Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church/Use of sources

Table of Contents

Source Analysis, Sorted by Page Number

A FairMormon Analysis of: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church, a work by author: Simon G. Southerton

Source Analysis of "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church," Sorted by Page Number

Summary: An examination and response to how the author of Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church interprets the sources used to support this work, indexed by page number.


xv-xvi

Source interpretation
The author claims,

Over the past decade, there has been a marked shift among these scholars away from the views of the wider LDS community. Most LDS scholars today want to limit the Israelite colonization to the region of Mesoamerica, while a growing subset shrinks the book's claims even further. (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • The author, who likes to mockingly refer to this as the "vanishing geography theory,"[1] would like to make it appear as if LDS scholars are reacting to recent genetic claims. In reality, Book of Mormon limited geography theories have been proposed as early as 1927 (Sjödahl), with LDS scholar Hugh Nibley arguing for such a geography as early as 1952. The author simply ignores this in order to bolster his argument that LDS scholars are reacting to a recent challenge.
  • Dr. Southerton's book was published in 2004. Dr. Sorenson published his limited Mesoamerican geography in a two-part series in the Ensign in 1984. In addition. Dr. Sorenson published his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon in 1985.
  • The author fails to acknowledge the most well known source of the limited geography theory, which was published twenty years before his book. He eventually indicates, on page 154, that limited geography theories for the Book of Mormon have been proposed since the 1920's.

|authorsources=

  1. No source is provided at all for the claim that "a growing subset" wishes to further shrink the geographical area of the Book of Mormon.

}}

xv

Source interpretation
The author makes the following claim,

In Mesoamerica, which is regarded by Mormon scholars to be the setting of the Book of Mormon narrative, research has uncovered cultures where the worship of multiple deities and human sacrifice were not uncommon. These cultures lack any trace of Hebrew or Egyptian writing, metallurgy, or the Old World domesticated animals and plants described in the Book of Mormon. (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • In an attempt to contrast ancient Mesoamerican culture with that of the Book of Mormon, the author chooses several cultural characteristics that actually appear in Book of Mormon. He overlooks the fact that whenever the people fell into wickedness, they demonstrated those very same characteristics that he attributes only to ancient Mesoamerican culture.
  • According to the Book of Mormon,

And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods. (Mormon 4:14)

Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; (Alma 17:15)

And now behold, he had got great hold upon the hearts of the Nephites; yea, insomuch that they had become exceedingly wicked; yea, the more part of them had turned out of the way of righteousness, and did trample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their own ways, and did build up unto themselves idols of their gold and their silver. (Helaman 6:31)

|authorsources=

  1. No source provided.

}}

8

Source interpretation
The author claims that the Nephites "build a temple similar in splendor to Solomon's. (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • The author flatly contradicts what Nephi states about the temple that was built. The implication is that the temple built by Nephi was on a similar scale to that of Solomon, thereby raising a standard criticism of how such a spectacular edifice similar to Solomon's Temple could have been constructed by such a small group of people.

According to the Book of Mormon,

And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. 2 Nephi 5:16

|authorsources=

  1. 2 Nephi 5:16

}}

8

Source interpretation
The author claims that the Nephites "produce steel and fashion it into swords, breastplates, and arm and head shields to defend against the warring Lamanites.

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • The author once again shows his imprecise interpretation of Book of Mormon text by stating that steel was used to construct breastplates, arm and head shields. Of the items mentioned, only swords are confirmed by the text itself. The remaining assumptions that the breastplates and shields are made of steel is something that a modern reader would naturally infer, similar to the assumption that the Book of Mormon occurred on a continental scale rather than in a limited region.
  • The only references to steel in the Book of Mormon are in:
    • 1 Nephi 4:9 (sword of Laban)
    • 1 Nephi 16:8 (Nephi's bow)
    • 2 Nephi 5:15 (Nephi teaches his people to use steel)
    • Jarom 1:8 (to make tools and weapons of war: arrows, darts and javelins)
    • Ether 7:9 (Jaredite swords of steel).

|authorsources=

  1. The author does not provide sources for his claims regarding steel breastplates, arm and head shields.

}}

12

Source interpretation
The author claims that "LDS scripture asserts that those who are "blessed" with a white skin are favored because of what they did as spirits in a pre-earth life." (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • LDS scripture does not tie skin color with actions performed in the premortal existence.
  • The author uses a common argument that can be found in anti-Mormon sources, but does not back it up with a source.
  • For a detailed response, see: [[Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood/Repudiated ideas/Neutral in "war in heaven"

|Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood/Repudiated ideas/Neutral in "war in heaven" ]]

|authorsource=

  • No sources given by the author.

}}


14

Source interpretation
The author states that the "Lamanites are apparently still in a degraded state when they clash with the gentile Europeans who, it is known in the Book of Mormon, will arrive eleven centuries later." (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • Once again, the author demonstrates either a lack of precision or a lack of knowledge regarding what the Book of Mormon actually says.
  • The Book of Mormon makes no specification regarding the identity of the gentiles or the exact time that they would arrive in the New World.

|authorsources=

  1. 2 Nephi 30:3-6

}}

168

Source interpretation
The author states,

Joseph Smith found the book so inspiring, he declared Palenque a Nephite city. Modern scholarship indicates this Mayan center was built after A.D.600, over 200 years after the Lamanites exterminated the Nephites; but dating details aside, Mormon scholars continue to find the remains of Mayan cities to be prime candidates for where Lehi's people might have lived. (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis
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  • A massive period of rebuilding occurred in 600 A.D., however, the earliest recorded ruler was K'uk Balam (Quetzal Jaguar), who governed Palenque for four years starting in the year 431 A.D.
  • The site is known to have been inhabited since 100 B.C., and pottery shards show that Palenque may have been occupied as early as 300 B.C.
  • The statement made by the author about Palenque is incorrect, and demonstrates a superficial knowledge of what he terms "modern scholarship" regarding this city. The author simply wants to show how "Mormon scholars" are willing to ignore obvious dating anomalies. In attempting to do so, however, he simply demonstrates his surprisingly poor research skills in an age in which typing the name "Palenque" into a web search engine can easily bring the correct information to light.
  • If one assumes, as Joseph apparently did, that Palenque was indeed a Nephite city, and knowing as we do now the tendency for Mesoamerican conquering rulers to destroy the monuments or records of previous ones, it would not at all be surprising to see the record go back only to the time that the Lamanites conquered the Nephites (approximately 400 - 420 A.D.).
  • See also: Book of Mormon geography—Statements—15 Sept. 1842: Speculation that Palenque is a Nephite city

|authorsources=

  1. No source given by the author.
  • A known reference to Joseph's statement about Palenque is Joseph Smith (editor), "Extract from Stephens' 'Incidents of Travel in Central America'," Times and Seasons 3 no. 22 (15 September 1842), 915. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

}}

202, 205

Source interpretation
In 2004 the author claims:

"Most LDS apologists now accept that Native American are principally descended from Siberian ancestors who migrated across the Bering Strait thousands of years before Lehi and that the descendants of Lehi made up an infinitesimally smaller proportion of the New World populations. However, this change in perspective has not been granted the Church's blessing in any official way. The general membership would not believe that Lehi's descendants could have made such a minimal impact in the Americas."

"Publically, the Church urges members to steer clear of any attempt to link the Book of Mormon with current geographical locations."


Source Analysis
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Notes

  1. Term used in a post to an anti-Mormon discussion board on July 5, 2008. See quote at the beginning of this article.