Simon and the Scary DNA

Fascinating blog post from molecular biologist and former Mormon bishop Simon Southerton about the initial response of the LDS church to his expressing his unbelief. He had discovered that the church’s claim that Lamanites (ancient Hebrews) were the “principal ancestors” of Native Americans could not be defended.

First Encounters with Institutional Mormonism

Lots of interesting stuff in Simon’s post, including the strange letter from John Tvedtnes (who put Scott Woodward’s name on the paper without Woodward’s knowledge) and the dire warnings of church leader Vaughn J. Featherstone of how Simon’s life would become a “hollow shell” if he left the church.

And if you’re keeping score, it was the church that had to change its position, not Simon. The introduction to the Book of Mormon now states that the Lamanites “are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”


8 Responses to Simon and the Scary DNA

  1. Ray Agostini says:

    Sigh. Give it up, John. For someone who doesn’t believe in Mormonism, and thinks it’s just a religious fantasy, you spend an awful amount of time trying to refute a “Santa Claus” belief.

    Otherwise, I hope you are well.

    • runtu says:

      I’m not trying to refute anything, Ray. I thought Simon’s post was fascinating in that I’d never heard anything about how the local and general church leaders responded.

  2. Diane Sower says:

    I’ve been enjoying this site for some time, and am curious if part of your current family is still LDS? Have you formed conclusions about Christianity other than atheism? After 24 years out of the church, I find myself a very universal believer, with one adult child an atheist, and another one a buddhist. This is all good for me, since they were encouraged to make their own decisions free of any nagging about hell, etc.

  3. GBSmith says:

    It’s been about 3 years since I checked into your site and it’s like I never left. Bought your book, by the way.

  4. lisacolorado says:

    Interesting how it took the DNA evidence to convince you. I just read the Book of Mormon again for the first time and found it strange that the King James version of the Gospels was spoken 600 years bce. It was also funny how there was talk of elephants and things like that. I don’t know how LDS people get around that. I wonder, what would the LDS Church be like without those weird beliefs? I admire how cleanly the LDS people live. I can’t really do it, though, because my mind goes exploring everywhere and everything. Sounds like it worked out okay for ya.

    • runtu says:

      It wasn’t DNA evidence that convinced me of anything, actually. I just got to the point at which I realized I was rationalizing things I shouldn’t rationalize.

  5. Thanks for sharing Southerton’s post. It is a fascinating story.

  6. […] An interesting piece about Austrialian Simon Southerton and his struggle to reconcile belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon with DNA research. […]

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