DNA testing vs. Mormon theology

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DNA testing vs. Mormon theology




BRIGHAM CITY — The judge in the Glenn Howard Griffin murder trial has blocked a defense tactic that attempted to undermine DNA testing by claiming it contradicts scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

DNA evidence is key in the death penalty case against Griffin, charged with murdering Bradley Newell Perry in 1984.

The DNA results that police say linked Griffin’s blood to the crime scene led to his June 2005 arrest, 21 years after the slaying. His monthlong trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 11.

Defense attorneys had hoped to claim some DNA testing has established that American Indians descend from Asian or Sibe- rian ancestry.

The LDS Book of Mormon teaches early Americans’ ancestors are ancient tribes of Israel.

“Because orthodox members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claim to have a spiritual witness, or revelation, concerning the truthfulness and historicity of the Book of Mormon, (defendant) will argue, expressly or implied, that it is … DNA that must be wrong and, therefore, rejected,” prosecutors claimed in a motion to ban the tactic.

In his order issued Wednesday, 1st District Judge Ben Hadfield granted the prosecution motion, writing, “The line of questioning as outlined herein will not be allowed.”

The judge ruled the conflict between DNA results and “the Book of Mormon’s position on aboriginal Americans” is irrelevant under rules of evidence.

“Defendant’s cross-examination approach appears not to be a genuine challenge to either the scientific methods or techniques used in the DNA testing process, the results of the testing or the testimony of the state’s (DNA) expert,” he wrote.

“Rather, it appears to be an attempt to indirectly instill doubt by demonstrating, not that there is a rational basis for disbelieving the expert’s testimony about DNA testing, (but) that the testimony and results are inconsistent with the tenets of a religious text.”

The judge called such an approach “fundamentally at odds with the proper adjudication of guilt or innocence.”

He also called it “no different than seeking to cast doubt upon an issue or testimony in a case by appealing to jurors’ emotions or political views.”

The judge’s order prohibits any reference at trial to DNA/ Book of Mormon contradictions.

Read it [url=http://activepaper.olivesoftware.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=U1NFLzIwMDcvM...

Sven Sven's picture

Well, science wins here.

That being said, the governor should commute the sentence to life in prison.


I wonder what the Book of Mormon says the punishment for murder is?


As far as I know, the evidence indicates that FN people are more closely related to east Asians than to middle-eastern Semitic peoples. Aside from this, I don't understand why this should be an issue regarding any DNA evidence that points to that man's guilt.


It doesn't, but it's a great way of obfuscating the issue. Drag in that the Native Americans are actually semetic peoples, show how the DNA shows differently, and therefore, you demand that the DNA evidence is wrong an unreliable because the book of Mormon has to be correct.

jeff house

Really, this case illustrates the dangers of the commonly-expressed idea that both science and religion are based on faith.

If that is so, then it is arbitrary to require that only scientific theories be admissible in evidence.

Only if one accepts that the Book of Mormon is simply wrong about inheritance can one justify preventing questioning based on its precepts.

If faith and science are epistemologically equal because based on faith, the result will be that murderers will go free when the jurors plump for the Book of Mormon.



Originally posted by jeff house:
[b]If faith and science are epistemologically equal because based on faith, the result will be that murderers will go free when the jurors plump for the Book of Mormon.[/b]

The concept of accepting Faith as an equal partner of Science in a legal sense is probably the most ridiculous concept I can think of. It's the eqivalent of the "witches burn, wood burns, wood floats, ducks float, and if a woman floats she's a witch!!"

It's a ridiculous idea.

jeff house


The concept of accepting Faith as an equal partner of Science in a legal sense

You are right. But "the legal sense" automatically results from the epistemological argument.

And the epistemological argument is quite common, even on babble.


Indeed it is. But hardly anyone really suubscribes to it. People may say they do, when the subject is abstract or hypothetical, but when it really makes a difference -- as in a criminal trial, or whether the pure materialism of engineers means a plane will fly -- they go for the scientific "world view".