Thomas Murphy, head of the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood , Washington has been threatened with excommunication from the Mormon church for questioning the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon. The threat resulted from an article which Murphy wrote claiming that genetic data discredits the claim that American Indians are descendants of ancient Israelites who migrated to America long before Columbus .
The Book of Mormon claims that a group of people called the Jaredites moved to America from the Middle East about the time of the Tower of Babel . Unfortunately, they eventually all died in wars.
Later, another group from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh was led by a man named Lehi to what was probably Central America . Some of these died and the rest became the ancestors of the Native Americans.
Murphy's article claimed that the American Indians are related genetically to the Siberians, supporting the most common theory that they probably migrated across a land bridge between Russia and Alaska .
Murphy says, "We're told to tell the truth, but not if the truth contradicts church doctrine, I would prefer to tell the truth."
In his book Answers to My Mormon Friends, Thomas Heinze points out: "The Book of Mormon is presented as true history and gives a number of details which we can check out...However, no archeological evidence has been found in the Americas that directly verifies the Book of Mormon."
In fact, Heinze points out that the Mormons have claimed that the Smithsonian Institution officially recognized The Book of Mormon and that it had been used as a guide to almost all of the major discoveries. This generated so many inquires that the Smithsonian had to write a stock answer denying the claim:
"The Smithsonian Institution has never used The Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book...The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide."
Heinze further observes that if the first people to live in the Americas were Hebrew and Egyptian as The Book of Mormon claims, then remnants of their language would show up in the Indian dialects. None can be found as well as no ancient inscriptions have been unearthed that contain Hebrew or Egyptian words or letters.
Another contradiction concerns the native animals. The Book of Mormon claims that the Israelites found abundant populations of cows, oxen, donkeys, horses and goats in the wilderness of America when they arrived supposedly around 589 BC.
However, there is no evidence that any of these animals existed in America before the Europeans brought them after Columbus discovered America .