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MormanityDNA and the Book of Mormon: Recent Statement for the Church Illustrates the Value of Sound Apologetics
by Jeff Lindsay
While in Rome last Sunday, I did as a few other Romans did and attended LDS church services and later that evening a stake devotional at the Roma 1 building. Thanks to a kind invitation from Dr. Ugo Perego, I was the speaker at the devotional and spoke on the topic of Book of Mormon evidences.
Since the concept of LDS apologetics is pretty new to many of the members in Rome, I spent more than half of my time laying a foundation for why we need to follow Peter’s counsel in 1 Peter 3:15 and be ready to give an answer (“defense” is the Greek word used) to those who have questions about our faith.
I presented the role of intellectual reasoning and evidences, based on scriptures such as Alma 32, Doctrines and Covenants 8:2-3, and other verses. I reviewed the scriptural role of witnesses to provide evidence to support faith. And then I showed the roles of faith, patience, knowledge, and evidence in the development of our own testimonies.
Then I gave some examples of growing evidences that help us better answer questions as well as better understand and apply the sacred text we have. That included showing them where some useful resources are for defending the faith and answering questions.
The URLs I used in the presentation have been assigned tinyurl.com shortcuts for the convenience of my audience. These began with http://tinyurl.com/romajeff1 and continued in a numerical sequence up to http://tinyurl.com/romajeff24, if you wish to see what resources I chose to share in Rome.
DNA issues were a part of the discussion, and the new statement from the Church on "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies" issued just a few days before my presentation provided a valuable example of a healthy approach to LDS apologetics, though I spent too little time on that topic given all the other material I wanted to cover as well.
However, for those of us who love science and our faith, this new statement is worth careful consideration. It is a scientifically rigorous statement that delves into some of the complex issues of DNA studies and gives us wise guidance in understanding how they apply to the Book of Mormon.
What a pleasant surprise that the leaders of the Church would be willing to put this detailed information out to help strengthen the understanding of members of the Church and give them some valuable tools to better cope with common scientific issues related to the Book of Mormon.
The tools, though, were already out there, coming largely from LDS apologists such as Ugo Perego of Italy who has a Ph.D. in genetics, Daniel C. Peterson, and others at BYU and elsewhere. How nice, though, to see these tools references at the LDS.org website and compiled into a detailed statement from the Church.
I had dinner with Brother Perego in Rome recently and am pleased to see that his work has played a role in this important statement. For example, it mentions his personal DNA results (turns out his mitochondrial DNA points to some of the same Asian roots found among many Native Americans, though he has no known Asian connection in his ancestry) and cites several of his publications.
For those of us who have dealt with the Book of Mormon challenges raised by our critics based on DNA studies, this statement is much appreciated. I also like the implicit hat-tip to classical scholarship-based LDS apologetics. This statement comes from the Church and required lengthy review and scrutiny from the Twelve, as I understand. May we learn from it and consider its multiple healthy implications, and continue moving forward with faith, patience, and knowledge to build our own testimonies, enhance our understanding of the Gospel, and be better able to answer questions wisely and defend the Gospel. Yes, there is a need for classic apologetics rooted in knowledge and faith.
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