Specific works/DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography (DVD)/DNA and religious claims

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DNA and religious claims

A FAIR Analysis of: DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography (DVD); Introduction to Book of Mormon Evidences (Seminar), a work by author: The FIRM Foundation

Genetics and religious claims

Three "supergroups" responsible for racial divisions?

In the seminar, it is claimed that all races on the earth descended from one of three "supergroups" associated with the sons of Noah:

  • All Caucasians are claimed to be descendants of Shem.
  • All Asians are claimed to be descendants of Japheth.
  • All Blacks are claimed to be descendants of Ham.

The presenter claims that "Ham's descendants went to Egypt" and that "Japheth went into the Asia area."

It should be noted that this racial assignment does not even match the traditional assignment of Japheth to the "white" race, Shem to the "red" race and Ham to the "black" race.

The designation of race in this manner is overly simplistic and ignores basic principles of population genetics. The "racialization" of Noah's sons is a modern invention, and has nothing to do with genetics or the original understanding of scripture. According to Stephen R. Haynes:

The familiar connection of Noah's sons with Europe, Asia, and Africa (the three regions of the Old World) developed only "slowly and tentatively" in the first centuries of the common era. What became the conventional "three son, three continent view" was elaborated by Alcuin (732-804) and refined in the twelfth century by Peter Comester (ca. 1100-1179). But these medieval associations were unstable, and the assignment of Ham to Africa, Shem to Asia, and Japheth to Europe was not inscribed on the European mind until the Age of Exploration.[9] By the nineteenth century, the same intellectual and social forces that contributed to the racialization of Noah's prophecy came to bear on Genesis 10, which was consistently read as an account of humanity's racial origins and as proof that "racial distinctions and national barriers proceed from God." [10][1]

Priesthood curse?

The seminar presenter also noted that if one was "not a semite" that the person "won't be able to hold the priesthood," and that "to hold the priesthood one has to go back to Shem." This is alluding to the "curse of Ham:" a concept that was developed in order to justify the practice of slavery. The origin of the "curse of Ham" pre-dates the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by hundreds of years. The "curse of Ham" is not a doctrine of the Church. There was also never anything that required a supposed descendant from Japeth to "go back to Shem" to hold the priesthood.

For a detailed response, see: The "curse of Cain" and "curse of Ham"


  1. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford University Press, 2002), 5–6. ISBN 978-0195142792. [9] Haynes (224) cites Benjamin Braude, "The Sons of Noah and the Construction of Ethnic and Geographical Identities in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods," William and Mary Quarterly 54 no. 1 (1997): 111, 112, 114, and notes that Braude concludes on p. 142 that "the racial identities [Noah's] sons have borne have been remarkably unstable. Shem, Ham and Japhet have been ever-changing projections of the likes and dislikes, hatreds and loves, prejudices and fears, needs and rationales through which society continually constructs and reconstructs its selves and its opposites." [10] Haynes also cites Harry Lucey, God and the Nations (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1947), 23, and cites p. 24 in the endnote: "God thus apportioned the inheritance of the nations: He moved the Japhetic group of families to the northern parts of the earth, the group of families springing from Ham to the southern continents, the Semitic peoples to the central belt; and later Israel received the crown of the lands in the center of all when God had developed that nation from Abraham." Continues Haynes, "In the twentieth century, Genesis 10 has been regarded as the key for understanding the origins of both nations (as in the preceding title) and races). See A.H. Sayce, The Races of the Old Testament (London: Religious Tract Society, 1925)."

Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims