Academic falls foul of Mormons

A molecular biologist at the CSIRO is facing excommunication from the Mormon Church after writing a book challenging its central teachings.

Dr Simon Southerton was raised a believer but in 1998 abandoned the church of which he was a bishop – the equivalent of a parish priest – when he could not reconcile his faith with scientific research.

Problems with The Book of Mormon

“All this is why Mormon leaders tell potential converts to ignore criticism of the Book of Mormon and rely entirely upon subjective (completely personal) ‘confirmation.’ Nevertheless, the church’s appeal to subjectivity does nothing to convince a rational person why he or she should believe in the Book of Mormon. To believe without any evidence is troublesome enough; to believe in spite of the evidence is folly.”
What intractable problems face the Book of Mormon?

A year ago he published a rebuttal of the Book of Mormon teachings which claim native American and Polynesians were descendants of Israelite tribes who had migrated to the Americas centuries before Christ.

In Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, Dr Southerton challenged the church to declare the Mormon scriptural text an “inspired fictional story”.

“The DNA evidence we have today clearly shows that native Americans and Polynesians are both descended from Asian ancestors,” he told the Herald.

He said more than 7000 native Americans had been DNA tested, proving 99 per cent of their DNA came from Asia.

Last week Dr Southerton, who is from Canberra, was summoned to appear before a church disciplinary council on July 31. He has not been charged with heresy, but the lesser charge of adultery for which he could be disciplined or expelled.

Book of Mormon

Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is “Another testament of Jesus Christ,” and try to pass it off as a companion to the Bible. Over and over again, those claims have been disproven.

Is the Book of Mormon “the most correct of any book on earth” as Joseph Smith claimed it to be? Watch the online video, DNA vs. The Book of Mormon

Theologically, the Mormon Church is a cult of Christianity

“It’s very odd for the church to snoop on somebody who has not been in church for seven years and who hasn’t had visitors from the church during that time, and to call them to the disciplinary council,” Dr Southerton said.

“This leads me to suspect that the motivation is my widely known apostasy. If that is the case, why isn’t the church addressing the much more serious charge?”

The church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, claimed to have translated the “golden bible”, considered to be a companion text to the Bible, from the text inscribed on gold plates which were delivered by the angel Moroni and unearthed on a hillside in New York State.

The religion, which has its headquarters in Utah, claims more than 100,000 adherents in Australia.

A church spokeswoman, Jenny Harkness, referred questions on DNA to the church’s official website, which claims attacks on the veracity of the Book of Mormon based on DNA evidence are ill-considered.

The Mormon Church

Given that the theology and practice of the Mormon Church violates essential Christian doctrines, Mormonism does not represent historical, Biblical Christianity, is not a Christian denomination, and is not in any way part of the Christian church.

Nothing in the Book of Mormon precluded migration to the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin, the website says.

Ms Harkness said the church was a voluntary association and membership came by “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel”.

Church disciplinary councils could require counselling, limit participation in church activities – such as praying in church meetings – or in extreme cases, loss of membership.

Resignation was an option, Dr Southerton said, but if the church did not “feel pressure from the outside world”, it would not see any reason to face the flaws in its teachings.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
July 21, 2005
Linda Morris

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 20, 2005.
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