Interesting movement in the Mormon religion (which has a large presence out here in Arizona btw and which I’m learning much more about) to accommodate some of the findings of scientific inquiry into their understanding of their holy writings.
The LDS (Mormon) Church has ordered that a single word be changed in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. The word change has the effect of weakening the claim in the introduction that the people chronicled in the Book of Mormon are the ancestors of the American Indian people. The reason for the change is that DNA evidence is pointing out that such claims have little scientific merit:
“Many Mormons, including several church presidents, have taught that the Americas were largely inhabited by Book of Mormon peoples. In 1971, Church President Spencer W. Kimball said that Lehi, the family patriarch, was ‘the ancestor of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea.’
After testing the DNA of more than 12,000 Indians, though, most researchers have concluded that the continent’s early inhabitants came from Asia across the Bering Strait.
With this change, the LDS Church is ‘conceding that mainstream scientific theories about the colonization of the Americas have significant elements of truth in them,’ said Simon Southerton, a former Mormon and author of Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church.
‘DNA has revealed very clearly how closely related American Indians are to their Siberian ancestors, ‘ Southerton said in an e-mail from his home in Canberra, Australia. ‘The Lamanites are invisible, not principal ancestors.’
LDS scholars, however, dispute the notion that DNA evidence eliminates the possibility of Lamanites. They call it ‘oversimplification’ of the research.
On the church’s official Web site, lds.org, it says, ‘Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes migration into the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin. The scientific issues relating to DNA, however, are numerous and complex.’ “