Both critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon have tried to use population genetics and DNA science to support their views. But, DNA evidence really doesn’t prove or disprove anything regarding the Book of Mormon.
Here’s the claim:
The Book of Mormon describes people who migrated from the Near East (such as Lehi from Jerusalem and Jared from Babylon). Therefore, DNA population genetic studies of modern American natives should reveal traces of Near Eastern ancestors. However, the majority of DNA identified to date in modern native peoples most closely resembles that of eastern Asian and not Near Eastern ancestors. Therefore, the Book of Mormon must be false.
Here’s why it doesn’t prove or disprove anything regarding the Book of Mormon:
The Book of Mormon is primarily a spiritual record which mostly covers the events in the lives of the descendants of Lehi who migrated to America from Jerusalem. They were certainly not the first or even the largest group to settle the Americas. The Book of Mormon references many other inhabitants in America (see footnote 1). The book is not a complete historical record of all the people who have lived in America.
The fact that Near Eastern DNA can’t be identified among modern native groups in America doesn’t prove that Lehi and his descendants did not live in America anciently, nor that their record in the Book of Mormon is false.
Although such DNA studies are interesting, their results neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Footnote 1: References in the Book of Mormon to other groups of inhabitants:
- Family of Jared migration at the time of the Tower of Babel (Ether 1:33)
- Early commerce among the migrations (Ether 10:21-22)
- Many early migrations (Helaman 3:5)
- Other inhabitants (Ether 2:11)
- Descendants of Riplakish (Ether 10:4-5, 8-9)
- Other People (Omni 1:14-18)
- Other Nations (2 Nephi 1:5)
- Other contacts among the inhabitants (Alma 22:29; Alma 50:9; 3 Nephi 4:1; 3 Nephi 16:4)