Where is the Lamanite DNA?
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Does he know?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or Mormon Church) claims that the American Indians are descendants of a small group that came from Israel to the Americas in 600 BCE, as per their Book of Mormon. They claim all members of the group were from Israel. Lehi was the main patriarch of the group. He had two sons, Nephi & Laman, who themselves became the fathers of two great nations - the Nephites & the Lamanites. The Nephites were light skinned people, and the Lamanites were cursed with darker skin because of sin.(1)

Anyway, some Mormon apologists have tried to escape the core claims of Mormonism because clearly the evidence shows their Book of Mormon to be a fabrication.(2)

For example, on the page at
the author states:

"In dealing with archaeological and other evidences for the Book of Mormon, we must first realize that nearly all critical comments of scholars have been based on a common Mormon misconception: that the Book of Mormon gives the history of the ancient inhabitants of North and South America, offering a history of the American Indians in general. The critics have attacked this misconception, easily showing it to be inconsistent with modern learning, rather than dealing with what the text itself says."

And here is in my view a reasonable interpretation of what the author is saying:

1. We see the facts don't fit what the Book of Mormon or what the Mormon upper leaders have claimed about the Book of Mormon.

2. We shall state that it is a misconception to believe in what has been claimed for over 169 years, and what is still stated in the current Introduction in the Book of Mormon.

The truth of the matter is that we cannot escape the claims made by key Mormon leaders regarding the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith and many other Mormon leaders have taken the view, as can be found in the current Book of Mormon introduction, that: "...after thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians..." Also reference the following Mormon scriptures: Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 3:18-20 and 32:2 and 19:27 and 28:8 and 54:8 and 57, where Joseph Smith receives various "revelations from the Lord" on preaching to the Lamanites. And then there's Moroni 1:4 and 2 Nephi chapter 3, where we learn how the Book of Mormon will be brought forth to the descendants of Lehi.

As we consider the Introduction in the current Book of Mormon, and as we consider the supposed revelations to Joseph Smith on the matter, it is simply unreasonable to conclude anything but this: That official Mormon dogma has, and continues to hold as true the following: That the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the Native American peoples. The Book of Mormon does not exist in a vacuum. There is a context to its creation. There are people who created it. They made specific claims. At least one church sprang up as a result, and that church continues to make specific claims. It's all tied together.

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What are the facts?

The fact is that there is N-O DNA evidence to date that corresponds with a migration from Israel to the Americas in 600 BCE (before the common era = before some people's Christ). Also the Book of Mormon claims that a group called the Jaredites came from the Tower of Babel (presumably in SW Asia) to the Americas in about 2,200 BCE, but who were all destroyed except for Coriantumr (Omni 1:21), but his lone influence (if there was any) could not account for the current DNA status of the Native American peoples.

Even the apologist claim of a limited migration in 600 BCE or 2200 BCE is not supported by current evidence.

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What are the evidences?


1. A good overview as posted by Gavin, a former Mormon Bishop who is a molecular biologist, to the exmormon mailing list.

2. More general comments from Gavin.

3. Rumors of evidence for a limited Book of Mormon supporting migration are cropping up in Mormon apologist circles. One apologist mentioned an article in Science Magazine. The REST of the story is here.

4. New: Gavin's recently published exit story at www.exmormon.org

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General overview from Gavin

As from a post he made to the exmormon mailing list...

---quote begins

From: "Gavin Macrandra" <macrandra@hotmail.com>

Several people have posted recently asking for more information about DNA studies relating to the American Indians and Lamanites. I have posted a couple of times on this issue. I think it will be worthwhile to give a brief, balanced and accurate account of what I consider to be the current state of the DNA research. I am writing a book describing this research in more detail, and it will probably be published early next year. This book will describe research from approximately 250 research papers published primarily in the last decade. If any of you are interested in going to the original research papers (pretty heavy going for a layman), I suggest a paper by Merriwether et al. that summarizes the current state of the research in 1995. (Merriwether DA. et al. (1995) Distribution of the four founding lineage haplotypes in Native Americans suggests a single wave of migration for the New World. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 98, 411-430). A lot of data has been published since 1995 that confirms this work. This journal is likely to be found in a university medical or social
sciences library.

Most theological claims cannot be tested by science, and therefore science can neither prove nor disprove them. The claim by the Mormon Church that American Indians are related to people from Israel, while a theological claim, is testable by science. Research on the DNA of human populations is being undertaken in numerous research labs around the world, by scientists  with no axe to grind with the Mormon Church. They are just interested in the truth. I generally assume that when the overwhelming evidence from numerous independent fields of research points to something being true, it is just that... true! Another assumption of mine is that God cannot manipulate the data to either hide evidence or mislead scientists. A God capable of this sort of twisted omnipotence ain’t worth living with for eternity.

American Indians

The DNA evidence is the last in a long line of research that supports the firm conclusion that the ancestors of the American Indians migrated from Asia over 12, 000 years ago. The most informative DNA research involves work on mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA, because they simply reflect male and female DNA genealogical lineages. Each generation, mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to children and Y-chromosome DNA is passed from fathers to sons. Over generations, slight changes in the DNA sequences occur, which are specific for a particular DNA lineage. We can determine the relatedness of paternal or maternal DNA lineages in human populations by comparing their DNA sequences. Closely related populations share similar DNA lineages.

Scientists have now tested the mitochondrial DNA of over 4000 American Indians from almost a hundred tribes scattered all over of the Americas. About 96% of American Indian female DNA lineages (A, B, C and D) are most similar to lineages observed in Northern Asia. A further 3%, mostly in far northeastern North America are most similar to a rare lineage (X lineage) found in Europe. It has not yet been detected in Asia, but many scientists consider it likely that it is there. The X lineage occurs at its highest frequency around the Middle East (about 20%). Detailed comparisons between the American X lineages and the Middle East X lineages suggests they are very distantly related and probably shared a common ancestor in excess of  30,000 years ago. The X lineage has also been found in DNA extracted from Indian bones at least 7,000 years old. The evidence strongly suggests the X lineage was present in the Americas well before the arrival of Lehi or the Jaredites. The remaining 1% of lineages are either complex lineages due to rearrangements of the DNA (e.g. C and D combined) or lineages found in Caucasians or Africans. The occurrence of the Caucasian maternal lineages is most common in tribes that have had more European contact. The frequency of different types of Caucasian female lineages found in American Indians is  most similar to the frequencies observed in northwestern European populations, particularly Spain. It is not surprising that some Caucasian   and African DNA will be present in American Indian populations due to the influx of immigrants after the arrival of Columbus.

Y-chromosome studies are not as advanced, but about 400 males have been tested from about 30 tribes scattered over the Americas. Of these individuals, about 70% have male DNA lineages that are essentially specific to northern Asia. A further 20% have a lineage that is common in Northern Asia and Europe. The remaining 10% of Indians have lineages that are considered to be the result of post-Columbus mixed marriages. It is not surprising that there has been more “contamination” of the American Indian gene pool by males considering that males were by far the most numerous early explorers of ALL parts of the Americas.

Scientists have discovered that Jews that can trace their paternal ancestry faithfully within the Jewish population have a high incidence (70%) of a specific Y-chromosome. This is most likely the Y-chromosome of Abraham. Evidence to date suggests that this Y-lineage belongs to a group of related lineages (1B lineage) that is found in European populations at a frequency  of about 35%. The 1B paternal lineage group is found in about 4% of American Indian males. No research has examined what proportion of the 1B lineages in the Americas are the “Abraham” lineage, but they are likely to be a subset. Jews also migrated to the Americas after Columbus arrived.


Detailed maternal and paternal DNA studies with Polynesians has confirmed that the Polynesians originated in South East Asia about 6000 years ago. This backs up an enormous amount of archaeological and anthropological evidence. None of the major maternal and paternal DNA lineages from the Americas have been found in any of the numerous Polynesian populations tested including Hawaiian, Samoan, and the Maoris of New Zealand.


It is possible to draw some conclusions from the DNA research regarding the possible present day distribution of Lamanites or people of Semitic origin.

1. The research to date is entirely consistent with the conclusions of the vast majority of informed scientists that there is no evidence for a New World – Old World connection before Columbus.

2. Lamanites are not the principle ancestors of the American Indians (see Book of Mormon introduction).

3. If people of Semitic origin are present, they are a very minor group (<1%) that is difficult to distinguish from individuals resulting from post-Columbus mixed marriages (“possible Lamanites”).

4. The distribution of “possible Lamanites” is highest in North America, rare in Central America and they are essentially absent from South America.

5. Lamanites are not the principle ancestors of Indians in Mesoamerica, including the Mayans.

6. American Indian DNA has not been detected in Polynesians.

There are important conclusions that we CANNOT make.

1. We cannot conclude that Israelites, and therefore Lamanites, never migrated to the Americas. It is technically impossible to test all American Indians, living or dead, to be certain of absolutely no migration from Israel.

2. We cannot conclude that American Indians never migrated to Polynesia.

3. We cannot say that man has never walked on the moon before this century.

Conflicts with Mormon Theology

The evidence strongly contradicts the historical accounts contained within the Book of Mormon and statements in the Doctrine and Covenants where God referred to the Indians in Missouri as Lamanites. The Book of Mormon  clearly implies that migrant Israelites lived over a wide area of the American continent. All early church leaders and most church leaders and  members today assume that all American Indians are primarily descended from the Lamanites. The great civilizations described in the Book of Mormon had populations numbering in the millions. The Lamanite population that finally wiped out the Nephites must have numbered in the millions because they slaughtered a quarter of a million Nephite men, women and children in a single day in 400 AD. It would appear virtually impossible that the DNA research to date would have missed the ancestors of such a significant group of people.

Several researchers at BYU are questioning the doctrine that the present-day American Indians are Lamanites. It is likely that the most popular theory in the near future will be that Lehi and his small group intermingled with the native populations but never became significant numerically. It has already been proposed that they soon became the ruling class that dominated the surrounding Native Americans who they recruited to fight their wars and build their temples. Presumably these people, who were not of the House of Israel, were “worthless” in the sight of God and therefore don’t rate a mention in the Book of Mormon. It is likely that the Church will tolerate this theory because it will satisfy most Mormons and it will be impossible to dispute with scientific evidence. If you make no claim there is nothing to dispute. It will, however, be open to dispute from searching, faithful people in the Church who actually read the Book of Mormon, D&C and the writings of virtually all the prophets. Ironically, in the future the prophet may place greater emphasis on reading the Bible.


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More comments from Gavin

Here is a quote from

"04/05/1999 - Summary of DNA Research to Date

In the last few years numerous research groups around the world have been revisiting the question of the origins of the American Indians. There are mountains of evidence that point to them coming from Asia over 10,000 years ago (linguistic, cultural, morphological, dental etc), but scientists are now using DNA analysis to examine those same old questions

Scientists are studying the mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosomes of different human populations. These portions of our DNA are ideal to study if you want to trace where human populations have lived. We all (boys and girls) inherit our mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) only from our mother. Us boys only inherit our Y chromosomes from our fathers. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosomes don't get mixed up every generation like most of the rest of our DNA (nuclear DNA) which we inherit (50:50) from both our parents. Because it doesn't get mixed up, they are simple to study. In the Y chromosome or mtDNA DNA sequence can be found a record of all the past changes or mutations occurring in that particular sequence. Human populations that have mostly the same changes in their DNA will be closely related. Groups of Y chromosome or mtDNA sequences that are most similar are grouped together and called lineages or haplogroups. Most of the work has been done on mtDNA but the Y chromosome work is catching up.

Scientists in at least 20 research groups around the world have now tested the mtDNA of several thousand American Indians from almost 100 tribes all over the Americas. They have found that there are 5 different mtDNA haplogroups in Native Americans. Of the Indians they have tested about 99.6% have mtDNA that clearly came into the Americas across the Bering Strait over 12,000 years ago. When they compared them to the mtDNA of other human populations they were most similar to groups of people located in eastern Asia particularly people from Mongolia. The 0.4% of American Indians that have another mtDNA lineage are likely to result from interbreeding after the arrival of Columbus. They have found European and African lineages in these people and they more common in tribes that have had more post-Columbus contact.

About 500 American Indians have been tested in Central America, including the Maya, and about 99.8% come from Asia. In South America, where they have had less contact since Columbus they have found 100% of those tested (about 500) to be derived from Asia." ---end of quote

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Wasn't there some new evidence of a limited Caucasian migration?
Does this migration lend support to the Book of Mormon?

In the page at
the author claims that an article in Science Magazine (vol. 280, April 24, 1998, p. 520) has some relevance to the issue at hand. It does not, and in fact shows there is no evidence to support even an apologist claim of a limited migration.

The article in Science is a news story about a presentation before the American Society of Physical Anthropologists, as reported on in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology 105:S26 pages 39, and 198. A related article can be found by the presenter before the society, T.G. Schurr, in the American Journal of Human Genetics 63:1852-1861, 1998, "mtDNA Haplogroup X: An Ancient Link between Europe/Western Asia and North America?" Here are some relevant excerpts from this article:

"On the basis of comprehensive RFLP analysis, it has been inferred that ~97% of Native American mtDNAs belong to one of four major founding mtDNA lineages, designated haplogroups "A"-"D." It has been proposed that a fifth mtDNA haplogroup (haplogroup X) represents a minor founding lineage in Native Americans... Time estimates for the arrival of X in North America are 12,000-36,000 years ago, depending on the number of assumed founders, thus supporting the conclusion that the peoples harboring haplogroup X were among the original founders of Native American populations. To date, haplogroup X has not been unambiguously identified in Asia, raising the possibility that some Native American founders were of Caucasian ancestry...Overall, these data exclude the possibility that the occurrence of haplogroup X in Native Americans is due to recent European admixture and, instead, provide a rigorous demonstration that this haplogroup represents an additional founding mtDNA lineage in Native Americans...In conclusion, we have described the occurrence, variation within, and population distribution of haplogroup X mtDNAs in Native Americans. This haplogroup appears, on the basis of archaeological data, to be pre-Columbian and may have arrived in the Americas either 12,000-17,000 years ago, or 23,000-36,000 years ago. Haplogroup X is remarkable in that it has not been found in Asians, including Siberians, suggesting that it may have come to the Americas via a Eurasian migration. However, a more extensive survey of Asia mtDNAs, as well as additional characterization of European and Native American haplogroup X mtDNAs, will be necessary to fully deduce the origin of haplogroup X in North America." ---end of quote

Here is related message I received from the aforementioned Gavin on the above issue:

---quote beings

From: "Gavin Macrandra" <macrandra@hotmail.com>

I am very familiar with this site. Lindsay is talking predominantly about data in a single paper by Rebecca Cann that is about a decade old. Since that time there has been an explosion of research (~60 papers) that shows without doubt that 99.5% of American Indians come from Asia. Lindsay just forgets to mention that.

The only recent research he mentions is the X lineage paper in science which I am well aware of. Because the X lineage has been found in Europeans but not Asians he thinks this supports the BOM. It will almost certainly be found in Asia by the way. It is now well known that the female X DNA lineage arrived in the Americas many thousands of years ago. It may have even been the first one, before the other four (ABCD) entered about 12 - 30 thousand years ago. The X lineage provides absolutely no support for the Book of Mormon and certainly has nothing to do with the Lamanites who allegedly arrived on the seen a mere 2.5 thousand years ago.

I have written several times to Lindsay and politely asked him twice to remove this inaccurate and irrelevant information. I have never had a response. Usual story.

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Additionally, I wrote directly to T.G. Schurr regarding his work on the X Caucasoid / proto-Caucasoid group. His work is what was reported on in the aforementioned April 1998 news article in Science. Here is a quote of his response:

[my added comments are in brackets]
---quote begins

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 19:08:14 -0500

Dear Mr. ,

Here are my answers to your questions about my recent presentations.

[here is my question # 1]
>1. Is it reasonable to assume that the published version of
>your presentation can be found in the American Journal of
>Human Genetics 63:1852-1861, 1998, "mtDNA Haplogroup X: An
>Ancient Link between Europe/Western Asia and North America"?

[and here is his answer]

A: This is where some of the information can be found, at least regarding the newly defined fifth founding mitochondrial DNA lineage in Native Americans. However, I also took some information pertaining to New World origins from a number of other recent abstracts and papers, and these are indicated below:

1. Schurr TG, and Wallace DC. 1999. mtDNA variation in Native Americans and Siberians and its implications for the peopling of the New World. In: Who Were the First Americans---New Perspectives, ed. R. Bonnichsen. A Peopling of the Americas Publication, series ed. R. Gruhn. Center for the Study of the First Americans, Corvallis, OR., pp. 41-77.

2. Schurr TG, Lell JT, Sukernik RI, Starikovskaya EB, and Wallace DC. 1999. Reevaluating Siberia as a source area for ancestral Native American populations. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 28:245.

3. Lell JT, Schurr TG, Sukernik RI, Starikovskaya EB, and Wallace DC. 1999. Native American and Siberian affinities revealed by Y-chromosome haplotype analysis. Cold Spring Harbor, Human Evolution Meeting Abstracts.

4. Lell JT, Schurr TG, Sukernik RI, Starikovskaya EB, and Wallace DC. 1998. Identification and characterization of Siberian and Native American Y-chromosome lineage by microsatellite analysis. Am. J. Hum. Genet. Suppl. 63:A213.

5. Schurr TG, Lell JT, Sukernik RI, Starikovskaya EB, and Wallace DC. 1998. Genetic associations across the Bering Strait: Continuities and discontinuities. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 26:198.

6. Starikovskaya YB, Sukernik RI, Schurr TG, and Wallace DC. 1998. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in Chukchi and Siberian Eskimos: Implications for the genetic prehistory of ancient Beringia. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 63:1473-1491.

7. Schurr TG, Sukernik RI, Starikovskaya EB, and Wallace DC. 1999. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in Koryaks and Itel'men: Population replacement in the Okhotsk Sea - Bering Sea region during the Neolithic. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 108:1-40.

8. Lell JT, Brown MD, Schurr TG, Sukernik RI, Starikovskaya EB, Torroni A, and Wallace DC. 1997. Y-chromosome polymorphisms in Native American and Siberian populations: Identification of founding Native American Y-chromosome haplotypes. Hum. Genet. 100:536-543.
[here is my question # 2]

>2. Mormon apologists have referenced the Morell news article
>in Science (which references your presentation) to claim
>that there may be evidence to support a limited migration
>from Israel to the Americas by a small group in 600 BCE (or
>by another group from the Tower of Babel in 2200 BCE). These
>apologists claim that this article in Science which is about
>your work may lend support for not having all Native
>American peoples be from Israel, but rather support for a
>limited subsection as being from Israel.

BUT, not only is the main claim of orthodox Mormonism debunked
>by current DNA evidence (that the principal ancestors of
>Indians were from Israel), but the Mormon apologist claims
>of a limited migration are not supported by your research
>either. What do you think?

[and here is his answer to my question # 2]

A; That would be my judgement, also.
[emphasis & size added]

[here is my question # 3]

>3. Could the X haplogroup be accounted for by ancient
>Europeans/Middle Easterners going to Siberia first, and then
>to America? In other words could the migration of the X type
>first have occurred from the Israel area to Siberia, and
>then to America? Is there evidence to show as much?

[and here is his answer to my question # 3]

A: Yes, this is a distinct possibility. Whichever population(s) brought haplogroup X to the New World could have moved across Eurasia from somewhere in West Asia/Caucacus/Middle East (?) into southeastern Siberia before being taken with the other founding haplogroups to the Americas, or perhaps as part of an independent migration. The other possibility is that an ancient European migration came across the Atlantic and then settled in the New World. This would explain the absence of haplogroup X in Asia and Siberia, but not necessarily the antiquity of this haplogroup in the Americas, since, as you are aware, it is has been dated to some time in 15,000-30,000 years in age in the New World. This time depth also generally rules out the possibility that ancient Norse populations significantly contributed to North American Indian populations, since they only reached Greenland by around 1000 A.D. Thus, how and when haplogroup X got to the New World remains something of an intriguing mystery.

I hope these responses have been helpful. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. I appreciate your interest in my research,

Theodore G. Schurr, PhD.

[end of quote of T.G. Schurr's message to me]

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What does all this mean?

It means that the Mormon claims that the Native American peoples are descendants of a 600 BCE (or even a 2,200 BCE) migration from Israel is not rooted in fact. It means that the Book of Mormon is not a factual account, but rather is an imaginative fiction. It means that the LDS Church has no authority from any god. Everything stands or falls on the validity of the Book of Mormon & on the validity of Joseph Smith's "revelations." Did God tell Joseph to preach to the Lamanites or not (as per the revelations in the D&C mentioned earlier)?

What does the research show? That ~99% of the Native American peoples came from Asia, not Israel. A possible limited Caucasoid or proto-Caucasoid migration occurred between 12,000 and 36,000 years ago (the "X" group influence). The orthodox Mormon claim of a 600 BCE migration being the source for the Native American peoples is rejected by hard science. The apologist claim of a limited migration to Central America is not supported by hard science either.

Perhaps someone from FARMS can go out in the spirit of Tom Ferguson (3) and try and find some evidence for Lamanite DNA, evidence which would hold up against the scrutiny of peer review in proper scientific journals. Also, there is a TIME element for DNA influence. Scientists use methods which show them WHEN a certain DNA type came into the mix, or WHEN two groups originally from the same population split. Thus, this hopeful FARMS person would need to show Lamanite DNA influence in a still-present group somewhere in the Americas - Israeli DNA that came here in 600 BCE.

But the apologist approach is disingenuous. The Mormon Church has unquestionably claimed that the Native American peoples are from Israel. The current Introduction in the Book of Mormon is one key evidence for this stance. See

Another evidence can be found in the Church's own Gospel Principles book, as from

(about 12 paragraphs down the page)

Here is a relevant quote:

"The Lamanites Will Become a Great People

The Lord said that when his coming was near, the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people. He said, 'Before the great day of the Lord shall come, . . . the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose' (D&C 49:24). Great numbers of Lamanites in North and South America and the South Pacific are now receiving the blessings of the gospel."

If there is hard evidence to show the Book of Mormon is a factual account, rather than an imaginative fiction, I would take in such evidence. But the fact of the matter is that the only few "evidences" of the Book of Mormon are coincidental, and in fact most evidence shows it to be fiction. Tom Ferguson lost his faith for a reason(4). Gavin, the molecular biologist who was a bishop left the Church for a reason. And even my human incarnation left for similar reasons.

Our world is indeed very demon haunted(5). The cancerous & malignant influence of imaginative & manipulative psychotics continues to repress many. Let's try to find a better way.

Kokau Kola
Captain of KIRK (the Kolob Interference Reparation Kouncil)

p.s. Information about how my human incarnation, Jonathan , lost his faith click here. And for information on the purpose for K.I.R.K. click here.

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(1). The idea that some god would curse a people with black skin because of their "sin" is racist and repugnant! Reference the book & PBS TV series Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World by David Maybury-Lewis, which is available in many libraries, for information on how Caucasians viewed the various dark skinned peoples as being cursed of God.

Also, for info on how Joseph Smith picked up on this racist idea read the following Mormon scriptures: 1 Nephi 12:23 and Alma 3:7 and 2 Nephi 5:21 and Moses 7:8. [go back]

(2). There is a LOT of info showing the Book of Mormon is a fabrication. A place to start looking can be found here, and also I recommend you examine the books mentioned here, and I found some more interesting info here). [go back]

(3). Thomas Ferguson was a Mormon archaeologist who tried to find physical evidence of the Book of Mormon. He spent many years searching. He failed. More info about him can be found on page 140 of the page here, and also in the books mentioned here). [go back]

(4) See reference (3) above. [go back]

(5) Reference the book Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. [go back]

Click here to return to my world views page, or here to return to my main page.





by Jonathan