It is accepted by nearly all scholars as scientific fact that the first Americans originated in Northeast Asia. There is a 99% DNA match for women, 90% match for men for Asian ancestry, not Hebrew. The Church’s Gospel Topics Essay Book of Mormon and DNA Studies questioning this can only be described as an appeal to ignorance, reliant upon non-expert sources and unaccepted theories.
“Genetic research, particularly that using mitochondrial and Y chromosome markers, provide quite emphatic refutation of any such relationship between Jews and Native Americans.” (Dr. David Glenn Smith/U.C.-Davis molecular anthropologist, Sunstone Symposium, 2002)
What is desired from an archaeological standpoint is to have the actual ancient remains themselves genetically sequenced, rather than working backward from the DNA of modern populations. Such methods confirm the actual DNA of the ancient population. The work is progressing and there is no denying the results, unless one simply chooses to deny accepted science. Mormonism simply will not be able to question the DNA of actual ancient populations from 500 BCE to 500 CE.
- Scientific American: Ancient Genome Suggests Native Americans Really Did Descend from the First Americans
- Lamanites No More: DNA and Lost Ties to Father Lehi, Joel Groat
The Lenba are a group of 80,000 South Africans who claim Jewish heritage, practice many Jewish rituals, and claimed to be descended from small group of Middle Eastern men (perhaps as small as seven) who migrated to South East Africa 2,500 years ago and intermarried with the local women. Surprisingly, modern science says that their claims are true.
More than 50% of the Lemba Y-chromosomes are West Asian in origin. The DNA evidence suggests a migration date between 2,670 and 3,200 years ago, not far from their claim of 2,500. A study in 2000 found that a substantial number of Lemba men carry a particular haplotype of the Y-chromosome known as the Cohen modal haplotype (CMH), as well as a haplogroup of Y-DNA Haplogroup J found among some Jews, but also in other populations across the Middle East and Arabia. The genetic studies have found no Semitic female contribution to the Lemba gene pool. This indicates that Israelite men migrated to Africa in ancient times and took wives from among the local people while settling in new communities, just as their origin story suggests.
The similarities to the Book of Mormon premise are striking. The migrations took place at the same time, the groups were of similar size, both had Israelite DNA, and intermarried with the locals (if we accept the current apologetic narrative). The big difference – abundant DNA evidence vs. no DNA evidence, and preserved Jewish culture and ritual vs. no preservation of Jewish culture or ritual. The Lemba are just one more damning illustration of the problem of disappearing Lamanite DNA.
Q: Is the Church’s position on DNA’s fallibility and uncertainty credible? Does a single non-apologetic geneticist support the narrative?
Q: Even if the Lamanites were merely “among” the major inhabitants, despite specific references to the contrary in Book of Mormon, would not the scope of their vast civilizations contribute significant Hebrew DNA to the surviving population?