Revolution, and Kuhn, whose first book was on the Copernican Revolution, effectively assumed that all scientific revolutions are like that one . . .”

            “Kuhn was wrong. There have been several revolutions in physics since Newton, but none of these has overthrown the previous theory.”

            “Revolutionary scientific theories do not have to overthrow their predecessors except in the earliest stage of a science when a scientific theory is replacing earlier ideas that were not well supported by evidence. Once a field of science undergoes the revolution that creates for it a solid intellectual foundation–like the one Newtonian mechanics gave physics, or Darwinian evolution gave biology–that foundational theory an stand forever. Science then progresses by encompassing the foundational theory in a new and larger theory that explains things beyond the ken of the older theory. But unlike Khun’s description, an encompassing theory does not overthrow the older theory–instead, it defines the limites within which the older theory is reliably true. It puts the old theory in a box and tells us where the walls are.” (The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos by Joel R. Primack, Nancy Ellen Abrams, pp. 24-25)


          • Ed Goble September 23, 2015 at 8:50 am

            I would be more cautious with Kuhn (who’s work was from the 1960’s) if I were you. It has been soundly defeated and rebutted by more recent PhD’s of science, most notably by Primack and Abrams in their book “The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos” published in 2007 It is not I that holds to the “old paradigm.”

          • Ed Goble September 23, 2015 at 9:23 am

            Primack and Abrams write: “Will what we now know about the universe today still be correct in a thousand years? While these ideas will remain theories, tested and transformed by further data, we now have a picture of the universe that may very well stand the test of time–and further discoveries. Most people think this is impossible, because scientific theories always overthrow the previous theories, and this new one will also someday be overthrown. This misunderstanding is due to a famous book of the 1960s, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, which gave many people a profoundly mistaken impression of how science works. Kuhn basically argued that scientific research proceeds for long periods of time within a certain manner of thinking (a “paradigm”) until too many pieces of evidence have turned up that are unexplainable and even paradoxical, and then suddenly there is a great leap (a “paradigm shift”) and the old theory is abandoned for a new theory that explains much more . . .”

            “This was indeed what happened in the Copernican Revolution, and Kuhn, whose first book was on the Copernican Revolution, effectively assumed that all scientific revolutions are like that one . . .”

            “Kuhn was wrong. There have been several revolutions in physics since Newton, but none of these has overthrown the previous theory.”

            “Revolutionary scientific theories do not have to overthrow their predecessors except in the earliest stage of a science when a scientific theory is replacing earlier ideas that were not well supported by evidence. Once a field of science undergoes the revolution that creates for it a solid intellectual foundation–like the one Newtonian mechanics gave physics, or Darwinian evolution gave biology–that foundational theory an stand forever. Science then progresses by encompassing the foundational theory in a new and larger theory that explains things beyond the ken of the older theory. But unlike Khun’s description, an encompassing theory does not overthrow the older theory–instead, it defines the limits within which the older theory is reliably true. It puts the old theory in a box and tells us where the walls are.” (“The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos” by Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, pp. 24-25)

            And from Wikipedia:

            “Joel R. Primack (born in 1945) is a professor of physics and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is a member of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. Primack received his A.B. from Princeton University in 1966 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1970.”

            And from

            “Nancy Ellen Abrams is the co-author, with world-renowned cosmologist Joel R. Primack, of The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos (Penguin/Riverhead, 2006) and The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World (Yale University Press, 2011). She has a B.A. in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, a law degree from the University of Michigan, and a diploma in Mexican law and international trade from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City, and she was a Fulbright Scholar and a Woodrow Wilson Designate.”

          • Jaasiel Rodriguez September 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm

            Lol, Nancy Ellen Abrams is an atheist.

            Ok. I’ll read up on this. Gimme some time. I haven’t looked into new developments since doing philosophy of science for my undergrad.

          • Jaasiel Rodriguez September 25, 2015 at 8:59 pm

            In the meanwhile, Ed, could you do me a favor?

            Could you call your converts that are my people and inform them that you feel that their status as descendants of Israel is currently in question? There’s a good probability that they are not among the people spoken of in the Book of Mormon.

            Also, bear to them your witness that the change in the doctrine is a normal process that shows us the true limits of God’s doctrine.

            Furthermore, if they aren’t sure to believe you or not, could you please show them the changes in the Book of Mormon so that they can see how the church is in the affirmative concerning this change. Also, if there are any doubts, please, could you show them that there is an inspired pattern that the Church has followed in terms of correctly following these limits. Do this, of course, through example.

            In fact, show them how Church leadership is an excellent example of this process. Especially when it comes to the process of understanding ancestry. Examples here would be great too.

            If you want to bear your testimony to some of my friends as well, please do. I’m sure they would be edified.

            Lastly, just-for-fun-trivia, could you let them know that it’s cool that the Angel Moroni on top of the Los Angeles Temple is really only figurative. We’re not sure about its limits. I mean you know, yeah, it was designed to look vaguely Aztec, but that’s fine. I mean, you know, it’s not like we should take race that seriously.

            Why not paint Jesus black? It’s only the limits of our perspective, right?

          • Jaasiel Rodriguez September 25, 2015 at 10:49 pm

            Also, lastly, Ed, lest I forget, please make sure to let them know that any witnesses that they ever received that affirmed that they are descendants of Lehi, and therefore Israel, are possibly just signs on a path that they must travel in order to understand where they are going, God wants them to walk with an uncertainty regarding their past, and so they just have to be patient.

            Don’t forget, however, to remind them that they have adopted the heritage of the pioneers, which you know with a surety, is a beautiful and powerful reminder of the faith to move mountains; they ought to celebrate it with you at the next pioneer day.

        • David Gilgen September 29, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

          I believe in the New England Patriots. I watch Tom Brady and Belichick every Sunday. Feel a burning in my bosom as they destroy opposing teams like a steamroller crushing replica Rolex watches. I know ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’ that they are true and that they will repeat their Super Bowl championship this post-season.No waiting around for evidence to confirm my faith and belief in the Patriots. I tune in to Direct TV and enjoy the week by week miracle that is the NFL elite. Unashamed devotion and commitment. Notwithstanding Spygate and Deflategate.

    • Joe C September 17, 2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

      Most of us are not haters. We are seekers of truth. And I, for one, and appreciative that you would spend some time with us.

      But Mike, don’t disengage. Instead, help us understand.

      I will admit… I fall in that camp of people who look at the lack of evidence (whether it be DNA, linguistic, archeological, etc., etc.) as pretty compelling (additional) proof that Joseph Smith, Jr just made it all up.

      But we are truth seekers. Most of us are just trying to figure out what that truth may be. And like Malcolm X, most of us are willing to change our opinions and ways to support whatever truths we may find.

      Finally, for those of us who don’t believe “literally,” it is the Mormon Church that pushes us away. It’s not the other way around… as most believing Mormons try to suggest.

      • Ed Goble September 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm - Reply

        If it were true that you were seekers of truth, you wouldn’t have a skewed epistemology where you are a denier of the things of the spirit that are indicative of truths that are not easily discerned. If it were true that you were genuinely seekers of truth, then you would not be denialists of the manifestations of the Holy Ghost that are indicative of things that you say are not so. You would have a balanced epistemology between the two indicators of truth: the Holy Ghost AND science. And you would not allow science to trump the Holy Ghost, but rather you would be more careful with the indications from the Holy Ghost that there is more to the story than what current science says. This is the problem. You say all say that apologists are dishonest because we don’t share your epistemology. Wrong. We just simply disagree with you that we ought to have an epistemology like yours, because we care about what the Holy Ghost manifests, and we have a balanced view. It is your side that has the unbalanced view and the flawed epistemology. And so, the two sides will never agree on this, because there is an impasse here about a disagreement on that epistemology. You do not value what we see as an indicator of truth, while we value both what we see as indicators from the spirit, as well as what you value from science. So it is completely unsurprising that we would conclude different things than you, and try to find an explanation that takes both indicators and tries to see what picture they paint. This is not dishonesty. This is disagreement on epistemology and opinion. Just because you say that our epistemology is flawed doesn’t make it so. Just because you deny the manifestations of the Holy Ghost doesn’t make it so. And so, that is genuine disagreement.

        • Matt Harrison - /u/mindofmateo September 17, 2015 at 5:52 pm - Reply

          >If it were true that you were genuinely seekers of truth, then you would not be denialists of the manifestations of the Holy Ghost that are indicative of things that you say are not so. You would have a balanced epistemology between the two indicators of truth: the Holy Ghost AND science.

          I don’t see how this reasoning has much merit, because it’s so easy to turn the tables: “If it were true that you were genuinely seekers of truth, then you would not be denialists of the contradictory evidence to your claims that requires no emotional attachment. You would have a balanced epistemology between the two razors of truth: falsification and observation.”

          And what of those who claim other Mormon sects are the true succession of the restored church, using this same methodology (fasting, prayer and scripture reading, sacraments, temple attendance, tithing, etc.)?

          >You do not value what we see as an indicator of truth, while we value both what we see as indicators from the spirit, as well as what you value from science.

          I don’t want to get trigger happy with fallacy accusations, but this brings to mind something like the middle-ground or compromise fallacy. I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think it has to do with value, rather repeatability and falsification. You decry science because it won’t accept your epistemological method.

          However… some methods are better than others. If this wasn’t true, I expect there would be a continual net flow of conversions to one particular faith, or at least a pattern of populations generally flowing/converting in that direction. But this isn’t the case. It’s mostly led by geography and offspring.

          >Just because you say that our epistemology is flawed doesn’t make it so.

          In the same vein, just because you say that the Holy Ghost witnesses of truth doesn’t make it so either. We don’t merely _say_ this is so, it seems to be the case empirically by most accounts when actually measured.

          Ultimately, I think the chasm between the points of view is simply that one epistemology requires you to believe it to be true in order for it to work. I’m bringing out buzz words again, but that’s confirmation bias. If you have to believe it to be true in order for it to work, how can that system be deemed as reliable?

          Also, as a friendly aside, it’s easier for people to engage in discussion if you use paragraphs. :)

          • Ed Goble September 18, 2015 at 1:51 am

            Actually, it is known to be reliable as one gets more and more into the spirit to the degree that you know something to be true with perfect knowledge, as the Book of Mormon describes to the degree that finally, you have the Second Comforter experience where you physically touch the nail prints in the hands of the Savior and know that Mormonism is literally true by first hand empiricism. Until that day, you are on a path of indicators. This is indeed reliable, because you become more and more in tune with this influence. When one has the Second Comforter experience, then one knows with the perfect knowledge, and all these other experiences lead up to that point.

            I’m not a fan of Denver Snuffer, but I believe he is right about one thing that one can achieve this in life. And so, I await the Savior to prove himself to me once I prove myself to him. This is reliable, because it happens. And so, if you want empiricism, then Mormonism happens to offer it, just not until one has been faithful enough and had faith enough to have earned the right. And so, this is why I am willing to make the sacrifice to get to that point. This is why it is reliable, because the promise is real and tested.

          • Bob September 22, 2015 at 11:33 am

            Deniers of the Holy Ghost? Unless of course it wasn’t the Holy Ghost at all.

            I go to Church, someone tells a touching story, I feel some emotion and am told that’s “the Holy Ghost” telling me this or that.

            I go to the movies, seem some scene that I find touching emotionally, and that’s just a story and nothing special about it.

            I can’t see a difference or feel a difference. Only the self appointed prophets seem to think they know more or better than all the rest of us.

            Does DNA matter?

            Taylor, it’s only 1 nail in the Mormon coffin and there are dozens more.

            What you’re missing here Taylor, do you really think the God of the Universe cares that you know a secret handshake?

            The information age is going to be the death of such organizations of the past century. Fraternal type organizations…Elks lodges…Shriners…etc Religious groups…memberships are in decline as people just aren’t interested in secret clubs with a narrow, world view and sacrificing their lives today for the hope of glory in the next life.

            Not only does the DNA not match up, and not artifacts or documents to substantiate the story, but news has just come out of Joseph using a stone in a hat to “translate” the Book of Mormon?? Are you guys so drunk on the Koolaide that you can’t see what it is you’re defending?

            And all this time wasted trying to prove the existence of the Easter bunny, you’re missing out on a whole world of magic.

        • Ron September 17, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

          Ed, don’t you think manifestations of the Holy Ghost are so unreliable and vary so much from person to person and hour to hour that it can hardly be considered a reliable epistemology? An epistemology based on the Holy Ghost is not objective at all, but instead relies solely on the perception of a seeker of knowledge. I prefer an epistemology based on objective, verifiable fact that can change as new facts come to light, not some warm feeling and intuitions that vary in their message from Christian to Muslim to Buddhist to what have you.

          • Ed Goble September 18, 2015 at 2:02 am


            The communication with the Holy Ghost is supposed to be subjective because it is all about personal effort.

            And no, it is not just warm feelings, but varies according to the Spiritual gifts of each person. And warm feelings in any religion shows that God is in any religion. God often uses other religions to lead people to good paths. Experience has shown that many religions are preparatory steps into Mormonism for many people, where God led them to those religions first for a variety of reasons. So just because God approves of other religions from the standpoint that he wants people to join them to get them on good paths, and they feel the Holy Ghost, doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Holy Ghost ultimatly will lead people to Mormonism if that is the path that God wants them on. The problem with your perception is, many people are not supposed to be Mormons at the present time, because God needs them somewhere else. He will blind them to keep them from joining Mormonism prematurely. And certainly he will give them signs that they are doing his will when they are in other religions and it is his will for them to be there. So I fail to see anything contradictory or unreliable in what you are saying. As an example, I was told by the Holy Ghost that I shouldn’t try to convert my wife’s aunt who is a Catholic. I had a dream manifesting that she is Catholic for a reason, and God wants her there.

            Ultimately, however, she will come to Mormonism when it is her time, and the Holy Ghost will lead her here. Roger Keller who is a guy that gave a FAIR presentation is a good example of someone who knew by the Holy Ghost that he was supposed to be a minister of another religion before he was led to Mormonism when it was his time. It is unsurprising that other people feel good and feel led to other religions.

            I would never suggest that everyone ought to be Mormon right now when it is not their time to be. On the other hand, the time will come for all when they are finally led at appropriate times in the Lord’s timing.

          • Ron September 21, 2015 at 11:56 am

            Nice try, Ed. You completely failed to respond to the idea of the Holy Ghost being a failed epistemology. If anything, it can only serve to confirm subjective truth. Such a method for gaining objective truth will not work reliably.

            If, in fact, the Holy Ghost is eventually leading all to Mormonism, then it has a dismal track record when view with respect to overall numbers of the human family that has accepted Mormonism as the one true gospel. Your view also invalidates the sincere and honest efforts of those that have come to an understanding that the LDS church is not what it claims to be. Again, an incredibly unreliable and completely subjective take on reality and truth. It is difficult to take seriously someone so doxastically closed.

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 2:37 pm

            I never failed to respond to it. You just disagree with my response.

        • James September 17, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

          My dear Goble, I’d like to try my hand at apologetics and obfuscation…if all I do is add to your name another ‘b’, and move an ‘e’ and an ‘l’, and add an s. Voila, proof that you’ve been on the wrong side of history. Gott mit uns eh? NHM NHM NHM. Do you see now? It doesn’t matter how you dress your epistemology, left or right, when you’re with and dressed like the emperor.

          Your holy spirit would have me slit my throat, disembowel myself, and tear my tongue out by its root. Your holy spirit offers me flaming swords, racism and large malls. Your holy spirit is a former day, a poisoned well, and a bloody meadow. Your spirit offers up my alices’ unto destruction and second-class servitude. No thanks, I can see what your spirit is. Your holy spirit is the Jabberwocky. I have proof.

          Faithfully yours,
          (secret name on file)

          • Ed Goble September 18, 2015 at 2:08 am

            Flawed human beings are not proof of a flawed God. We shall yet see if I’m on the wrong side of history. I’m unconcerned about when Mormonism has been on the wrong side of history with all its flaws. I am not in it for its other flawed humans. I’m in it for what it does to me and how it ultimately transforms me into something better, because I’m the flawed human that needs transformation in MY life. I don’t care about John D. Lee’s or Brigham Young’s flaws. And I don’t particularly care about Masonic blood oaths in the temple, because if nobody can see their spiritual significance, you are truly blind. They show the reality of Spiritual death.

          • Marcus September 18, 2015 at 10:32 am

            Ed sure seems to know in amazing detail the wishes of God beyond that which is expressed in scripture or by the leaders of the church. How is this so?

          • Tory September 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

            Great episode and discussion, thank you. And perfect response James.

        • David Macfarlane September 17, 2015 at 11:09 pm - Reply

          Is the Holy Ghost a legitimate and accepted form of epistemology? I don’t think so. To you, maybe, but beyond you, not so much.

          • Ed Goble September 18, 2015 at 2:13 am

            If that’s how you feel David, I don’t necessarily believe that I would be able to persuade you anyway. My purpose is to try to persuade other Mormons to keep the faith more than it is to try to convince people that are already fallen off the cliff to somehow get back. If God will help you back, if you happen to be an ex-Mormon or something, I suppose God has a plan for you, but I don’t particularly expect that I would be able to say much to you to convince you in particular of anything anyway. I’m just saying that there is an epistomological difference between us, and it is an honest difference. And so, I didn’t expect that my words would be of any use to you.

        • David K. September 18, 2015 at 5:26 am - Reply

          There are deceptive spirits in and over Mormonism. Most members think it’s the Holy Spirit.

          • Marcus September 18, 2015 at 10:35 am

            AHHH, so Ed says,”If that’s how you feel David, I don’t necessarily believe that I would be able to persuade you anyway. My purpose is to try to persuade other Mormons to keep the faith more than it is to try to convince people that are already fallen off the cliff to somehow get back.”

            So when Christ asks Ed to leave the 90-and-9 and go in search of the 1, his response is, “F–* OFF!” ha ha ha ha ha

        • Doug September 18, 2015 at 2:43 pm - Reply

          Unfortunately, using “the spirit” as an indicator of truthiness is historically unreliable. If you take the issue of blacks and the priesthood, the argument of the spirit as a source of truth falls flat on its face. In their rebuttal of Dr. Lowry Nelson’s views, the First Presidency (arguably recipients of the Second Comforter), in spite of their absolute confidence in the righteousness and correctness of their doctrine, were absolutely, undeniably, indefensibly wrong. There is a sense of arrogance and smugness in the way they subtly threaten Dr. Nelson’s salvation in his assertion that blacks should be viewed as equal children of God. In this instance, I am confident in labeling Dr. Nelson as a seeker of truth, and the mouthpiece of God, or first presidency, as an obstacle in that search. How then, do we trust “the spirit” when those that we count on to know the mind and will of the lord can be so wrong?

        • Peter September 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm - Reply

          There are many serious mistakes about your spiritual method of epistemology. The most convincing damage for me is, that you don’t trust the METHOD yourself!
          If there are someone who testifies that the Holy Ghost confirms him with an overwhelming feeling, that the Pope is the only authorized key-holder of Gods holy kingdom on earth (the catholic church), you will probably believe that the person had just some fuzzy (confusing and misinterpreted) feelings. If someone reads the Book of Mormon and testifies that she felt bad about it (many missionaries experienced that) you may think that she didn’t read, was duped by Satan, is biased, is lying or is misinterpreting her feelings. If a Muslim is testifying about the breath of Allah that confirms that the Koran is the only true book of God you don’t think it is a general truth. If a member says that he should live polygamy……. and so on…..
          If you say in a relativistic point of view it doesn’t matter because everyone is a bit true you are not trusting the method on the same level as science and I wonder what you are talking about.
          Most faith systems are using the method of trusting your personal spiritual feelings as an epistemology while ignoring the method if it is connected to other systems that errors your faith system because it would be a clear system error.
          You should explain how to brake the circular problem to know that you can trust your feelings in getting knowledge of general truth while you don’t trust the feelings of others that use the same method. It is up to you to break the circle – not me! Until you can’t do that, please don’t say that people who are not accepting the spiritual method are skewed, dis-balanced  denialists .
          Sorry English is not my native language but I studied a bit about epistemology. It is a very wide subject in philosophy but I see that you have a lack of basic understanding. Your method is over and over discussed in philosophy (not only modern philosophy).
          As an apologetic you should know much better – specially when becoming arrogant about it. I (as the whole theological and philosophical world) would be very impressed if you would be THE ONE who gives a reasonable explanation how we can trust our inner spiritual experiences to proof general knowledge on the same level as other methods like the scientific method with a general way of proof with different tools.

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 1:42 pm

            I never claimed to be the ONE about anything. I know that God is leading people to Mormonism eventually after he has led them to all the other places they need to go for whatever reason. If you think it is circular, I guess you aren’t on some spiritual track to spiritual knowledge, because whether the spirit takes one to Mormonism or not, God is leading them where they need to be at the moment without giving them further light and knowledge about an ultimate future for his plan for them. So I would not conclude myself that if someone receives the amount of light they need at a certain moment in time to be where God needs them to be is circular at all, rather, it gets every child of God where they need to be. If you personally do not want to profit by that process for your own journey back to the Father, that is your own business. I know what I have chosen.

          • Peter September 22, 2015 at 3:18 am

            You are talking a lot about knowledge. Can you give a definition about what you mean by that? I have the impression we are talking about something different. I was talking about (general) objective knowledge and not subjective knowledge. You should know the difference when you are teaching others about different methods of epistemology.
            As an apologist you should know the meaning of circular. And you are using circular reasons a lot in your “spiritual epistemology claims”.
            You answered to my post in avoiding all my questions, claims and accusations! What are you trying to tell me?! Do you think it is convincing anyone? Do you want to confirm me? No, seriously I would like to hear general explanations for your general claims and accusations.
            Over the time I had really good and respectful conversations with intellectual believers and even professional theologians over the time (Catholics, Protestants and even a Muslim theology student). In most cases it was very friendly and I tried to understand there explanations. I respect that people believe in something even though I think they don’t know anything through their inner experiences than the spiritual experience itself, they have no valid and general explanations and I think that faith can be even very harmful (subjective claim that would need a much more differentiated explanation).
            But if someone is starting to become arrogant with her/his faith-claims I think they really need to explain. I think arrogance, aggressiveness and even violence (I don’t accuse you for the last two) is an expression of argumentative helplessness.
            If you would just say, I personally believe that the Holy Ghost helps me to understand things better – I would still disagree, maybe I would ask you how that works FOR YOU, but I would not call it arrogant. But you made some general claims (“it is known to be….), accusing others of denying the Holy Spirit as a very good source of knowledge etc. I would expect general and valid answer for such strong accusations and a general explanation. If you can’t do that please don’t blame others not using your “spiritual epistemology” in a rude and arrogant way.

            “I never claimed to be the ONE about anything.” If you are interested in epistemology you would know that there is a big lack in theologian epistemology. The debate is as old as modern philosophy and even much older. There had been a lot of trials to overcome that epistemological wall. Decartes tried (not water proof at all for such a brilliant thinker), Kant gave up about it, and so on.
            Most theologians I know are aware of that. Most say, that there can never be a general answer but a “personal enlightenment.” The way to go around the problem is not really convincing either, but it shows me that there is an understanding about the epistemological limits in terms of objective knowledge.
            Anyway, if we are talking about objective knowledge it has no meaning what you subjective know. If you are using general terms it makes no sense when there is no objective knowledge. That is the reason I said I would be very impressed if you would brake that epistemological wall because nobody did until today.

          • Ed Goble September 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

            Interesting. I don’t trust the method myself? I don’t think so. For a Catholic, there is no such thing as keys, so he is not a “key holder.” He is just the guy in power. And the Lord would certainly want a catholic to be in subjection to the powers that be, for the duration that he is a catholic, the same as anyone is in subjection to the powers that be in government or whatever else. Then later on in his existence when he is shown the way into Mormonism, he will be given that knowledge that he needs at that point in time.

            Arrogant? I don’t think so. I’m just making statements about how I see things, and I have no desire to coddle people that make excuses, apologists or critics or anyone else. Other apologists make excuses for why they should deny the evidence for the Sensen Papyrus and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, for example. Critics make excuses for why they should not have to exercise faith, and make themselves out to be victims, when the choice is theirs to make. There is no excuse for lack of faith. It is a character flaw, and I will not sit here and tolerate that type of behavior and give it a pass, any more than I would tolerate my three year old having a tantrum, which is a character flaw. Until he grows up, it remains a character flaw. There is no excuse for lack of listening to the Holy Ghost and taking it seriously. People that ignore it have been told that this is the way that they will receive this type of knowledge, and they are left without excuse. So I say to you that refuse to have faith, grow up.

            Circular? I don’t think so. There is nothing circular about being anchored in with a certain thing that anchors you to a certain viewpoint and that anchor becomes things that your perception of reality is formed around. If you do not subscribe to the Mormon thought process, you don’t have that anchor, and you would perceive it as circular, which is where the problem lies. In other words, its your problem, not mine, because you have a character flaw where you refuse to acknowledge the thing that has been given you for a sign. So don’t speak to me about circularity. The problem does not lie in some fact that it is circular. It lies in you as the person that doesn’t agree with it, and so, you perceives it as circular. It wasn’t me that used the word knowledge with this type of thing. The Book of Mormon uses this wording, where information is conveyed from a higher source by way of a miraculous manifestation through a spiritual gift. If you don’t like it, go take that up with the Book of Mormon, not me:

            Alma 5:46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

          • Ed Goble September 23, 2015 at 8:59 am

            Yes, James. I can give a definition of knowledge that I’m speaking of. Oh, and yes, I do know the difference. Your attempts to minimize the significance of it doesn’t change it. There is nothing circular about an anchor that this type of knowledge gives. It just puts the person without that anchor at a disadvantage to a degree without their own anchor. That’s not the fault of the person that has the anchor. The problem lies with the fact that one of the people involved lacks an anchor. The person with the anchor can’t do anything for the person without the anchor. The person without the anchor can only help himself. You can make accusations of rudeness and arrogance if you like, but I have long since stopped trying to tiptoe around and coddle apostates and apologists that make excuses. I’ll let the Book of Mormon to the talking (Alma 5:45-46). If you dispute it, then it is you against the Book of Mormon definition of revealed knowledge:

            “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?”

            “Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”

          • Darren September 24, 2015 at 2:54 am

            Ed Goble,

            As an RM and a pretty much life long member, i know exactly what you are talking about when you reference the spirit – the same thing about 30% of the members have some degree of confidence in testifying to. The Spirit:

            A feeling of peace and a sense of right that comes when i read the scriptures. An inner warmth and confidence in my direction being based on truth. A flushing feeling through my body when i hear specific things pertaining to our mission and purpose or acts of charity or sacrifice that fills me from core to glowing surface with emotion, very moving. A collection of events that align to my beliefs and act as anchors to support my testimony.

            Now let me flip that and explain that the LDS membership is not even remotely unique in making these claims. They are made by a number of faiths in a mirrored fashion, further they are made by other LDS sects all claiming the same manifestations confirm their leaders as Prophets. You’ll note some of the names that confirmed they knew James Strang was a prophet and that his work of revelation was attested to by BOM Witnesses. In Islam, some of the groups share an identical sounding testimony of how they know for certain that the Quran is true and is the final word of God through his last Prophet Mohammed. They claim they feel filled with peace and overwhelmed by the poetic beauty of the book when reading it and contemplating it. This they describe as a highly moving experience, bringing them to tears filling them with joy.

            You may well say that ‘there is truth in many religions’, but they can rightly direct that charge at you too. When multiple groups swear that they have had directly comparable experiences all confirming the exclusive truth of their respective faiths, then it destroys an appeal to the spirit as a legitimate mechanism by which to determine final truth.

            Several weeks ago i travelled for a few hours with my son, to one of the largest cities in Europe (millions of people live there). Whilst in the city we went to a major store with six floors. On the 5th floor low and behold we bump into my Brother and his wife and their children. What might be the chances that my brother unbeknownst to me, had planned to leave his home town several hundred miles away, and visit the same major city as me on the same day, and enter the same store out of the hundreds of thousands of buildings in this city, and happen to be on the same floor at the same time?

            When one walks through the odds, considering the randomness, 365 days, all the possible cities, all the possible buildings and floors, in a city of millions of people, one realises that it is an astonishing coincidence. Such events simply happen. Members might under some circumstances chalk such events up to inspired or divine cause. They might filter out all of the many times answers to prayers do not appear, and see in such highly improbably coincidences moments of meaning that are simply not there. This is known as confirmation bias.

            We can see this when we look at the death rate in Utah, it is the same as everywhere else. There are some lifestyle factors that alter profiles for certain diseases, but equally, Mormons in Utah dies younger than the Japanese and the people living in the Mediterranean. Have they been taught a better word of wisdom by God, or does the randomness of diet just take effect?

            So Ed, your appeal to the Spirit has zero standing. As someone who lived this path, i can testify, it is self indoctrination. It is looking or meaning where none exists. It is in many instances the wilful self indoctrination.

            What really matters is what we can externally measure and test. This is why the evidence that science and history brings to the fore really determines whether Joseph Smith made it up or not. It really (unfortunately) is that simple. I’d love Mormonism to be true, i really would as it is simple. But as an adult i have to accept that according to all of the data, it simply isn’t.

          • Gary in Oregon September 24, 2015 at 7:00 am


            That is the most eloquently expressed testimony of the untruthfulness of the Restored Gospel I have ever seen in my entire life.

            Joseph lied.

            Thank you!

          • Peter September 23, 2015 at 4:50 pm

            “You can make accusations of rudeness and arrogance if you like, but I have long since stopped trying to tiptoe around and coddle apostates and apologists that make excuses.”
            I told you that arrogance, aggressiveness etc. is an expression of argumentative helplessness.
            You are still tiptoeing in avoiding answering me. Your few responses have no explanations at all. Instead of becoming rude and arrogant you should start to give resealable explanations!
            Ed Goble, I have absolutely no problem in having intensive discussions about serious topics. I think that you should not lose a respectful tone – specially when you have no answers.
            You should know what a circular reason is when using it over and over. And no, your anchor analogy shows that you are not knowing what you are talking about. If you know the difference about subjective and objective knowledge your responses make no sense.
            It really looks like you are not trusting the method of “spiritual epistemology” as I said. Come on start to explain your epistemological claims – I’m very curious about an intellectual coherent explanation! Thanks

          • Ron September 23, 2015 at 6:54 pm

            He has no explanations.

          • Rob Hastings September 26, 2015 at 12:04 pm

            “There is no excuse for lack of faith. It is a character flaw, and I will not sit here and give it a pass, any more than I would tolerate my three year old having a tantrum, which is a character flaw.”


            That’s what it finally boils down to: an appeal to authority, namely, your own (which by proxy you call ‘The Holy Ghost’). Now, I can’t speak for everyone here but I would bet that if people saw your son throwing a tantrum at the super market, irritating or not, most would chalk it up to him being a normal three year old. Now, I sincerely hope to God, Ed, that if I, as a complete stranger, presumed to walk up to your son and say “I will not tolerate your flawed character” that you would have the common decency to give me a piece of your mind, if not your fist.

            So I wonder if you might not be casting too wide a net, or using the wrong bait when trying to convince the disaffected. After all, there are more challenges to your authority much closer to home. There were and are many authorities in the church who are at odds with you as regards doctrine. Now, at first glance, it might appear that we are at an impasse. Fortunately, however, this is not without precedent.

            Might I suggest a modest proposal? Why don’t you challenge the brethren to meet at Temple Square at high noon. Have them build an altar on their end an you can build an altar on yours…… Well, you know the drill.

        • Joe C September 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

          Dang it, Ed. You hijacked my sincere comment to Mike and ruined it with your silly wall of text.

          It is incredibly presumptuous of you to ASSUME that my seeking didn’t include genuine and sincere requests to God for spiritual guidance. But since you asked, let me briefly share my story. My original testimony included a clear spiritual warning against the Salt Lake Church. I dismissed these warnings.

          Then seven years ago, I took a sincere look at the Church from a historical perspective. This started when I began studying the history in depth. You see, someone told me something that didn’t sit right. So I was acting as a minor apologist. I wanted to disprove this “anti-Mormon”.

          I spent the next 18 months studying Mormon history, reading scriptures profusely, fasting (several fasts lasted three days), praying, and pleading with God… begging Him to give me insights and knowledge.

          You know what I received? Eighteen month in I received my SPIRITUAL confirmation that Joseph Smith, Jr was a fallen prophet (at best) but more likely a fraud. The spirit clearly confirmed that Brigham Young was not a prophet. The spirit confirmed that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Inc.) is not HIS Church. And the Spirit confirmed that the Mormon Church is a cult… the wolves in sheep’s clothing that we are warned about in the New Testament.

          Again, the Spirit AND all evidence… it all clearly identified the Mormon Church to be a cult. It is not a Christian Church.

          The only good thing the Mormon Church has going for it is the good people at local levels (who have been deceived by the wolves). Fortunately for the Mormon Church, these people continue to try to do good, and they do their best to live as a good Christian. But they make these contribution because they are good people (in spite of the Mormon Church).

          • Ed Goble September 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm

            I’m sorry that you feel it is silly. I do not. Perhaps it is presumptuous, indeed. Nevertheless, you don’t need to be a mean guy about it. I do what I can when I read somebody’s text to interpret, just like the next guy does, and if I don’t read your mind, then subsequent messages clear things up, as they have done here. Some will agree with you that I’m silly. Some won’t. I believe I have as much to contribute as anyone, and as much ability to post here as anyone, unless John decides to start deleting my posts.

            My personal conclusion is that you are where you need to be at the moment, because that is where you have ended up, and you will remain there for as long as it takes to get you back in the process. And when you are sufficiently prepared for a journey back, then things will become more clear for you. I’m sorry that you have concluded what you have, but your conclusions are incorrect, judging from the standpoint of the grand majority of people who have received answers contrary to yours. I know you will not like this answer. It is, nevertheless, the answer that the consensus of Mormon testimony bearers would have. I have nothing else to offer you, other than, yes it is subjective because it’s supposed to be. I’m sorry you are where you are. But I think that you could take note that I have tried to be very honest in the things that I have said about acknowledging the lack of objectivity from Apologists, because indeed, we have chosen a side. I think that you ought to acknowledge that I have been very honest in saying that we as apologists rely on our own communications with the Spirit for our own conclusions as other Mormons do, and just because you say what you say, that it doesn’t change our minds that our own experiences and perceptions are any less true, and from our point of view. It is interesting that you are reliant on this very thing, so you claim, to get your own testimony that something is false. So do you still put stock in it? If so, I would make a couple of suggestions, although from your tone, you will think this presumptuous too. I would try to make sure that the typical burning in the bosom thing is the way the Lord truly answers your prayers, because that may not be your spiritual gift, as it is not for a lot of people. If not, the answer will come some other way you have not yet identified, and you misinterpreted it. Otherwise, you may not have gotten an answer and gave up too soon. And so forth and so on. As a former Mormon, it seems you know the drill, but I can only interpret you as somebody that hasn’t tried hard enough, or long enough. You won’t like that, but for some people, they have to wait a long time.

    • Kay September 17, 2015 at 11:19 am - Reply

      Hello Sir, I am not, nor ever have been a Mormon. I study New Religious Movements; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints among them. I also study the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and Scientologists among others.

      I listened to the whole podcast and must say that your response did not answer, in any substantive way, the objections or concerns raised by the 3 geneticists. Would it be possible for you to offer a detailed response to some of the major scientific concerns brought up on the podcasts.

      One area in particular is the view that genes do not simply disappear. Can you explain why no traces of Lamanite or Nephite genes can be found?

      As an outside observer of discourse between true believers who remain and those “apostates”who leave NRM’s, it seems that hostility becomes inevitable. If you were to head over to YouTube and seek out videos of JW’s…you would find the same contentious dialogue.

      • Jose Garcia September 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

        Twenty Lehites arrived in the new world around 600 BC where there were already millions of people living. In the first generation they have kings and wars, so many assume that they joined with local groups. The first 116 manuscript pages of the BOM are missing. Those pages covered the history of the people and the reign of the kings, so it likely is where details of this contact would have been included, if they were included at all. What we have covering that period is meant to cover religious issues not historical, as stated by the authors.

        Once Nephites and Lamanites are split, we don’t really have a record of the Lamanites. There’s no way of knowing what local groups they joined with.

        The Nephites join with the Mulekites, and we don’t know much about the history of the Mulekites, only that they’re language changed, so they may well have joined with other local groups. The Mulekites are described as being “exceedingly numerous” when the Nephites come in contact with them. One of the participants in this podcast says there’s no way a large population would make a minority their king (with some Italy analogy) but the people of Zarahemla make Mosiah, an outsider, their king.

        Anyway, after 4 Ne the Lamanites and Nephites are no longer related to the genetic Nephites and Lamanites of before because they had united and then split based on religion. The Nephites are destroyed. The Lamanites survive, mixing with additional local groups over the next 1600 years.

        As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for the DNA signature of the 20 original Lehites to be lost through mixture with the millions of indigenous people here when they arrived. At the beginning the Lehites would have represented something like 0.00001% of the population in the general area (Mesoamerica).

        Critics want to claim that this argument is all a response to DNA and that no one thought this way beforehand but John Sorenson and others had this perspective and wrote about it long before there were DNA challenges to the BOM.

        The participants in this podcast pretend to be scientific and focused on the science but they test a hypothesis (that in 590 BC no one was in America except the Jaredites and 20 Lehites) that is precluded by non-DNA evidence (we know there were many other people in America in 600BC that the podcasters don’t believe were Jaredites) instead of comparing a stronger hypothesis (that Lehites arrived to a Mesoamerica long populated by indigenous people). They do this because the latter hypothesis can’t be contradicted by DNA evidence and they really want to prove the BOM false.

        • Marcus September 18, 2015 at 10:45 am - Reply

          Um, excuse me. The 116 pages is where it tells about the super-population that assimilated the Nephites and Lamanites? Chronologically, the first 116 pages where presumably Lehi’s record. They would cover perhaps the twenty to forty years of his period. What about the remainder of the 1000 years? (loud gong sound here) No, you don’t get to present a “plausible” scenario without any evidence and pass it off as how it actually occurred. Particularly when it is contradicted within the text of the book itself. (The Mulekites and Jaredites are identified as non-indigenous transplants that God brought over – and were both assimilated INTO the Nephite/Lamanite peoples). Sorry. Next . . . .

          • Jose Garcia September 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm

            I did not say that the 116 pages is where it tells of assimilation. I said it COULD be. I said: “it likely is where details of this contact would have been included, if they were included at all.” I gave several other options as well.

            The first 116 manuscript pages would cover up to the first 500 years, not the first 20-40 as you claim. They were from the large plates and the beginning of the large plates that we have are around the beginning of Mosiah (possibly end of Words of Mormon, there is debate on this).

        • Darren September 22, 2015 at 12:26 pm - Reply

          Jose Garcia,

          May i suggest you listen to the podcast again. Even 20 Lehites would be detectable in the gene pool.

          Further, your entire argument in defence is speculation. Nothing in the BOM says the Lehites joined another groups – they took wives from Jerusalem, they landed in the Americas and no mention of meeting other tribes and mixing with them occurs at all.

          In fact it is generation in before we start hearing about another group from the middle east called the Jaredites. It is also vain speculation that the 116 pages would have neatly tied all this up with a bow on top.

          What we do know is this:

          1. Zero DNA evidence supports the BOM principle ancestor claim.

          2. American Indians have lived on the continent and survived their for more than 15,000 years – which blows out the global flood and baptism of the earth idea.

          3. There is no record at all of the Nephite culture or history anywhere on the americas.

          4. The history of Mormonism is loaded with historical issues, anachronisms, and moral challenges such that taken as a whole the DNA issue is just one in a long list of the now common Mormon Disproof/Member Doubt Crisis.

          • Gary in Oregon September 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm

            Speaking of the lost 116 pages … Joseph Smith’s BS cover up was his best effort at tap dancing around the obvious solution: Big deal. Why not just retranslate the Golden Plates and regenerate the lost 116 pages?

            Joseph’s dirt simple, true answer: “I cannot retranslate the 116 pages because they were not a ‘translation’ of anything. The Golden Plates do not exist. I made up the story extemporaneously from my imagination and have no hope of reproducing the story with a convincing level of detail. If the the lost 116 pages were eventually found and compared side-by-side with my ‘retranslation’, it would become immediately obvious that I am a fraud. I must cover my ass by making up a story about God being mad at me for entrusting the pages to Martin Harris. God refused to let me retranslate. The story I made up is ridiculous, but no problem. These gullible idiots (and their future progeny) will believe anything.”

      • Mike Ash September 17, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

        Kay, in the hopes that you are sincerely looking to explore the DNA issue, I would suggest something more substantive than my own article (which was obviously a brief few hundred words for a “popular” audience format). I should note, by the way, that I didn’t respond in a substantive way to the 3 geneticists because A) Much of their argument had to do with theological (instead of scientific) interpretations of the BoM text, and B) Because all of the scientific stuff has been answered over and over again by competent scientists without either side giving any ground (other than Dr. Southerton stating basically the same thing I argued which is that if the Lehites were a small incursion into a larger native population their DNA markers may have disappeared).

        For a more detailed study (from a top-notch genetic scientist who studies the issue), I recommend reading Ugo Perego here:

        • Kay September 17, 2015 at 6:40 pm - Reply

          Thank you for responding. Can you point me to any peer-reviewed work on the issue of Lamanites having lived in the Americas? Thank you again.

          • St. Ralph September 21, 2015 at 9:17 pm

            I love that apologists think this is a silly question. If asking about documented research on Lamanites is “silly,” haven’t they just called their whole endeavor silly? What am I missing here?

        • Brent Metcalfe September 17, 2015 at 10:40 pm - Reply

          Mike, Ugo is a qualified, credentialed geneticist. But he’s a lackluster BoMor exegete. Again, I’ve addressed exegetical issues here…

          • Brent Metcalfe September 18, 2015 at 5:53 am

            Hi Brent, I’ve read your article and, unsurprisingly, disagree with your conclusions. Hope you are well.

            Well Kay, you’ve fooled me. I thought you were sincere. Your last question (which is very silly, really) demonstrates you are not.

          • Erick Kuhni September 18, 2015 at 10:02 am

            Your definition of sincere seems strange? Care to explain? Are you suggesting that she sincerely does not want to know if you can cite this research, or simply that she sincerely doesn’t seem eager to eat out of the palm of your hand?

          • Bob September 18, 2015 at 10:54 am

            This is certainly an interesting discussion. An army of geneticists against one LDS apologist who was on the company payroll, supported by an LDS geneticist who has an interest in supporting the LDS narrative.

            To me it doesn’t much matter since the DNA issue is not the only concern. The Book of Mormon makes no mention of anyone on either of the North American continent and it’s only because there’s questions about the ability of a few dozen settlers to have a birth rate that would populates 2 continents, now LDS “scholars” are suggesting there were many more people already here.

            When peoples migrate from one part of the world to another, they bring along their customs and traditions. They would have concentrated in on area and built up communities similar to where they had come from. A devout Jewish famlly would have continued it’s Jewish traditions and there’s no mention of the culture at all in the Book of Mormon. Town names, no coinage, no mention of Passover, Hebrew, any of the sacred traditions of Judaism.

            Mr. Ash and his associates only enforce the lack of leadership and disconnect to “God” in the LDS world. Where are the prophets and apostles in all this, who they claim have direct audience with God and “the Holy Priesthood” in all this? They hire so called “learned spokesmen” to represent them so the General Authorities aren’t caught on record saying anything beyond their carefully crafted fluff speeches at conference which they use belief in “divine revelation” almost like white out to rewrite their conference addresses before the actual transcript appears in the conference edition of the Ensign.

            DNA issues are just one nail in the LDS coffin.

            Joseph Smith’s issues…polyandry

            The Mountain Meadows Massacre and Brigham Young covering up the post investigation…

            The continuing of sanctioning polygamist unions after the Church publically agreed to stop the practice…

            A history of racism (which the Church now disavows and now distances itself from) without discrediting the authority of their prophets that supported and taught it.

            The hateful attitude towards the Gay community including the use of shock therapy to try to rewrite the programming of a lot of young people who many have ended their lives believing they were somehow wicked or sinful or bad.

            Even the 35 acre visitor’s center is a spectacle that would embarrass most people to spend that kind of money trying to encourage people to consider the Church, but not the LDS Church.

            Adopting an intrusive practice that precludes family members the right to attend the weddings of their own children and suggesting that a persons ability to answer a dozen questions in a temple worthiness interview is of more value than a quarter century of devoted service as a parent is beyond ridiculous and hurtful.

            What happened to the simple message of salvation of Jesus Christ?

    • USN77 September 17, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

      Mr. Ash, if your many years of engaging critics have proven such debates are a waste of time, why bother to post your overlong rebuttal? You could just have put your objections to feeling misrepresented into one sentence, as you did in your last paragraph.

      And why characterize people who disagree with you as “haters”? What makes it okay for you to pre-judge people who will post their disagreements with your point of view? I, for one, don’t hate you, or the church, or anyone I know of.

      You can argue all you want about the what the Book of Mormon says, but you can’t change that the plain text is clear the only 2 times contact with outside groups occurred are when the Nephites met the Mulekites and when the Mulekites met Coriantumr, and both were so important they received special mention in the text. How strange that there is no mention in the Book of Mormon of meeting natives in the promised land, but rather Lehi’s specific representation to his sons that the Lord had kept the land unknown to other nations so as to provide an inheritance for Lehi’s posterity. And your interpretation that there were other people in the Americas before the Jaredites and Lehites specifically contradicts Jeffrey R. Holland’s Ensign article in the 1970s, Pres. Kimball’s acceptance of American Indians AND an Eskimo friend of mine as Lamanites, and temple dedicatory prayers describing the native peoples as descendants of Lehi.

      I think you have revealed yourself as someone who, if Jesus were to descend in glory and declare that the Book of Mormon is fiction, after He left, you would say, “That just proves some of the points in my article!”

      • Jose Garcia September 17, 2015 at 3:21 pm - Reply

        The first 116 manuscript pages, containing the early historical record of when the Lehites arrive in America, where contact with indigenous people might have been mentioned, are missing. We have a religious, not historical, record of that same period.

        Also there’s no record of the first several hundred years of the Mulekites when they could have mixed with indigenous people.

        Also there’s no record of the Lamanites, only the Nephites, so there’s no knowing what indigenous peoples they may have mixed with.

        ‘Land’ does not need mean entire continent.

        I don’t limit my interpretation of what the BOM says by what an Apostle once wrote in the Ensign.

        • James September 17, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply


        • Greg September 18, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

          LOL. I love these types of responses from apologists. Hey everyone, the answers to your questions are in the missing 116 pages that we don’t and won’t ever have. How convenient. Just like most apologetic arguments.

        • Chad September 18, 2015 at 11:12 am - Reply

          Hi Jose,

          Even if all that were the case don’t you think the other writers of the book of mormon would have mentioned this?

          Second….where is the Israelite DNA that would be mixed with the people that were already here on the continent? That DNA would be detected?

          Do you agree?

          • Jose Garcia September 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm

            It’s not a question of “if”, what I said above is pretty much demonstrably true. It is the case that we do not have the first ~500 years of the large plates of Nephi which covered the history and we do not have records of the Mulekites or Lamanites. ‘land’ *need* not refer to the entire continent.

            If Mormon explained integration with local groups in the first 116 manuscript pages, then I don’t think he would repeat it later, he would assume we already know it, and they would all now be Nephites or Lamanites. I’m not aware of him repeating anything that happened after Nephi down to Mosiah. So if he didn’t repeat anything else from those 500 years, it seems reasonable that he wouldn’t repeat integration (assuming it were there in the first place).

            I don’t know the answer to your DNA question. I am not a DNA expert. Unfortunately instead of answering that question the experts on this panel chose to rant about “being asked to leave my brain at the door.”

            The user ‘churchistrue’ asked a very good question below: It starts with “What I’d like to hear from the scientists is something like this…” so you can search for it. At this time it has not been answered by an expert. Why? Because it requires actual science and math instead of just spouting off opinions or analogies.

            One panelists thinks the question isn’t worth taking seriously because she wasn’t taught it in Primary or FHE or Sunday School. You can find this part at 1h23m. Note how none of the arguments over the next few minutes dealing with this topic are science related. They’re all textual or cultural. Instead of arguing against the textual case for the mixing with indigenous groups, where the panelists are not experts, I wish they would have used their DNA expertise to talk about science in the scenario Ash referred to in the article they claim to be responding to. Unfortunately, they chose not to. They don’t think the text justifies that interpretation, so they refuse to deal with the science in that scenario. I suspect that is because they really want to prove the BOM false and they can’t prove the indigenous integration scenario false with DNA so they tried to use textual/cultural arguments against it.

      • Mike Ashq September 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm - Reply

        USN77: Unfortunately, once the fingers get typing it’s hard to slow them down (which is another reason I like to avoid these discussions– it’s a LOT of back and forth and not much more). First, I never said that everyone who disagrees with me “hates” me, but if you read some of the posts in this discussion I think you’ll see what I was referring to when I said the haters will pile on (your last sentence [an over-exaggeration without having a real understanding of where I’m coming from] doesn’t help dispel my concern).

        2) Despite objections to the contrary, there can be no “plain” reading of an interpreted text (especially from another time and culture). There is a lot of scholarly discussion on this if you care to invest the time to research it.

        3) I don’t disagree with the LDS usage of the term “Lamanite.” If you really want to know why, there are various articles which have addressed this topic years ago(as I did in one of my books). The fact that none of the 3 geneticists seem to be aware of the literature (at least it seems that way since they made no attempt to address the problem it presents for their arguments), makes it hard to take them seriously as scholars who have examined the BoM issue (note, I said scholars of BoM issue, not of genetic issues– which I’m sure they are fully capable of adding their opinions based on their own expertise). The fact is– and this is something I was chided for noting in my brief article– most of the responders on this thread are unfamiliar with the material already produced on this topic– and there is a lot of it. Believing LDS are at the same disadvantage. They are not familiar with the literature that already discusses this stuff. It’s not that I think they are dumb because I believe the topic is too complicated (as Jamie incorrectly claim I assert) but because of a simple lack of interest in the topic until it becomes a concern because of LDS-critical material.

        This should prompt more LDS to study genetics and to learn the material– I would applaud such efforts. We are all ignorant of many things and most LDS are ignorant of DNA arguments against the Church. It’s simple, really, and doesn’t mean anything derogatory against science or Mormons.

        For those who are really interested in weighing all the arguments (and not rejecting out of hand an argument because it was written by a FairMormon apologist hack– and that’s all you need to know) then there is plenty of scholarly and scientific literature available from scientists that are just as dedicated to discovering the truth but who interpret the data as having no negative impact on the BoM’s historicity (and can back up their interpretation with legitimate scientific evidence).

        • USN77 September 18, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

          Mr. Ash and Mr. Garcia, I read through all the comments and didn’t see any evidence of “haters.” If you interpret my comment about your propensity to see everything confirming your point of view as evidence of hatred, I don’t think you are in a position to lecture me or anyone else on how to interpret the writing in the Book of Mormon.

          What separates most commenters from you and other apologists who have commented on this topic is that many of us, myself included, wanted the Book of Mormon to be true when we reviewed DNA and other evidence and were very disappointed to discover we were wrong. But we admitted we were wrong. While we now approach your article and arguments of other apologists with distrust, you are the people we turned to with hope that you could dispel our doubts when we still hoped the LDS church was true. And we were disappointed by the evidence and explanations we found. I, for one, was physically ill and lost sleep when I discovered the church is not true. It was the last thing I wanted to find out. I don’t expect to convince you, but I do think we have a right to express our disagreement with your arguments. I do not agree that asking for your credentials is an ad hominem attack; it is just seeking more information to help evaluate your assertions. I don’t care what your qualifications are, and I reject your current interpretations of the Book of Mormon text. I have read the Book of Mormon over 80 times, as well as thousands of pages of History of the Church, Ensign articles, writings of LDS apostles and scholars, all with no desire to prove the church false. But I must accept the truth when it is right in front of me, as plain as day.

          As for hatred, all I can say is that I feel compelled to use a pseudonym because I am afraid of what might happen in my career or my neighborhood if I revealed my true identity. In my experience, the animosity flows both ways, but more toward “apostates” than from them. Witness Ed Goble’s calling people like me intellectually lazy, etc.

      • Praydude September 22, 2015 at 1:32 pm - Reply

        Well said USN77! I don’t hate Mr Ash either but after listening to the podcast and reading his comments I don’t trust him. He sounds like someone who is being paid to prop up the church in the wake of the scientific evidence that is tearing it apart. I hope the money is worth sacrificing his own integrity.

    • Erick Kuhni September 17, 2015 at 11:23 am - Reply

      If the Book of Mormon isn’t plain reading then I guess Jesus failed in his effort to restore those plain and precious truth’s that were corrupted from the Bible???

    • Robert M Hodge September 17, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

      I am disgusted, but in no way surprised by your Ad Hominem attack on Jamie. Anyone that disagrees with you is a “hater”? Well Mike, you have just labeled the vast majority of genetic scientists has “haters”.

      You put yourself out on a weak tree branch and now you cry foul because Jamie, Simon, and Eric just sawed it off.

    • James September 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      So this is how reformed troll reads, “a master of misreading what people write”. There’s a mean spirit about you, a spirit of contention (1). I would exhort you to listen to the podcast again. Maybe try Listening with real intent and a really really sincere heart so that you too may come to an understanding of whatever you want.

      (1.)I won’t have time to respond to your ad hominem attacks and misunderstanding of fallacies because I really have nothing to do. Maybe I’ll try and bask in the extreme^nth probability that you are wrong and I am right. So there.)

      • Doug September 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm - Reply

        Reformed troll? I just laughed soda out of my nose!

    • RJ September 17, 2015 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Don’t confuse educated people eviscerating your arguments for misrepresenting them.

    • TheOtherHeber September 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm - Reply

      “it seems to me that a much greater portion of the time was spent addressing their views of how Mormons should read the Book of Mormon.”

      Please Mr. Ash, enlighten us on how exactly the Book of Mormon should be read. It’s a mystery so deep that eludes an entire army of missionaries, bishops, Stake Presidents, General Authorities, and eluded even Joseph Smith, the originator of book himself. You, on the other side, is privy to this great secret.

      Oh, I got now. The Book of Mormon should be read anyway required to dodge falsification by empirical evidence!

    • Simon Southerton September 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Mike,

      The statement of mine you quote was made 10 years ago. Technology has advanced considerably over the decade and I have qualified my outdated statement. I did this about 2 years ago on my blog

      The quote is the first two sentences of a larger paragraph. Unfortunately apologists have chosen not to quote the rest of the paragraph. Why do you think they left off the rest Mike?

      Quote from my blog.

      “About a decade ago I made the following observation.

      “In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites, say less than thirty, entered such a massive native population, it would be very hard to detect their genes today. However, such a scenario does not square with what the Book of Mormon plainly states and with what the prophets have taught for 175 years. The Book of Mormon records that soon after their arrival in the Americas, the descendants of Lehi “multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land” (Jarom 1:8). By about 46 BC, after which time they had joined with the Mulekites, they had multiplied until they “covered the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east (Hel. 3:8). By the time of the final conflagrations around 400 AD, the Israelite populations numbered in the many hundreds of thousands if not millions. There is not a single mention in the text of groups of people living in ancient America, other than the Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites. All three population groups had very large populations. It is hardly surprising then that Joseph Smith and all other church leaders have regarded Native Americans to be the descendants of the Lamanites. The God speaking to Joseph Smith in 1830-31 referred to the “borders of the Lamanites” when talking about missionaries being sent to teach Native Americans who had been relocated to Missouri (D&C 28: 9; 54: 8).
      — Simon Southerton.

      Mesoamerican apologist Daniel Peterson immediately seized on the bolded portion of my statement, proclaiming widely in apologetic circles that Southerton has conceded that DNA is unlikely to ever be able to detect Lehite DNA. My comment was a reasonable observation at the time (2006) given the limitations of the mitochondrial and Y-DNA studies, but it is no longer correct.

      Let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and consider that the apologist are on to something, and all the prophets have been misguided. Lehi and his small band colonize a restricted region of the Americas. The Book of Mormon records that Lehi’s descendants multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land. Their Middle Eastern nuclear DNA would have spread, over the last 3,000 years, throughout adjacent populations like a drop of ink in a bucket of water. At the very least their genes would have spread over many hundreds of kilometres. It would be exceedingly unlikely that their genomic DNA would go extinct and scientists exploring the genomes of Native Americans would stumble on it if it was there. But apparently the Lamanite generation, along with their genes, are nowhere to be found beyond the pages of the Book of Mormon. “

      End quote

      We now have the technology to screen 700,000 DNA markers from across the entire genome. Its possible to detect minute proportions of foreign DNA in a person’s genome. This has been done for the Maya and not a single thread of Middle Eastern DNA was found in 21 unrelated individuals. These people have over 40,000 ancestors 10 generations ago and over 40 million ancestors 20 generations ago. Clearly many will be the same individual, but they represent a pretty comprehensive sampling of the Mayan population. This type of analysis has been done in several other NA populations and no Middle Eastern DNA has shown up.

      The sensitivity of the newer genomic technology is vastly higher than mitochondrial DNA. The newer technology can also tell us when foreign DNA entered Native American populations. Best of all, it is accessible to everyone from I have heard of one part Native American who had 1% Jewish DNA but it arrived in the Americas about 300 years ago.

      • Mike Ash September 18, 2015 at 6:04 am - Reply

        Thanks for replying Dr. Southerton. I just want to get clarification then.

        In your follow up you state:

        “Let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and consider that the apologist are on to something, and all the prophets have been misguided. Lehi and his small band colonize a restricted region of the Americas. The Book of Mormon records that Lehi’s descendants multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land.”

        The last sentence is really the same qualifier (just rephrased) as the qualifier in your first statement 10 years go. I’m curious, if we delete this last sentence if your conclusion remains the same. In other words, let’s stick with the first part:

        “In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites, say less than thirty, entered such a massive native population….”

        Let’s now leave off your interpretation of “The Book of Mormon records that Lehi’s descendants multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land.” You know very well that this the interpretation of this issues is part of the problem. So, if we don’t know how many descendants actually came from Lehi & Sariah, are you still claiming that there is no possible way that their DNA markers (as we are currently able to measure) could be undetectable?

        • James September 18, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

          Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding! This is apologetics in a cracked nutshell: You say “I’m curious, if we delete this last sentence…” Or “Let’s now leave off…”

          Delete away Mr. Ash, but why? The consequence is a stock for laughter and unseriousnessness. Why do you want to snip out the telomeres of history? Mutation? Thought experiment? Faith gene missing? To be insulting? Why?

          Why try and delete what every Mormon from Tierra del Fuego to Kolob knows? I’ll note what another expert on this board wrote:

          “And if they leave this Church, they must to do so by crawling over, or under, or around the Book of Mormon to make their exit.” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Oct. 4, 2009.

          Elder Holland was speaking to your argument Mr. Ash. You clearly haven’t read the BOM. You clearly haven’t been paying attention to LDS truth claims for the last 175+ years. Why not? It’s useless to have a discussion with someone who resorts to, “little more than ad hominem, appeal to authority, and an obvious unfamiliarity of what has already been written on this topic…”

          Please, re-read the BOM, you are obviously “a master of misreading what people [prophets/god] write.”

          My credentials: Faithful son of god in the pre-existence. Melchezidek Priesthood holder. Singer of primary songs. Mormon scholar and historian with Moroni’s blessing (2).


          • Bob September 18, 2015 at 11:14 am

            Mr. Ash is a die hard Mormon. Don’t confuse him with the facts.

            The Church used to boast that it had published over 150 million copies of the Book of Mormon as evidence that the Book of Mormon was spreading across the earth.

            I suppose the same thing could be said of the temples being built all over. I think they do it to make it seem that prophesy is being fulfilled.

            Since the Church only shares the “good news”, there’s no way too know what their return on investment is. I can’t wait for the Government to require the Church to make public it’s finances though I don’t doubt they have a second set of books prepared for that moment.

            After listening to some of the Mormon Stories interviews about the tactics missionaries and more particularly the leaders have resorted to get converts to in South America and England.

            I saw a you tube video of some the post WW2 Vermacht and SS who were trying to justify their behavior during the war and didn’t believe that the death camps had ever happened. Those in the Hitler youth were so indoctrinated and full of Hitler worship, and fanaticism that they could not be convinced of any wrong doing on their part at all.

            I see the same level of indoctrination and bleary eyed devotion here in the LDS faith. There is no “cognitive dissonance” at all because they’re so used not getting real answers or putting questions on the shelf. Over time, one loses their ability to think critically at all.

        • Steve September 24, 2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply


          Laban called. Since it appears there are no Lamanites left he wants to know if he can have his head back?

    • John G. September 18, 2015 at 5:15 am - Reply

      Where is Zarahemla?

      • Nobunaga73 September 24, 2015 at 12:48 am - Reply

        “Where is Zarahemla?”

        That’s easy! I camped there when I was a kid. Near Ogden, isn’t it??

        Seriously, though – apologists can never win on science. All they do is create a progressively smaller logic box for themselves; they need to embrace the mythos fully and abandon the logos or they will disappear into a singularity.

    • Deg September 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Amen. Well said. I appreciate you taking the time to make an actual response post.

      John Dehlin sympathizes way too much with those that are hurt by the church rather than focusing on the positive things that come out of the church. I guess his mission in life is to minister to the disaffected, but while drinking out of the bitter cup… he became bitter himself.

      • Bob September 21, 2015 at 12:14 am - Reply

        Deg, I’m assuming from your comment you’re an active, believing member of the Church. I think you’ve got it wrong about John and any of the people who have left the Church or are questioning it.
        John’s process of “leaving the Church” as with others, is a long process. It is such a horrific experience. It’s mind numbingly painful.

        What you’re forgetting is that most people who have left the Church have wrestled with it for years. They generally were giving some assignment which caused them to research the facts all the more to be even more committed and faithful. When they discovered that Joseph Smith was doing things that were both illegal and immoral, it leaves us to wonder why “the Lord” would call someone to restore his Church who has so much missing in his character.

        When looking for answers, we’re told to “wait” some more. Members who are constantly told to put their questions on the “shelf” don’t just put their questions on the shelf, they put their integrity and honour on the shelf as well.

        Then, when the “leaders” of the Church finally do something to show some “transparency”, those who know something of the history of the Church know full well that anything the Church presents isn’t the entire truth. These “essays” the Church has shared on their website are by no means complete and they seem to open up more questions than the answers they claim to provide.

        I was taught my entire Church life that William and Jane Law where “enemies of the Church” and that the Nauvoo Expositor was a nuisance. Given the Church’s admission of Joseph’s advances on June, we now know the Laws were decent and respectable people and the Nauvoo Expositor was simply expressing the facts.

        I was taught the same thing about Sandra and Jerold Tanner, that they were evil and associates of the devil. I watched the interview John did with Sandra and decided to meet her. Talk about a sweet, knowledgeable lady.

        Has the Church offered any apologies for besmirching and maligning the characters of these people.

        We all know that were it not for the internet and the access to information previously not accessible to the rank and file members, the Church would not have made any effort at all to attain any level of transparency, and this an organization that claimed to be the “Only true Church.”

        The general membership has been encouraged to not consider any of the facts about Church history to the point that some members take tours to Central America and BYU professors, who are given a level of respect and credibility merely by their faculty positions at BYU, go around pointing to ancient ruins and teaching that these are “actual constructions” of Lehi, Nephi and others, for which they have no proof at all.

        I have emails from Michael Ash where he specifically says that most Church leadership, Stake Presidents, Bishops, most all of the General Authorities have not much more than a seminary or institute level of understanding of Church history and the scriptures. I suspect if anyone would know, he would. These men who according to Dalin Oakes are both fallible but not to be criticized or question at any level, but from John’s interviews we discover that they are not worthy of our trust and for that matter our respect either.

        I would suspect that if these men were receiving direct revelation, it would be them writing the essays, and if the DNA issues were questionable or in error, where is the direct revelation to white out our concerns and give us some direct, plausible answers. Hans Mattson asks direct questions, and he’s ignored or told answers will be forthcoming and they never come.

        I’m expected to be “meticulously honest” and I would think those who claim authority to administer the affairs of the Church should be an shining example, not staying silent or avoiding direct questions.

        What am I missing here?

        I think with all of the information now available, the days of complete mindless obedience with the members is over.

    • Darren Harrop September 22, 2015 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      Michael, you are rapidly building the reputation of a man with no answers. I read through your ‘Bamboozled’ paper and found it vacuous in terms of direct and challenging counter evidences. What i saw was constant appeals to potential loopholes but nothing upon which to hang a genuine case.

      Your piece above is the same. In this podcast you have genuine bonafide experts in their fields making it absolutely clear that the former LDS arguments that Lehites were the principle ancestors of the American Indians as declared in the BOM and subsequently throughout most of Mormon history is utterly wrong from the standpoint of genetic evidence.

      Rather than address these points and demonstrating how these findings are incorrect, you follow the now common LDS apologetic path of abandoning the former narrative completely, and looking for what appears to be little more than an empty excuse as an avenue that might keep mormon hopes afloat.

      I live in the UK. As a child i grew up just a couple of miles from a Roman fort. In school i was taught about Rome and the Roman occupation of Britain. I visited the fort and saw the reconstruction of roman weapons based on exact pieces discovered on that site. Ive been to Chester, York, Hadrian’s Wall, Londinium, Bath, and to the British Museum (where i spoke with experts on the Book of Abraham) and viewed a gallery or two packed full of Roman and Celtic artefacts. I see Roman inscriptions, and roman swords and coins on a regular basis. In fact, most towns in the Uk have a museum with some form of historic display that will contain roman artefacts.

      I’ve travelled across the US and to remote parts of Canada, i’ve visited major US museums in places like NY, and Chicago. I’ve travelled Central and South America, visiting sites and museums (like Coba) looking at script from the 26 Mayan languages, and asking questions about early history (BOM period).

      What i see here is nothing at all matches up with the BOM narrative. I can find volumes of direct evidence of Romans in Britain, including shopping lists and letters home. Items that directly correspond to the Roman Britain narrative i can find in classical works. Yet for the BOM i find no mention of wars that correspond with Alma, no mention of a banner held forth by a captain, or of Christ visiting the Americas and calling 12 Apostles for a religion that went national just a thousand or so years ago.

      Really, there is a huge raft of information and evidence on circa 30,000 roman legionnaires in Britain, but Zero to conclude the Nephites and their culture ever existed in the Americas – despite the fact that as a group they were many many multiples larger than the roman force in Britain.

      The feeble nature of your counters, attempting to claim corresponding phrases, such as Tapir for Horse, or club for sword, is preposterous in nature. Joseph Smith new what Steel was, he knew what a club was, what a horse was, he could easily have written horse like beast, or club instead of sword but he didn’t.

      Because of this, because of these many issues, it is reasonable to adopt a skeptical position. To ask for clearer stronger evidence, not just that opens up the narrowest of avenues through which an apologist might retreat claiming ‘No final disproof yet’, but placing mormonism on the front foot, with robust data.

      When one places all of the issues in a train of evidence, the train is such that it paints a concerning picture. That a being like a God, an omniscient being, would have a plan to save mankind contingent upon a historical narrative fraught with issues and claims that face constant retreat? What kind of God and plan is this? I ask this seriously. I ask as a genuine searcher, as someone who spent most of their life as LDS and on the apologist side until through serious and genuine research (and not just giving my faith the benefit of the doubt) i came across LDS document after document that took what i had been told was anti mormon and made it mormon history.

      20 years ago, Mormonism was transforming its public perception. It was working toward appearing as a moral and family centred movement. It spent money on that facelift and appeared to have put its past in the form of Polygamy, and Racism towards black people behind it. Now, today, that position is undermined.

      Today Latter-Day Saints are forced to accept things that 20 years ago most Latter-Day Saints would have described as immorality in the first instance.

      That a man can meet secretly with the wife of another man (whist the husband is absent) and persuade that wife to enter into a secret relationship with him (which in the case of Brigham Young is verifiably sexual).

      That a married adult male (aged 38) can pressure a minor aged 14 into a mature life long relationship commitment using the duress of a 24 hour timeframe tied to eternal consequences, and again leaving open the door that it could have been sexual.

      That a leader can in public in both speeches and in writing consistently lie to members and the world at large and deny that plural marriage exists, and do so in the name of the lord!

      Today, all of this must not only be accepted by believing Mormons, but condoned by them as God’s will. Those vestiges of hope for the moral evolution and future of mormonism are shredded by the historical realities the church now faces. The world at large will not join mormonism, and the reason will be, it’s own history rings like a testament to immorality. How on earth does that omniscient God expect genuine seekers to swallow all of this as his will? The faith bar is so high as to render it blind faith. Such a history will always be a huge stumbling block for mormonism.

      When one considers this train of evidence, it renders the LDS story as a whole less likely to be true. Whilst it is interesting to read about appeals to the Spirit as the source of answers, i’m going to boldly assert that this is a vacuous claim. As a life long member and RM, i know exactly what this refers to. It refers to a feeling of peace and a contentment related to the core values and principles as espoused by key LDS texts. It relates to an emotional response that can move a person when listening to a talk by leaders or hearing ‘correct’ principles. It relates to a warmth and a hope based on the idea of the plan of salvation. It is bound by random coincidences that happen in life that align with prayers but excludes of blocks out a history of counter experiences (God’s delays are not God’s denials).

      This spiritual experience is common in many faiths, not least of which includes a number of LDS sects, all with members testifying of the truth of their prophets via the same spiritual mechanism. And movements within Islam that bear a near identically worded testimony for how they know the Quran is Gods final word through is prophet Mohammed.

      Because multiple groups are able to make the same claim, it undermines any argument to the exclusivity of the mechanism as a means to determine exclusive truth. Further, since we know these experiences can be manufactured, even unconsciously, then is it not more reasonable to place actual evidence on a higher footing than claims to spiritual feelings?

      But if we do instead appeal to actual proof we find Mormonism is no better off than most faiths and worse of than some based on the grand nature of its claims.

      So Michael, in closing, you have no actual evidence. All of your arguments would work as well for Scientology as for Mormonism. I would ask you in all sincerity to please think carefully of the importance of this claims. You may well be assisting in persuading people who can barely afford to do so to engage in acts of sacrifice in the vain hope of something blessing that simply does not materialise. And you will be party to leading youth in a path against the developments of science.

      Kind regards,


      • Bob September 24, 2015 at 1:03 pm - Reply

        Well said.

    • intel geek September 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Mike Ash, I am trying to understand if your response is intentionally remedial or if it was true sarcasm. It is really time for a true reality check. The BOM is 100% a fraud.

    • Jacques Hinks January 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Could you be so kind as to present you rebuttal to this? I have found that the apologists will say “you are attacking from this angle, or that angle, and missing these points, I have everything to prove this wrong”. But never manage to put anything forth do back up what you say. Brian Hales has been doing that for months on a few questions I have asked him, saying it has all been debunked, but then never gives anything to substantiate his statement. I would love to see what you can do here to refute what has been said? You have attacked the “logical fallacies” , attempted to derail it by saying “It would actually be a fascinating psychological study to go through this entire podcast, point by point, and note all the comments of LDS critical confirmation bias, hyperbole, over generalizations, and logical fallacies, but I it wouldn’t have any impact on the arguments of these critics, so it would be a waste of time (and I have more things on my plate)—but it would be a fun project.” suggesting that there is something more intelligent to do with the information presented here. Please give us science, actual science to explain where these 3 members of this panel are wrong.

    • Jg January 19, 2020 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Mormonstories, I think it would be a great follow up to have mike ash and all others on this initial podcast back on to share their insights. Not sure if me ash would show up?

  4. Nick September 17, 2015 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Let’s not forget that 30,000 years of genetic drift and at least one known major population bottleneck, the bubonic plague, couldn’t wipe Neanderthal genetic markers from Europeans. The apologists are living proof the only tool left in the shed is a double down hammer. The sustainability of apologetic defense to maintain any shred of historicity will go to zero on a long enough timeline. It’s also laughable the church has “no position” on all of these “Pre-Adamites” that are being dug up all over the world. Keep up the hard work apologists, you’re causing more cognitive dissonance every day.

    • Sher September 17, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

      How do you explain that the D & C has God referring to the native Americans in Missouri as “Lamanites”? Is that why early Saints got it wrong, because their prophet Joseph and even God himself seems to not have been clear on who Lamanites were?

      • Jose Garcia September 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm - Reply

        Just because they (the Native Americans) were/are Lamanites doesn’t mean 100%, or even a majority, of their DNA was from Lehi. There are many Americans who consider themselves Swedish even though they are less than 50% Swedish. There is no record of the Lamanites, only of the Nephites, so it is impossible to know how much the intermixed with the indigenous groups. The twenty Lehites arrived on a continent that, we know from archaeology, had millions of people. At the time they arrived they represented 0.00001% or something of the population.

        • Matt Harrison /u/mindofmateo September 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

          >At the time they arrived they represented 0.00001% or something of the population.

          May be true, however, that didn’t stop them from spreading like rabbits.

          From FAIRMormon:

          “Considering that (conservatively) twenty-five percent of the population were either “foreign born” or children of immigrants, it is reasonable that more than 490,000 people were living in the Nephite and Lamanite areas by 150 B.C. (more than enough to accommodate the thousands of dead mentioned in Mosiah 9:18-19).51 It is also plausible that more than seven million people were alive at the time of Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry.52 Even assuming only a “tithe” of survivors (more than 700,000) of the catastrophes described in 3 Nephi 8-11, a population of up to 100 million by AD 350 is not beyond reason. This figure is more than sufficient to sustain the hundreds of thousands of Nephite dead during the “Battle of Cumorah.”53

          Where did all the evidence of these people go?


        • Uripitez September 17, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

          ” After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” -BoM introduction 2004 version.

          Not that your going t stop espousing your argument.

          • Jose Garcia September 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

            That introduction was not on the gold plates. I am not obligated to believe every introduction to the BOM ever written, even if written by an apostle. I do believe the actual text of the BOM, and it does allow for mixing with local groups. It is true that it does not explicitly mention it. No where did I say that it does.

        • Greg September 18, 2015 at 12:22 pm - Reply

          The Book of Mormon doesn’t mention any “indigenous groups”. Not once. Is that not a problem? Do you not find that odd?

          • Jose Garcia September 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm

            No, because I would assume the mixing to have happened early on and afterwards for them to all be known by the group name. We do not have the historical writings for the first 500 years (116 manuscript pages), we only have the religious record.

            If I were to read a religious history of America talking about the 1950-2015 period I wouldn’t expect to hear about Irish or German immigration to America even though that impacted the genetic makeup of the time period. Why? Because those would be covered in a different kind of history, and one covering the relevant time period.

          • Rob Hastings September 19, 2015 at 8:31 am


            Don’t you think that Nephi would have mentioned it even once in passing? You know, something along the lines of “and it came to pass that when we arrived at the Land of Promise we were greeted by an exceedingly numerous dark and loathsome people. And it came to pass that because they were dark and loathsome and not white and delightsome like us we mingled not our seed over much with theirs (with the exception of the Hebrew holiday of May Day in which orgies we celebrated in the Reformed Egyptian Manner).

            BTW, it seems that your “lost 116 pages” has become something of an apologetic panacea. Your prophet still had the plates/magic stone with which to “translate” them again. It seems odd that God would have allowed them to be stolen when (according to you) they could have done so much to explain the silliness that followed.

        • Steve September 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm - Reply

          If they intermixed why did God have to turn them in to a bunch of darkies “so their seeds would never mix”. Wouldn’t this, oddly never mentioned event, have turned the brown naturally?

  5. Marcus September 17, 2015 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Thank you for so comprehensive and qualified review of these articles. The church smoke screens put up is very effective among Mormons that believe that truth comes only from church sources. Hopefully the full picture and unveiling of the deceptions will become more evident as projects like these “pull back the curtain from the hiding man.”

  6. Kaosukara September 17, 2015 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Regarding the idea that the Lehites DNA may have been lost in the large population of American Natives, it’s worth noting that in 3 Nephi 5:20 Mormon says, “I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi.” Even though this is recorded in 3 Nephi, this is not from the same time period as the bulk of 3 Nephi. This is the same Mormon writing who abridged the Book of Mormon, so this would have been written in the 4th century CE. Given this statement then I think should be able to agree that some large portion of the population of the Book of Mormon stayed separate from any of the indigenous people for a very long time. In that case then it seems even less likely that their DNA could have just been lost.

    • Jose Garcia September 18, 2015 at 11:32 pm - Reply

      I do not agree with the conclusion you draw from “I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi.” I do not think it necessarily implies “that some large portion of the population of the Book of Mormon stayed separate from any of the indigenous people for a very long time”

      What does “pure descendant” actually mean? We don’t know.

      It almost certainly does not mean that all of Mormon’s DNA comes from Lehi and that all his grandfathers and grandmothers were descendants of Lehi. The reason for this is simple: Mormon says elsewhere “And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi.” (Morm. 1:5) We know who Nephi’s wife was: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife.” (1 Ne. 16:7)

      The daughters of Ishmael were not “pure descendants” of Lehi in any sense so right off the bat Mormon has non-Lehite DNA and none of the descendants of Nephi are “pure descendants of Lehi” in a DNA sense. This is assuming of course that Nephi only had one wife and didn’t also marry one of his sisters.

      Perhaps “pure descendant” means that all Mormon’s paternal ancestors were descendants of Lehi/Nephi. At roughly 33 (1000/30) generations since Lehi that would make a potential minimum (assuming all mothers were 100% non-Lehites) of 0.00000001% (0.5^33) of the DNA from Lehi. I would expect the actual number to be much higher than that, but what it is is anyone’s guess.

      Anyway, if paternal lineage is what Mormon means by “pure descendant” then that only means that some of the Nephites (Mormon’s fathers) paid close attention to who their fathers were, not that they lived separately from the indigenous people or even that they didn’t intermarry with them. Potentially almost all of Mormon’s grandmothers were indigenous.

      Also, keep in mind Mormon is considered by some to potentially be some kind of royalty. One reason for thinking this is that he is made the leader of the nation’s armies at the age of 16 (Morm. 2:1-2). We should not expect what applies to (potential) royalty to apply to the population at large.

      Also, the Nephites were killed off, and any that survived would likely have intermarried from then on with Lamanites or other indigenous people. We should not assume that Lamanites did not mix with indigenous peoples during much of the time covered by the Book of Mormon. We do not have a detailed record of the Lamanites even during Book of Mormon times (we also do not have a detailed record of the first 400 years or last 300 years of the Nephites). So even if at 400 AD there were a Nephite with primarily Lehite DNA, and that Nephite and his/her posterity happened to survive when almost all Nephites died, I don’t know if we would expect to be able to detect that in the DNA of a sample of modern-day people.

      Unfortunately, since the panelists chose to rant about how the Church thinks we’re stupid while at the same time insisting the only valid interpretation of the Book of Mormon is the one they learned in Primary, we didn’t get to learn anything from this podcast about the genetic implications of a small group mixing with a large indigenous population or the likelihood of detecting the genetic markers of that small group many centuries later.

      • Fred Kesler September 24, 2015 at 4:00 am - Reply

        Why are we talking exclusively about Lehite DNA? I thought we were looking for, in the broader sense, “Hebrew” DNA. And in the broadest sense, Middle Eastern DNA. Were not Ishmael and his family Hebrews? While Nephi marrying Ishmael’s daughter may have diluted the DNA that was particularly “Lehite,” how does that become the equivalent of reducing the presence Hebrew or Middle Eastern DNA across the board?

        Also, I am pondering the problem that “116 pages of translated information went missing, so we have only the religious history.” The opening statement of the religious history asserts that Nephi was instructed by his father in the interest of preserving traditions and prophecies, etc.

        “1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

        2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.”

        Presumably, the Nephites, at least during their righteous times were also goodly parents, preserving the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians among their descendants, for about 1000 years, down to and including the very last Nephite, Moroni. For about a thousand years, Jewish learning and Egyptian writing were preserved by the Nephites. Yet no shred of either the Jewish learning or the Egyptian writing, reformed or otherwise, has ever been found on either the North American or the South American continents, nor on “the islands of the seas:” Not even one Heiroglyph or cartouche or jot or tittle anywhere.

        Is there something about the missing 116 pages that might shed some light on this?

        • Jose Garcia September 25, 2015 at 9:34 pm - Reply

          Mr Kesler,

          The response you replied to was specifically about the meaning of Mormon’s statement about being a pure descendant of Lehi and what that could mean and whether that meant the Lehites stayed separate from the indigenous population. I don’t think the parents conclusion is justified by that quote. That is why in that comment I dealt specifically with Lehi and not broader DNA issues. I’ll note I should have mentioned Sariah’s DNA. You’ll find my broader thoughts in my other comments on this story, but I’m guessing you’ve read some of them since you refer to the 116 pages.

          First, one thought on the lack of detail in the small plates. For the first 460 years in America (590 BC to 130 BC) we only have the name of one non-record keeper (Sherem). There are no names of anyone else after the first generation (Nephi’s siblings) until Mosiah (~8th generation) unless they are a record keeper. That should tell us a bit about how little secular history is in the record.

          Also, the first city name that is mentioned is around 130 BC (Zarahemla with Mosiah in Omni 1:12). After that in Omni 1:27 “land of Nephi” is mentioned but that’s the first time it is mentioned, 460 years after they arrive in America. Before that they say they have cities, but they never say how many or where they are located relative to anything.

          In other words, if they hardly mention anyone by name (or anyone not by name) and don’t mention any specific cities during the first 460 years, then I find it totally reasonable for them to not mention indigenous people they might have joined with.

          Sorry, that’s just a bit of a rehash of my argument. On to your point.

          First, I don’t know exactly what “the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” means, my understanding is that there have been various interpretations of it by scholars over the decades, and I don’t have an opinion.

          Also, say Nephi spoke Hebrew and wrote in some Egyptian-derived script, I don’t necessarily think that all the Nephites spoke Hebrew or wrote Egyptian-derived script. Perhaps only the record keepers did and the society used a different script or maybe even a different language. I think there are examples of that elsewhere, and scriptures such as Mosiah teaching his sons could support that interpretation. I don’t have an opinion but it’s a possibility to keep in mind.

          I’ll point out that if those languages/scripts were used only for the sacred records of the Nephites, then I’ll note that Ammaron said that he “deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people” in the hill Shim. So, assuming he deposited all the sacred writings in one spot, and those languages/scripts were only used for the sacred writings, then it wouldn’t be surprising that we haven’t found that one spot. (In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t think the hill in New York has anything to do with the hills in the BOM)

          Also, I’ll note that if those languages/scripts were used by Nephites at large, then it is relevant to keep in mind that they were destroyed and much of their culture was presumably destroyed by the Lamanites as well.

          You mention that archaeology has not found Nephite writings. First, I’m guessing we have very few writings from before 400 AD, so even if the population at large used a script we would recognize as Egyptian-derived, it’s not clear that we would be likely to find specimens. I think we have very few proper names (people or cities) written in the New World before 400 AD and I don’t think any of the original pronunciations are known, so that we haven’t found a Nephite name is not particularly surprising to me.

          Another thought is would we recognize Nephite script if we saw it. In my view, I’m actually writing this message to you in a reformed Egyptian script, but I doubt you or many others would recognize it as such. If you look up Greek alphabet though on Wikipedia, you’ll see Latin as a child and Egyptian hieroglyphs as a parent system. So even if we found specimens of Nephite’s reformed Egyptian, we may not recognize it as such.

          Anyway, I’ll note that even if we found obvious evidence of Egyptian writing in the New World that would not be convincing evidence for the BOM. The reason I say that is that there are actually non-Mormons who believe Canaanites/Egyptians (Hyksos I think) came to the New World in ancient times. I’d recommend you read the book “Exodus Lost” for a fascinating presentation of the argument. I think you’ll find there is some interesting evidence for Egyptian influence in the ancient New World.

          The lost 116 manuscript pages represent the beginning of Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi. There’s really no telling how many explanations and clarifications Mormon wanted us to have to understand the record and the Lehites. I’ll note that a few things from the 116 pages are known, and Don Bradley has covered some of them in “Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages.”


          • Darren September 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm


            I know you are well intentioned, but you are basically making excuses, blindly speculating. I don’t want this to sound mean spirited as it is not intended as such. Please allow me to explain:

            There are 26 known Mayan languages. None of them reveal anything thus far that relates to events in the BOM. They do talk in detail about the Mayan religion. They talk about Mayan people, Mayan events, the Mayan calendar. They tell us an awful lot in fact about the Mayan civilisation.

            The same is true of the Inca, Aztec, Olmec civilisations.

            This is comparable to asking if perhaps the Romans might have been Lehites? Well, we would look at their writings – of which there is a huge abundance. We can read up on their religious beliefs, upon their system of governments, on the writings of leaders like Marcus Aurelius, we could read on Tacitus, or Cicero.

            Know, some LDS apologist could argue that we simply have not found the things the Roman’s wrote about Lehi, or offer many excuses, but what we do have from their writings in so clear as to make them an entirely distinct people that in no way correspond with the BOM.

            This is true for all of the people thus far studied on the Americas.

            Now add to that the DNA. Then add that we have no steel, no horses, no coinage, no reference to 12 Apostles and a Saviour, intact, in genuine BOM Archaeology there is ZERO.

            Because of that, it really is the wise thing to do to adopt the skeptics position. To simply withhold the benefit of the doubt. To ask that Mormonism meet at least a basic evidentiary standard in light of the demands they make on members, and the size and nature of their exclusivity truth claims.

            Isn’t this at least reasonable for genuine truth seekers?

            My point here is that many members are not remotely genuine truth seekers. They came to the party with the conclusion in mind, and they’re doing nothing more than looking for anything to collaborate their existing view. Just look at Michael Ash, he actually has nothing in the plus column. All he has is excuses. It’s all about why there is no evidence, because horses are Tapirs, or the ground rusted the steel or there never was steel it was always obsidian. All of this is the argument of defeat and retreat.

            Michaels, in not the position of a genuine truth seeker. If he were he’d look at this problem and realise that we’d 99.9% of the evidence sits in the nay camp, and only Ed’s claim to the spirit sits in the Yay camp, then by weight of evidence alone one really, if genuine, should at least academically adopt a nay position, although be happy to post devils advocate arguments, or at least wait patiently until some actual evidence does appear to change the conclusion.

            I’m not anti mormon. I’m pro truth. If evidence came to light that shifted the facts, i’d shift in support of it, because i value the truth. There is no pride in this, nothing to defend. I just need to follow the argument where it leads.

            There is no Lehite DNA, because right now, just about everything confirms Joseph made the story up some how. It really is nothing more than that. And, if God happens to be reading, he can seek to punish me for being logical, for being a genuine searcher if he wishes, but that would say more about the nature of LDS God than it does about how evil i might be for not wishing to make a mistake.

          • Jose Garcia September 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm


            I don’t think my position is remotely comparable to claiming the Romans were Lehites. We have thousands of books written by the Romans during Book of Mormon times, not just a few books written many centuries later almost all of which don’t even talk about that time period. We have books written by Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Tacitus, and many others. We know who all the Roman emperors were and a lot about their lives.

            We do not, afaik, have a single book written by the Maya during BOM-times. I’m not sure we even know the original name for that time period of any of the cities that have been discovered. We have some relatively short inscriptions on an occasional monument from a few cities. We do not have detailed accounts that were written during BOM-times for any of the things you mention. Anything extensive comes much later.

            I’d bet we have one hundred times more Roman writings (written during BOM-times) about a single year (193 AD, the Year of the Five Emperors) than we have translated BOM-times ancient writings for all of America for the thousand year period of the Book of Mormon.

            You say “The same [that we have extensive native writings on religion and whatnot] is true of the Inca, Aztec, Olmec civilisations.” That is not true of the Incas or Olmecs, and both the Aztecs and Incas come after BOM-times.

            Also, I don’t believe I said the Nephites were Maya, or any of the cultures you mention, only that I happen to think the Nephites lived in Mesoamerica. There were many non-Maya peoples living in Mesoamerica during BOM-times.

            I don’t have an interest in addressing here the many other topics you bring up in your reply, since I don’t feel like they are actually in response to anything I wrote, but I will say that I think your comments on those topics are just as misguided as your comments on the topic above.

            There was no reply button on your comment so I am replying on mine.

          • Darren September 29, 2015 at 4:01 am


            So, what you are saying is there is zero actual evidence for the BOM to be found in history or archaeology. Yet you believe it all anyway.

            That was one of my key points and you just confirmed it for me. Nothing in MesoAmerica points to a Nephite or Lamanite civilisation. Nothing.

          • Leslie September 29, 2015 at 6:15 am

            How come there’s only a reply button on the first message and not the subsequent replies?

            Anyway, it’s amazing to me that the Book of Mormon indicates that the people had a literate society. Some Captain was always writing an epistle to another Captain. Or a King wrote to a Captain or another King.

            Yet somehow the only people who ever wrote anything down were the scribes who scratched their words onto the BoM plates.

            No one wrote on a wall. No one wrote on some sort of parchment, even just to write an inventory of their home or some such mundane things that we might write about in our daily lives today.

            Nothing. No writings of Hebrew, Egyptian or Reformed Egyptian are to be found in North America from the time of the Book of Mormon peoples.

            There is simply not a trace of these people to be found anywhere.

            Maybe you can lose a sword, but how do you lose the smelting pits? There’d have to be one found somewhere.

            I just saw a photo on a friend’s Facebook page of her and her husband standing beside a Mayan ruin. I just groaned.

          • Jose Garcia September 30, 2015 at 3:01 am


            I think after a few levels the reply buttons stop appearing, presumably for formatting reasons.

            You claim “Yet somehow the only people who ever wrote anything down were the scribes who scratched their words onto the BoM plates.”

            That’s not what the BOM claims:

            Hel. 3:15 But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites.

            3 Ne. 5:8 …they cannot all be written in this book; yea, this book cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years;
            3 Ne. 5:9 But behold there are records which do contain all the proceedings of this people;

            You claim “No one wrote on a wall. No one wrote on some sort of parchment, even just to write an inventory of their home or some such mundane things that we might write about in our daily lives today.”

            Presumably they did write on various things. That you haven’t identified them does not mean they didn’t exist. Some of their records might even have been found already. Here are a couple things to keep in mind:

            Just because Nephite BOM scribes wrote in an Egyptian-derived script does not mean the rest of the society did. There are examples of religious scribes keeping records in a language distinct from that spoken/written by the larger population.

            For a period of 150 years the Spanish destroyed thousands of Maya books to the point where we only have three or so remaining. We could have easily had zero remaining. I’m not saying the Nephites were Maya, or that those Maya codices would have said anything about the Nephites, but we have here an example (in the same general area no less, in my opinion) of a conquering people trying to destroy the records of the conquered. It seems plausible that the Lamanites may have destroyed many of the records of the Nephites.

            The Lamanites didn’t necessarily have the same language/script as the Nephites.

            If a Nephite wrote the name of their city or ruler on some wall, there’s no reason to assume 1) that we would discover it, since we’ve discovered a very small percentage of those monumental inscriptions by literate peoples in Mesoamerica during BOM time period 2) that it would be from the 160 year period of the 1000 years in the BOM where there are even remotely detailed records of Nephite rulers 3) we would even recognize the name. We have English proper names in the BOM. We can only guess at what the original names were. If I gave you the name Jesus I doubt you’d readily recognize the name Isa written in Arabic script or Eashoa written in Aramaic as the same name.

            I think we have very few original proper names written during BOM time period for Mesoamerica, and perhaps none that we know the original pronunciation for. So people claiming we have no writings mentioning Nephites or Nephite cities is not particularly damning in my opinion. If we had the original names of thousands of Mesoamerican rulers/cities during the time period that would be one thing, but we have very few, and I’m guessing we don’t even have dozens. And those we do have we don’t know the original pronunciation, so it’s impossible to match them to the English names in the Book of Mormon (and even that may be impossible since Jesus and Eashoa don’t really sound alike).

            As I mentioned in the parent, even if we found reformed Egyptian we might not recognize it as such. This script I am using is an Egyptian-derived script, but it’s not obvious.

            Ammaron said that he “deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people” in the hill Shim. So all the reformed Egyptian records (if only the religious records were kept in that language/script) might be in one place, that could easily go undiscovered.

            I think most Mesoamerican scholars would admit that there were literate peoples (not necessarily the average person but scribes and such) in Mesoamerica during Nephite times, and that we have almost none of the writings that at one time did exist.

            If the Nephites kept their inventory (the example you suggest) in some vernacular then even if we did discover them, there wouldn’t necessarily be anything in them that would identify them as Nephite. I remember my parents paid to have my great grandfather’s journal translated only to be disappointed that it just talked about the weather (he was a farmer). If you looked at my great grandfather’s journal you wouldn’t be able to tell that he was a Mormon.

            Similarly if we found Nephite inscriptions we wouldn’t necessarily be able to identify anything Nephite about them, since the content might be mundane, might not match the few details we have (numerous BOM authors claim less than 1%), they may have used languages/scripts other than reformed Egyptian, and an Egyptian-derived language/script wouldn’t necessarily be identified as such.

          • Jim G September 30, 2015 at 5:56 pm

            So there is zero evidence. But beyond that, if there were any evidence, it wouldn’t necessarily be evidence.

            As an outside observer, I have to say that these apologist arguments are not getting curiouser and curiouser, they are just void of any intellectual integrity. We questioners are all on some kind of double-secret intellectual probation. Forget Mesoamerica, why not Atlantis? Good luck to you all.

  7. 2FAST4U September 17, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

    I can’t STOP laughing at this statement made by Mike Ash in his article…”The assumption that the Book of Mormon peoples were the sole progenitors of all modern Native Americans is one of those kinds of assumptions.” Hello…. Go back and read the BOM Introduction before it was conveniently changed by the church to counter the factual DNA issue. I do believe that it originally said that the Lamanites WERE the PRINCIPAL ancestors of the American Indians (a.k.a Native Americans). Apologists…. what can we say?

  8. Bob September 17, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

    This clip seems prescient:

    Bill Maher (I’m paraphrasing): “They [the Mormons] beleive in things that are demonstably untrue. For example, they believe the Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel. Well, DNA testing shows that is not true.”

    Craig Ferguson delivers the punchline: “Well, that’s only if you believe in DNA testing!”

    Amazing how much Mr Ferguson’s comment sums up the apologists!

  9. Greg September 17, 2015 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Michael Ash is part of FAIR. That is all you need to know about him. That is enough to know you won’t get intellectual honesty out of him. I haven’t read much of anything on FAIR that wasn’t intellectually dishonest (confusing the issue, omitting bad facts, obvious bias). And of course FAIR doesn’t allow comments at the end of their articles. I wonder why that is. Talk about trying to control the message. My wife read FAIR’s response to the CES letter and then felt all her concerns were answered. LOL

    • Mike Ash September 17, 2015 at 11:02 am - Reply

      Greg: “Michael Ash is part of FAIR. That is all you need to know about him.” Can you say, ad hominem? This is kind of what I expected for responses, so thanks for not disappointing me. Just shows why it’s not usually possible to engage in real discussion with a large majority of Mormon critics on the Internet.

      • Erick Kuhni September 17, 2015 at 11:36 am - Reply

        Here’s the arrogance of Michael Ash:

        from his article: “The problem, of course, is that most members of the Church aren’t DNA experts and haven’t followed the DNA-Book of Mormon arguments. So like you, when they encounter it for the first time in LDS-critical material, it can be quite shocking and can appear to be a solid scientific blow against Mormonism.”

        Following this comment, Michael Ash, another DNA non-expert member, now takes it upon himself to educate the uneducated upon a subject in which he is not educated. Well done!

      • Jeremy September 17, 2015 at 11:59 am - Reply

        Interesting that you chose to reply to the one comment that could be considered ad hominem ignoring all others with specific and pertinent criticisms of your position and then proceed to generalize the “large majority” of Mormon critics as being guilty of this behavior. You are very aware of the shaky foundation of your position and have no desire whatsoever to engage with critics of mormonism so you use obscure posts like this as a scapegoat. It’s tiresome. In your post above, you in no way engaged the commentary of these experts and simply claimed that they misrepresented you. We all read your article, we all listened to their commentary and we all know that they in no way misrepresented your views, they simply put them into context and articulated why they are untenable. Because you are very aware of this, you in no way attempted to challenge them, you simply cried foul. You’re not fooling anyone with this, I would dare say not even the faithful. I love how apologists know that the BOM is historically, logically and scientifically untenable if read at face value, so they abandon this approach. You are now simply trying to reinterpret the contents of the book in an effort to rectify/obfuscate where it plainly contradicts known reality. You’re not simply throwing the founders of mormonism under the bus, you’re throwing their God under the bus as well. This is plain as there are supposed revelations received by these leaders in the same manner as any other revelation in this church that helped form the foundation of their beliefs and “assumptions” regarding the BOM. Anybody with the capacity to think critically is not fooled for a second by you or any other apologist trying to pull the wool over their eyes with these tactics.

        The BOM is certainly supposed to be a modern translation of an ancient text, why would that call for anything OTHER than a plain reading? Especially in light of the fact that is claimed to have been translated not by any technique known to man, but rather by the gift and power of God? It was very plain to the founders of the church, modern day apologists are the only persons calling for any other type of reading. So much for prophets I guess.

        Those who reject OT cosmology do so for one of two basic reasons, they either don’t believe these men were prophets, or they believe that these teachings aren’t actually attributable to them. You are obviously not making the first claim and are obviously unable to make the second claim. Because of this, you aren’t afforded the same luxury when you reject what we KNOW Joseph and company taught. You are simply “throwing them under the bus”.

      • Sam September 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm - Reply

        I guess Greg’s comment is ad hominem, as much as it is ad organizationem. But how much time and respect and engagement would you give to a member of the Flat Earth Society? That is what FAIR is to me. Intellectually dishonest, willfully ignorant, and not open to evidence, but closed to a single, highly dubious thesis.

      • Ephima Morphew September 17, 2015 at 2:25 pm - Reply

        How do the Saints of the Latter Days deal with the Antroopocene era?
        Do Mormons even know what the Anthropocene is?
        Can The Mormon Conjecture overcome the Anthropocene with prayer and testimony?
        Are the Latter Days of our own making?

        The crash test dummy has been thrown under the bus repeatedly to some dramatic effect.
        Apologist Ash, while wearing Tistimony Gloves, is yet another “Mine Canary” to postulate and pontificate on the Absolute Truth of the BOM’s voracity, disregarding the shaky narrative of an unreliable narrator, both his defense of the Mormon Bible and the Prophet have clearly eaten too much ergot grain at his spiritual risk.
        The followers of such imaginings are fated, fated to reap what was sewn Oh so many years ago.
        Mormon Exceptionalism may be a bridge too far for domination of The Mormon World to flourish.

        The Antroopocene era is upon us

  10. Michael September 17, 2015 at 11:06 am - Reply

    It would have been nice to have received more science and less rhetoric. It is understandable that Jamie has issues with reconciling what she was taught with new, emerging positions, but some of us who are not apologetics and who, like Jamie, want to be given credit for thinking, are not bothered as much by such inconsistencies and simply want the facts absent histrionics. Perhaps, the title of the podcast could be recast to “3 Geneticists dispute the cultural narrative of the Book of Mormon.” This change would notify listeners that there is more complaining than science on points that have very little to do with DNA.

    • Kay September 17, 2015 at 11:26 am - Reply

      I thought that there was a lot of scientific discussion. What did you think was lacking?

  11. Craig Paxton September 17, 2015 at 11:38 am - Reply

    I posted these comment to meridian Mag but doubt they’ll be posted so I’ll double post them here.

    Congratulations Mike, you’ve successfully crafted an apologetic argument where a heavy weight boxing match takes place in an empty arena save for a single boxer standing alone in the center of the ring, no fight takes place and yet you’ve declared him the heavy weight champion of the world.

    Your apologetic approach has watered down Lehite blood lines to the point of non-existence. Which actually makes perfect sense. To quote an oft used line from Dumb and Dumber, “[Jim Carrey]: “What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me ending up together? One in a hundred?” [Lauren Holly]: “Um, more like one in a million.”[Jim Carrey]: “So you’re saying there’s a chance!” Yes Michael, there is a chance but that chance is so far out on the limb of probability as to make it statistically improbable.

    And there one more problem…the Science of Genetics is not standing still. Every year that passes that miniscule probability shrinks even further as Lehi’s blood lines become even more diluted by the advances in Genetic Mapping.

    The mighty Lehite Nation’s who once could be found living from the Artic shores to the tip of Tierra del Fuego have now been reduced to exiting only in the premises of apologetic arguments such as this.

    You can hold all of the fights you like in empty areas and declare your apologetic arguments world champions while the rest of the world just shakes their collective heads at the absurdity of it all…

  12. Bryan Gee September 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I am curious to know the academic credentials of Mr. Ash (or Dr. Ash if I have overlooked an academic doctorate) in order to support the credibility of his article, follow up posts and interpretation of DNA science, archaeology, anthropology, etc.

  13. Matt September 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this recording. It’s great for people considering these issues, but if you have already come to the conclusion that the B of M is made up, this is a non issue. Arguing about DNA in Lamanities with apologists is a total waste of time because there were no Lamanites. It’s a silly issue from a science perspective and it is very, very generous of these scientists to participate in the discussion.

    It was great that Jamie and others pointed out over and over that the church is all about smoke and mirrors and exaggerating uncertainties, and won’t be honest when it comes to science and won’t be honest with their own members. The church has been doing the same thing for years as related to evolution, age of the earth, fossils and no death before the fall, Noah’s flood etc. With DNA they are just relying on the old idea that – there is uncertainty in science so we are going to say we don’t know everything, but we will know someday (when we die). Finding out when we die is a no-lose program for LDS Inc., but it does not address any of the science issues.

  14. Andrew September 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    In his op-ed on DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon, Mr. Ash states that DNA can disappear due to genetic drift and bottlenecks, and proffers that as an explanation for why no Jewish/Israelite DNA has been found in Native American populations. I wonder if Mr. Ash would put his credentials to use as an electronics salesman and explain to us why the DNA of people who supposedly migrated to the American continent around 600 B.C. is nowhere to be found, but what we do find is the DNA of East and Central Asian people who migrated to the American continent over 10,000 years ago. If DNA is so “here today, gone tomorrow” as Ash suggests, why has there remained an abundance of DNA from much, much older migrations to the American continent from East Asia?

    • Brad September 17, 2015 at 2:24 pm - Reply

      Hang on-he doesn’t even have science-related degree? A bachelors of any kind? Does he even know what a DNA sequencer looks like?

  15. Skeptic September 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    One of my top top two Mormon Stories broadcasts. If adults can hear this and still believe in Mormonism, they deserve to waste their lives living in Fantasyland!!!!!! I feel like the panel of speakers feel, “My heart feels sad, hurt, and troubled by those that choose to believe Mormon lies and deceptions.” The leaders of the church know they are in a jam/mess. I just wish they would use there “prophet, seer, and revelator” skills to get the church and the teachings, someplace reasonable. Not get them truthful, that is impossible.

  16. Matt September 17, 2015 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Just go find Zelph!

    • Chad September 17, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Agreed! If we have Zelph we would know what DNA he has since he was a white lamanite according to Joseph. BOOM! Find Zelph:)

  17. Chad September 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Has anyone seen this story from National Geographic about native americans having west eurasian origins?

    • Andrew September 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Chad, are you referring to the DNA of Eurasians who migrated to the American continent 17,000 to 24,000 years ago (rather than a few hundred or thousand years B.C.)? Yes, I’ve heard of it. Isn’t it amazing that the DNA of people who migrated to the American continent 24,000 years ago can still be detected, but that there’s no trace of DNA from people who supposedly migrated from Jerusalem to the Americas less than 3,000 years ago?

      • Chad September 18, 2015 at 11:06 am - Reply

        I am referring to that….and Yes it is amazing that the DNA can be chased back that long ago. Not sure how they date it back that far cause I don’t fully understand the testing methods.

        You know what would be a great podcast is if John could get Rod Meldrum. He believes in the Heartland geography for the book of mormon. I also read they purchased some land opposite the side of the Mississippi river from Nauvoo due to their strong belief in that area being Zarahemla. They were supposed to be excavating that area hoping to find a temple there from what I understand.

    • Martine September 18, 2015 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Chad, you obviously did not listen to the podcast.

      • Chad September 18, 2015 at 10:58 am - Reply

        I listened to the full podcast. I just posted this link while I was listening to the podcast and before it was mentioned during the podcast.

        One thing to keep in mind…….if the majority of the members of the church do not know about the true history of the church how many church members are going to understand DNA? Less than understand the true history. Most people will mentally check out when it comes to DNA talk cause it goes over their head. I admit I truly do not fully comprehend it. I have to take some time to truly study it in order to understand it.

  18. churchistrue September 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Good podcast. Unfortunately, I agree with some of Ash’s retorts here.

    What I’d like to hear from the scientists is something like this…

    “We’re not going to address the LGT disappearing Lamanite theory, we’ll let other people argue over that. We’re going to talk about DNA science. We will now answer the question whether it’s plausible not to find DNA evidence for a group of 25 Lehite settlers that mixed into a greater population. Or a group of Jaredites of 8 barges.”

    I’d like to understand whether the Fair LGT-DNA arguments hold any water at all. I’d like to know what’s the threshold of when it makes sense and when it doesn’t. What if the BOM voyagers married natives in the very first generation and in each successive generation they married in a way to optimize DNA dilution? What if they avoided intermarrying for a few generations? What if 50% intermarried and 50% stayed “pure”. I’m curious about these kinds of contingencies.

    I say let the LGT’ers have their theories and let’s have the scientists look at them given their rules.

    After that’s hashed out, BOM text experts can haggle over whether that narrative is plausible.

    • Craig Paxton September 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Are you familiar with the Lemba Tribe in Africa? Their oral traditions had long claimed a connection with Israel (sound familiar to BoM claims)Only difference is that their DNA proved their claim to be true.

  19. churchistrue September 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Serious question. Is there a precedent where it’s known a group intermingled with another group and their DNA was wiped out completely?

  20. Kade September 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Enos: 12-13, 16

    12 And it came to pass (drink) that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

    13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him–that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it be so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation-

    16 And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would perserve the records; and he Covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time. I wonder if Enos is pissed off that there isn’t anymore remnants of his people anymore because there was a bottle neck, and they were all killed off.

  21. Mike Ash September 17, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    The uselessness of responding in detail to most of the comments here is evident by the posts that amount to little more than ad hominem, appeal to authority, and an obvious unfamiliarity of what has already been written on this topic for well over a decade. It wouldn’t matter what I say or what arguments have been brought forth (or could be brought forth), the default position of most of the critics here is, ironically, that which is claimed of LDS apologists– you’ve already made up your minds so you’re not interested in any arguments to the contrary.

    Ironic how believing LDS apologists are charged with cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias when this is richly apparent in the posts here presented.

    It never ceases to fascinate me that a number of critics (and I know critics to the contrary) are loud in condemning LDS apologists for the very traits which they, the critics themselves, are guilty of. Like I said in my original post, it would be fascinating study to explore this depth of hypocrisy on a psychological level.

    If you think you have answers to what’s already been written on the topic, I’m sure both critics and believers would love to see it.

    Take the example of questioning my credentials. While (as already stated) I don’t dispute the credentials of the podcast’s geneticists, much of which they discussed was their interpretation of how to read the Book of Mormon. Do their academic credentials in genetics give them unique qualification for interpreting the BoM text? And for every Simon Southerton, there’s a Ugo Perego. Critics of course, typically assign nefarious motives to the “deceptive” writings of believing genetics despite their esteemed credentials (which I suspect are more highly regarding in population genetics than any of those on the podcast panel). But Perego’s motives must be questioned because he couldn’t possibly be a solid scientist and know what he’s talking about on the Nephite/DNA issue because he’s a believer (so much for the importance of ANYONE’s credentials in the minds of his critics).

    These same critics seem to miss the obvious that _they_ have a stake in the game as well– they search for, cherry pick, and interpret data so that they can exclude an ancient BoM text (because that doesn’t fit with their paradigm or their view of Joseph Smith or Mormonism). In the case of someone like Dr. Southerton, evidence for Lehites would be a major source of cognitive dissonance (now that he’s not a member) so all readings MUST be interpreted as negative regarding BoM historicity.

    I don’t begrudge anyone for rejecting the BoM– it’s all a personal choice– but I get bothered when some claim, or imply, that they are more honest with themselves, or are free of bias (especially confirmation bias) which makes their interpretations superior to those who accept the BoM.

    • Andrew September 17, 2015 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Michael Ash, you should research and write the psychological study you desire regarding LDS critics. You’re not a psychologist, but when has lacking educational credentials ever stopped you from speaking as if you did?

    • Reuben September 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      I’m new to this issue and not that familiar with all the scene. Mr. Ash, could you share your academic and professional background. I’ve looked at your bio at Fair Mormon and some of your articles, but I don’t see a summary of your education, background and training.


      • Mike Ash September 17, 2015 at 5:03 pm - Reply

        Well, Reuben, why do my credentials matter? If I had the requisite credentials would you believe my arguments? If yes, why? If no, why not? To directly quote Dr. Southerton (and I’m sure you believe him):

        “In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites, say less than thirty, entered such a massive native population, it would be very hard to detect their genes today.”

        Southerton and I agree on this point (unless he wants to disavow his former position). Do you believe both of us now? Dr. Southerton qualifies his claim with the following:

        “However, such a scenario does not square with what the Book of Mormon plainly states and with what the prophets have taught for 175 years.”

        Does Dr. Southerton’s academic credentials qualify him to say (with more authority than someone who is not a geneticist) that the BoM plainly teaches something other than a limited Lehi incursion? If so, why? If not, why not?

        • Erick Kuhni September 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm - Reply

          Your credentials matter because, as you said, ‘most members are not DNA experts or familiar with the DNA argument’. As someone who claims to respect science and be a believer in Mormonism, I would expect you to understand the significance of authority when speaking authoritatively on subjects that require subject matter experts. Furthermore, as a published writer who tries to engage in the intellectual debate surrounding Mormonism, I would think you would have the conscience of mind to provide your credentials upon request (since you clearly lack the presence of mind to do so before hand) when those requests are relevant to your authority on the subjects you claim to write about. I tried to find your credentials in 2011 when I first came across your writings with the des news, and was surprised that a basic background component to your bio was missing. I concluded then that you must intentionally avoid addressing this issue because you know it would be the whole “emperor has no clothes” thing for you. This conversation and your clear dodge on the question seem to reinforce that.

          • Mike Ash September 18, 2015 at 6:19 am

            Erick, so anyone who reports on a work, topic, issue, or discovery, must have the necessary credentials to report and comment. So in commenting on my writings, you obviously have the necessary credentials (as does everyone else who has posted here)? Interesting. So if you automatically disregard those who don’t have credentials but believe those who do, then you must automatically accept the conclusions of Dr. Ugo Perego who’s views differ from those on the panel discussion? And if not, why not (because he’s a believing Mormon?)

            Let’s shift directions here a bit, my friend Brent Metcalf posted in this thread. I think of him as a very intelligent and educated scholar on Mormon issues. I’ve learned a lot from his writings. Some things I agree with, some things not. He has been quoted by a number of critics through the years. As far as I know, however, his academic credentials on Mormon-related issues are no better than mine. Why are his thoughts accepted and mine are not (because I’m a Mormon?)? Dr. Southerton has the expertise to discuss the genetic issue but so do Drs. Perego, Butler, Whiting, etc. (all LDS who disagree with Southerton– that’s sometimes how scholarship works). That doesn’t automatically make Southerton wrong or Perego right (or vice versa), it means that they disagree. While most critics would like to argue to the contrary, the fact is that Southerton has as much of a pony in this race as does Perego. Both parties can be qualified scientists who approach and interpret the data according to other factors in their worldview.

            I don’t have a problem with people who accept the contra-LDS view and accept the critics’ view of the DNA issue. If the argument sounds good to you, great. I have a problem, however, with those who claim that if we disagree (although our disagreements are backed by at least as much scholarship and scientific data) that we are deceptive lying hacks.

            I also personally have a problem when people like Jamie read into my paper things that just aren’t there– all to paint a caricature that is far from the truth. If she disagrees with the pro-LDS interpretations of the science (which I reported) fine. Do your best. When you claim that I think that DNA science is bunk, or that those who have questions are morons, then I take issue with the false accusations.

            Back to the credentials. I asked what Southerton’s (or Handy’s or Fairfield’s) credentials are which make their comments on how to interpret the BoM passages more authoritative than mine. You haven’t answered. Since a big part of the podcast focused on such matters, and since you are very concerned about having the right credentials to speak on all topics, I’m curious how you will respond.

          • J. Crown September 18, 2015 at 2:40 pm

            Mike Ash –

            As you correctly asserted, Brent Metcalf is a highly-respected researcher within Mormon studies, and does not possess any formal academic credentials in that field. All true, as far as I know.

            But, I have never known Brent Metcalf, when asked about his credentials, to refuse to answer the question or belittle those who deign to ask about them. I’m sure Brent understands to relevance of the inquiry, and I suspect you do as well, much more than you are letting on. As others have pointed out, in your article you reference the concerns of members who are not DNA experts. By implication then, you are an expert, and that makes the inquiry fair.

            I’m sure you understand the point by now, but here’s a gratuitous illustration nonetheless:

            Let’s say a defendant is charged with murder. At trial, a medical expert will be called to testify about cause and manner of death, a ballistics expert will discuss how the gun recovered from the defendant matches the casings found at the scene, and a DNA expert will discuss how the blood on the defendant’s shoes matches that of the victim.

            As a juror, in assessing the credibility of those expert witnesses, why would it not be relevant to you to learn that the medical examiner was actually an auto mechanic and had never performed an autopsy, that the ballistics expert had never handled a gun in his life, or that the DNA expert was actually a mortgage broker?

            So, the point is not that your argument or Dr. Perego’s arguments should rise or fall on the strength of credentials alone. The point is that it is relevant, among other factors, in assessing the credibility of the arguments.

          • Ryan Wimmer September 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm

            An argument should stand on its own merits, not if the argues has some manufactured group think credentials. Address the argument not a persons “credentials”, doing that is popular among those that can’t refute an argument they don’t like.

        • James September 17, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

          “And if they leave this Church, they must to do so by crawling over, or under, or around the Book of Mormon to make their exit.” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Oct. 4, 2009.

          Elder Holland was speaking to your argument. You clearly haven’t read the BOM. You clearly haven’t been paying attention to LDS truth claims for the last 175+ years. why not? It’s useless to have a discussion with someone who resorts to, “little more than ad hominem, appeal to authority, and an obvious unfamiliarity of what has already been written on this topic..”

          Please, re-read the BOM, you are obviously “a master of misreading what people [prophets/god] write.”

          My credentials: faithful son of god in the pre-existence. Melchezidek priesthood holder. Mormon Scholar and historian with Moroni’s blessing (1).

          1. Myself

          • Habeus Bratteus September 17, 2015 at 7:55 pm


          • Erick Kuhni September 17, 2015 at 11:15 pm


        • Reuben September 17, 2015 at 9:37 pm - Reply

          Sorry…was just curious. Yeah…I think experience/credentials matter on any subject. In every walk of life, whether it’s medicine, academics, legal, politics, etc. A person’s education, training, and professional experience shape their credibility.

        • Rob Hastings September 18, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

          Mr. Ashe

          All of your prophets (from Joseph Smith onwards) are heartlanders. If you choose not to believe them, that is your business. It seems, however, that you want it both ways: you, as a faithful Mormon, want the luxury of disbelieving your prophets while, at the same time, denying us ‘apostates’ the right to disbelieve, as well. Bad Form, Apologist! Bad Form!

        • Bakirish September 19, 2015 at 10:21 pm - Reply

          Mike, please stop using Simon’s statement out of context. It is just not honest.

          Mike were you invited by John to join the panel on the podcast? If yes, did you turn it down?

          John, did you invite Mike to sit on the panel? In not, why not? If yes, what happened?

          Thanks for your time.

        • Nobunaga73 September 24, 2015 at 1:27 am - Reply

          “why do my credentials matter? If I had the requisite credentials would you believe my arguments? If yes, why? If no, why not?”

          Fair point. Your credentials are meaningless to me because your arguments are completely non-scientific. You can’t (nor can anybody) make a scientific argument that supports the historicity of the BOM; if there was a shred of scientific evidence supporting your claims any real scientist would not be able to control her excitement to fully investigate and see where the research leads.

          Instead we get a lot of Woo.

    • David September 17, 2015 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      So this is wildly off-topic, and I don’t know if you’ll even have an answer off the top of your head. But I AM really curious:

      How do you handle the passages of the BoM dealing with “secret combinations?” To me, they read as *such* an obvious reference to the anti-Masonic fervor that was sweeping upstate New York circa 1830 that they HAVE to date the BoM as being *written in* that time, and addressing the concerns *of* that time.

      Is there any one standard apologetic answer?

      Best regards from a never-Mo.

      • Jose Garcia September 17, 2015 at 7:02 pm - Reply

        from abstract:

        It is claimed that this phrase is rarely, if ever, used in a non-Masonic context during 1828–29, and that a type of “semantic narrowing” occurred which restricted the term to Freemasonry. Past studies have found a few counter-examples, which are reviewed, but none from during the precise years of interest. This study describes many newly-identified counterexamples, including: anti-Masonic authors who use the term to refer to non-Masonic groups, books translated in the United States, legislature bills, grand jury instructions, and works which so characterize slave rebellions, various historical groups and movements, Biblical figures, and religious groups. These examples are found before, during, and after the critical 1828–29 period. Examples from 1832 onward likewise demonstrate that no semantic shift occurred which restricted secret combination to Masonry. This element of the environmental hypothesis has now been robustly disproven.

        • David September 21, 2015 at 6:23 pm - Reply

          Thanks for the link, Jose! I read the article and it’s actually not half-bad. :)

          However, I don’t think anyone (including me!) is claiming that “secret combination” is /only and always/ used in anti-Masonic writing; I’m saying that, in the context of 1830-ish New York, it was overwhelmingly used as an anti-Masonic phrase, & the audience would have understood it as anti-Masonic.

          Lemme put it this way: the “secret combinations” in the BoM subvert the judges and take over the reins of government, right? What part of that does NOT reflect anti-Masonic anxieties?

    • Greg September 17, 2015 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      Maybe I’m missing something but Simon, Jamie and Eric seemed to be talking a lot about actual scientific evidence while your posts don’t talk about it at all. Your posts are all woe is me and personal attacks. Typical apologist fair.

    • Kay September 18, 2015 at 7:09 am - Reply

      Mr Ash, why do you think there have been no peer reviewed articles published about the civilizations mentioned in the BoM? Do you believe there is a concerted effort by academics to ignore or hide this history?

  22. Kade Esplin September 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    12 And it came to pass (drink) that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

    13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him–that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it be so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation-

    16 And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would perserve the records; and he Covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.

    I guess Enos is probably pissed off that there isn’t anymore remnants of his people due to a bottle neck. Also, I bet Enos is mad that he just didn’t say don’t let my people become corrupt and fall away from the gospel!!

    • Erick Kuhni September 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      At least one major problem in this discussion is that it is attempting to take the Book of Mormon and place it within real history to support the argument of “lost DNA”. While the Book of Mormon does hammer on the idea that according to its narrative there were no other non-jaredite, non-mulekite, non-lehite, civilizations on the Americas, it does allude to this point. It does not ever say that there were other people here. On top of that, the Jaredites wiped themselves out (unless of course Ash wants to insist that the BoM means something different than what it says). We know that the American continents were inhabited long before 600 BC…but I really don’t get the impression that the BoM author(s) knew this.

  23. Aaron September 17, 2015 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Brother Ash, thank you for coming here to face the critics. Even though I strongly disagree with you, it’s great to see you respond to their arguments against you.

    I’ll just repeat the observation that the panel made: the Mormon family I married into believes strongly that Native Americans are all Lamanite descendants. Their source for this belief is the Book of Mormon, the teachings of authoritative Mormon leaders, and the general consensus on this in the congregations.

    It’s very disingenuous that the Church can have it both ways – unofficially perpetuating the old myth of Jewish Indians, and allowing you to go around changing the Book of Mormon narrative unofficially, to satisfy another segment of the Mormon congregation.

    The Church won’t last much longer with this insane setup.

    • Mike Ash September 19, 2015 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      Aaron, I believe that Native Americans can accurately be described as descendants of the Lamanites. I also believe that the Lehites were a small incursion into a large general population and that their DNA was likely swamped out not long after their arrival. The two positions are not incompatible.

      • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm - Reply

        So, Mike, you believe that Native Americans are Lamanites, a remnant of the Jew (D&C 19:27)… in what meaningful way do you view them as such?

        • Mike Ash September 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm - Reply

          Yes, in the same way I’m a descendant of John Lahtrop.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 7:08 pm

            Care to explain?

          • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm

            I guess more importantly, how are Native Americans a remnant of the Jew (D&C 19:27) any more or less than other world populations?

          • Brent Metcalfe September 21, 2015 at 9:05 pm

            Mike, perhaps you missed my queries?

          • Mike Ash September 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

            Brent, I agree with Brian Stubbs who explained how Lehi could find home on the ancestral slot of many/most Native Americans. This would make them ancestral descendants and valid recipients of the book’s message.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm

            Mike Ash: ”Brent, I agree with Brian Stubbs who explained how Lehi could find home on the ancestral slot of many/most Native Americans. This would make them ancestral descendants and valid recipients of the book’s message.”

            Stubbs’s essay is apologetic fiction. It’s antithetical to the BoMor narrative and renders Joseph Smith’s prophetic hermeneutic nonsensical. While Nephites and Lamanites don’t always share their ancestry, when they do they *always* trace their lineage back to a founding Israelite—without exception.

            This is why I asked the question (which you didn’t reply to)…

            “I guess more importantly, how are Native Americans a remnant of the Jew (D&C 19:27) any more or less than other world populations?”

            The BoMor is “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile” (BoMor Title Page). Again, Mike…

            In what meaningful way are Native Americans a remnant of the “Jew” (D&C 19:27) or “house of Israel” (BoMor Title Page) any more or less than other world populations?

          • Mike Ash September 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

            Hi Brent, it’s deja vu all over again from the ZLMB? discussion of this same topic. Quite honestly, I don’t have the energy, or drive, or desire, to rehash such things out. I’ve wasted too much time here already (should have stopped with my initial drive-by post). As you may/may not have noticed (I don’t know if you still frequent the various discussion boards), I don’t anymore get on messages boards anymore. I have more things on my plate than I did in my earlier years. Anyone interested in the past discussion may be able to Google it with ZLBM or Pacumeni (I don’t recall exactly).

            My primary point of coming here was actually not to defend any DNA/Lamanite arguments, but rather to defend myself against misreadings that claimed I was anti-science, etc. (see my OP).

            So TTFN, I’m not sure if I’ll check in again or not. Enjoy the discussion without me (attribute my bowing out to what ever motives makes you happy), and we’ll see you in the funny papers (and Brent, good e-talking with you again and hope you pop in to another FairMormon conference at some point and say “hi.”)

  24. Andrew September 17, 2015 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    The Book of Mormon, as Revised by Mormon Apologists, in Eleven Verses

    1. I, Nephi, having been born of Jewish parents in Jerusalem, do make a record of my dealings which is to be preserved and brought forth by the gift and power of God to my posterity in the last days.

    2. And it came to pass that the Lord told my father Lehi that He would carry him to a land that hath been kept from the knowledge of other nations, and that it should be land of promise for us and our posterity.

    3. And it came to pass that the Lord commanded me to kill Laban while he was drunk with wine, and to steal his scriptures. And this I was told I must do to preserve our language and our knowledge of the Lord so that our posterity might prosper in the land of promise. And it came to pass that I did kill Laban as the Spirit had constrained me to do.

    4. And behold, after years of trials and tribulations in the desert, yea, after crossing the mighty oceans, we did arrive in the land of promise.

    5. And it came to pass that when we arrived, we were sorely astonished, for we did see that the land of promise was already overrun with inhabitants as numerous as the sands of the sea, whose fathers had come from the distant East more than ten thousands of years before. And lo, our hearts were heavy with sorrow, for the Lord kept not His word.

    6. And it came to pass that our sons did take their daughters as wives, and our daughters did take their sons as husbands. And we did quickly abandon the Reformed Egyptian writing and the Hebrew tongue of our fathers, and did adopt the tongues of the established inhabitants of the land. For behold, does not the saying of old admonish us that when in Rome, one must do as the Romanians?

    7. And we did ride tapirs that we called horses. And milked llamas that we called cows. And we did make weapons with wood and stone that we called steel.

    8. And all of the doings of my people which are recorded in this book did come to pass in a small hidden corner of a jungle wilderness measuring only a few hundred cubits in length and width.

    9. And behold, on account of the great number of the established inhabitants of the land, yea, and the small number of my people, yea, and our many marriages with them, yea, and our adoption of all their ways and customs, behold, it came to pass that our language, yea, and our writing, yea, and our culture, yea, and even our very blood did perish from the face of the land. For behold, every jot and tittle of us was swallowed up, and we did leave no trace of our ever having lived in the land of promise.

    10. And behold, all of this did happen in this wise, that it might be shown unto the children of men that the Lord keepeth not His promises to my father Lehi, and that the Lord did make me murder Laban for no reason.

    11. Hearken now to the words of my mouth, O ye Jews and Gentiles! For behold, these words shall be sealed up and preserved for many thousands of years until the last days, when the Lord shall raise up a seer who shall bring forth these words by the gift and power of God, or in other words a brown stone, unto my posterity which by then shall long have vanished from the face of the Earth.

    12. And behold, the Lord will also raise up wise men of much learning, and also electronics salesmen, who will know more than the Lord’s prophets, seers, and revelators. And behold, they will dispel the great confusion of the Jews and Gentiles who shall receive these words.

    13. Brethren, sayonara.

    • David September 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      POSTY! (Is — is there not an award called the Posty? Well, then I’m inventing it and giving it to you.)

      Gosh! I think I strained my smilin’ muscles.

    • Frank, be frank September 17, 2015 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      Great synopsis Andrew, you make more sense in a few statements than some apologists make in a few hours!

      • Andrew September 17, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

        David and Frank, brethren, I can take no credit, for I am but a polished shaft in the hollow of the Lord’s hand. For the Lord appeared to me when I was sixteen, er, I mean two distinct personages appeared to me when I was fourteen, and later an angel named Nephi, er, I mean Moroni, showed up in my bedroom, and then a few years later the angel Nephi or Moroni gave me a gold plate and a Urim & Thummim to translate said plate, but I opted instead to use a brown stone I found while digging a well, and I translated the plate while it was covered up or in another room by reading glowing words that appeared on my brown stone, which I put in the bottom of a hat for glare reduction, just as one shieldeth the screen of one’s iPhone from the rays of the sun. And the Lord did this marvelous work and a wonder to show forth unto the posterity of Nephi–whose DNA is nowhere to be found in the land of promise–the ways without number that the makers of apologies can put lipstick on a pig.

        • james September 17, 2015 at 8:59 pm - Reply

          Bravo! The simple truth of humor. Thank you.

        • Mike September 18, 2015 at 10:53 am - Reply

          Bravo!! Andrew!

    • Will K. September 18, 2015 at 9:45 am - Reply

      Andrew.. . . . brilliant!

      Plus, it’s the best scriptural fiction that has been created since Joseph died in a gun battle in Carthage!

  25. Brent Metcalfe September 17, 2015 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Mike,

    I read your _Meridian Magazine_ post. It’s unscholarly and lacks scientific credibility, irrespective of your attempt to appeal to a popular audience.

    Your exegesis of the BoMor is fundamentally guided by apologetic desire in lieu of analytical reading. Your nonchalant dismissal as “_non-doctrinal_” (your emphasis) the interpretations of first-generation BoMor readers (who were most familiar with the BoMor’s 19thC idioms and colloquialisms) along with over a century of readers after is bewildering, if trite. I’ve discussed the core issues here…

    I like you, Mike; hence, my candor.

    My best,


    • J. Crown September 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Thank you Brent for linking your article. Fantastic and compelling. (Read: well-researched, footnoted, and containing reasonable inferences supported by the record). I just read it and recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about this issue.

      • simon southerton September 17, 2015 at 11:49 pm - Reply

        Thank you for your comment Brent. Your Sunstone article is well written and meticulously researched. I am yet to see a single apologist offer a rebuttal to your arguments. We’ve been waiting for over a decade.

        • Mike Ash September 18, 2015 at 6:42 am - Reply

          Dr. Southerton, you’ve apparently missed this (produced over a decade ago):

          You may disagree with the conclusions in the article (and it’s obviously dated for the genetic discussion) but it’s there.

          Other LDS scholars have indirectly discussed some of the issues in his paper in other publications.

          • Simon Southerton September 19, 2015 at 3:28 am

            Until a church authority publicly supports the very limited geography theories its pretty hard to take them seriously.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 4:14 pm

            Mike, you’re citation of John Tvedtnes’s 17-page rebuttal is symptomatic of the problem. John’s essay is riddled with egregious errors and logical contortions; certainly not worth citing on this issue. And Brant Gardner’s approach to BoMor “others” is no better. Yet this is your apologetic best—the A-team. Talk about a fizzle.

          • Mike Ash September 19, 2015 at 5:47 pm

            But Brent your attitude toward the arguments of these faithful scholars is hardly surprising being that they don’t agree with your views. “Yet this is your [fill-in-the-blank] best– the A-Team. Talk about a fizzle.” You could fill in the blank and, if you didn’t know the source of the comment, could equally easily attribute these words to Brant Gardner, John Sorenson, Mark Wright, or Dan Peterson about you, or Jeremey Runnells about any LDS apologist, or Rod Meldrum about any BYU scholar, etc., etc.

            While at one time you produced plenty of apologetics that were critical of Church positions, most of your work fell flat among serious believing scholars. Sure it’s easy to say that believing scholars just hide their heads in the sand, etc., etc., but them’s just words. The fact is that your arguments (and those of your fellow critics) seem superior to you because they confirm what you already believe (and, admittedly, this works with scholars on both sides of the argument). So brushing them aside might earn high-fives with the crowd on this blog, but it doesn’t carry much weight with the opposing team.

            Hope this is my last post for a while (as someone else already pointed out my drive-by has tarried too long)– it’s hard to pass the swinging doors of the tavern without going in for one more peek…. Off from work in a bit, then dinner with the fam, then a couple of hours sleep before I head into the Uintas for some Milky Way photography.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 20, 2015 at 10:37 am

            Mike Ash: “While at one time you produced plenty of apologetics that were critical of Church positions, most of your work fell flat among serious believing scholars.”

            Are you sure, Mike? Time for a reality check.

            In Richard Bushman’s _Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling_, here are the citations of my publications against those who you identify as faithful scholars…

            Brent Metcalfe: 2

            John Sorenson: 6
            Dan Peterson: 1
            Brant Gardner: 0
            Mark Wright: 0

            In the latest two-volume publication of the BoMor printer’s manuscript from the Joseph Smith Papers Project, my essay “The Priority of Mosiah: A Prelude to Book of Mormon Exegesis” is cited favorably (my wife Erin got two of her publications cited). As it turns out, that’s my only publication referenced (thus far) in the “Comprehensive Works Cited” section on the _Joseph Smith Papers_ website. Let’s compare that to your faithful scholars:

            Brent: 1

            John Sorenson: 0
            Dan Peterson: 0
            Brant Gardner: 0
            Mark Wright: 0

            Now, frankly, I don’t really give a $#!+ about any of that. But, Mike, you really need to fact check before spewing such nonsense.

          • Gary in Oregon September 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm

            Mike, you just failed the ‘avoid even the APPEARANCE of evil’ test by mentally entering a Tavern. We’ll cut you some slack and presume you order an imaginary Root Beer in your imaginary Tavern.

            Never mind that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were no strangers to non-imaginary Taverns. Never mind that the wine Jesus drank was preserved naturally with alcohol. Never mind that nearly all of the truth claims of the LDS Church are as imaginary as Santa Claus.

            The Brethren are to The Membership as Moms and Dads are to their young children at Christmastime. It’s in the eye of the beholder which DELUSION is innocuous, and which DELUSION stunts the spiritual growth and natural maturation process that is the birthright of all humans born on Planet Earth.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

            Mike, I reread my latest comment and think it sounds far more acerbic than I feel. I’ve enjoyed our conversations in the past and look forward to conversations in the future. I think it’s incumbent on each of us to fact check our assertions before we make them. I hope your excursion to the Unitas was enjoyable.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 21, 2015 at 12:27 am

            Mike, sorry for the redundant posts. Sometimes my posts appear immediately, other times not until several hours later (as in this case).

          • Brent Metcalfe September 20, 2015 at 9:12 pm

            Mike, you’ve been a good sport, and after rereading my last reply I feel that it conveys a harshness that I honestly don’t feel. All of us can benefit from fact checking.

          • Mike Ash September 21, 2015 at 6:23 am

            Brent, don’t sweat it. These types of discussions often generate heat. I knew that you would respond with a list of your citations which is why I purposely said, “_most_” of your work. As I initially said about you in this thread, I agree with some of your work and I’ve learned things from you. But overall, your work has not been accepted by the majority of believing LDS scholars.

          • Brent Metcalfe September 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

            Mike Ash: “I knew that you would respond with a list of your citations which is why I purposely said, “_most_” of your work. As I initially said about you in this thread, I agree with some of your work and I’ve learned things from you. But overall, your work has not been accepted by the majority of believing LDS scholars.”

            A vacuous, silly claim on the face of it, Mike. I don’t think you know whose work the “*majority* of believing LDS scholars” accept or don’t accept; I don’t even see how you could know such a thing. You’re just pulling stuff out of your… um, hat. You’d make a great seer, though. :)

    • Mike Ash September 18, 2015 at 6:34 am - Reply

      Brent, as you note, my Meridian Magazine article was written to appeal to a popular audience (and was very limited in word count). It’s not a scientific manuscript and was briefly touching on the LDS scholarly material that has already been published. It shouldn’t be judged on the same level as a scientific article. It’s much more like a blog post (the conclusions, by the way, actually are supported by credible science as has been explained by legitimate DNA scientists [such as the LDS authors I’ve already listed]). You may disagree with their conclusions, but their conclusions are nevertheless based on credible science.

      I’m aware of your views as expressed in your article and I disagree. I’m not the first to disagree with your views and others have pointed out why they believe your views are less analytical whereas the current LDS scholarly views are superior. I recognize that you disagree with those characterizations as well. That’s fine. That’s how scholarship often works. I know you think that Mormon apologists are just wrong and that if they could just get past their “conclusion comes first” mentality, that they’d see things like you do. As John Charles-Duffy correctly pointed out in Sunstone years ago, however (and this continues to receive support from many areas of cognitive studies) you (as well as all humans) are faced with the same problem. Your “exegesis of the BoMor is fundamentally guided by [critical] desire in lieu of analytical reading.” Welcome to humanity.

    • Martine September 18, 2015 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Thanks for the link, Brent.

      How unfortunate that Joseph and his friends on Zion’s Camp didn’t think to bag Zelph’s bones and preserve them! We wouldn’t even be arguing now. Alas, like other BoM artifacts, these too are missing! But we have the stone. Not that anything can be proven with the stone.

      • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 10:53 pm - Reply

        Martine, my wife and I have identified the most likely place where Wilford Woodruff buried Zelph’s femur (which requires a better understanding of the area than what Woodruff described). But recovering it is a job for professional archaeologists.

        In any event, Zelph was an unknown Hopewell who was buried with a projectile point ritualistically place on his corpse, much like others in the Naples-Russell mortuary complex and other regional tumuli. For more on the Zelph mound, see the recently published archaeological survey (vol. 34)…

        • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 10:58 pm - Reply

          Read: ritualistically *placed

  26. Leslie September 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Last Christmas, my present to myself was sending my DNA into I got 3.3% Neanderthal, which they noted as being higher than usual. They can find this about me from 39,000 years ago, but then Mormons think that you couldn’t possibly find Nephite or Lamanite DNA from so long ago.

    I mentally apologized to my Native American ancestors for calling them Lamanites. I used to be quite proud of the fact that I was part-Lamanite.

    What they found instead was mostly British and Irish and even a tiny bit of Sub-Saharan African, which was a pretty cool surprise. Judging by the Scandinavian part of my DNA and one of the names in my mother’s family, it seems that I’m part Viking too.

    But, no Lamanites have been found.

    • Andrew September 17, 2015 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Leslie, just keep the faith and your Lamanite DNA will someday be found. If not in this life, in the next.

  27. Sophia September 17, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    OH my aching head! All those big polysyllabic words flying about, shouting “Proof! I need proof!”
    Well I am not a scholar. I don’t even speak English well but here is my comment;
    “If ye lack wisdom, ask of God” ?
    You are all going beyond the mark.
    Has it ever occurred to you to kneel down and pray your heart out? Pray until it hurts like Our Lord did in the garden of Gethsemane.
    I prayed for 35 years and I got bits and pieces of “proof” not because I wanted a sign, but because I asked with real intent. Those bits of “Proof” have turned into a powerful witness of truth.
    Everything points to Christ. If you are truly a follower, then you already know the truth.
    “Let there be no disputations among you.”

    • Andrew September 18, 2015 at 12:26 am - Reply

      So, we shouldn’t expect or ask for proof, but we should also seek proof, and if we seek the “right” proof in the “right” way, we will get proof, only it won’t be objective evidence proof, but will instead be a subjective feeling proof, because God doesn’t want us to seek proof of one kind, but God does want us to seek proof of another kind.

      Makes perfect sense.

    • RJ September 18, 2015 at 11:11 am - Reply

      I could use the same method to decide what to order at Taco Bell. I’d have the same burning in my bosom, but that would quickly be followed by a visit to the ER for a stomach pump.

      Don’t conflate methods of self-affirmation with empirical science. Prayer proves nothing.

  28. tropical animal September 17, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    When my third great grampa was sent on a mission to the Lamanites,
    everyone in the church knew who they were and where they were.

    But today, at least, among science oriented people, it’s totally different.

    Today: Lamanites? Oh yeah, they gotta be somewhere, we just haven’t found ’em yet.

    There’s a woman I know who calls herself a real Lamanite. The Bishop walked by and I said to the Bishop—

    Hey bishop, we’ve got a real Lamanite here. He didn’t stick around to talk about it.

    I believe in the Book of Mormon as far as it is “translated” correctly.

    The problem is, the Book of Mormon wasn’t “translated.” It was “imagined,” as B.H. Roberts, LDS apostle and historian says it was.

    If you want to see and understand the Book of Mormon as it really is, replace “translate” with “imagine.”

    Thus, I believe the Book of Mormon as far as it is “imagined” correctly.

    Honestly, folks, since the BOM was created in Joseph’s dream world,
    most of this discussion irrelevant?

    I don’t believe you will be finding Jewish DNA in the ficticious characters of a book created by Joseph’s imagination.

    The “Holy Ghost?” This is NOT a method of proving what is real, but is a dream world concept which cannot be proven in reality.

    Went to an African-American church, preacher backed up with trumpet and piano. I saw a lot of ladies there get the Holy Ghost and do the “Holy Ghost dance.”

    Love you all.

    If I see you in church . . . Don’t tell anyone where you saw me.

  29. Ryan E Wimmer September 17, 2015 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    I met Michael Ash years ago and believe him to be a very thoughtful and sincere Mormon Apologist. While I fundamentally disagree with him I hope others can show him respect without mud slinging.

    • Andrew September 18, 2015 at 12:13 am - Reply

      Um, you might want to read Mike Ash’s mud slinging at the panelists on the podcast (above). If he can dish it, surely he can take it.

  30. Brad L September 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Mike, don’t ever think that you are in too deep to change your opinion or acknowledge the bad logic you’ve been engaging in for years. Consider Jerry DeWitt a potential inspiration:

    I have to say that I wish that we didn’t have to have these sorts of conversations. The Book of Mormon is so clearly a fake that we shouldn’t have to even bother analyzing it all, much like James Strang’s Book of the Law of the Lord.

  31. Kimo Lewis September 18, 2015 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Brent Metcalfe, thanks for offering up your Sunstone paper which helps anchor the traditional Book Of Mormon narrative with which I was raised. You have presented a detailed and reasonable answer making it difficult for apologists to wiggle out of concerning Lamanite influence in the Mormon church over the past 175 years.

    I read Simon Southerton’s book a few years ago who documented many quotes of high ranking church officials relating to the vast Lamanite population. Most notable were Pres. Kimball’s comments claiming most all South and North Native Americans and most Pacific Islanders were Lamanities of Jewish descent, numbering in the millions. Southerton also makes it difficult to allow apologists room to change the interpretation of how prolific Lamanite ancestry was unquestionably tied directly and literally to Native American and Polynesian peoples.

    I thank Jamie, Simon, and Eric for their efforts in helping educate us on DNA and how exacting the science has become. I now read the church’s essay with better context.

    Thanks John for the wonderful podcast and your efforts to enlighten.


  32. St. Ralph September 18, 2015 at 6:05 am - Reply

    “Three geneticists walk into a bar . . .” How does that go?

    But seriously, folks . . . The most interesting point made was the one concerning compounding improbabilities. This is true of any parameters expressed as a fraction of 1, 1 being a sure bet—yes, it is demonstrably true. Each time you multiply a percentage (that is, a fraction) by another percentage, the result is less than either of the original terms, and if the terms were small to begin with . . . You do that half a dozen times and your resulting percentage, your resulting probability, your actual likelihood of something being so is vanishingly small.

    If there were no DNA evidence that native Americans descended from ancient Israelites, but there were loads of archaeological sites with all kinds of identifiably Lamanite artifacts appearing about where the BoM says they should be, then we would wonder about the DNA evidence and think it odd that there was a preponderance of evidence of one sort and nearly none of another type. The problem is that there is nearly none of any type, biological, archaeological, cultural, historical, or anything else. If the theory of the native Americans being descended from ancient Israelites weren’t connected with a religion in which many people are so deeply invested emotionally, the whole matter would have been dropped a hundred years ago. I’m just parroting what was said in the interview, but this really brought it home for me.

    We need someone to construct an equivalent of the “Magic Bullet Theory” that explains how each aspect of BoM historicity can be highly unlikely but taken as a whole it becomes a certainty.

    • Brent September 18, 2015 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      St. Ralph, you nail it on the head. This was THE key point. The DNA issue is only one of so many obstacles, that when all added together and multiplied out to get a probability that it happened with such minute evidence, it should have collapsed this discussion decades ago. But it goes on from loyalty to a cause, inability to admit and acknowledge truth (and that really bites hard), and confirmation bias of spiritual feelings (which billions of people have in different ways outside of the church). I really enjoyed the podcast. I appreciated the panelists and John bringing them together.

    • Jaasiel Rodriguez September 19, 2015 at 11:47 pm - Reply

      Or the real lamanite-hispanic conversion numbers in the church to prove it.

    • Rob Hastings September 20, 2015 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      The irony, St. Ralph, is that I bet more lay members of the LDS Church can draw a fairly accurate map of Middle Earth free hand and from memory; ie., Here is Mordor, and here is Gondor, Here is Rohan and here, The Shire; than the scholars can of Book of Mormon Lands. Granted Professor Tolkien provided a map with his books, but nevertheless after almost two centuries the Church with all its resources is unable to reverse engineer a plausible map from the text itself.
      And for those who claim that the missing aborigines would have been part of the missing “historical” record of the 116 pages and not the religious record of Nephi, I am calling BS with a megaphone: there would be missionary preaching and miraculous conversions of masses of people. It would have been Pentecost on Steroids. And there is not one mention of this in the “religious” portion of the Book of Mormon.

      “And it came to pass that I Nephi did engage the local children of the land of Mesoamerica in a game of soccer. Yea, and as it was in the heat of the day and verily they were sweating, even from every pore, I smiled to myself, then proclaimed: Kids, you look kind of hot. Let’s go down to the river; but, just sign this form real quick.”

      • St. Ralph September 21, 2015 at 12:01 am - Reply

        That’s a good point. Well, A point, anyway. Most bibles have maps in the front (or the back) of the Holy Land and Egypt and Persia and other places named in the biblical text. And like you said, sci-fi and fantasy authors often include a map just to help the reader visualize the travels and origins of the characters. China Mieville put a map of the “Bas Lag Universe” in at least one of his books. It would surprise me a bit if no one has ever at least tried to derive a semi-believable map from the BoM text, though I have never personally heard of such a thing. Is anyone else aware of such an undertaking?

  33. Rob Hastings September 18, 2015 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Mr. Dehlin

    Wondering if you can invite the Three Nephites over for a future podcast. Would love to hear their take on all this.

    • St. Ralph September 18, 2015 at 7:58 am - Reply

      Oh heck yes! I’d PAY to hear that one.

    • USN77 September 18, 2015 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Didn’t you know? The Three Nephites spent 1,400 years diligently eradicating bones containing Lamanite DNA (except Zelph), traces of steel and metal foundries, Hebrew and Egyptian records, wheels, horses, elephants, barley, metal coins and all other conceivable evidence that the Jaredites and Lehites ever existed. This was so people in the latter days would have to rely solely on their faith. The Three Nephites aren’t going to say anything.

      • St. Ralph September 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm - Reply

        Oh, wow. I forgot about that. But they will tell all someday, though. Right? And we’ll all have a good laugh over a cold beer in the bar that the three geneticists walked into.

        • Rob Hastings September 18, 2015 at 11:01 pm - Reply

          Gotta give ’em credit for being hard workers, though; all Cain does is walk around and feel sorry for himself – at least, that’s what one of the prophets wrote in a book called ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness’ (granted it was only written by a lowly prophet, not an ‘apologist’).

  34. Erick Kuhni September 18, 2015 at 8:43 am - Reply

    In response to Mike Ash’s comment to me:

    Mike, the first note is how you misrepresented my point for your strawman. No, any person can write in any subject they would like. The appeal to authority fallacy, it should also be noted, is only a fallacy when either that persons authority is not relevant or is used to counter specific logical argument without argument. However, while anybody can speak/write on any subject they’d like, intellectual integrity requires that subject matter expertise and limitations be disclosed on topics that require subject matter expertise. Particulary when 1) You (Mike) undertake to teach, those members who are not DNA experts, as you have described. 2) particularly when the relevant disclosures of your credentials have been requested sooooo many times for years.

    Subject matter credentials simply gives tge reader, and your stuggling members , a measuring stick to gauge the reliability of your information on certain dubjects to them, where their lack of knowledge makes it difficult yo assess the accuracy of your arguments. Sorry are you still going to refuse the opportunity to disclose your expertise and limitations on DNA science?

  35. Haseya T September 18, 2015 at 9:47 am - Reply

    I get the impression that the phrasing for the title which includes “Three geneticists” was chosen carefully, but is being used loosely at the same time. It could be taken to suggest that the three panelists are experts when in fact the available public record does not support expertise in the issue being discussed (genetic origins of indigenous peoples of the Americas).

    Handy: MS in Genetics. An MS provides a deep (non-superficial) study of genetics, but does not guarantee that a graduate has experience with serious scholarship. The true measure is publication of peer reviewed manuscripts. As best I can tell Ms. Handy has never published a peer reviewed article (none of these papers are yours, correct? and internet posts do not count) and therefore has no practical experience with how peer-reviewed research is produced. If this is true, my view is that she is in a good position to read and attempt to understand the published science, but not really in a strong position to evaluate it as an “expert”. People who have published peer-reviewed work understand how primary sources come to be published, and therefore can better zero in on potential pitfalls and weaknesses of data or interpretations thereof.

    Southerton: PhD in plant science. Apparently he has published 21 articles over his career, all focused on plant genetics ( It shows solid genetics experience but for a senior scientist one might expect more output (compare to Ms. Handy’s dad who has >120 over his career). Books are often not considered peer-reviewed science within academic circles. Dr. Southerton, was your book subjected to blinded (a common standard now) peer-review? At this stage I accept him as a geneticist, but am reluctant to accept him as an expert on the genetic origins of indigenous peoples of the Americas because he does not appear to have produced any original knowledge on this topic.

    Fairfield: PhD in molecular biology. Molecular biology does not equal genetics. They are related (share the feature of studying aspects of DNA science), but distinct disciplines. I don’t think Fairfield would be considered a geneticist by many people in the genetics fields (clinical or basic research). For a “hard-core scientist” Dr. Fairfield has apparently published very little (are either of these two papers even yours Dr. Fairfield? How did you get a PhD without ever publishing? I must be missing something. By the way, I’m having trouble finding any information about the company Cognitive Architectures for Learning. I’m really not sure what to make of your credentials at this point.

    If I’m missing something here about the resumes please do respond and update because my intent is not to make any of you look bad. This is not intended as an attack. It is intended to help the rest of us know how deep your experience actually goes and put it into perspective. For those trying to seriously understand the issue but who do not have the time or background or confidence to fact check the primary sources and therefore rely on your comments for understanding this issue, knowing the actual depth of your expertise is important.

    John Dehlin,
    If in fact the resumes are as stated above I hope you’ll consider a repeat podcast which includes researchers who have contributed directly to the peer reviewed science in question. Let’s be clear – I don’t think most people listening question the validity of DNA science. I want to know about the genetic origins of indigenous American peoples and how that might (or might not) relate to the BOM. To me this is an important issue and I’d love to hear from true experts to better understand the nuances and limits of the currently available literature on this topic.

    • Jaxon September 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      Interesting thoughts. I, too, am interested.

    • Greg September 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      One thing is certain. All three are more qualified to talk on the DNA subject than Mike Ash.

    • Emeritus93GA September 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm - Reply

      Haseya, I believe that you missed Mike. Mike please show us the money!!! What is your degree? What are your qualifications?

    • Rob Hastings September 18, 2015 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      One might concede a point or two if you can show that the panelists points of view are at varience with peer reviewed genetic research showing an Asian origin for the American indigenous people. Please provide us with links to all the reputable geneticists who argue for Semitic origins, instead. Now keep in mind this is not meant to make you look bad. This is not intended as an attack. It is simply me calling you a passive aggressive little bitch.

    • St. Ralph September 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      Me, too, Mr. Dehlin!

      I’d love to hear a discussion by three TRUE experts in genetics on the Semitic origins of the pre-Columbian American people. You know how you often put out a call for questions prior to interviewing well known people? You should put out a call for qualification criteria by which your panel will be selected. All criteria should be agreed upon by everyone: doubters, apologetics and disinterested parties alike. If every panelist meets ALL of the published and agreed upon qualifications, there can hardly be any argument about any assertions they make or conclusions they come to.

      I would like to start with:

      1) A full PhD in pure genetics from an institution in the top 10 US News & World Report science schools.

      2) No other degrees or training of any kind that may skew the view of the proposed expert or give them an opinion on anything other than genetics. If they took a yoga class while attending grad school, they’re OUT.

      3) At least ten (10) “peer reviewed contributions to the science in question.”

      4) The peer reviews MUST have been positive. A paper can be peer reviewed and subsequently rejected as bunk. It has happened.

      I’m sure other Mormon Stories listeners can think of other relevant criteria.
      Just prior to recording the episode, you should do one of those things like they do at weddings where they ask, “If any man knoweth any reason . . . let him speak now or forever hold his peace.” That will quell any post episode debate.

      What do you think? Lets get this question settled once and for all by truly unimpeachable experts that everyone agrees on.

    • Kay September 19, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      Do you know why only Mormons spend time studying these things? Because in the world of scholarship and academia…the very ideas being debated are laughable. Nobody in academia takes any of this seriously. Nothing in the BoM has one iota of evidence that can withstand neutral academic examination.

  36. Erick September 18, 2015 at 10:17 am - Reply

    And for the record Mike – you aren’t a lying hack for having an alternative opinion. You are a deceitful hack for refusing for so long to say…”you know, I’m not a geneticist, but here’s what I’ve read”. Instead you write articles with a stated target audience of “members who are not DNA experts” and then follow up by educating on the subject. That seems to me you are implying that you see yourself as something of an expert, or are at least trying to characterize yourself as one, else why would you presume to comment.

    For example – you will notice that I have picked a dog in the genetic evidence race. Why, because while I see myself as intellectually competent I still have to admit that I don’t understand the issue of population genetics well enough to analyze the data. You will also note that I haven’t said anything about thumbs-up on Southerton while thumbs-down on Perego. I would accept either of them as experts in their field. Not that I automatically accept every utterance from their mouth on genetics as an irrefutable truth, but simply that I can place more trust in the things that they might have to say as compared with some one like…I don’t know…we’ll say…you!

  37. Erick Kuhni September 18, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

    And for the record Mike – you aren’t a lying hack for having an alternative opinion. You are a deceitful hack for refusing for so long to say…”you know, I’m not a geneticist, but here’s what I’ve read”. Instead you write articles with a stated target audience of “members who are not DNA experts” and then follow up by educating on the subject. That seems to me you are implying that you see yourself as something of an expert, or are at least trying to characterize yourself as one, else why would you presume to comment as though you are able to provide greater insight?

    For example – you will notice that I have not picked a dog in the genetic evidence race. Why, because while I see myself as intellectually competent I still have to admit that I don’t understand the issue of population genetics well enough to analyze the data. The fact is I don’t know what I don’t know, but I am confident that there are plenty of things that I would need to know in order to assert an opinion on the basis of this evidence. You will also note that I haven’t said anything about thumbs-up on Southerton while thumbs-down on Perego. I would accept either of them as experts in their field. Not that I automatically accept every utterance from their mouth on genetics as an irrefutable truth, but simply that I can place more trust in the things that they might have to say as compared with some one like…I don’t know…we’ll say…you!

    As for your question about Southerton’s credentials to speak on scripture, you are making a misleading statement. Southerton’s credentials are well stated. He hasn’t seemed to avoid being honest when asked about this kind of thing. As far as I can tell he is a subject matter expert on plan genetics, and a common human being on the subject of scriptural analysis. I’m satisfied enough that Southerton has been upfront about who he is and has never pretended to be a trained theologian when speaking on scriptural topics. You on the other hand have not been upfront, the greatest evidence for which is the countless forums where you have specifically been asked and have always dodged accountability. You are an accountability dodger, and I suppose “hack” is a great label for that.

  38. steve September 18, 2015 at 11:07 am - Reply

    The tactics of the apologists and the Church are very close to those used by those who worked on discrediting DDT, tobacco and global warming science. Amazing similar tactics. A great read on the subject is ‘Merchants of Doubt’ by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

  39. Carl Jones September 18, 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Very good discussion. I have to admire the mental agility of the apologists. I think the church is stuck with the fact that God himself called the native Americans Lamanites, so it’s hard to modify that position.

    One thing that caught my attention was that Jamie referred to drift as populations drifting away from bad things. I’m pretty sure you would call that selection, not drift. Genetic drift is changes in frequencies due to randomness. That doesn’t affect the conclusions, of course.

  40. Graham Smith September 18, 2015 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    The takeaway: You can’t assess a claim you can’t nail down.

  41. Veston September 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    I appreciate this episode and all the related discussions. It has really crystalized a lot of thoughts and concepts that I’ve been working through lately. (I apologize in advance for the Wall ‘o Text)

    This area among others always brings back and forth arguments between so many groups around paradigms, conclusions, evidence, etc., but as someone who has approached many of these topics/ideas desperately over time these arguments rarely ever do anything other than offer retrenchment and/or frustration. Just taking my own experiences, as I go through faith transitions it rarely ever solely based on specific historical events, scientific evidence, conclusions, etc. These are all just symptoms of what is really happening – an adjustment of the very base philosophical axioms that I use to define how I view pretty much everything in life.

    At least in my life, every discussion/lesson/interaction after the first few years of primary has always taken into account these axioms (body/spirit dualism taught at a VERY simplistic body/glove viewpoint, Christ leads/directs the church generally in ambiguous language, our interaction with god/spirit/divine, how truth is learned, scripture is the word of god as far as it is translated correctly, language definitions of sin/faith/grace, etc.) and everything is built upon these. As we age we explore those things internally and hopefully with close family/friends, but they are still the foundation of everything. The way things are set up, we are taught to explore, think critically, and work within this paradigm but we don’t necessarily approach the foundation with the same approach. (Off topic but I wish I there had been way more exposure to the various cosmological/metaphysical discussions in my life that could be found earlier in pre-correlation…)

    The challenge comes when I: have life experiences that challenge the paradigm or may even challenge the very axioms; explore historical information that does the same; learn other approaches to the study of life (scientific, epistemology, etc.). Why I’ve always had difficulties with apologetics is that when I read them I am trying to cope with the understanding of the most basic truths not the specific question or subject.

    For example, when looking at DNA as it relates to the Book of Mormon, it is from the perspective that I am trying to understand what exactly is the divine role in the book. When the author of the apologetic uses internal evidence for possible glimpses of “the other” somewhere in the narrative, there are a number of axioms that are used that are related to the nature of scripture, the divine nature of the word selection, etc. that are the very things that I may be grappling with. To accept what is written by the apologist I then have to take the proverbial “leap of faith” on the very truth that I am exploring.

    I can see how apologetics can work and do work if I were not examining the axioms of a religion, and then they can reinforce how subject can work within the model. It is when examination of the model & foundation occurs (especially when our life experiences are a catalyst) where they just don’t work for me.

    Sorry again for rambling.

  42. Skeptic September 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Go to ‘’. Search:’ Gospel Topics.’ Find “Race and the priesthood”. Count down 18 paragraphs.

    The Church Today

    …….Church leaders today unequivocally condem all racism, past and present, in any form. 24

    OOooopppps! Hope they have fun with the next printing of the. BOM and Abraham.

  43. Jamie Handy September 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I have very much appreciated all the feedback from the episode. I really value criticism and feedback as it is the only way we can improve. I’d like to respond (in no particular order) to several things

    1. Yes, I do seem to talk a lot. I have apologized to both Dr. Fairfield and Dr. Southerton. Also, I talk fast and it is hard to get a word in so they very kindly interrupt and I appreciate that they did.

    2. I have read repeatedly how I misunderstand Mr. Ash’s ideas and present them as a caricature. With all due respect, the article he wrote and is published is a fake letter between fictitious character composites — I believe that is “the” definition of caricature — We started with a caricature and we discussed it that way. |

    3. Calls for credentials are being thrown around a lot. The three of us were brought together to provide an educated analysis and discussion of papers written with either no attribution or by a decidedly “non DNA expert”. We, all 3, are well versed on the genetic concepts (populations genetics, growth, bottlenecks, drift, and basic and advanced biology), we also have additional life experiences that lent to the discussion. As I stated repeatedly in the podcast, these concepts are not difficult. One does not need to be an MS or PHd to be able to follow along in the conversation provided they are willing to read up on the topics a little. As asked above, I have not published any peer reviewed papers on the topic — but my education provides the background and knowledge skill set on which to be able to read and analyze a text — especially ones that have gone through no peer review themselves and a fictitious letter by someone lacking even the education and background. However I must sharply criticize the comment on Dr. Southerton’s education as being just a “plant” geneticist. Inheritance and linkage analysis is analyzed through the same methods in plants and animals with variables differing (rates of mutations, size of genomes, etc). DNA is the same fascinating double helix whether you are a bacteria, tree, frog, or human. Dr. Fairfields work on the human genome project brought to the conversation the expansive nature of research on DNA. Where as even 10-15 years ago, ancestry was being traced almsot exclusively through mtDNA and the Y-chromosome (as they were small enough to be able to do the analysis) with the human genome project and the improvement of computers and data analysis today we can track ancestry through all of the chromosomes.

    Given the topic, the relationship to Mormonism needed to understand the apologetics, I (through considerable confirmation bias) felt we were a solid group to analyze this type of text. If further podcast discussions turn to reviewing papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals, I would anticipate those panels would have comparable counterparts.

    3. In the letter, Mr. Ash concedes that the “traditional” understanding of the book of mormon is INCOMPATIBLE with DNA. As an every week, church attending, seminary and institute graduated, BYU alumni, I find this “traditional” reading of the book taught daily, weekly, and hourly. It is and has been proclaimed by every prophet. I have read the book of mormon so many times, it is insulting to be told I don’t have the proper LDS credentials to understand the real “hidden” things (like all the other groups and civilizations) — I have read and looked for those things and asked for specific references by chapter and verse for such indicators. In the event of a lack of specific citations from the book of Mormon, I would like a citation proclaiming this loudly and clearly by a prophet of our church (and yes, I have read the one from 1929 mentioned in the podcast). It seems to me that so many who are just as quick to dismiss the DNA challenges have no problem re-writing doctrine without the sanction or back up of the brethren.

    4. Lastly, I suspect all of us on here are more alike than different. Each of trying to find truth and make the best decisions on how to guide and direct our life. Open dialogue on DNA should be welcomed not feared. Questions should be considered not shut down. And above all to quote Cinderlla “have courage and be kind”. Ask the hard questions. Even when you know it might turn heads. Do it not even for your sake but for your children’s and grandchildren’s sake. These questions and challenges will not go away and each generation will demand greater certainty and allow for less error.

    • Brent September 18, 2015 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Bravo, Jamie. I thought you handled all this wonderfully; the entire panel. It was not set up as a peer-review process, but was exactly what it portrayed — some very competent people with great skills and knowledge base, education, and inquiry, who ask hard questions about issues that have been presented as black/white for too long. No amount of squirming can just sweep these things under the rug (sorry, mixed metaphor). The more hard-line, double-down responses that are put out by apologists and the church, the more absurd it gets. And this comes from a life-long, Sunday attending, scripture-reading, seminary grad, mission served, BYU grad, multiple-callings served, truth-seeking member that cannot swallow the camel any longer.

    • Mike Ash September 18, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      Jamie: “I have read repeatedly how I misunderstand Mr. Ash’s ideas and present them as a caricature. With all due respect, the article he wrote and is published is a fake letter between fictitious character composites — I believe that is “the” definition of caricature — We started with a caricature and we discussed it that way.”

      So because I wrote about a fictional dialogue, you feel it was ok to misrepresent what I wrote? At least I explained up front to the reader that this was a fictional dialogue. Perhaps you should have also informed your listeners that you were going to fictionalize and misrepresent what I wrote. Then, I’d say we’d be on equal footing.

      • Boris September 18, 2015 at 5:06 pm - Reply

        Mike, may I give you some useful advice?…Well, I’m going to give it to you anyway.

        Please just give it up. You’re like Brian Hales who visit the forum boards in attempts to prop up your failures in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. You guys keep getting your “ashes” handed to you and yet you keep coming back for more humiliation. Get out now and try to save what’s left of your dignity.

      • Simon Southerton September 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm - Reply

        Mike: It would be easier for people to accept the apologetic reinterpretations of the Book of Mormon if the leaders of the church showed some support for them. Can you tell us anything that indicates support for the views you express at the highest levels? To an outsider, it doesn’t look like there is much support given the demise of FARMS, the organisation that has championed the Limited Geography most loudly.

        • Mike Ash September 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm - Reply

          Dr. Southerton, I will respond to your question if you will respond to the one I asked earlier (in your response to my remarks).

          • james September 18, 2015 at 7:42 pm

            Don’t do It Dr Southerton. It’s a trap!

          • Aaron September 18, 2015 at 10:28 pm

            From the dedication of the Guatemala Quetzaltenango temple dedication by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in 2011

            “Thou kind and gracious Father, our hearts are filled with gratitude for Thy remembrance of the **sons and daughters of Lehi**. Thou hast heard their cries and seen their tears. Thou hast accepted their righteous sacrifices.”

            It’s interesting that Dehlin gets excommunicated for apostasy, when apologists like Mike Ash are actively changing the doctrine from what the Prophets are teaching.

          • Simon Southerton September 19, 2015 at 4:24 am

            Mike, you need to read up on the latest whole genome marker technology in order to appreciate its sensitivity. I have described it on my blog.

            Human genealogy is now routinely done using panels of SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) markers. These panels typically include 700,000 SNP markers. About 12 thousand of these SNPs are unique to Native Americans. Another subset (~30,000) are unique to Middle Eastern populations that include all groups related to the Hebrews. Its possible to detect foreign DNA in Native American genomes down to about 0.005%. So if a population had one Lamanite for every 20,000 Native Americans it would be possible to detect their DNA. It’s also possible through linkage analysis to determine when the foreign DNA entered the Native American genome.

            You haven’t said how many Lamanites you would expect to survive to the present day in your model. Are we talking 20,000? 50,000? Because if you were going to pick a number I would suggest you start building apologetic theories around a thousand or fewer. Much more than that and it would be virtually impossible to miss them.

            Whole genome analysis has been published for the Maya. Most “serious” apologist friends of yours have focused on them because they are the only literate New World civilization, a prerequisite for the BoM story. Middle Eastern DNA was not detected in the Maya. Plenty of Spanish, Portuguese and African DNA was detected, however, linkage analysis showed that it arrived in the last 500 years.

        • Mike Ash September 19, 2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

          Dr. Southerton, thank you for your response. I will read your blog article.

          To answer your question: “It would be easier for people to accept the apologetic reinterpretations of the Book of Mormon if the leaders of the church showed some support for them. Can you tell us anything that indicates support for the views you express at the highest levels? To an outsider, it doesn’t look like there is much support given the demise of FARMS, the organisation that has championed the Limited Geography most loudly.”

          This actually has multiple parts. First, to deal with the latter point about the “demise of FARMS.” That, IMHO, was a sad situation. But it was not orchestrated or supported (to my knowledge) by to Church leaders. This could require an entire thread of its own but there are a number of evidences that the leading body of the Church (and I put this in general terms because I’m sure opinions differ on the topic) were behind the coup.

          To the more important point, however, one which you repeat: “Until a church authority publicly supports the very limited geography theories its pretty hard to take them seriously.”

          It’s obvious that you and I see things very differently regarding the role of prophets and revelation. And I hope that you don’t see this as an insult—because it’s not meant to be so taken—but your views take a very fundamentalist approach to these issues. This is certainly not a knock against your intelligence, because, as I’ve stated several times in this thread, I accept your academic credentials and recognize that in order to have received your degrees you’d have to have effective cognitive skills. The fact is, however, that even intelligent people are prone to the unavoidable human problems associated with decision making, false assumptions, erroneous pattern recognition, etc.

          Fundamentalist thinking seems to be the default position for humanity. Many people overcome (or at least reduce) this deficiency in specific areas in our lives but I don’t think we can eradicate it from all of the things which occupy our minds (myself included, obviously).

          So to answer your question, the reason that prophets don’t show support for a limited geographic model (at least _official_ support) is because there is no revelation to cement the theory. It’s a human theory. Leaders are humans, and so they can accept or reject the theory (and, from my own personal exploration, some leaders accept the theory). Not showing support doesn’t mean it’s not true, it just means that it’s not a “fact” (at least a fact according to LDS revelation).

          If I remember correctly, you were once an LDS bishop. While this might have changed you in some spiritual ways, it didn’t automatically give you revelatory insight into all questions regarding the Gospel, the scriptures, ancient history, or the sciences. The inspiration would have been sometimes specific, sometimes vague, and typically restricted to pertinent matters of ward directives and ways to help your ward members. Church leaders don’t suddenly gain any additional insight (at least not automatically) on the peripheral issues any more than you did (or I do). They are left to work these things out for themselves without (typically) revelatory confirmation or rejection.

          You, I, Joseph Smith, President Monson, Brigham Young, etc., are much more alike that we are different. We all suffer from similar health issues, temptations, weaknesses, and cognitive limitations. Those things don’t go away when you become a bishop, stake president, or prophet. This can obviously lead to a much, much bigger discussion, but I’m just trying to lay out some basics that shape my personal frame of reference (I’ve written much more on this in Shaken Faith Syndrome and will address it in further detail in another book in the works). So, in short, you (like most members) instinctively take a more black and white approach to how prophets should think and act then I do.

          While a prophet can receive revelation, they do so typically from within the context of how to help members become more Christ-like, not in answer (typically) to scholarly information which seems important to some of us, but in reality is ancillary to how we can change hearts to align our lives with God.

          Because revelation isn’t generally received on the matters we—as apologists for our respective positions—choose to debate, it‘s unavoidable that prophets (like rest of us) will make mistakes in teaching their views on those scholarly issues (and my current project will address some of these same human problems we find in the scriptures themselves—ancient prophets aren’t and different than modern prophets when it comes to making false assumptions about historical narratives or the way the world works).

          Hope this answers your question in regards to how I understand the situation.

          • Simon Southerton September 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm

            Thanks Mike, I appreciate you answering my question. I don’t envy you. It is difficult when the leaders now choose to be silent, whereas in the past they have been very open about where the events of the Book of Mormon were played out.

          • james September 20, 2015 at 7:05 pm

            Mike Ash states, “ancient prophets aren’t and [sic] different than modern prophets when it comes to making false assumptions about historical narratives or the way the world works.”

            Ok. But Mr. Ash forgets the grand-daddy of all truth-editing-ancient-to-modern bottlenecks. GOD our father edited the BOM for us in these latter days. Which “false assumptions about historical narratives” did God allow into our most holy book? Which parts aren’t true? How am I to know the truth, now that plain readings of the BOM can’t be trusted? How am I to know the truth when a Mormon apologist claims I can jettison my reading of the BOM for theirs? What do I do if someone is trying to discredit what millions of people have thought about the BOM? Well, Fear not, with the help of the great man and agricultural secretary and sometimes prophet E.T. Benson, we learn:

            ’Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and MILLIONS [Emphasis mine] have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.”

            Personal revelation newsflash: Apologists like Ash are enemies of the church! Wowza, and I don’t think they know they are– Information Age meet the Irony Age.

            When dealing with apologetics, I’ll judiciously apply the words of Sweet Brown, which she plainly spoke after running with a fundamental interpretation of where there’s smoke, there’s fire, she declared to all nations, kindreds and tongues, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

            Here’s the pudding:

          • DP September 20, 2015 at 9:32 pm


            I’m confused as to why the hirstoricity of the Book of Mormon is not a matter of salvation or faith for members of the Church?

            It seems to me that you suggest the prophets will not speak to this issue because it has no bearing on their salvation. Well, do you believe that accepting the Book of Mormon and having faith in the gospel it preaches does?

            What if that faith is destroyed by scientific study? What if DNA analysis makes it difficult for God’s children to trust the Book of Mormon and those who represent it? What if such studies cause God’s children to no longer believe in the prophets, their keys, and the ordinances they offer because they would not speak to the historicity and truth claims of the Book of Mormon?

            If they will not give a revelation on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, they should at least teach the members how to understand the old beliefs and statements of previous prophets and faithful saints in light of the new science and information. If they are not going to speak on this topic with the spirit of prophecy, they should at least act as spiritual guides and stewards and lead us all to safety, no????

          • Michael September 21, 2015 at 9:18 am

            Well put. Some of these posts by disgruntled LDS (or former members) are marked by degrees of certitude and orthodoxy to which only a few saints could ever aspire. I don’t think I could ever muster such faith. Personally, I find Paul’s approach to looking “through a glass darkly” to be more intellectually satisfying, rather being on the bandwagon because you assume that all of the parts fit or jumping off the bandwagon because you suddenly realize they don’t.

          • Mike Ash September 22, 2015 at 3:36 pm

            Simon wrote: “Thanks Mike, I appreciate you answering my question. I don’t envy you. It is difficult when the leaders now choose to be silent, whereas in the past they have been very open about where the events of the Book of Mormon were played out.”

            Overall, I think that’s probably a good thing. :)

            Quite frankly past leaders were (IMHO) a bit over-confident and outspoken in their opinions. I haven’t any research to support this, but I suspect this may simply be indicative of the times in which they lived. Modern leaders have learned from the past and tend to stay silent with their own opinions. But, it must be emphasized, that we’re talking about opinions (even when expressed confidently) rather than revelation.

            I view Church progress a lot like scientific progress (and, quite frankly, I believe that all truth is intertwined). There are stumbles, dead-ends, wrong turns; but eventually (like science) we get the kinks worked out and move closer to truth.

        • Ben Paxton September 26, 2015 at 3:32 pm - Reply

          “Its possible to detect foreign DNA in Native American genomes down to about 0.005%. So if a population had one Lamanite for every 20,000 Native Americans it would be possible to detect their DNA. It’s also possible through linkage analysis to determine when the foreign DNA entered the Native American genome.”

          If Lehi’s group was small, 20-30 people, what is the limit of detectability of their DNA? If it is 0.005% does that mean that if they joined a group of 400,000-600,000 that we would not expect to find their dna by modern methods?

  44. Ephima Morphew September 18, 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Beyond DDT and Glogal Warming, the Mormons could consolidate their woes.
    The Anthropocene faced by humanity is mis-directed by Mormon Anthropocentricene; this extreme form of navel gazing is reduced to just more Mormon Myopia with citations from credentialed Temple Baptized Mormons.
    Laminate the Lamanites into nephite neophytes, thus, as it came to pass they become Laminated Neophytes. Solving the problems of testing for DNA evidence altogether, Laminated Neophytes become just another quaint and peculiar quirk protected by religious freedoms afforded by Merry Mormon Myth Makers. Mormon Myopia is a terrible thing to waste and the Mormon Bible will all be sorted out in the end for the Saints of the Latter Daze –– whether credentials are flourished or not.

    To be sorted out in the end without testing or agency

    • St. Ralph September 18, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Exactly. Can I quote you?

      • Ephima Morphew September 18, 2015 at 7:29 pm - Reply

        St. Ralph, you can have me anyway you like.
        hi regards and remember the Mormon Anthropocentricene of the Latter Daze is a brief candle.
        I find this whole argument over nonexistant DNA to be like a snark-fest for rodeo clowns.


  45. Doubting Thomas September 18, 2015 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Mike Ash – First reply, beginning of last paragraph:

    “Well, this was a drive-by post. I work LOTS of hours, and I’m not sure if I’ll have time to respond to all the haters that will now pile up on my comments.”

    27 replies later…

    Mike, go back to work brother.

    • Ephima Morphew September 18, 2015 at 11:29 pm - Reply

      Mike Ash – First reply, beginning of last paragraph:

      “Well, this was a drive-by post. I work LOTS of hours, and I’m not sure if I’ll have time to respond to all the haters that will now pile up on my comments.”

      Well, don’t know how many drive byes one can affort before it starts eating into “I work LOTS of hours,” before it the myopia takes over and is given over to that burning in the belly.

      These things I kow Grasshopper

    • Ephima Morphew September 19, 2015 at 12:56 am - Reply

      “Well, this was a drive-by post. I work LOTS of hours, and I’m not sure if I’ll have time to respond to all the haters that will now pile up on my comments.”

      Is it drives by or drive byes, with so many –– I’m confused
      but it will be sorted out after all.

      • St. Ralph September 19, 2015 at 9:31 pm - Reply

        Grammatical conundra (conundae? conundri?) R us to be sure, but as the hymn says, “We’ll meet on that beautiful shore [and surely know more]/In the sweet by and by[e].” Or not . . .

  46. Jean Bodie September 18, 2015 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    I’m a bit confused. A couple of times, Jamie said 30 billion base pairs rather than 3 billion; that’s a lot different. Was she referring to something else?
    Great podcast; it IS a difficult topic for those of us not trained in that field, but it is made easier by experts who can speak our our uneducated language. Thanks for your time – Jamie, Simon and Eric.

    • Jamie Handy September 18, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      The correct answer is 3 billion base pairs. We discussed the correct answer and then I just misspoke the number in haste.

  47. Paul M September 19, 2015 at 8:33 am - Reply

    To Mike Ash: would you accept an invitation to debate your point of view on Mormon Stories in an episode with Dr. southern and?

    In my humble opinion their is NOTHING that supports the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Apologists would be better served arguing the book’s spiritual value to the reader and GIVE UP trying to argue that Nephi or Lehi ever really existed or that any of the events outlined in the book actually ever happened.

    • Gary in Oregon September 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      Jamie’s comparison of the Book of Mormon (and the entire JS story) to her kids believing in Santa Claus was right on target.

      Educated adults who are not mentally retarded … who still believe the Book of Mormon is not fiction … simply boggles the imagination!

      This phenomenon proves beyond any doubt that the LDS Church is a very successful and effective Mind Control Cult. If you believe the JSBS, your Mind has been Controlled.

      Jesus Christ, People! You successfully discovered that Santa Claus is not real. NEWS FLASH: Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Lemuel, Moroni, Mormon, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are not real either!

      • Jim G September 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

        For the love of humanity, please don’t take EG’s bait on the Book of Abraham.

  48. J September 19, 2015 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Very interesting discussion all around, both in the podcast and in the comments. I don’t doubt the sincerity of people on all sides of the debate, but I happen to have concluded (tentatively), based on a preponderance of evidence, that the Book of Mormon is not a literal historical record of ancient peoples in America. (Contrary to the church’s rhetoric, this does not necessarily mean that the church is an out and out fraud. I believe in a lot more grey area than that.)

    I think it is important to keep in mind that the DNA issue is not the only challenge to the historicity of the BoM, although it is certainly worrisome. The lack of archaeological and linguistic evidence is also troublesome, but (for me) the biggest problems lie in the credibility of the BoM narrative itself. For example, the brass plates were said to contain the Five Books of Moses (1 Nephi 5:11). First off, virtually no biblical scholars (even those at BYU) would claim that Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch. Rather, it was composed over a long period of time by multiple authors. Further, few if any biblical scholars would claim that the entire Pentateuch as we know it was compiled or even written by 600 BCE when the Lehite clan left Jerusalem (most scholars place the compilation of the Pentateuch in the Persian Period–probably 5th or 4th century BCE). That Laban had an Egyptian translation of said books is even more unlikely (see Mosiah 1:4), especially considering that the first known translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was into Greek starting in the 3rd century BCE. The issue of Deutero-Isaiah and New Testament passages appearing in the BoM is troublesome but has been discussed at length in other venues so I won’t mention it here.

    One major issue that I don’t see covered very often in the debate about BoM historicity is the problem with the great tower (The Tower of Babel). (If anyone can point me to a scholarly treatment of its relation to the BoM I would be most appreciative.) Everyone except the most fundamentalist of Christians and the most orthodox of Jews view the Tower of Babel story in Gen 11 as a simple etiological myth that explains the origin of multiple languages and the scattering of peoples to different parts of the world (Gen 11:9). The BoM, however, requires that it be a literal historical event because the Jaredites leave from there to sail to America. Despite the fact that the biblical narrative places the Tower of Babel around 2250 BCE, most biblical scholars view the story of the tower as originating when the Jews were in Babylonian exile during the 6th century BCE (a view that is well-founded, in my opinion). The BoM seems to assume the biblical tradition because it has the Jaredites living in the Americas for many years before the Mulekites discovered Coriantumr (Omni 1:21-22). It is unclear exactly how long the Jaredites lived in the land before the final battle, but at least 30 generations came and went during this time (Ether 1:6-32). Even if that did take us back to the biblical date, the entire story of the tower is implausible because we know that multiple languages already existed at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE. Just in the Middle East there were already at least three attested languages by then: Sumerian (c. 3100 BCE), Egyptian (c. 2600 BCE) and Akkadian (c. 2400 BCE).

    In short, the entire story of the great tower is highly unlikely to have been an actual historical event, a conclusion that throws great doubt on the historicity of the BoM narrative.

    • Leslie September 19, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

      That’s really what is comes down to, isn’t it?

      You can sit there and pick away at one particular piece of evidence until you’ve convinced yourself that you can safely dismiss it.

      But then the problem becomes that the list of evidence against what the LDS Church purports itself to be is as long as your arm. Make that both arms.

      I’m no longer interested in emotional truths. I’m no longer interested in performing mental gymnastics because I desperately want the Church to be true. I completely tune out people supplying so-called evidence when they are not really answering any questions, but are only working to attack one another’s character and credentials. That just means that they have nothing of substance to offer.

      I’m only interested in what is actually true.

    • Gary in Oregon September 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply


      All of your BofM concerns are instantly resolved (Poof! Disappear!) when you acknowledge the simple and obviously correct conclusion regarding the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

      • J September 19, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

        Hi Gary,

        As I noted in my post, I have concluded that the BoM is not an ancient document. However, I feel that it is important to respect people on all sides of the debate and take the BoM seriously in order to fully analyze it and show what the historical problems are. Rather than attacking people I prefer to focus on the data. Besides, I know many people who are far smarter than I and who know far more about the BoM who absolutely believe in it 100%, so I don’t think knowledge has much to do with whether or not one believes in the BoM’s historicity.

        • Gary in Oregon September 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm - Reply

          “Knowledge” is in the eye/brain of the beholder. What is “knowledge” to one person can be pure BS to another.

          At the end of the day, human beings believe what we want to believe because we want to believe it. We are all so naturally adept at confirmation bias it’s truly scary. We all tend to trust data that aligns with our beliefs and distrust all other data. We don’t feel so compelled to source-check confirming evidence.

          All of us can be misled and deceived by cleverly edited/falsified evidence unless we verify everything. Even then, we have to trust that our documents have not been Mark Hofmanned.

          Astute observers can cleverly outsmart ingenious deceptions as follows:

          A key maxim for truth seekers is to completely ignore all of the words that are written and spoken, and instead rely on Behaviors to telegraph what a particular party believes and does not believe.

          The Brethren have clearly telegraphed by their behavior that they know full well the Book of Mormon is fiction. Changing the title page wording from “principal” to “among”. Shifting correlated class curricula from historical to spiritual emphasis. Abandoning search for archaeological evidence. Now pretending the Lamanite Generation never happened, etc. The Brethren “know” the BofM is fiction. Their ‘subtle’ damage control behaviors betray what’s in their hearts.

          I don’t agree that claims founded on demonstrable BS deserve so much respect. While ad hominem attacks are always inappropriate, swiftly and succinctly dismissing BS arguments as BS when the evidence is beyond compelling … saves everyone time and energy.

          We should reserve our respect for those who promulgate truth, and merely tolerate (up to a point) those who peddle deception, regardless of their seeming sincerity.

  49. Kelly September 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    This was very interesting thank you for your hard work. I do like it better though when each panelist speaks equally and Dehlin is the moderator who asks the questions and guides the conversation. Jamie did great, don’t get me wrong, I just wanted to hear equally from Simon and Eric. Im guessing Jamie was meant to be the moderator, which made dehlin superfluous, but again I thought dehlin should be the moderator (since it is mormon stories) with Jamie, Simon, and Eric each contributing equally to the conversation sine all three of them are so interesting. it just felt like a strange format to me to have the moderator (John) be there with another moderator (Jamie) who was given the strange task of both moderating AND contributing which made the other contributors (Eric and Simon) not have as much time to contribute.

    • Simon Southerton September 19, 2015 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      Kelly, Eric and I were perfectly comfortable with how the panel discussion played out. The interview was triggered by Jamie’s very well written article. She had been asked by John to take the lead and we could chime in if we felt we had anything to add. It was very much her moment. If people want to hear what I have to say they can go to my blog for a bit more of the broken record.

      Setting up these interviews is not simple, particularly with people on the other side of the planet. It was early morning for me so I very much appreciated her leading the discussion. I was half awake. I am thrilled that we now have a very intelligent voice who adds another perspective. And the fact that she is an intelligent and articulate woman is a huge bonus given the absence of women in the apologetics camp.

      • Paul M September 19, 2015 at 8:02 pm - Reply

        Thanks for all your great work Simon! I too was impressed with Jamie! She is a very intelligent, well spoken! And sharp person. Glad you were fine with how it turned out!

      • Kelly September 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm - Reply

        My apologies then; I didn’t realize that the podcast was following Jamie’s great article (that I just read). I guess I missed the part where John explained that the format would be following her article, so I assumed that everyone would be contributing equal time. Sorry Jamie.

  50. Jim G September 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Some very random thoughts…

    As my high school English teacher Gary Boom memorably taught me, “The observation often reveals more about the observer than the observed.” Mr. Ash states “you’ve already made up your minds so you’re not interested in any arguments to the contrary.” Of course, this all being recursive, my pointing this out may reveal more about me than it does about Mr. Ash.

    I remain puzzled why any person of faith–which for Jews and Christians, at least, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11-1 KJV)–feels the need to reconcile their personal faith with science. By definition, science relegates hopes and the unseen to propositions at best. In my view, it is a fool’s errand to for the faithful to fret about the historicity of Jesus, the Ark, the Book of Mormon, and so on. The faithful cannot explain away doubts with simple belief; and any true scientist will not accept faith as evidence.

    If you’re going to choose to live your life guided by lessons from what I would view as mythology, it is helpful to first understand and accept that it is, in fact, mythology and who is writing or pushing it. Once you realize that it is mythology born out of patriarchy, then what has transpired over 180 years makes a lot more sense. All the second guessing about each little event, twist, and turn is in the perspective that it served either the myth or the patriarchy. Living by lessons from mythology is not necessarily a bad thing. Not understanding that it’s mythology–including diving into a futile attempt to prove its historicity–is the damaging part.

    If one thinks one will become a god of one’s own planet by good works &c during one’s lifetime, then it certainly isn’t going to be productive to engage in a discussion of more trivial matters such as the likelihood that Joseph could run carrying with 200 lbs. of gold plates, the date of origin of ring binders, or the means by which Joseph authored the text of the Book of Mormon. Science will never be satisfied to fill in gaps with “you just have to believe” or, worse, “you just are incapable believing strong enough” or “you’re not believing in the right way.”

    As to why people devote time to apologizing for their faith, I suppose any gathering of humans that becomes centered on power (usually by perpetuating a patriarchy and mixing in the instrument of money) will defend its doctrine and dogma as a given truth. If it works for the founders, they will indoctrinate their children and others to perpetuate what they may sincerely and earnestly believe is a good thing. The myth becomes the truth. It’s entirely human. It’s happened for millennia.

    Santa Claus refers back to a human Nicholas in Greece who existed in the historical record. Around him was constructed a myth that, even in its form today, brings lots of people joy. The damage comes when people don’t understand that the Santa Claus known in the U.S. today is entirely myth, with a heavy dose of Victorian culture then 19th and 20th century advertising. Most adults can’t recite a fact about Nicholas born out of the historical record let alone refrain from teaching their children that Santa Claus is a real person.

    More important, look how many people of all faiths are buoyed by the example of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Catholic Pope, Francis. He is taking lessons from his preferred mythology–that surrounding Jesus–and using them to set an example of how we might treat one another–with grace, with love, with positive encouragement rather than condemnation. While he is part of an incredibly powerful patriarchy with incredible power (including power through money), at least he is trying to shift the focus to “live your faith”.

    What will the latter-day saints do? Dig deeper into apologies, trying to reconcile faith with a scruitiny that faith cannot withstand (that is, science)? Or will they take a page from Francis and figure out what they want their true legacy to be, the lessons they wish to live by in example to others, and start focusing on that positively?

    “It’s an idea, a metaphor.” as they say in The Book of Mormon (the musical, that is). To me, it is a waste of good energy to attempt to parse a metaphor into facts.

    p.s. Congratulations to Bob for fulfilling Godwin’s Law in perhaps record time.

    • James September 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Actually, it was me. but to my defense…it was too easy. I couldn’t resist. Godwin would approve.

      • Jim September 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm - Reply

        Where James? I can’t find it. My apologies.

        • James September 19, 2015 at 5:21 pm - Reply

          Hello Jim,
          I’m not proud of it. It’s in poor taste. It’s subtle, but it invokes Godwin’s law. I’m sorry. There’s a low probability I’ll do it again…

          “My dear Goble, I’d like to try my hand at apologetics and obfuscation…if all I do is add to your name another ‘b’, and move an ‘e’ and an ‘l’, and add an s. Voila, proof that you’ve been on the wrong side of history. Gott mit uns eh?…”

          oops, I did it again.

      • Jim G September 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm - Reply

        Oops, I see. I stand corrected, James. You are today’s big winner (or, under Godwin’s Law, forfeiter of the debate?) In your honor, perhaps a new title for “Mein Kampf” – “Mein Kash” (which I am most certain doesn’t translate to “My Cash”)

    • St. Ralph September 19, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      Very well put. I grew up in the beautiful bubble of the Leave-It-To-Beaver/Ozzie-and-Harriette/I-Like-Ike American ’50s and ’60s. It was magical; I mean that. I’m glad I was there and that it happened to ME. The bubble got a little worn when I was nine or so and a friend at school’s dad lost his job a couple months before Christmas and that year they couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, much less anything to put under it. That can’t happen, can it? Not in the halcyon days of Eisenhower America. Apparently it can. By the time I was eleven, the bubble was gone. That was the year Kennedy was shot. My childhood, up to age ten or eleven, was idyllic, it really was. It was fun and sweet and wonderful. And it’s OVER. My mom has asked me if I wouldn’t recreate those times if I could. No. To try to do so now would be a remake of “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane.” What sparkled so then would just be old, tired and corrupt now. Make-believe is wonderful and the only harm in it is not being able to tell what’s make-believe and what’s not—not knowing when it’s time to come inside and get cleaned up for dinner.

  51. James September 19, 2015 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Mike Ash states, “ancient prophets aren’t and [sic] different than modern prophets when it comes to making false assumptions about historical narratives or the way the world works.”

    Ok. But Mr. Ash forgets the grand-daddy of all truth-editing-ancient-to-modern bottlenecks. GOD our father edited the BOM for us in these latter days. Which “false assumptions about historical narratives” did God allow into our most holy book? Which parts aren’t true? How am I to know the truth, now that plain readings of the BOM can’t be trusted? How am I to know the truth when a Mormon apologist claims I can jettison my reading of the BOM for theirs? What do I do if someone is trying to discredit what millions of people have thought about the BOM? Well, Fear not, with the help of the great man and agricultural secretary and sometimes prophet E.T. Benson, we learn:

    ’Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and MILLIONS [Emphasis mine] have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.”

    Personal revelation newsflash: Apologists like Ash are enemies of the church! Wowza, and I don’t think they know they are– Information Age meet the Irony Age.

    When dealing with apologetics, I’ll judiciously apply the words of Sweet Brown, which she plainly spoke after running with a fundamental interpretation of when there’s smoke, there’s fire, she declared to all nations, kindreds and tongues, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

    Here’s the pudding:

    Faithfully yours,
    (name on file)

  52. Dee September 19, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Seems to me that this indicates that Haplogroup X mtDNA research could support the theory of BOM migrations from Jerusalem to the mound builder areas of northern America. What are you thoughts on this Jamie, Simon, or Eric?

    • Brent Metcalfe September 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Ugo Prego, who is both a qualified geneticist and BoMor apologist, has quashed the notion that haplogroup X has any relevance for an Israelite ancestry for Native Americans. See…

      • Bob September 19, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

        I was taught for years that the “Native Americans” were called “Lamanites” and were direct progeny of the Book of Mormon character.

        I was taught that the continents of North and South America were preserved for Nephi and his family and there was no mention at all of any other peoples other than the Jaredites.

        The Church had special missions to the Indian reserves to bring the “gospel” to the native people. A big deal was made when George Lee became a general authority and the Church made a huge effort to showcase their native dances and culture with the Polynesian Cultural Center and Lamanite Generation.

        Has something changed? Is this no longer the story?
        Why is there talk of the no genetic ties to Israel?
        Either there is or there isn’t.

        Given the Church’s history of cooking the books to hide information that should have been available all along, why would anyone believe anything Ugo Perego or Mike Ash have to say?

        The question that should be asked of either is, “If you discovered information that was clearly opposing the story of the Book of Mormon as an historical record, would you be willing to share it and risk the possibility that members might leave the Church or would you lie about the discovery in order to preserve the faith of the members?”

      • Jack September 20, 2015 at 6:46 pm - Reply


        Thanks for the link. I had read this before. Do a search on that page for “X2a” and you will find that he very clearly states that this group could support the BOM narative.

        Quote from Prego:
        “Similarly, a more recently introduced mtDNA lineage from the Old World, as in the Book of Mormon scenario, would have been even more likely to disappear or escape detection when introduced to a large gene-pool. We will discuss this further in the section about genetic drift.

        A far more puzzling story surrounds the origin of the fifth Native American lineage, called X2a. This group of mtDNAs is found exclusively in North America, with its highest [Page 254]modern-day concentration in the Great Lakes region.27 While Native American mtDNAs A2, B2, C1, and D1 are clearly nested within Asian clades, lineage X2a has a hypothesized ancient Old World origin, probably in the Middle East.”

        I don’t know if this X2a group was even discussed in this podcast because I frankly got tired of the guests’ “know-it-all” attitudes on this subject and quit listening.

        The LDS church made a big mistake by following what was once written in the Times and Seasons that caused the church in general to conclude the BOM lands encompassed all of North and South America, or even just the land of Mesoamerica. Everyone was thinking that the articles from the Times and Seasons were all authored by, or at least reviewed by, Joseph Smith. This is not the case however. Check out this article:

        I need to do more research on that subject, but I found it very interesting.

        I’m not an Mormon apologist by any means, but after reading all that I could find on the DNA issues and the BOM claims, and everything I could get my hands on about Mormon church history over the past 10 years, it appears to me we have not been able to prove the BOM to be a fraud. Neither have we proven it to be authentic. We have not proven it either way, and only time will tell.


        • Brent Metcalfe September 20, 2015 at 11:10 pm - Reply

          Jack, X2a lends absolutely no support for the BoMor Amerisraelites since the haplogroup entered the Amerindian gene pool several thousand years before BoMor events were supposed to have occurred. Kennewick Man (found in the Pacific Northwest) belongs to the X2a haplogroup lineage, and he lived ~9,000 YBP (~7000 BCE). As you said, you “need to do more research on that subject,” and I encourage you to do so.

          Simon gives a good summary here…

        • Dave S September 22, 2015 at 8:17 am - Reply


          You know you are citing a reference to FIRM Foundation, which believes in the Heartland Model, right? If you accept their arguments, please stay away from science. It only makes your claims sound silly.

          One example of gaslighting which the church has engaged in, is the spurious claim that while the BoM hasn’t been proven true, neither has it been proven false.

          As others have pointed out, Santa Claus hasn’t been “proven” false either, but we don’t believe in him.

          The question is why, and there is more than sufficient evidence to show that a person as such couldn’t exist. Likewise, the BoM cannot be taken historically, but only as an early 19th century creation.

          To get around the DNA issue, then one must engage in mental gymnastics, all of which lad down rabbit holes into a myriad of other problems.

          Supposing that there were only a handful of settlers from the Middle East, however there is no good explanation of how they could become the leaders of large empires without leaving traces including linguistic, cultural and religious evidence.

  53. Frank Fourth September 20, 2015 at 9:07 am - Reply

    One of the principal messages of the Book of Mormon is that since the expelling of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, located in what is now Missouri, this land was a choice land above all others reserved for the regathering of the righteous Tribes of Israel. The only people that God would allow to come here would be specially chosen members of Israel until that final gathering occurred at Adam-ondi-Ahman presided over by the Ancient of Days, our Father Adam.

    The beginning of this regathering was when Columbus was moved by the Spirit to come to this choice land above all others. Following him were the scattered members of the Lost Tribes. This was followed, along with other events such as the institution of our divinely inspired Constitution which allowed for religious freedom so that Joseph Smith could obtain the Gold Plates with the Fullness of the Everlasting Gospel, establish the true church, convert that part of the Tribes of Israel he found in this choice land, the Lamanites, and move us to that Millennial Day. In fact, we can tell which Tribe of the House of Israel we belong to through our Patriarchal Blessings.

    So who was the other overwhelming population from Asia Lehi found kicking around when he got here?

    • Leslie September 20, 2015 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Exactly. There is such a huge divide between what we were taught in Church, in the Book of Mormon, and what the apologists propose as truth.

      The Book specifically states that the land was preserved from the knowledge of other nations. But somehow it didn’t work and instead they found millions of other people living here already anyway? They don’t mention them in the Book. Why not?

      It doesn’t take a genius to notice these glaring differences.

      • Gary in Oregon September 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

        It DOES, however, require a GENIUS to successfully explain these obvious discrepancies without insulting the intelligence of an 8 year old.

        So far, that required GENIUS has yet to appear.

    • Gary in Oregon September 20, 2015 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Good question.

      And here’s another good question with even more basis in Reality than ANY question about Lehi:

      Why doesn’t Donald Duck EVER wear any pants?

  54. Ephima Morphew September 20, 2015 at 11:50 am - Reply

    ON The Mormon Anthropocentricene

    St. Ralf has a parable that speaks to me regarding this squabble and many others too.

    “Make-believe is wonderful and the only harm in it is not being able to tell what’s make-believe and what’s not—not knowing when it’s time to come inside and get cleaned up for dinner.”

    Myopic investigation of Mormon Myth leads to responding to dog whistles that are, just, out of reach of hearing.
    The ghosts of the audible are the creation of the imagination. The testimony of an Unreliable Narrator leaves the devout with more imaginary evidence to ponder. Best to get cleaned up for dinner.

  55. Jaasiel Rodriguez September 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    I just realized that the church is in the crisis it is in because it created a kind of hybrid paradigm for itself. A very STRONG one. It’s paradigm is not only religious and spiritual, but it is also a kind of ethical, medical, biological, and cosmological one as well.

    It has created this for itself by trying ascribe -of all reasons, rhetorically- a kind of certainty that we seek for in the sciences; a kind of empiricism. I say rhetorically because if you were to explain to its pundits what that meant; They would not have accepted. They did this by making claims about what at the time might not have felt too empirical: ancestry, archeology, and records keeping. By doing that, it unknowingly created a hybrid paradigm that is susceptible to scientific revolutions. Unknowingly because those categories were not at the time too allied with the more empirical sciences like physics, chemistry, and mathematics, which were themselves in their emperical teenage years.

    Mormonism now finds itself in what Thomas Kuhn would have called the crisis stage of a scientific revolution. It’s practitioners that have meticulously followed the paradigm criteria have found that it is insufficient for what it sees in its experiments, and they seek a new paradigm.

    It’s pretty funny; and, for those of us who felt a deep connection to its teachings, tragic.

    Furthermore, by adopting notions of the modern and post-modern -namely corporate managerial practices and marketing- calling them inspired, and therefore transcendent, it made itself philosophically incoherent, and now stands along with those philosophies, to be temporal and losing their edge.

    What, ironically enough, the Mormon religion finds itself to be is, literally, an old managerial handbook in a scientific revolution.

  56. Skierdude September 20, 2015 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    2 best takeaways for me from this podcast. 1. LDS expects you to leave your brain at the door. God gave us a brain for a reason. 2. BOM events are only 1200 years old. There is no way that DNA evidence has just dissappeared. We’re not trying to examin DNA history from millions of years ago.

  57. JT September 20, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    OK. I admit it. I aint so smart. But I think I got it when Jamie told how apolijists losing DNA is like them losing their marbles.

  58. Michael September 21, 2015 at 12:30 am - Reply

    I tuned in for this podcast because the subject matter interested me. I commented earlier and then read the posted comments in their entirety. I was hopeful, I suppose, that someone would write something that would dissuade me from my initial opinion, but the comments reaffirm my earlier dissatisfaction with the podcast. Given that there seems to be a lot of “inside” dialogue going on between the apologist Michael Ashe and those who find him unappealing, to put it mildly, I should preface that I am not in either camp. I am a disaffected Mormon and while I have an academic bent (I am on the faculty of a major west coast university), I confess I am not well versed on a number of polarizing issues that seem to rile up both camps. My disappointment in the podcast is that while there was some science presented, the overriding mission (reinforced by comments) was to demand some sort of statement from LDS leadership on historical interpretations of the Book of Mormon (see Jamie’s third point in her comment). While this suggestion on its face seems reasonable enough, the strident tone in which it was presented seemed a bit over the top for a trio of so-called objective scientists. In other words, the science seemed to get lost in whatever personal theological battles that a couple of the panelists seem to have with the church. I, for one, could care less what some church leader might say or not say about the Book of Mormon. Whatever its source, the text has been around long enough to stand on its own and either be verified by science (which, as the podcast aptly demonstrates is highly improbable) or by personal revelation (which is, to be redundant in order to stress the point, personal, meaning that it is not easily assessed by science).

    • Jim September 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      I am actually surprised that the participants in the podcast are willing to devote their time to debunk the apologists’ gobbledy gook. When you subscribe to the scientific method, any time spent debating what is self-evident is a charitable exercise. People who have only recently escaped the power exercised over them by the church have no obligation to explain oppression to their oppressors. The fact that they take time to do so is amazing to begin with, and the fact that they may make emotional statements out of the sheer exasperation of needing to do so speak volumes. I don’t see the church providing any discussion or support groups or such to help people navigate their own issuances.

    • Kay September 21, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Head over to the history, anthropology and archaeology departments at your own university and ask them their opinions of the events put forward as authentic past occurences in the BoM.

      The reason secular scholars do not study BoM history, is because there is literally NOTHING for them to study. There is not one shred of evidence for them to examine. There is no there, there.

      • Michael September 22, 2015 at 1:41 am - Reply

        Jim, I am sorry, but the last thing I would want is a support group sponsored by the same church I wish to leave to soften my exit. Plus, I honestly do not recall ever feeling “oppressed” by the church in exiting. If it works for you, stay in; if it does not, leave. No offense, but the histrionics in the podcast and in some of these posts, including your own, baffles me.

        • Jim G September 22, 2015 at 12:02 pm - Reply

          The faculty member of a major west coast university doth protest too much, methinks.

  59. Michael September 22, 2015 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Kay – I am completely nonplussed over the fact that there is not a shred of evidence, as you put it, for scholars in my university or any university to support a study of the Book of Mormon. I really could care less. My understanding of the Book of Mormon message is that its veracity is to be tested by a quest for personal revelation not by scientific inquiry. As Jamie pointed out in a prior post, a lot of smart, educated people – scientists and non-scientists – have followed this course and are convinced of its truthfulness. Of course, this course is not scientific and it likely drives you crazy. What drives me even more crazy is the rigidity of some disaffected Mormons who for whatever reason cannot grasp the concept well stated by Mr. Ashe in a previous post that revelation at any level is fraught with as much muddiness and silliness (i.e., seer stones) as clarity and when they discover that the so-called bright lines are not so bright they are shocked and then dispense overwrought criticism of church leaders and tedious analogies of LDS religion to Santa Claus, etc. If you don’t believe in revelation, fine, my argument is irrelevant; however, most if not all disaffected Mormons at one time did or they would have not been Mormons in the first place.

    • Gary in Oregon September 22, 2015 at 3:15 am - Reply

      My sister was in relationship with a Mensa genius for 8 years who had 4 children raised in the Mormon Church. The eldest daughter curiously maintained her sincere belief in Santa Claus all the way through high school.

      Those of us who have developed a strong suspicion that Santa Claus is not a real person and that the story about the sleigh and reindeer is just that … a story … kinda felt sorry for the daughter who was unable to figure this out due to her strongly held desire to keep believing in that appealing tale that made her feel warm and fuzzy.

      The Brethren persist in promulgating a similarly fantastic story about a 14 year old boy who reported an impressive series of no less supernatural miracles that challenge our model of reality. Many of us who used to soberly believe these miracles actually happened have managed to come to our senses … admittedly later in life than when we previously compared the Santa Claus story with our adult grasp of reality and figured it out.

      Not unlike the eldest daughter, others of us are continuing to cling to the story about the 14 year old boy and his spectacular visitations and translations, sincerely defending their veracity.

      For those of us who have figured it out, there is NO DIFFERENCE between Santa Claus and Joseph Smith. Well, maybe one difference. Mom and Dad kept the Santa story alive to delight their children. They did not collect allowance from their believing kids and trick them into paying for their delightful Christmas gifts and surprises themselves.

      Of course, believing Mormons are insulted and offended by what I just wrote, just as the eldest daughter was insulted and offended when her high school friends pointed and laughed at her because of her dearly held belief.

      There is a difference between a LIE and a REVELATION, and it’s not just in the eye of the beholder.

      • Bob September 24, 2015 at 12:54 pm - Reply

        There’s an expression that says something to the effect, “those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it.”

        This is going to seem like a wildly, over the top, ridiculous comparison however the Mormon Church and the Hitler youth are so similar as to startle you.

        There’s a BBC documentary called “Hitler’s Children” I discovered on youtube that for someone who has been involved in the LDS Church will immediately see the similarities.

        The fanatical level of devotion, which produced the climate to create the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

        The propaganda used with the Church news, Deseret News, the Ensign etc.

        The use of art and film and music to create emotion and fervor in the members.

        Oaths of total commitment, and obedience including the giving of one’s life to the cause.

        The “we” vs the world and the members taught that they are the chosen few.

        The celebrity status of the leadership who are the elite and above the members and criticism or question.

        Women are to be only to be mothers and obedient wives who’s purpose in life is to bear and rear children.

        Racism and prejudice against certain groups such blacks and gays.

        Before you dismiss my post, check it out for yourself.

    • Rob Hastings September 22, 2015 at 4:12 am - Reply


      On the surface, your advocacy for an Olympian detachment in all this seems like good advice: in the market place of ideas, caveat emptor and all that. However, it’s a little bit disingenuous to downplay the obvious: many of us were born into an organization that made unique and extraordinary claims and made extraordinary claims upon us and our loved ones. If the words ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ were cubes of sugar, all Mormon children would have diabetes by the age of five.
      Now, fast forwarding to the present, you may or may not agree that the Church has engaged in a significant amount of gas-lighting. You can argue that on its merits. But, it’s futile to tell people that they should not feel bad about it.

      • Gary in Oregon September 22, 2015 at 4:27 am - Reply

        “If the words ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ were cubes of sugar, all Mormon children would have diabetes by the age of five.”

        LOL on that! Love it!

        Unfortunately I DID develop diabetes, but no fault of Mormonism (left behind in my rear view mirror 35 years ago).

    • Kay September 22, 2015 at 4:32 am - Reply

      I never was, am not now, nor ever will be a Mormon — disaffected or otherwise. I happen to study NRM’s. I am just fascinated by people who believe in things that are obviously false by any empirical measure.

      I do thank Mormonism for steering me in the direction of the study of religion. It is a long story, but the short version goes something like this — I was a poor, black girl (about age 12) growing up in the Caribbean. I cannot begin to describe to you the poverty of my childhood. The house we lived in looked worse than the average Brazilian favela. I have known stomach churning hunger.

      Anyhow, my earthly misfortunes had already convinced me that no god existed. Or if he did exist he certainly did not give a damn about me. I had informed my VERY RELIGIOUS mother about my views. She had spent many nights in loud wailing and crying for fear that I was bound to hell. I was racked with guilt and thinking perhaps the devil was indeed misleading me.

      One day when I was alone in our shack, along comes three (yes there were three of them) white American boys with a new version of Christianity and a new scripture. The story they told wad so unbelievable to me so crazy, that I could not believe anyone would believe it. I told them that I did not believe in any god, that I believed in evolution. They went away, but came back when myother was home.

      Anyhow my mother was baptised into this strange new religion by the end of the week. In truth she did it for the free boxes of food they provided. She never read the BoM or contemplated their unique teachings. I did however. I read everything I could get my hands on. The Ensign magazines were my favorite. I discovered, long before access to the internet that Mormons had doctrines that considered us cursed. I told this to mother. Since she never believed in any they said 8n the first place, she simply shrugged. I however took this as indisputable proof that the religion was a fraud. I would have to have VERY LOW self-esteem to believe that a god existed that saw me as lesser.

      Anyhow, it was my introduction to Mormonism that led me to be curious about religions in general. The Ensign also did increase my vocabulary. Over the years, after leaving my little island to come to the U.S., and having spoken to thousands of believers of many NRM’s, I have gotten the same responses to my “rude” inquiries.

    • Leslie September 22, 2015 at 6:18 am - Reply

      When I was Mormon, I was the only member in my family. At some point, my Dad decided to read the Book of Mormon, to see what his daughter was into. I couldn’t wait to get his reaction, because I had this idea that the book was magical and that the Spirit was magical and would speak to him.

      His only comment? “Violent little book, isn’t it?”

      At the time, I was quite startled by his reaction.

  60. Joseph Parish September 22, 2015 at 8:27 am - Reply

    I think there is one point that was not clearly addressed by the panelists. Is it possible for two groups of people to be descended from common ancestry without having any DNA markers indicating that common ancestry?

    If my understanding is correct, this is highly unlikely. So assuming a group of Israelites did indeed intermix with indigenous populations of the Americas, either (a) we would find the genetic markers in the current population, or (b) all the descendants of the Israelite group were entirely (or almost entirely) wiped out by a bottleneck.

    Is the pro-LDS position that (c) actual Lehite descendants survive among the Native Americans, but their DNA markers are untraceable to Israelite ancestry because of genetic drift and mutation?

    Somebody please correct me where I’m wrong here.

  61. Scott Cisney September 22, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I stopped fretting over the “problems” with the BOM, BOA, the church in general a few years ago. I had spent quite a bit of time and effort searching for “good answers”. But never found any. I concluded that if there were in fact “good answers” someone in authority would have cleared up the issue right away with explanations that made sense and supported my “deep feelings” for the church. Now, when I read the back and forth between there very smart folks I yawn. I am like the juror in a trial who long ago listened to the evidence and made the best, most reasonable decision I could about the guilt or innocence of the accused. I did my best and I am not likely to spend more time on the subject (other than this comment!). Unless very compelling evidence comes along, which I will then most sincerely consider.

    • michael September 22, 2015 at 10:48 am - Reply

      Scott – your post is probably the healthiest self-diagnosis of all the posts, although I find your dependency on an “authority” to clear up issues and to provide explanations striking and far too common amongst disgruntled Mormons, i.e, J in the podcast.

      Rob – your point is well taken: but I say feel bad, and then move on at some point. It is a big, interesting world, with lots of interesting religions and philosophies, including Mormonism. Take what is good and leave the rest of it without the histrionics, please.

      Gary – your Santa Claus story underscores my point: for whatever reason, some ex-Mormons stagnate in tedium; it gets old.

      Kay – your story is interesting and heartfelt, but your intellectual curiosity seems jaded. I too enjoy learning of world religions. I spent the summer in Tibit and discovered a religious culture that was beyond anything I had ever experienced. Being dismissive of the interesting complexities and vagaries of a religious culture – whether it is Mormonism or Buddhism – because they fall short, as you state, of “empirical measures,” is to miss the point of religion and denies the pleasures of learning. In your defense, however, it appears that your zeal to discredit the Mormon church has more to do with your concerns about your mother than intellectual pursuits.

      • Taylor Payne September 22, 2015 at 11:14 am - Reply

        Your post takes victim blaming to a new level. Have you looked up the definition of histrionics lately? People are irritated when they find out that they’ve been lied to and an emotional response is a natural course of the process. Histrionics is contrived whereas and emotional response is real. How can you know their responses are contrived? Leaving Mormonism alone when you’ve been totally committed to it and now find out that it isn’t what it was sold to you is very frustrating.

        If you were posting on an automobile website and found out the car everyone was discussing was a lemon and you complained about it would that be called histrionics? Cars are a big investment and one that you cannot easily back out of (especially if the car you are trying to get rid of is known lemon) and you stuck with your choice.

        I may be free of Mormonisms hold on me from a submission standpoint of accepting their authority, I am not free of what it has done to my life and my extended family’s relationships. If I get emotional about it and you want to call it histrionics I would reply that you’re victim blaming.

        • Michael September 22, 2015 at 11:30 am - Reply



          Contrivance is one of aspect of the definition of “histrionics,” but is not essential to its meaning. Being overly dramatic is sufficient to comprise the definition.

          Yes, I purchased a lemon car years ago and actually relied on the state lemon laws to undo the deal. I got over it a long time ago.

          I feel bad for your situation and wish you the best.

          • Taylor Payne September 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

            You still seem to think your the arbiter of “appropriate” responses to being lied to. While you may have gotten over your purchase of a lemon automobile if you found a friend going to purchase such a car, you’d warn him about it and may express some emotions while doing so. I would not classify that as histrionics. You continue to attempt to minimize people’s feeling about being lied to about their religious faith.


          • Taylor Payne September 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

            Histrionics are dramatic, overdone, emotional actions and words that are done to influence someone. It’s like putting on a little show to get attention.
            Histrionics originally referred to acting in a play, and it still conveys a sense of pretending. If someone is going through histrionics, they’re acting outlandish, usually to get sympathy or influence someone. Exaggerated crying, unnecessary yelling, and overdone gestures are all examples of histrionics. Unlike real emotional reactions, histrionics are fake and intended to manipulate others.

      • Kay September 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm - Reply

        If you get something out of the Mormon story, then good for you. However, truth matters. It is important. The truth is JS lied about the origins of Mormon scripture, just as Joseph Rutherford lied about how he acquired the beliefs at the center of the Jehovah’s Witness religion, and L Ron Hubbard lied about the theories behind Scientology.

        • Michael September 22, 2015 at 2:34 pm - Reply

          I understand, Kay. I wish you the best in your pursuit of truth. I confess my intellectual curiosity takes me on a different path; not that I am indifferent to truth – I quite enjoy it once it presents itself – but I have learned to enjoy the pursuit of meaning and purpose and afford some measure of tolerance and compassion to those who conflate these values into perceived truths. Granted, such conflation can lead to great harm – wars even – but the human experience is dynamic enough it seems to me to allow us not to use such broad strokes when dismissing an entire religious philosophy.

          • Jay September 25, 2015 at 6:30 pm

            Sounds like you haven’t let go of the lemon you were handed in mormonism. “Religious philosophy?” “Buddhism or Mormonism?”

            Michael, you sound like Dan Wotherspoon. Is everything art? You and Dan can stretch anything to fall under the purview of philosophy or, I presume, art. But you still flush.

            If you’re hurt because people are pointing out the sheer absurdity of mormonism. If you’re wondering how you ever believed the nonsense. If you’re so embarrassed that you need to act non-plussed about the whole thing, while still trying to shore the silliness up. Well, I don’t blame you.

          • Michael September 28, 2015 at 2:10 pm


            I am sorry, I have no idea who is Dan Wotherspoon. He sounds like an interesting person from your description. Although I am now an academic, I grew up on a farm and have a practical bent that makes it impossible for me to plug “everything” into art or philosophy, as you put it. Mind you, it was not a lemon farm, so I have no concern in ridding myself of “lemons” or other baggage. I really don’t understand the point of your third paragraph, but whatever failings I have in life – far too many to enumerate here – I am most grateful that you absolve me from any blame about Mormonism or whatever else in life (namely, art of philosophy) that troubles you.

        • Michael September 22, 2015 at 2:51 pm - Reply

          Kay, I wish you the best in your pursuit to disprove Mormonism for the sake of truth. I prefer an alternate intellectual path. Mind you, I relish truth when in those rare occasions it presents itself to me, but for the most part I enjoy focusing on the process of finding meaning and purpose and along the way have found it polite to afford some degree of tolerance and compassion to those who conflate these values into truths. Granted, such conflation can lead to bad results – even war – but I think the human experience is dynamic enough to allow us to parcel out the complexities. But to each her own, so here is wishing good fortune to you.

      • Gary in Oregon September 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply


        I plead guilty to ‘stagnating in tedium’ and dwelling on Santa Claus.

        The Santa Claus comparison is ideal because it instantly conveys to believers how silly it is to believe in a made-up story you once sincerely thought was reality.

        Unless and until a child figures out that Santa Claus does not exist, hearing contrary messages from his friends is NOT funny. Maybe even tedious.

        • Michael September 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm - Reply

          Gary, in all sincerity, I wish you the best in dealing with Santa Claus. Take care.

          • Gary in Oregon September 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm

            Thanks for your best, sincerely expressed wishes, Michael. I’m glad you were sincere, otherwise I might assume you were poking fun at me. Maybe you were sincerely poking fun. I’ll go with that.

            Santa Claus has turned out to be quite a useful figure in this discussion, with two schools of thought:

            School A: Santa Claus is a myth believed only by clueless children. Joseph Smith told the Truth and the Mormon Church’s claims = Reality.

            School B: Santa Claus is a myth -and- Joseph lied.

            School C: (Almost overlooked) Santa Claus is real -and- Joseph Smith told the Truth.

            School D: (Also almost overlooked) Santa is real -and- Joseph lied.

            This is getting tedious. Maybe it’s time to stop. Yes, I think so.

            No, I SINCERELY think it’s time to stop.

            See? This is what happens when people discuss nonsense instead of simply ignoring it and doing something useful with their time and energy.

      • Rob Hastings September 22, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply


        Full disclosure: I am Catholic. Yet, on the Mormon Stories site I am mindful that one man’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is another man’s Whore of Babylon. I can respect that. Nevertheless, I am interested in the family squabble that is modern day Mormonism because 1) it is fascinating and 2) you guys are still my family.

        I come from good parents, of pioneer stock. After serving a mission in Japan I came home and was immediately called to serve in our ward’s Seventy’s Quorum to proselytize in our stake. For reasons too lengthy to truncate in this post, like yourself Michael, I left the LDS Church. And I can honestly say that there was no ill will expressed towards me by my leaders or peers. No one rent their garments or shook the dust from their feet. Shunning (a very archaic sounding word) – it just didn’t happen in my case.

        However, when my three younger Sisters and my little Brother decided to leave, I can assure you that it was not without a heavy dose of acrimony and pain. I would submit to you that in the case of my siblings, we aren’t talking about a bunch of hyper-wealthy cynics renigging on the terms of a pre-nup. We’re talking about sincere, if imperfect, people experiencing the rupture of a covenant relationship which is no less painful than a divorce.

        I don’t presume to judge you but I can tell you that in my own admittedly limited and anecdotal experience; if I used the word “histrionics” with my Wife the way you do in your posts, I would be spending a hell of a lot more nights sleeping on the couch. Disagree with what people say all you want but (even if you have to pretend) don’t invalidate what they feel.

        I appreciate Mr. Dehlin for allowing me to slum here for a bit. And I also intend to donate to this site next paycheck for contributing the word “gas-lighting” to my limited lexicon.

        • Michael September 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm - Reply


          I was in NYC last week lecturing and had a chance to take in the atmosphere surrounding the Pope’s visit. It was very meaningful and somewhat surprising to hear my NYC friends, who can be on occasion wonderfully sardonic, express such warm sentiments about Pope Francis. Funny thing, the only negative comments I heard in NYC about the Pope were from a lunch I had with a small group of visiting Italian professors who were attending meetings at the UN. I am sorry that your siblings had such an acrimonious departure from the church; their experience is contrary to that of my own. And, yes, I strongly advise against using blog-like language (“histrionics” or otherwise) with your wife. Your lexicon is more than sufficient to convey your sentiments: I understand your point and certainly don’t want to invalidate anyone’s feelings. I merely want to make the point that the science discussed in the podcast was leveraged to make general points about Mormonism that had more to do with emotion than intellectual scrutiny of a faith-based theology. While, yes, I am happy to concede that there is a lot of emotion tied into a person’s disaffection from the church, at some point a rationale and fair minded step-back analysis seems both intellectually feasible as well as emotionally healthy.

          • Rob Hastings September 30, 2015 at 9:28 pm


            It’s all good brother. Congratulations on writing your book. Perhaps it is because I have not yet written mine that I have probably spent a little too much time trolling on a topic for which I bring little that is unique to the table. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed the give and take here and the experience for me at least has proved cathartic. It may be a squabble but it’s a family squabble and I find myself liking everyone who has posted here. I better grab a beer before I start waxing sanctimonious. Have a good one, Sir.

  62. Michael September 22, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Taylor, it is ironic that you overstate the definition of histrionics. I am not sure if you are trying to manipulate me or not, so why don’t we chalk it up to hysterics and leave it alone!

    • Taylor Payne September 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      I’m not the one who wrote the definition. I’m not the one who used the word. I’m tired of so-called TBM’s acting as if we somehow do this to seek attention, sin, or whatever reason you can put in the blank for our disbelief so as to make it OUR fault we’ve been offended or just cannot hang. I suspect you need to do this for some reason but will not assign to you emotions or feelings you seem so willing to assign to those who HAVE been offended. You can examine what is going on in your own heart and lay off the judging of others.

      What We Each Need

      I cringe at the poor feelings I think you have about me.
      I want your esteem to be as always.
      Yet, it appears that you see me as flawed.
      Look into my heart.
      Am I a better or a worse man than I ever was?

      I came to this spot trying to be unafraid of the truth.
      I decided that it was the most important thing to me.
      I realize that sometimes the truth isn’t what we want to hear.
      However, it is what I needed to hear.
      I could not live with myself if I knew I had ignored it.

      Now, I’ve come to this point in my life
      Where I cannot regress
      From the things that I know.
      Can you fault me for being brutally honest within myself?
      Are you aware of what pain this search brought me?

      Compassion and understanding are what each person seeks.
      As we give, hopefully we will each receive.
      It is easier to marginalize and see other people as less-than-human
      Than it is to seek to understand what needs they have that are not being met.
      Don’t we have a duty to love our neighbors as ourselves?

      Are we Levites or Samaritans?
      When we see the man who fell among thieves
      Do we travel on the far side of the road?
      Is it easier to say that a man deserves his fate
      Than to help him see beyond it?

      If I’m a better person because of my search,
      Then be happy for me.
      If I’m worse, please be patient with me.
      I’ll try and give you the same leeway
      And see you are a work in progress too.

      • Michael October 1, 2015 at 12:29 am - Reply


        I am no longer a practicing Mormon, let alone a “TBM.” It appears that we both could learn a thing or two about judging. I feel bad you feel bad, as you eloquently state in your poem, and wish you well.

  63. Michael September 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Jim G, perhaps you are right. I appreciate the flag. I normally don’t participate in these types of forums, but I just finished writing a book and was giving my self a break by entering into, I suppose, a new obsession. I confess that I have always found irritating the self indulgence of some Mormons when leaving the church and their claims of oppression. It just seems overwrought, insular in many cases, and certainly not very interesting in light of all the other problems and challenges in the world. I recently met up with an active Mormon professor on campus with a Phd from MIT who is in church leadership and a believer. He knows of my situation, but is not by any stretch of the imagination oppressive. Now, before I protest too much, as you are apt to point out, I am out of here to focus on some other interesting issue.

    • Jim G September 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      As Samuel Johnson is supposed to have said, “Those who do not feel pain seldom think it is felt.”

    • James September 23, 2015 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      To the one who grades papers,

      You’re a literally littoral godsend! WEST COAST! The existential “ti[d]bit”s you offer, remind me of what stale air does to the senses, and why absinthe was outlawed. I confess it makes me really really appreciate the fresh-shared “histrionics” of the other posters. It’s like they totally have a pulse. Did you find your “strident” “nonplussed” “disaffection” in “tibit”? Please say nonplussed again. Please?

      Michael: “I confess that I have always found irritating the self indulgence of some Mormons when leaving the church and their claims of oppression.”

      Holy merde I’m close to winning this oppressed game! I suspect it was Professor Michael Aplomb in the library without a Clue. I just can’t figure out who he did it to? Kay? Jim? Scott? Rob? Decency? there? Anybody? Anybody?

      All “jade,” and no terracotta.

      Admiringly yours,

      Tongue and cheek

  64. Jim G September 22, 2015 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    Brilliant, Brian Dalton. Brilliant.

  65. Steve September 22, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Can someone who understands dna, help me understand why this was not part of the discussion?

    I am not knowledgeable about the complexities of this subject, so please be kind in your responses.

    • Simon Southerton September 27, 2015 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      The Cherokee have had very high levels of admixture and the DNA tests in the report you link to were done on individuals regardless of their parentage. That’s why there were many DNA lineages from the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Scientists studying the origins of Native Americans deliberately avoid including people with known European or African ancestry. When they do that they rarely encounter European or African DNA lineages.

  66. St. Ralph September 22, 2015 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    The whole thing just gets worse and worse . . .

    It’s not like the emperor lost his clothes in a card game or something; he never had any friggin’ clothes to begin with! So we went to take him to Target to get him some clothes only to find out there was never any emperor, either (no wonder he had no clothes).

  67. David R Waters September 23, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I would like to thank John Dehlin and Mormon Stories for an excellent podcast. I found all three viewpoints informative and very enlightening. I am a former Marine and am currently a Sergeant in law enforcement and have been investigating crimes for over 16 years. I hold a mere Bachelors Degree in Economics from BYU, but my street experience gives me a different perspective. I am not a geneticist, but I have taken several courses on DNA and work with it daily. So if an old gumshoe like me can understand the basic premise, anyone can.

    With this issue, the church has no standing. There is no genetic proof of a Nephite or Lamanite, period. If that should change, I will be the first to acknowledge it. I have read the comments to this post and have seen apologist comments claiming the esteemed panelists were using straw men arguments and vindictive attacks against the two articles in question and even perhaps the authors. I did not hear any of that during the podcast. I heard three experts in the field of Genetics critique the articles.

    The critique was simple. Each panelist explained why the articles lacked in substance and expertise in the very field of study they were trying to represent. The title of the Ash article seems to imply that there is no significance in DNA analysis and the Book of Mormon. The panelists simply disagreed with his article’s premise and gave their reasons. If they seemed passionate at times it was because of the two articles seeming dismissal of facts and their field of study as a whole. They used clear and concise knowledge and expertise to support their positions and Johnny D did a great job moderating.

    Here’s my review of the church’s essay and the Ash article: Horseshit.

    I will never be accused of being as articulate as Simon Southerton or John Dehlin, but I am just as honest. Kudos to a great podcast.

    • Jaasiel Rodriguez October 9, 2015 at 11:59 am - Reply

      Thanks David. I’m a third generation Mexican Mormon, well, ex-mormon. I’ve been struggling with this stuff in my family. We grew up believing ourselves to be Lamanites. We took the prophecies of the Prophets very seriously, and made some incredibly difficult decisions using that and the Book of Mormon. So this stuff has serious weight on my mind and in my family.

      However, I also have a Physics degree, from BYUI. I’m at a nexus of anguish because of this. I have my entire upbringing against this stuff, but the science is just so overwhelming, and the church’s actions of trying to cover up or sidestep the issue just makes it all the more difficult. Seeing someone with a different background come to the same conclusion, and see past the bullshit really helps out man

      I appreciate it. Thanks.

  68. TJ September 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    This was a really fascinating discussion. I kept wishing I could see all of these people, see their faces, as they discussed the issues surrounding this science vs religion dilemma. As a lifelong TBM, I have a big shelf filled with lots of stuff like this, and the shelf is getting heavy and starting to really creak and groan, and I don’t and can’t blame these folks for it. I read the article before hearing this discussion, and my initial thoughts were “Oh, okay, that makes sense for the most part, but it feels really glazed over.” Sounds like it’s not glazed over, it’s mostly frosting designed to satisfy the lusts of sugar-addicted children. The article on is not designed for critical thinking adults. I can’t believe the church doesn’t go out and consult with experts in the field before allowing an article like this to be published. Perhaps they consider Mr. Ash to BE an expert in the field? Seems like if the article is this horrifically flawed, they certainly aren’t doing a good job of getting their articles reviewed and edited before posting them. I hope you are all submitting your critiques to the church so they can improve and revise them! Fascinating material, thank you for your time in explaining things. Makes me want to take a course in biology that focuses on DNA studies so I can understand all of the details and processes myself.

    • TJ September 24, 2015 at 3:13 pm - Reply

      Actually, as a followup to my own post, what I’d really like to see is for the church to come to people like John Dehlin and submit their articles to him BEFORE THEY POST THEM, so he can get people like you folks in his network to review and provide critical feedback from an opposing perspective, get feedback from detractors and look at the information they can provide to make educated decisions before posting stuff that can actually be used AGAINST the church and cause harm to the organization and it’s members. That’s what I’d be doing if I were in charge, which is probably why I’m not in charge of anything for very long… I listen to opposing views and have a fairly open way of looking at the world.

      • Gary in Oregon September 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm - Reply


        Your suggestion that the Church vet its articles before publishing them presupposes that the Church is not fully aware that its carefully crafted wordsmithing is cleverly designed propaganda intended to paint false absurdities as truth.

        The Church did not even claim authorship for the articles. They know the articles are transparent BS and refused to offer a convenient target for the anticipated backlash (avalanche) ripping the articles to shreds.

        The Brethren are fully and completely aware that Joseph Lied. Their future cash flow depends on their ability to con tithe payers with cleverly expressed obfuscations of historical facts aka technically true lies.

        The only people The Brethren fool are TBMs whose critical thinking skills are anesthetized with strong confirmation bias aka their Testimonies and burning bosoms.

        The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a MIND CONTROL CULT and is completely incapable of (and uninterested in) holding conversation with an UNCONTROLLED MIND.

        • Nobunaga73 September 24, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

          Gary in Oregon

          I’m an essentially lifelong atheist (I don’t count anything before age 11 as ‘real’ belief) raised in a TBM family in what I have to imagine was one of the most TBM communities in Utah during the 1980s. I stopped going to Church when I was big enough to tell my dad I was sleeping in on Sundays… so it feels a bit strange standing up for the Church leaders.

          But I think you do the Brethren a great disservice by casually dismissing their faith and attributing all of their actions as being driven by financial concerns. Sure, some of them may be as venal as you suggest but I am willing to bet that the vast majority are motivated by real faith in Mormon doctrine and a real belief that their actions are serving to promote god’s plan.

          That is what always fascinated me the most growing up in Utah – how could such otherwise good and intelligent people believe something which seems so risible and obviously fake to me? The Church leaders in my neighborhood were almost without exception people who I respected and still have genuine fondness for. This dichotomy spurred a lifelong interest in ALL religions for me.

          I think it’s important to acknowledge the power of belief and remember that the Brethren, too, grew up within Mormonism – their high status within the church doesn’t mean that they suddenly have complete knowledge or the ability to accept conflicting data that may shatter their worldview. I don’t believe there is a Mormon “Area 51” where they suddenly show you the alien spaceship….

          • Rob Hastings September 24, 2015 at 11:28 pm


            I agree that there need be nothing sinister in the character of the brethren. Many people live by force of habit and die of respectability. However, most people on this planet do not end their lives as prophets, seers and revelators of the Mormon Church. As they were not always such they are perfectly aware what kind of esteem their position is accorded; and have to know that many believers assume that they are privy to miraculous communications with beings beyond the veil. The traditional answer as to why they do not speak of such things is because it is not wise to cast one’s pearls before swine. Fair enough. That is, if one has pearls in one’s possession. But a man without pearls can say the same thing.

          • St. Ralph September 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm

            “Many people live by force of habit and die of respectability.” Boy, ain’t THAT the truth.

            The main reason the PSRs can’t prophesy, see or reveal anything is because they can now see (thanks to the inter-webs) with hideous, gut-wrenching clarity, what happens when you do that: Adam God, Book of Abraham, King Follett Discourse, D&C 132, George Albert Smith’s continual doubling down on the Church’s intense, soon to be outdated, racism. The best course of action in every case, is for them to remain as quiet as possible. To do otherwise is to imagine yourself more precious than a catalpa tree in winter, and we all know where THAT leads.

          • Nobunaga73 September 28, 2015 at 7:40 pm

            “because they can now see (thanks to the inter-webs) with hideous, gut-wrenching clarity, what happens when you do that: Adam God, Book of Abraham, King Follett Discourse, D&C 132, George Albert Smith’s continual doubling down on the Church’s intense, soon to be outdated, racism.”

            Assuming that they DO look… I know too many who are content to never push at the confines of the bubble that surrounds them.

          • St. Ralph September 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm

            I meant the Brethren. You don’t think they spend most of their time on line spying on you and me? Hello, Elder Holland, it’s me again! Have a nice day!

      • Jim G September 24, 2015 at 5:13 pm - Reply

        I’m with you TJ. In the same way, big tobacco and producers of things like carbonated sugar water should let a demonstrably independent panel of researchers vet their products. It all comes back to power (whether or not that power involves lots of power in the form of money). Hmm. Money. Power. Cash. “My cash.” Sounds like?

  69. Gary in Oregon September 24, 2015 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    John Dehlin, it looks like around 1/3 of my Reply comments seem to just disappear after I click on [Post Comment]. I don’t think it’s a random time delay. I think they disappear and never show up. Are there a bunch of my posts in a Pending Moderation Buffer? Many of them show up immediately on the webpage, but others seem to disappear.

    Are others experiencing similar webpage action?

    • St. Ralph September 24, 2015 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      I have experienced that also. I wondered if some of mine had been moderated out because I’m often trying to be funny because I think I’m hilarious, but that theory wasn’t making total sense, either. Then I thought it might have to do with including a website in the Website box, which I have done but don’t always do. Most recently, though, even my dumbest comments have been showing up trouble free.

  70. Emma September 27, 2015 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Thank you John for giving us more facts about the claims of the church this is vital information
    Please give us more information about false claims of the church
    Why is this so important for a person who already knows the church is not true ????
    1 it is part of my continuing search for truth
    2 I am still trying to Iunderstand how my Mormon beliefs have affected my life and my thinking
    3 knowing more facts about the church just confirms my conclusions and supports my actions
    4 gives me important information I hope to be able to share with loved ones and friends who are still active

  71. Rick September 27, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Simon, I served a mission in NZ. Generally I found it easy enough to distinguish Maori from Tongan from Samoan from Cook Island etc. – generally speaking. That of course may change as they intermingle even further.

    Do we have any DNA research on the origin of the Polynesians? And do they differ in origin? In other words, is there a common ancestor for all islanders of the Pacific … and do they have anything to do with the Middle East?

    • Simon Southerton September 28, 2015 at 2:44 am - Reply

      Hi Rick
      The Polynesians are all very closely related and descend from South East Asian ancestors. Most of Polynesia was colonized in the last thousand years. They are not closely related to Native Americans although they probably reached the Americas a few times before Columbus.

      • Rick September 28, 2015 at 4:35 am - Reply

        Thank you Simon.

        So let me get this straight: Polynesians (Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Hawaiian, Cook Island etc) are closely related to each other and originate from South East Asia. American Indians also originate from South East Asia, but are not related to the Polynesian? Should I infer then that you mean the American Indian and the Polynesian have never lived together, except before the migration from Asia? Guess that makes sense. No trouble there.

        My bigger quandary then is, according to DNA, do the Polynesians in any way originate from the Middle East? eg. the Lehites?

        I think you were saying this in the podcast, that church leaders have been telling the Polynesians for many decades that they are Lamanites. I for one, know for certain that missionaries have been encouraged to preach this to the Polynesians, and in fact are given a kit-like approach with scripture references and illustrations etc. It has had such a powerful conversion technique that some mission presidents have included it as a statistic in their weekly reports. Never mind if it’s true or false.

        Additionally, you are also now saying that DNA testing is confirming that Polynesians had nothing to do with the American Indians NOR the Israelites. Boy do I feel stupid and sorry.

        I really don’t see a way around this for Michael Ash.

        • Simon Southerton September 28, 2015 at 6:26 am - Reply

          Just to clarify. Polynesians descend from South East Asians, initially from Taiwan but they then mixed with other populations as they sailed into the pacific. Native Americans descend from Siberian ancestors not SE Asians. Neither group are descended from Middle Eastern populations.

    • Bob September 28, 2015 at 4:50 am - Reply

      So it seems that anyone with skin a color other than white/Caucasian, in the eyes of the Church, and other than those of African descent, was considered a “Lamanite”. Further, for anyone in upstate New York with just a local view and limited perspective, and of course not knowing anything of genetics, are you saying it simplified things to say they were all descendents of Lehi?

      Talk about painting oneself into a corner. As long as the Church didn’t have any science to challenge its claims, and kept the membership away from the rest of civilization, it could keep the mystery alive.

      Now, because of it’s financial resources, owning all of the major media sources it can continue to keep people in check, particularly the older “Saints” who are less computer savy and who have been told/conditioned to believe that everyone outside Utah is an enemy of the Church and everything that doesn’t go along with the official narrative is of Satan.

      Goebels and Hitler did the same thing with propaganda and a controlled system. Had the Nazis not been so violent, no one would have been in a hurry to bomb them into submission and they might still be around. The level of fanaticism was the same.

  72. Fun October 13, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    I am told:

    Haplogroup X comes from the Middle East. The Israelite people were taken captive to Babylon (Modern day Iraq) about 600 B.C. The Algonquian people have about 25% haplogroup X. Their DNA most closely resembles the Jews who remained in Iraq and did not intermarry. These Jews currently live in Iraq. Lehi left the Middle East about 600 B.C. The DNA evidence indicates the timing of the immigration of Jewish people from the Middle East occurred exactly when the Book of Mormon said it did.

    Other indigenous people with haplogroup X mtDNA: Sioux 15%, Nuu-Chah-Nulth 11% to 13%, Navajo 7%, Yakama 5%. My source for the haplogroup X percentages is Wikipedia under the subject haplogroup X. Wikipedia also contains an interesting map showing the concentrations of haplogroup X around the world.

    Would anyone knowledgeable on the subject like to dispel the information above directly? I would prefer scientific information only and not some reference to a lame explanation from an apologist.

    • Brent Metcalfe October 13, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply


      Just for fun, you may want to do a search in these comments on “haplogroup X” and “X2a” since this issue has been addressed multiple times.

    • Rob Hastings October 13, 2015 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Dear Fun,

      I am not a geneticist. But as a layman with access to Wikipedia I can read the article on Haplogroup X and I find absolutely no reference to it being introduced into the Americas any sooner than 5000 years ago.
      Professor Nibley was able to hide his BS with a multitude of footnotes referencing obscure out-of-print works in foreign languages.
      Wikipedia is a mouse click away for everyone reading this. Try harder, Sunny Jim.

    • Simon southerton October 13, 2015 at 11:30 pm - Reply
  73. Carl Sanders October 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    The DNA issue has me thinking all is not true, and one small incident at the end of the Book of Mormon. The one that deals with the final battles fought between the two groups is another large issue that isn’t understandable to me.

    Having served in a modern army in the 20th century, do they have any idea of what it takes, just to keep one division in a combat zone. We had all the modern means of transportation, good food, good medical service and all the rest that makes up an army.

    They send thousands into battle, and there is no evidence from whence they came, not evidence of the battle areas mentioned.

    Kinda strange, in the vernacular to me.

    • Phonin' It In From Kolob October 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      If I may venture an answer to your question, “. . . do they have any idea of what it takes, just to keep one division in a combat zone[?].” No. “They” do not. The people who wright DC and Marvel comics have a far, far superior grasp of reality and other hard problems.

  74. Joseph Alexander October 16, 2015 at 8:10 am - Reply

    I’m going to give my contribution because it will make me feel better.

    Since so much alphabet soup has dished up let me first my intimidating academic credentials – B.S., that is bachelors of science in security and loss prevention from Eastern Kentucky University. There!!

    I am an active and devout latter-day saint serving in a stake presidency. I have skimmed through these comments of pontificators and believe Mike and Ed have held their own against everyone. Why, because that’s the way I want to see it.

    For me, here’s why Mormon critics will never have a leg to stand on. They put their trust in physical proof and evidence in an institution, religion, that is NOT to be based and never will be based, on physical proof and evidence. And they say Mormons are going to hell. If they don’t think we are going to hell then why put all the energy into proving Mormons wrong? Because they want to justify their decision to leave the church which, at the root, was based on pride and/or sin). They say they want to “save” us when they really don’t care about the soul of an individual Mormon nearly as much as they care about being right.

    Science is NOT always right. But it is because of science that we have become such a curious people. And that’s a good thing. The more we study science the more it changes and the more we learn. Joseph Smith found a book of metal plates in a stone box. That had never been heard of before. Then other metal books are found in stone boxes. Horses and elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Laughable! But remains have been found supporting both. (And sorry for not providing a bibliography – google it). Joseph Smith describes Southeast Asian geography that he nor anyone else at the time, could not have known. And the list goes on and on and on…….

    But here’s where Mormon critics really lose me – my salvation. For them to make a living attacking the Mormon Church – and some do – Mormons have to be going to hell to justify their motive of “saving” the Mormons. This is to cover their pride and appear benevolent Christians out to save the heathen. That means, per the Mormon critic, Mormons will share the same eternal fate as those 19 murderers who drove airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Mormons will share the same eternal fate as those members of ISIS who burn alive and behead innocent people. Mormons will share the same eternal fate as the Jeffrey Dahmers, Jack the Rippers, Charles Mansons and the Harry Reids of the world. (Most of you smiled at the last one because most of us share the same political persuasions).


    Would society be better off without Mormons? How many millions and millions of dollars would NOT have been given to non-Mormons who were victims of tragedy all over the world? Aren’t Mormons generally known as good citizens and decent neighbors and honest employees? Would you rather live next to a Mormon or a Taliban cleric?

    Some Mormon critics attack the character of the LDS leadership as evil men but the regular lay members are ok. But their argument is always shallow, like “Elder Holland went on a family vacation with the dog in a kennel on top of the car!” The LDS Church is led by the infallible Jesus Christ. But it is run by very fallible men. And these so-called “evil” men have hardly done more than receive a speeding ticket. But somewhere along the way, throughout their upright and criminal free life, within the sacred walls of a temple or somewhere else, someone lets them in on the great big Mormon lie and conspiracy and tells them, “Ha, ha, ha!!! We are really Satan’s disciples Ha ha ha!!!” With total disregard to what Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” and “by your fruits ye shall know them.”

    Here’s where the rubber meets the road and deflates every critics argument. It’s not about what I can or cannot prove. It’s about who I am and who I am becoming BECAUSE I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lives the LDS doctrines. Because of my beliefs I try harder to be a better husband, a better father, a better employee, a better neighbor, and an overall better citizen. YOU WANT TO TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME? Even if my neighbors never become Mormons do you want to take my contributing character to society away from them? Really?!?

    I don’t need Michael Ash or Ed Goble or Hugh Nibley to help support my beliefs (although I very much appreciate them). I have the Book of Mormon. It has taught me that Jesus IS the Christ. And I will not crawl over, under, or around that book to leave this church or its teachings. It won’t happen.

    • Chad October 16, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

      So what about members sincere intentions? The facts are the facts and support truth. Jesus himself said the truth shall set you free. I love the Book of Mormon but I also accept the truth. How about you?

    • Andrew Pray October 16, 2015 at 11:59 am - Reply

      So…let me get this straight…ignore the science and go with the magical thinking. Hmmm. I wonder if you don’t believe in the big bang theory either, or evolution for that matter. You do hail from Stu Hamm country after all.

      Your pride and arrogance are palpable. Please read a book before you summarily discount the science. I woulds suggest “River out of Eden” but it was written by Richard Dawkins, an atheist, so you would probably shut down before succumbing to its devil-inspired pages.

      So who is taking your religion away from you exactly? You seem worried that someone is taking your religion away as if the ex-mormons are going around the neighborhood with pitchforks and torches demanding that mormons give up their beliefs.

      No one cares if you want to bury your head in the sand and ignore the scientific discoveries happening around you. Be a mormon. Just be aware that I left the church trying to defend its believes in the face of science and that caused me to loose my faith. It wasn’t because of sin. I leave the sinning up to the mormons who are among biggest hypocrites I know. I’m sure you think the mormons spend so much on charity…they don’t. They exist because the church is a tax shelter for the wealthy. For that reason the church isn’t going away anytime soon.

    • Rick Mutzelburg October 16, 2015 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      Joseph you make a very interesting and valid point. It’s one that every LDS whom faces the treacherous task of letting go, encounters. We ALL think about it – Does the Church make me a better person? The overarching answer is probably yes. Of course there are many examples of disingenuous LDS folk, or those whom it never worked for, but you get that in any group.

      But is the LDS Church EXCLUSIVE in creating good men and women? Positively not. There a great men and women in every walk of life, both religious and non-religious. There are men and women who are pure in heart who give of their time, money and life, with no religious affiliation at all. Would you agree? If not, you have not looked. People generally follow the direction of goodness (the light of Christ) whether they know it or not. They are simply born good-hearted people and are a glowing light.

      Bottom line is, you don’t need to protect and defend the Book of Mormon to still be a great person. You can still go to church and wring it for whatever goodness you can, if that’s what floats your boat. It CAN be fictitious and still be meaningful. The overwhelming proof is that it is not historical. You don’t have to bend your reality into a pretzel-like shape to benefit from the Church’s teachings. It’s embarrassing at least, and dishonest at best.

      One more note: You are making a big assumption when you suggest Jesus was divine. You were fed that as a child with absolutely no proof. There IS strong evidence to say he existed, but it is highly doubtful he ever called himself divine. The trick with scripture is, if it sounds impossible or unrealistic, it probably didn’t happen.

    • Brian Dalton October 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      I hope that made you feel better, but I don’t understand people like you. The Book of Mormon is a simple set of empirical claims about the history of the Native Americans. Either those claims are true, or they aren’t — regardless of what feelings you may have, or from whom you think they come from. We should be able to test these empirical claims and find out if they are true or not. That’s exactly what Joseph and Brigham said would/should happen. But they thought those tests would end in their favor. They were wrong.
      Your basic claim is that you could not possibly have been fooled because you have a “testimony” which you believe was revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. “I can’t be wrong!!!” “I can’t be wrong!!!” You might was well jump up and down and stomp your feet. That’s the way you want it to be, and dognamit, that’s the way it is!!! Your post is more tantrum than commentary. And this kind of prideful defensiveness is the first sign of a person who does not seek the truth.
      But, I wish you would give a little charity to people who are prepared to take Joseph at his word and test whether those empirically testable claims are true or not. We’re not out to get you. Someone has simply made a testable claim and so we’re testing. You don’t like the results so you attack those doing the investigation. But that is not at all the tactic of one who seeks the truth. And remember, it was your infallible Lord who taught us that the Truth will set us free.

    • James October 18, 2015 at 1:52 am - Reply

      Dear better husband, better father, better employee, better neighbor, and overall better citizen,

      Thank you for your post. You’ve helped me understand that you, and others like you, don’t really understand the issue. Here it is: One can live a pretty good decaffeinated life without all the fluffy-puff apocalyptic make-believe. Common sense can do without all the Goble-gook and the stride shortening ashy holes. Common sense says,” No thank you Ma’am” to all the huh(?) niblies. Life is pretty amazing without all that graffiti. No need to s’myth the lily.

      Incidentally, how about this for an idea? I know you’d agree that when selling a product, it’s good policy to offer a “money-back guarantee”–means you stand behind the product.

      Since you’re in a leadership sales position, maybe you can get a decent higher-up to implement such a policy. I know with a surety it’d strengthen your cause overnight! It would reveal you to all be decent fellows– not an evil one among you. Obviously, everyone would agree that the promotional millions already given away wouldn’t be subject to the guarantee, that wouldn’t be fair…only the billions and billions that have NOT been given away would be eligible for the guarantee.

      Instantly your product would get better reviews. Critics would vanish in the blink of an eye. No one goes to dissatisfied customer hell, and yours and the products salvation is made sure. Good News all around. How about it? Would you do that?

      Faithfully yours,

    • Jim G October 20, 2015 at 12:44 am - Reply

      I missed the part where anyone in the thread said that TBMs are going to hell? Where was that said?

  75. Jesse October 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I do not have the education or the vocabulary so many of you have. But some of the arguments I have seen here baffle me. Mr. Goble, you speak of a “lazy mindset”, yet you are the one who cannot even consider being incorrect in this debate over truth. I am not the most educated person, but the more education I have begun to obtain the more I have come to realize that the only people truly capable of learning are the ones who can consider all sides of a debate and can consider that they themselves may be wrong.
    I know you may argue that ex-Mormons here are just as sure they are right. However, there is a major difference, most ex-Mormons are willing to consider that they themselves could be wrong. That’s what led to their faith crisis. The majority believed with faith, as you now do, but finally, one day was willing to ask, “what if my assumptions are wrong.” Most who have left the Mormon faith in a faith crisis did NOT want the church to be wrong. However, they were willing to consider ALL the evidence, and not just the evidence to support their own side (confirmation bias). In considering all the evidence, they realized that their faith was incorrect, and they began to search for the truth about spirituality & religion as well as the truth behind the Mormon faith’s truth claims and found that the evidence does not support the truth claims.
    I no longer believe. However, unlike you Mormon apologists, I have learned that any one of my beliefs I hold today can be false. I am perfectly willing to change any belief if evidence shows that I am incorrect. If DNA evidence, for example, showed that the immigrants of America did in fact come from the middle east, I’m willing to reexamine the Mormon religion and come back.
    Another point I would make as I read the argument that spiritual things do not apply to the rules of logic, is that God is not a magician. He is a scientist. Therefore, rules of science and logic do to apply to spiritual things just as much as our “feelings” and “fruits of the spirit” do. I will concede that science is a continuous process of learning, so we cannot know all things. However, when you start with an assumption that something is true then only even consider data that supports that claim, you will always find and only see data that supports what you believe to be true. This is a concept we all know as confirmation bias. No matter which religion I choose to follow, if I apply this form of logic, I will only ever find things to support my assumption that that specific religion is the ONLY TRUE FAITH because that is what I’m searching for.
    Knowing that God is both a spiritual being and a scientist, the only way to know if a religion is the “one true faith” I must both apply spirituality and logic. I must examine that faith both with the “feelings of the spirit” and with scientific logic. If Mormonism is true, then I WILL have spiritual feelings that it is true, but I will ALSO begin to find scientific evidence to support those claims.
    In the case of Mormonism. If it is the one true faith, then I would, for example, discover that Joseph Smith’s translation of the papyrus was a correct translation. However, Egyptologists have now shown that his translation had nothing to do with what was written on them. If this is the one true faith, then with DNA technology I would discover middle eastern DNA in the American Indians somewhere. That DNA has been tested, and it does not exist. I could point to many other similar examples.
    You say I’m the biased one, but unlike Mormon apologists, I’m perfectly willing to be proven false and rejoin the religion I dedicated 30 years of my life and my entire heart to. You, on the other hand, only will consider evidence that supports your emotions and feelings. I’m not the biased one here.
    I was honestly heartbroken when I learned that everything I had believed was based on a lie. It hurt so bad. What hurts worse is that when I began to question, so many of you believers who say you “love everyone”, myself included, turned on me for having doubts. Some of my family and friends have pushed me almost completely out of their life for being a “vile sinner” when nothing about me changed whatsoever other than that I learned that what I had based my identity on was false and so I am reforming my identity and spirituality.
    Another point I simply must make. I read a heartfelt and hurt message on here from a member who sincerely asks why it matters? Why would so many people leave our religion then seek to prove it’s false? This is a valid question, and I can feel and empathize with your hurt. Why would someone try to demonstrate that something so precious to you is incorrect?
    If you will try to listen to my response to this question with an open heart, trying to understand my perspective, it may change the way you see “vile exmormons” and you may see us again as people who were hurt.
    I believed what you believe with my whole heart. I dedicated my life to it for 30 years. I was a faithful attendee every sabbath and to activities. I served in many capacities including a full-time 2-year mission. I loved the messages of love. I loved the messages of family. I loved how much this religion truly does turn people into better people. There are many good values in Mormonism. There is also a wonderfully supportive community that I miss so much.
    My world shattered the day I truly realized I had been lied to/conned/duped. I based EVERY SINGLE MAJOR LIFE DECISION behind the church and its teachings. It affected the way I lived, the way I thought, the way I dressed, the way I treated people, the way I faced my own challenges. It affected my university choice. It affected what kind of person I was willing to date. It affected the way I thought. Then, to learn that MY ENTIRE IDENTITY was based on a lie threw my whole world into chaos. I truly have gone through, and honestly am still going through a mourning process. I went through extreme denial, hurt, anger, depression, and finally am beginning to reach the stage of acceptance.
    I’m completely reworking my identity and my faith. I’ve had to review literally every assumption that you all gave me, starting with the assumption of the existence of God. Many people who leave become completely atheist during this crisis of faith. I have concluded that science in all its complexities (from the broad universe down to the tiniest of particles) really does suggest a higher power may exist. But that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far. Which religion, if any, has the truth or all they all wrong, I don’t know at this point. I would plead with you members of the LDS faith as you read these paragraphs to show a little empathy for someone like myself whose identity was completely ripped from me. When I have anger, know my anger truly is not supposed to be directed at you, I’m mourning, and I’m hurt.
    The second thing I would ask you to consider with an open heart is this: I know this is hard to hear, but Mormonism, even with all the good it brings to many people, also hurts people. I’m not here to argue the ways it hurt me, but some of its teachings are not uplifting or in line with the biblical commandment to “love everyone”. Consider this, please. If it turns out that your religion is not “the one true” religion, then consider how harmful that Mormon rhetoric truly is towards other people. If, like this podcast, today argues, the American Indians truly aren’t Lamanites. Then your religion has stolen their heritage with lies. If it’s not true, then your religion teaching LGBTQ individuals to believe that their sexuality is vile and sinful and your straight sexuality special truly is harmful Un-Christlike rhetoric. They should be taught that their love is just as special and wonderful as anyone else’s and that their relationships can be just as special. If Mormonism is false, then the harmful teaching of former prophets that people of color weren’t born white because they were “less faithful” before coming here truly is racist and harmful.
    When I talk with people about Mormonism being untrue, I’m not interested in destroying something that is good in a person’s life. I’m trying to protect them. I want to protect them from dedicating all they are to something and then later learning that their entire identity is false. That HURTS SO MUCH. I’m trying to protect the gay teen whom the harmful rhetoric of the church may lead them to take their life. I’m trying to protect the women. They may bast every life decision around being a mother (which is wonderful and honorable it that’s what they want) but they may never get the chance to get an education and become a professional with a PHD if that’s who they want to be. Not every woman has to be a mother if she doesn’t want to. I applaud those who chose to be a stay-at-home mother, but I also applaud those who want to become CEOs, Pastors, Professors, Fire Fighters, etc. as long as they are choosing to become who they want to be and not who they feel forced to be by a religion I have come to realize just isn’t true.
    I truly do apologize if anything I’ve argued has come across as angry, my intent in responding here is simply to try and help members understand the other side of the debate. If Mormonism brings you happiness, then continue in your faith and be happy. But please also be aware of those of us it hurts. Consider that maybe, just maybe, there are things about your religion that still need to change. Maybe skin color really had nothing to do with preexistence faithfulness and all truly are equal in the eyes of God (I’m glad this is becoming the more commonly held belief in Mormonism). Consider that maybe, just maybe, you need to realize that your Gay child’s relationships are just as special and wonderful as any straight relationship, and they are just as deserving of your love and affection and especially of your understanding as your straight children. Maybe you need to realize their relationships are just as valid and worthy of being considered a valid marriage as yours. Please consider that maybe your daughter not wanting to be a stay-at-home mother is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s ok if she doesn’t want kids at all. Maybe she has a different calling and can touch lives in a different way and treating her like she’s broken or bad because she wants something different is un-Christlike.

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