Native Tapir

Latter-day Saints LOVE to share the National Geographic article entitled, “‘Great Surprise’ —Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins.” They see the headline and say — and I’m quoting a friend verbatim here — “Exciting to see the scientific community catch up to what the Book of Mormon has taught for hundreds of years!”

Native Americans. West Eurasian Origins. The Book of Mormon is true! Batta bing batta boom! 

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. If anyone actually reads past the headline, they immediately run into some tricky information. Let’s look at THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE:

“Based on the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian youth, the research could uncover new origins for America’s indigenous peoples…”

First of all, 24,000 years ago is longer than the earth is supposed to have existed, according to Joseph Smith. In D&C 77:6 Joseph interprets a passage from Revelation to signify “the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.”

Okay, so maybe Joseph was wrong about that one thing. After all, he’s a mortal man. It’s not like everything he ever taught as revealed doctrine that got put into scripture comes from God! Also forget that many other prophets have taught the same thing. I mean, you can’t expect prophets to be right about everything … or anything. C’mon, give them a break!

Okay, so the arm bone they found is older than humanity and the earth itself, according to the LDS timeline. Now it gets tricker.

“Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge perhaps 16,500 years ago, though some sites may evidence an earlier arrival…

“This study changes this idea because it shows that a significant minority of Native American ancestry actually derives not from East Asia but from a people related to present-day western Eurasians,” Willerslev said…

While the land bridge still formed the gateway to America, the study now portrays Native Americans as a group derived from the meeting of two different populations, one ancestral to East Asians and the other related to western Eurasians, explained Willerslev, whose research was published in the November 20 edition of the journal Nature.”

Not only is the evidence older than the earth, it also predates the Book of Mormon by 13,000 — 16,000 years!  This flies in the face of everything the Book of Mormon says about the American continent.

Beyond that, the article confirms the land-bridge model, not a transoceanic migration. The evidence they found was a Siberian arm bone. Why is Siberia significant? BECAUSE YOU GET TO AMERICA ON A LAND BRIDGE FROM SIBERIA.

Mormons, we get that you are desperate for any semblance of evidence for the Book of Mormon, but this article isn’t it. Do yourselves a favor and stop sharing it.

For a more in-depth view of this article by an actual geneticist, check out this post by Simon Southerton:


Tanner Gilliland is a writer, artist, and jazz hands enthusiast based in Salt Lake City, UT. Check out his art on Instagram: @tanner_gilliland, his jokes on Twitter: @tgilliland789, and his poverty on Venmo: Tanner-Gilliland
  • Daniel

    The moment I first saw that article pop up, I read it in its entirety and knew that everyone who was sharing it had not done the same. Siberia is not the Middle East.

  • Swagavad Gita

    Headlines are clickbait, if you will. You have to read the whole article or you’re cheating yourself with false assumptions. Thank you for reminding us of that.

  • artmarc

    Some TBM friends of mine were found posting and re-posting this web page with great glee that finally the Book of Mormon had concrete evidence to support its claims about the Lamanites and Native Americans. When I pointed out that the timeline articulated in the article absolutely destroys any pretense at young-earth creation timelines, and that, oops, it also completely contradicts Mormon scripture and hundreds of teachings of “prophets, seers, and revelators” supporting young-earth timelines, and that it also disables chronologies in the temple teachings – well, things got rather quiet. Still the apologist keep spinning and spinning and spinning……

  • fecklessderek

    “First of all, 24,000 years ago is longer than the earth is supposed to have existed, according to Joseph Smith.”

    I think you’re creating a straw man by implying that current mormons believe the earth is only 7000 years old when the overwhelming majority i have met do not (i’d be interested in your counter evidence though.) Age of the earth and evolution is a well trod abrahamic/monotheistic consideration – you could start here

    I do agree that those who are eager to validate their beliefs may not be taking the land bridge into account though; a lot of believing mormons are familiar with the land bridge i think though.

    The only benefit to the article for book of mormon believing lds people as I see it is that the archaeological record of the western hemisphere is incomplete. I don’t believe there’s any evidence of the exodus of the israelites either – but a lot of people believe in it though (rightly or wrongly) The narrative that mormons are uniqly uninformed and irrational is possibly overstated on your website.

    • Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young

      They may choose not to believe it, but it’s there in scripture. From alleged modern-day revelation through Joseph. But you’re right – I’ve met Mormons who don’t think that.
      I haven’t personally met any Mormons who even THINK about DNA stuff let alone know about the land bridge, but perhaps you run in more intellectual circles than me, haha. Our “narrative” is just talking about facts and personal experiences within Mormonism, and a lot of those facts and experiences, Mormons reject.

    • Sam

      I don’t see that the statement is a straw man argument. It’s a key statement in the discussion. The author is pointing out that the only canonized doctrine about the age of the earth is D&C 77. Any belief held by any member or church authority, prevailing or not, is merely their own belief.

      The reason I think it is important is because the church concedes, in the essay regarding DNA and the BoM, that there were people here already populating this hemisphere, therefore the church adopts a limited geography theory. But wait, the flood of Noah should have wiped out everyone that was indigenous in America, then the Jaredites came over just 150 years later but all died out. Who were these indigenous peoples then that the Church essay refers to? Well, they had to be the people that came across the land bridge because that is what the DNA shows. Could they have come after the supposed flood (which science tells us didn’t happen)? Of course not because the land bridge would have been underwater. The only reason there was a land bridge is due to the mini-ice age ~15,000 years ago that lowered the sea water enough to expose it. After the ice melted the bridge was covered up, never to be used since.

      • Jaasiel Rodriguez

        Agreed. Doctrine and Covenants is very specific. Testable claims are always that: testable. Otherwise, what is the point of scripture. If Mormons no longer choose to believe in that, then, what do they believe exactly? What is not in the Doctrine and Covenants? That’s problematic, because, then, how do you decide? The whole church has a mixture of beliefs?

        No, they’ve spent years claiming prophecy, and the ability to see things as they really are. Either their statement is true, and they hold on to that belief, or their statement is false, and the change is made.

      • fecklessderek

        Do you see any benefit in the author disclosing what mormons believe?

        You don’t think it’s almost the definition of a straw man to omit the prevailing belief to construct a certain believer-type?

        Certainly it is not up to you or the author (anymore than it is to me) to have the final say on what LDS doctrine is. You create a false dichotomy that there is only either doctrine or belief. Also, many mormons believe doctrinal understanding can change (as i perceive anyways)

    • Richard R. Lyman

      There are as many varied beliefs as there are members of the church. It’s not a straw man to say that Joseph Smith taught the 7,000-year-old earth theory and that those revelations were canonized in scripture. It is also not a straw man to say that subsequent leaders (you know, the guys claiming to speak for god as prophets, seers, and revelators) likewise taught the same ideas in their official roles as leaders. Here are just a few examples:

      • fecklessderek

        Mainstream church members are not fundamentalists (Denver Snuffer-type fundamentalists don’t generally fit.) There are clusters of current, mainstream, prevailing beliefs that should be very relevant to a mormon blog. Many of these beliefs even end up in current official sanctioned literature and leadership materials; there’s nothing unequivacable about the age of the earth in modern context on

        If you are going to provide only half the story you are no better than the church.

  • Shem

    I’ve seen plenty of people make this mistake. When you bring up how it doesn’t support the Book of Mormon by the date of the DNA, they just pretend like nothing happened.

  • charles rivera

    I am embarrassed for True Believing Mormons (TBMs) and a bit ashamed of their willfully uneducated credulity, despite many of them having graduate and post graduate degrees. Click bait notwithstanding, many do not even bother to read the fine print — much like their general attitude towards LDS scripture and church history. This gets them into some silly and awkward situations as described above.

  • fecklessderek

    I think the way it works for many current mormons is like this:

    1. the religion provides meaning.
    2. they’d prefer things were less complex, but accept complexity because their religion provides meaning

    I think a lot of exmormons look at it like this:

    1. things are supposed to be simple and mormonism turned out not to be as simple as it was portrayed to be (it was a lie)
    2. further complexity of mormonism is evidence that it’s not correct

    It would be nice to see exmormons be more even-handed. Many exmormons retain a one-true-church attitude. In which case, they are no better than the church they left.

    • ozfan2013

      Derek, the problem for me is that the church and its members want to have it both ways. They want to live in a daily fog of thinking they’re part of the one true church and that God is directing it. It is the members who want things to be simple.

      But you’re right. Things are complex. It’s time the church accepted that it can’t make claims about its exclusive authority, it’s divine origins, it’s God-given commandments, and it’s inspired leadership. Then, and only then, can things be more even-handed.

      • fecklessderek

        Be the change you want to be. Don’t wait for the church to act even-handed before you start doing it.

        • Metallicwyrm W.

          Being that change will get him excommunicated…All of the things he listed for change are grounds for apostasy.

        • Timothy Loveridge

          Is that not what he is doing, but you are criticizing him for being the change that he wants to be.

          • fecklessderek

            I’m talking about changing with regard to being even handed

    • Robert Hall

      The way that Native Americans came to occupy the Americas over the millenia is surely complex. However, there’s really no complexity to the question of whether the Book of Mormon contains any insight at all to the origin of the Native Americans. The complexity of DNA and human migration does not count as “complexity of mormonism”.

      • fecklessderek

        Agreed – the complexity comes from trying to reconcile what some prophetic folks have said concerning native american origins vs the current state of the evidence (or lack thereof.)

        Choosing to have belief in light/in spite of the evidence requires nuanced (or convoluted as you may choose to call it) thinking.

        But I think people should be allowed to choose to believe without being ridiculed ; i think it’s possible to believe while still being “authentic.”

  • uranophobiac

    The problem is, Mormons want their racist book to be true so much, they can hardly stand it. Just let them have it. Yes! Native Americans started out white until God cursed the wicked ones with dark skin, then the dark skinned ones murdered all the white skinned ones and that’s why we only have dark skinned ones today. Yes! Someday Mormon Missionaries will bring the dark ones to repentance and God will make them white just like all your Mormon Apostles are, because God loves white skin the most. What a wonderful book! Now you can fulfill the bigot trifecta. You have your dark skinned cursed Indians and your subjugated woman and your gay bullying! Congratulations! People think your a bunch of gullible dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dums! LOL! CTR!

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