Facing the Shotgun

In dealing with the objections people offer against the Church, many of us have faced shotgun tactics. The objector doesn’t just ask one or two questions, but comes in with a long list of objections. Dealing with them one at a time seems futile. In one of my early experiences in responding to anti-Mormon attacks, a newly baptized member was completely flustered by the thick stack of anti-Mormon literature her Protestant minister gave her, filled with hundreds of attacks on the Church. I asked what ones bothered her most, and spent some time systematically responding to them, one at a time. After demonstrating one by one that the key attacks bothering her were based on deceptive tactics or misinformation, she then made an appeal to the shear volume of attacks that remained. She said, “I don’t care if you can show that most of what’s in here [the anti-Mormon books] is a lie, because even if only 10% of what they say is true, that’s enough to make the Church false.” It was a sad moment. I appealed to the early Christians. Would she have dropped Christianity based on the shear volume of attacks raised against it? But the discussion seemed doomed from the beginning. She left the Church – and yes, we did leave her alone, as far as I can tell, at her request.

So what do we do when faced with shotgun tactics? Allen Wyatt offers some great advice in his article on answering shotgun anti-Mormonism at FAIRLDS.org. I think it’s a good approach if the person raising the attacks is sincere. If someone just wants to tear down the Church and doesn’t care about your answers, then you may not want to spend too much time dealing with the critics.

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

96 thoughts on “Facing the Shotgun

  1. The key with any situation like this is to be the one in charge. In these situations there is one on the offensive and one on the defensive. We have to take charge, to be on the offensive (without BEING offensive, of course! :). Otherwise we will be overwhelmed and can never get our point across.

  2. your key phrase was ” I think it’s a good approach if the person raising the attacks is sincere.”

    Arguing with someone who has nothing in mind, but to tear down is pretty fruitless usually. The problem is trying to protect newer, more fragile testimonies from such attacks. I think I tried and true tactic is to ask a person who is struggling with anti-lit. is to ask them why do they think out of all the churches out there, the LDS faith in particular seems to be under such furious attack all the time, and from so-called Christians at that? Get them to search out the motives of those who spread lies.

    Why can’t I find a stack of brochures and literature against the 7th Day Adventists?

  3. im trying to understand the catholic concept of transubstantiation. its one of the most important parts of my catholic friends’ beliefs, and i can’t by it. it seems like the bible could be interpreted either way “this is my body…this is my blood” or “do this in remembrance of me.” apparently as early as 106 AD or around there, st ignatius was talking about transubstantiation. i know in the LDS church the ‘sacrament’ is very important, but esp. w/ the st. ignatius commentary, i can see why a catholic would think its always been that way.

  4. I don’t think that anti-mormons are evil. I think however, that they may be egged on (albeit without their knowledge) by Satan. I mean he wants to hinder the gospel and he’ll use normally decent people to do it.

  5. Why can’t I find a stack of brochures and literature against the 7th Day Adventists? It exists. I’ve seen stacks, not to mention, stacks against the Catholics, Bahais, etc.

    The general approach I have taken is after I have demolised five or ten attacks is to state “the rest of these are just as false, just as the hundreds of attacks against Christ in his day were all false.”

    “Does anyone believe that if a machine cranks out lies, that a certain volume of lies makes them true? Now, lets talk about the Spirit of God.”

  6. I realize it’s pointless to debate with someone who has already made up their mind, yet I find myself doing it over and over again on these blogs. [sigh]

    If someone sincerely wants to hear our responses to the attacks in order to learn what our responses are, then fine. I can respect those who want to hear both sides.

    But after run-ins with ex-members I’m afraid I easily lose patience. I should be more tolerant and understanding of the ex-members who attack the church because I spent many years with bitter feelings towards the church, even though I was careful not to say or do things (at least outwardly) against the church.

    I tried to be sympathetic towards members of one ex-member group, because many of their gripes are things I had problems with too. Things I was finally able to resolve. Well, maybe I’m still working on a few. I left a comment on a blog recently that contained some complaining in it about offenses of long ago. And I focused more on the problem than on the solution.

    But the key thing with ex-member attackers, is they strenuously avoid trying to find reasonable pro-church or pro-gospel explanations and resolutions to their concerns. They automatically discount all pro-LDS responses because of their conclusions.

    They use their (sometimes legitimate) gripes and offenses to attack and tear down, and “prove” that the church can’t be true, or that God can’t exist. They can’t fathom the possibility that the church is true and at the same time, it and its members and leaders aren’t perfect.

    Where in the Bible were the people of God, and their ecclesiastical organization perfect? Only Enoch’s city of Zion, and when it achieved perfection, God took it to him.

    But in response to the actual attackers, I think we should say, “Whatever.” I hope I can get to that point.

    I’ve been to Christian bookstores to buy various translations of English and Spanish Bibles. And yes, most of them have a section on “cults.” Included in the cult section are usually books on the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists, Bahai, Islam, Buddism, Hinduism, Confuciousism, etc.

  7. Transsubstantiation is a Roman Catholic doctrine that, in their defense, would occur from the literal rendering of “this is my body”. In a literal argument, the Roman Catholic has the advantage over the literal Protestant, who has to retreat from his own literal hermeneutic to explain a phrase such as “this is my body”.
    Transsubstantiation was the view of the Church Fathers and general was the view of the Church throughout the middle ages. I am not saying this to imply that it is true, simply that it is a historical position.

  8. I suggest that we do not argue the sacrament. And I suggest that we do not “argue” or spend time “defending the faith”. It gets you nowhere.

    Take the lead of the Savior folks. He did not argue.

  9. thank you, annoying person. but i was not arguing. i was INQUIRING. i wanted to learn more about the catholic perspective.

  10. The “Shotgun” idea is an interesting one to me. Weak people use it. I used it as a missionary at times in defense of the Church. In hindsight I realized how limited I really was in what I knew.

    I have recently left the Church and my “gripe” is actually very simple: DNA shows the BOM to not be historical.

    So how would you deal with me? What would be your answer. If anything a pro-mormon response would be a shotgun blast of hypotheses too numerous to tackle.

    You can “be in charge” all you want and I’ll wait patiently to hear someone explain to me why I should stay in the Church with that single doubt.

    By the way, I have a degree in Molecular Biology. So shoot away.

  11. Sorry you left. But if it’s a scientific reason for leaving, are you sure you have tested the right hypothesis? That’s my take on the DNA issue: people are rejecting the Book of Mormon on the basis of a hypothesis that is not derived from the text, but from popular opinions. For starters, see my DNA page at http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/DNA.shtml.

  12. I have recently left the Church and my “gripe” is actually very simple: DNA shows the BOM to not be historical.

    I’ll answer this one, and I won’t use a shotgun approach. The answer is really quite simple.

    The critics’ argument goes like this:

    A. The Book of Mormon claims that Lehi is the sole ancestor of all modern Native Americans.
    B. DNA tests of Native Americans show that their DNA does not match those of Palestinian Jews.
    C. Therefore the Book of Mormon is not an accurate historical record.

    The problem with this charge is that A is not true — the Book of Mormon does not claim that Lehi arrived in the New World to find it completely empty. It is, in fact, silent on this issue (although there are many passages which indicate that there were others already there). The fact that many Mormons — including many general authorities — have believed A to be true does not make it true.

    Therefore, if Lehi’s family of 20 to 30 people arrived to a continent already populated by peoples of mainly eastern Asian ancestry, and they intermarried with these people (as seems likely among the Lamanites, the only surviving descendants of Lehi), it would be expected that their genetic distinctiveness would be lost among an overwhelming sea of others’ DNA.

  13. You asked why people have long lists of things that are wrong with Mormonism. Your answer is that satan has filled all of these people’s minds with illusion. Our very DNA must be illusion because it counters the BoM.

    The more plausible explanation is that Mormonism is wrong. People have long lists of things that are wrong with Mormonism, because there is a long long list of things wrong with it.

    Anyway I really want to talk about Steve’s comment: “The key with any situation like this is to be the one in charge.” [i.e., seek domination!]

    Away from the Mormon/antiMormon debate.

    Assume for half a second that Steve held a position that you’ve rejected. (Let’s imagine Steve was a Communist…I will call this fictional character Comrade Steve rather than Brother Steve.)

    In this case Comrade Steve would is saying: “When you are wrong, you should take charge.”

    You must force people into isolated situations where you can take control and force your world view on them. You would spend a great deal of money and effort in pushing your world view on them.

    Being wrong creates has you do things to manipulate and control others.

    Conversely, when the bulk of evidence favors an idea. You end up taking a different tact. When the evidence supports your beliefs, you try to put your ego in the back seat and get people to concentrate on the evidence.

    Having a set of lies to defend is a path to personal power. Trying to discover truth, you put your ego behind the evidence. Seeking truth becomes a path to submission.

    BTW: The reason I am reading all of these Mormon blogs is that I am trying to answer the question of why the worst people manage to get in charge. I know it is impossible to argue against the big lie.

    Steve has hit a big nail squarely on the head.

    Those who are wrong must seek domination to force their world view on others. Having a set of lies to defend funds massive propaganda machines, spits out reams of garbage literature and fake testimonials.

    Mormonism is Machiavelli’s philosophy of dominance carved into scripture. (NOTE: There was a resurgeance of interest in Machiavelli in the 1820s when Lieutenant General, Seeker, Prophet, President Joseph Smith was seeking power.).

    After reading Steve’s statement that, to defend the lies of Mormonism, you must seek domination, I finally came to understand one of the mysteries or Mormon.

    I understand now why Missionaries tell us to look for feelings behind the words rather than the meanings of the words while reand the BoM.

    Reading words and analyzing arguments is part of the search for truth. Analysis is the path to submission. You submit to truths that are outside you.

    Rather than reading the words, if you concentrate on all of your feelings of fear and lust, then you can find a path to power in Smith’s pack of lies.

    There are many people who know this instinctively. They are looking for a semi-plausible combination lies and half truthes that can justify their desires to domination.

    With lies to defend, you become the righteous. You must dominate because you are righteous.

    The lies of Mormonism provides the rationalization to seek domination.

    I can finally see why people fall for it. The lies speak to those who seek domination. It provides the fantasy of being among the selected righteous. You can walk on others. You can lie and cheat in business. Being wrong means that you must seek to be the one in charge.

  14. To Mike Parker:

    I assert that the BOM was not historical. It does not fall in line with measurable reality.

    The contradiction I find is much simplier than getting into debates about Limited Geography Theory, Ashkenazi jews, mtDNA etc…

    My issue is that whether you find truth through scientific means or spiritual/metaphysical means it should still be the same truth.

    I used to believe that Church held that truth. However when I found out that my religion’s “Keystone,” as the prophet Joseph put it, differed greatly from observable reality my belief evaporated.

    No matter how much you try to spin it, every last thing that came from Joseph’s mouth and/or pen should have been Universal truth. Those who offer the prophet vs. “just a man” explanation are kidding themselves.

    Also, if you throw out the traditional “all of North and South America” view of the BOM you end up losing a lot of LDS doctrine. For example, the Americas being a choice land above all others and that those who live in the Americas must serve God. The Lord promised Nephi he’d keep other people from the knowledge of the “promised land” because otherwise it’d be overrun.

    How can that be if the Nephite/Lamanite people were vastly outnumbered on the continent?

    Furthermore, the BOM itself makes prophesies to the Lamanite children, not the Mongolians. But if the Lamanite blood is so diluted among the Mongoloid that the Hebrew is no longer detectable, than who is left to claim the blessings?

    Nevermind that it’s not just a few “GAs” who have held the old paradigm over the years. Almost every South American temple dedicatory prayer has made reference to the people as being connected to Lehi. Those prayers have been offered primarily by President Hinckley.

    Your explanation is at best an unprovable hypothesis. At worst, it’s an obviously disingenious attempt to create new history. And that’s not truth in my book.

  15. Anonymous:You asked why people have long lists of things that are wrong with Mormonism. Your answer is that satan has filled all of these people’s minds with illusion. Our very DNA must be illusion because it counters the BoM.

    I do not think that attacking DNA science as flawed (an “illusion,” to use your phrase) is responsible or reasonable. There are better answers to BofM difficulties than to claim that scientific understanding is a lie.

    BYU Gestapo:I assert that the BOM was not historical. It does not fall in line with measurable reality.

    You may assert anything you wish. There is a difference, however, between assertion and evidence. I find very little evidence for abandoning faith in the BofM in your message.

    The contradiction I find is much simplier than getting into debates about Limited Geography Theory, Ashkenazi jews, mtDNA etc…
    My issue is that whether you find truth through scientific means or spiritual/metaphysical means it should still be the same truth.

    This presumes (a) that current scientific understanding is completely correct; (b) that all things believed by Mormons are correct in every detail, and contain no conventional wisdom or assumptions based on incomplete revelation; and (c) that the goals of science and religion are to reveal the same truths.

    I reject all three premises. To accept them is to have an unreasonably fundamentalistic approach to science or religion, and fundamentalism often leads to loss of faith when one encounters evidence or facts that run counter to it. I suspect that your faith in Mormonism was of such a type, rather than a progressive faith that seeks to incorporate new truths and expand one’s understanding. This is a church of revelation (personal as well as corporate), and the Spirit can and should be expected to reveal new understandings to us as we grow — just as science presents new understandings as we mature.

    I used to believe that Church held that truth. However when I found out that my religion’s “Keystone,” as the prophet Joseph put it, differed greatly from observable reality my belief evaporated.
    No matter how much you try to spin it, every last thing that came from Joseph’s mouth and/or pen should have been Universal truth. Those who offer the prophet vs. “just a man” explanation are kidding themselves.

    Yep, I was right: Fundamentalist assumptions. Mormon doctrine does not claim, and never has claimed, to have all of the “Universal truth” you thought it did. We learn, we grow, we understand more today than we did yesterday. As Paul taught, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

    Also, if you throw out the traditional “all of North and South America” view of the BOM you end up losing a lot of LDS doctrine. For example, the Americas being a choice land above all others and that those who live in the Americas must serve God. The Lord promised Nephi he’d keep other people from the knowledge of the “promised land” because otherwise it’d be overrun.
    How can that be if the Nephite/Lamanite people were vastly outnumbered on the continent?

    Coming from the Old World, Nephi (of course) uses the paradigm of the Old World. When he thinks of the nations of the earth, he thinks of Babylon, Persia, Egypt — the empires of his world. The Lord promises to keep Nephi’s promised land from their knowledge.

    Fundamentalist assumptions make us read the BofM as we think it should read, not as Nephi was thinking.

    Furthermore, the BOM itself makes prophesies to the Lamanite children, not the Mongolians. But if the Lamanite blood is so diluted among the Mongoloid that the Hebrew is no longer detectable, than who is left to claim the blessings?
    Nevermind that it’s not just a few “GAs” who have held the old paradigm over the years. Almost every South American temple dedicatory prayer has made reference to the people as being connected to Lehi. Those prayers have been offered primarily by President Hinckley.

    The percentage of blood is not important to the promise. Most Native Americans can be descendants of Lehi without being able to detect such descendancy through DNA. But the promises are still intact, and even if this or that person doesn’t have any Lehite ancestry, it’s simple enough to adopt them spiritually, just as Gentiles can be adopted into the house of Israel (a New Testament concept, as well as a modern LDS doctrine).

    Think outside the fundamentalist box.

    Your explanation is at best an unprovable hypothesis. At worst, it’s an obviously disingenious attempt to create new history. And that’s not truth in my book.

    Faith, but its very definition, is believing in something that cannot be proved scientifically. To believe in the BofM requires a measure of faith. Evidence can be provided for its truth (and much evidence has come to light, especially recently, and especially in the Arabian peninsula), but no amount of evidence will ever be produced to rise to the level of absolute proof.

    And think what you will of me or my beliefs, but I would request that you not accuse me of lying (making a “disingenuous attempt”).

    I hope, perhaps, this can put a new perspective on things for you. I would be gratified if perhaps your heart wasn’t so hardened that you would be willing to admit that perhaps there is another way of approaching matters of faith than you previously did.

  16. Yep, I was right: Fundamentalist assumptions. Mormon doctrine does not claim, and never has claimed, to have all of the “Universal truth” you thought it did.

    If God’s “One true Church” isn’t universally true than why have only one Church? If thinking like that makes me a “Fundamentalist” as you put it than I’m guilty as charged.

    I believe truth shouldn’t be relative. You shouldn’t be able to find truth were other truths contradict it, regardless of the source of that truth.

    What a sad commentary that LDS Theology can’t live up to that standard. Call it fundamentalist all you want, but what your comments really show is that you love the Mormon Church above all, and you want your reality to conform to it.

    Faith, but its very definition, is believing in something that cannot be proved scientifically.

    Actually the dictionary says: “Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.”

    What instills confidence? I’ve never needed or asked for absolute proof as you put it. If that were the case I would have never joined the Church. But when faced with completely contradictory evidence one faces a crisis of that confidence.

    It shouldn’t matter where that evidence comes from if it’s solid.

    If you actually read Dr. Woodward’s work, or hell even FARMS, they don’t actually attack the data just the conclusions. They admit that you have to now have Limited Geography Theory to make all the pieces fit.

    So please don’t be so naive to argue that the data/evidence is incomplete or wrong. If it was Woodward would be shouting it from the rooftops.

    BTW…I was at BYU when he started the Human Genetics project and even helped in the lab for a short time. I was also there when BYU shut it down. Why was that I wonder? The project didn’t end…it’s at Sorenson now. BYU must not have liked the results.

    Conjecture perhaps…I’ll admit that.

    And think what you will of me or my beliefs, but I would request that you not accuse me of lying (making a “disingenuous attempt”).

    About the word disingenuous, it’s defined as: Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.

    I’m assuming you don’t have any formal expertise in Molecular Biology or genetics. If that’s true than your statements about the evidence are not candid and are not straightforward. ie; you really DONT know what your talking about.

    Is that lying? On a small scale maybe. I can think of worse things. So save the indignation.

    I OTH have 6 years under my belt in the lab in addition to my coursework. I generate the same data we’re arguing about every day. I have a hands on idea of how powerful and accurate it is.

    That at a minimum qualifies me to comment.

  17. BYU Gestapo’s fundamentalist assumptions are nothing new. Joseph Smith struggled with the same problem:

    But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a [pancake] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a [mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.

    I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.

    (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 331.)

  18. To Indy:

    Whatever what? Please specify.

    To Mike:

    Do you know the context of that quote? It was during the time polygamy was being practiced in secret and the notion of making the practice generally known weighed on Joseph quite a lot.

    Polygamy caused quite the dissension and head scratching among the members of the Church. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the ripples Emma made. That effect is still going on today.

    So my point is are you really surprised when certain notions will simply not be accepted by the majority of people? Shouldn’t that tell you something?

    You’re right about one thing, religious people have always wondered why secular people simply won’t “believe.” Joseph was not immune. He couldn’t even get religious people to fall in line with some of his “higher notions.”

    So, to get this points back on the original subject, I’d like you to go back to “taking the offensive” and address my points without resorting to:

    You can’t believe in absolutes/you should listen to the prophet.

    I already shown by leaving the Church I can look at the world in a very new unexpected way. I can do it again.

    So enlighten me…

  19. Sorry, I can’t help myself. BYU Gestapo apparently hasn’t read my “pet theory” under other posts, so I just _have_ to repeat it here.

    When God put the dark skin on the Lamanites He had to make genetic changes so that it would be passed on to their seed. And while He was working on their DNA, and because He is Omnipotent, He probably just changed some more sequences to match up with the Asians.

    And as He is Omniscient too, He knew we’d be having this conversation, so He may have done the above just to test the faith of those who jump to conclusions.

    Who knows, maybe the Asians themselves don’t have “original factory” DNA parts either.

    For that matter, none of us do, or else we’d all be living 700 to 900 years like the pre-Noah people.

    If He can raise the dead, and turn water into wine, and multiply fishes and loaves, He can certainly alter someone’s DNA.

    If one accepts that we are all descendents of Adam and Eve, then “the Hand of God” is one possible explanation why all women don’t have Eve’s mtDNA and all men don’t have Adam’s Y chromosome.

    Remember that the Book of Morman is less than 1/100th part of the original records. LOTS has been left out. The explanations may be in that 99% that was left out. The explanations may be in what happened AFTER Moroni finished it up! We just don’t know.

    I believe in these four fundamental things:

    1) God can do whatever He wants.
    2) Whatever He wants is in accordance with eternal Justice and Truth.
    3) He doesn’t have to tell us _that_ He has done something.
    4) He doesn’t have to tell us _why_ He has done something.

    Gestapo: Like every other “discrepancy” thrown at the Book of Mormon over the last 175 years, this one won’t stick either. Just like the accusations about writings on metal plates, barley, steel, horses, whatever, it eventually gets explained.

  20. For what it’s worth, I disagree with Books of Mormon Indy and think his interpretation relies on an unnecessary appeal to the supernatural.

  21. BYU Gestapo: If God’s “One true Church” isn’t universally true than why have only one Church? If thinking like that makes me a “Fundamentalist” as you put it than I’m guilty as charged.

    Just because this is God’s Church doesn’t mean that He has revealed all truth, or enforces the correct understanding of every principle. The purpose of the Church is to bring back the authority, ordinances, and revelation necessary to exalt mankind, not to enforce some sort of perfectionist doctrinal kingdom. God reveals just enough to save us, and leaves the rest up to us to sort out for ourselves. Just because the Saints have some beliefs or interpretations that are not “universally true” (whatever that means) does not mean that the Church should be discarded.

    This is the Church of Jesus Christ, not the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.

    I believe truth shouldn’t be relative. You shouldn’t be able to find truth were other truths contradict it, regardless of the source of that truth.

    Of course not. The problem is separating truth from theory, assumption, or conventional wisdom. DNA and the Book of Mormon can exist happily, side by side, as long as one is willing to jettison false assumptions about what the Book of Mormon says … and what DNA is able to prove.

    What a sad commentary that LDS Theology can’t live up to that standard. Call it fundamentalist all you want, but what your comments really show is that you love the Mormon Church above all, and you want your reality to conform to it.

    Your mind-reading skills must be quite powerful if you know what I want and love.

    The sad commentary here is that LDS theology didn’t live up to your assumptions of what it should be. Your rigid beliefs crumbled rather than adapting to new, better understandings.

    “Faith, but its very definition, is believing in something that cannot be proved scientifically.” Actually the dictionary says: “Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.”

    Your appeal to Websters is overly simplistic. Here’s a more explicit definition:

    “The word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to ‘belief’, ‘trust’ or ‘confidence’, but unlike these terms, ‘faith’ tends to imply a transpersonal rather than interpersonal relationship — with God or a higher power. The object of faith can be a person (or even an inanimate object or state of affairs) or a proposition (or body of propositions, such as a religious credo). In each case, however, the faithful subject’s faith is in an aspect of the object that cannot be rationally proven or objectively known.” (Emphasis added.)

    What instills confidence? I’ve never needed or asked for absolute proof as you put it. If that were the case I would have never joined the Church. But when faced with completely contradictory evidence one faces a crisis of that confidence.
    It shouldn’t matter where that evidence comes from if it’s solid.

    But, again, the problem here is not the evidence, but how the evidence affected your rigid assumptions of the world of the Book of Mormon. DNA evidence doesn’t “completely contradict” the BofM, just your interpretation of it.

    If you actually read Dr. Woodward’s work, or hell even FARMS, they don’t actually attack the data just the conclusions. They admit that you have to now have Limited Geography Theory to make all the pieces fit.

    What we now call the “Limited Geography Theory” is an understanding of the world of the BofM that goes back at least 100 years, and possibly as far back as Joseph Smith himself. It’s been gaining popularity since the 1950s, as people have read the book trying to see what it says, not what others have said about it. But it is far from new, and certainly not a theory concocted to deal with the DNA “threat.”

    So please don’t be so naive to argue that the data/evidence is incomplete or wrong. If it was Woodward would be shouting it from the rooftops.

    I stated previously that it would be silly to argue that the DNA evidence is wrong. It is the assumption that it can identify a single ancestor 2600 years ago that is wrong.

    BTW…I was at BYU when he started the Human Genetics project and even helped in the lab for a short time. I was also there when BYU shut it down. Why was that I wonder? The project didn’t end…it’s at Sorenson now. BYU must not have liked the results. Conjecture perhaps…I’ll admit that.

    I’m not sure what this has to do with the Book of Mormon, but it does speak volumes as to the conspiracy mindset of those who leave the Church.

    For what it’s worth, BYU’s DNA Sequencing Center is still open and working. I don’t think people at BYU or the Church are afraid of DNA research.

    “And think what you will of me or my beliefs, but I would request that you not accuse me of lying (making a ‘disingenuous attempt’).”
    About the word disingenuous, it’s defined as: Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.

    It’s the “not candid” and “calculating” parts that I object to. They both presume lack of honesty and forthrightness — i.e., lying.

    I’m assuming you don’t have any formal expertise in Molecular Biology or genetics. If that’s true than your statements about the evidence are not candid and are not straightforward. ie; you really DONT know what your talking about. Is that lying? On a small scale maybe. I can think of worse things. So save the indignation.

    Well, I’m certainly not going to sit here and let you attack my character and honesty. I believe you are mistaken, but I would never question your sincerity. I would request the same from you.

    I OTH have 6 years under my belt in the lab in addition to my coursework. I generate the same data we’re arguing about every day. I have a hands on idea of how powerful and accurate it is.
    That at a minimum qualifies me to comment.

    I don’t question your understanding of DNA, I question your understanding of the Book of Mormon and what it says.

    Do you know the context of that quote? It was during the time polygamy was being practiced in secret and the notion of making the practice generally known weighed on Joseph quite a lot.

    Actually, the context was “building…temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead….” But it seems that you prefer to fall back on the critics’ contention that everything Joseph Smith ever taught comes back to polygamy. Without evidence or context, in this case.

    So, to get this points back on the original subject, I’d like you to go back to “taking the offensive” and address my points….

    I believe I have, starting with my first post. You’re just not interacting with them.

    Please tell me, if you are so sure: Where in the BofM does it say that Lehi was the sole descendant of all modern Native Americans?

    (And don’t bother with the current introductory page; that was written in 1981 and is not part of the revealed text.)

  22. Mike,
    Whether or not God had a hand in altering the DNA of the Lamanites or of the Asians, he must have had a hand somewhere.

    Aren’t we to believe that we are all descended from one of Noah’s 3 son’s and their wives?

    Aren’t we to believe that we are descended from Adam and Eve?

    How did genetic differences then get introduced into the human race?

    Are there possibilities besides 1) spontaneous mutations and 2) Hand of God?

    I appeal to the supernatural every time I pray. I believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, intepretation of tongues, and so forth. I believe God can raise people up from the dead back to mortality (like Lazarus) and resurrect people to become immortal beings (like Moroni). Altering DNA has to fit in their somewhere.

    But, coming back to a more mundane level, what do you think of my assertion, that if we are to take Nephi at face value, that God put a dark skin on the Lamanites, that should continue on their seed and the seed of anyone who mixes his seed with them (ie., intermarries), isn’t that by definition a genetic alteration?

  23. Books of Mormon in Indy,

    I apologize; allow me to clarify what I meant: I don’t believe that we should never appeal to the supernatural, just that we should not appeal to the supernatural unnecessarily.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to postulate the God changed the Lamanites’ DNA sequencing. To do so begs the question, why? So it would look like Asiatic DNA? Why bother?

    I think the skin color change is much more easily explained by Laman and his followers intermarrying with local indigenous peoples. This also explains why that mark would be perpetuated among those who “mixed their seed with them.”

  24. First off Mike, thank you for addressing my points. I hope you and I can both agree this is healthy civil dialog.

    I think of Universal truth as meaning that whatever truth you have, it should always be consistent. If it’s really, really true that will be the case. I don’t mean to argue that you have to have ALL truth to be Universal…my apologies. But what the Church in an official capacity ie; BOM/Canon/Scriptual should be consistent with any other truth you can find…regardless of the source.

    For what it’s worth, BYU’s DNA Sequencing Center is still open and working. I don’t think people at BYU or the Church are afraid of DNA research.

    The sequencing center is simply a lab with what’s called an ABI 3730 sequencing machine. It is not Woodwards lab at all. It is simply an economical way of giving access to a $400,000 machine to all the labs in the BioAg department. I’ve used that lab for my research many, many times.

    Not trying to be too picky there, but the distinction is important.

    Although I agree that my idea of Woodward’s lab being shut down has a conspiratorial mood to it, it’s not without reason or evidence. I knew personally 3 of the head techs in his lab and as previously mentioned helped them out myself for a short time. The details of that experience are for another night.

    Point is that BYU did believe there were issues with his research. My conjecture (ephasis on that btw) is that it had to do with the results.

    My comments on Joseph Smith were simply to be taken as during a period of obvious stress and direct relevance to polygamy Joseph uttered those statements. What I said is thoroughly, thoroughly backed by evidence including Joseph himself. The “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” Chapter heading that you referred to gives a true, yet incomplete discription of the happenings at that time.

    I stated previously that it would be silly to argue that the DNA evidence is wrong. It is the assumption that it can identify a single ancestor 2600 years ago that is wrong.

    Why would we have to identify a single ancestor? The genetic distance between a people like the Hebrew and the Asians is so large that a mixing of the two, even a small one would show up big time.

    As a side note, Lehi doesn’t matter, Sariah and the daughters of Ishmael matter, but that’s being picky.

    mtDNA analysis is more than accurate enough to determine if a party the size of Lehi’s made a contribution to the gene pool.

    In fact, the original colonizers from Asia would have been pushing it to have a group as big as Lehi’s. Never mind that the BOM speaks of Millions of Nephites and Lamanites dueling it out in the end.

    The only plausible explanation is that ALL of Lehi’s children died out.

    Beyond the “principal ancestor” comment in the title page that McConkey gave us. Never mind that the comment is still technically canon and that it disparages your idea that LGT has been popular for 50 years.

    Besides all that, there are an abundance of comments by Apostles, 1st presidency, prophet that all clearly show they believe the contemporary Native Americans to be Lehi’s Children. These are the very same Native Americans who’s DNA is Mongoloid.

    So where does that leave us?

    Forgive me Indy, but even the truest believer would see your argument as rediculous. What kind of God would we have if he had to jump through so many hoops to make his truth…well…truth?

  25. BYU Gestapo:
    I don’t think you’re going to change your mind based on what some anonymous or semi-anonymous guys like us say on someone’s blog. So, whatever you want to believe is fine.

    The other night I had someone politely hand back a Book of Mormon to me because he flipped through it, found a passage that said the Jews will return to their promised land (he translated it heaven), and he said he didn’t believe the Jews were going to heaven.

    I also know that man to be compassionate to strangers because the previous week I saw him go out of his way to help a lost trucker with directions.

    I am desirous to respect the religious belief of an anti-semitic Muslim. I am desirous to respect your religious beliefs, no matter how profoundly I disagree.

    I’ve often fallen into the blog trap of wanting to be a white knight charging to the defense of Truth, Justice, and The One True Way. I sometimes forget that my One True Way may not be what others think of as their One True way. And of course we all have the right to believe and assert and put forth that Our way is The way.

    So if you want to adjust your religious beliefs based on what you think the Book of Mormon says or implies, and what the DNA evidence indicates, that’s fine.

    However, I hope you do realize that what you deduce from the BoM markedly differs from others. One can deduce things from the BoM in such a way as to accomodate the DNA evidence and still be in full faith.

    Also, we just don’t know the Pre and Post Book of Mormon History of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. There is lots of history we just don’t know.

    We don’t know the genetic history of the Asian peoples. We don’t know how they relate to Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

    By the way, do you still believe in the Bible? (Honest question.)

    We don’t know the DNA of the women whom the sons of Jacob/Israel married.

    We don’t know who Sariah was, or who Mrs. Ishmael was.

    We really don’t know what happened to the Lamanites after Nephi split, because they didn’t keep records, or if they did, we don’t have them.

    We don’t know what happened after Moroni buried the plates.

    We don’t know the fate of the 10 Northern Tribes who got carried off to Assyria. We don’t know their DNA, or where it went.

    We don’t know how much the Jews (and the remnants of other tribes) mixed in with the Babylonians and later the Persians. We can assume it happened at least a little. We don’t know the history of the Jews who remained in Babylon after Cyrus and Darius allowed a couple groups to return to Palestine.

    The main thing I think we can conclude is that Abraham’s DNA got spread over a heck of a large area and through many many people.

    Another genetic reality that we fail to verbalize is the mixture of European/Spanish genetic material in with the native peoples.

    There are very few pure native americans left who don’t have any European (especially Spanish) blood. The vast majority of the people that the church calls Lamanite, are probably at least 50% European by ancestry. Mestizo is the word most commonly used in the past, but it may not be politically correct now.

    I forget which was more common, Spanish men marrying Indian women, or Spanish women marrying Indian men. Probably the former.

    By the way, did the DNA studies use _pure_ native american Indians, or did the studies use Mestizos?