We Get Mail–A Matrilineal Argument for British-Israelism?

Mitochondrial DNA of an ancient Israelite woman, with instructions to "keep your ass in the Middle East."

Apparently this “argument” has been making the rounds of the moronosphere of late. When our friend Douglas originally brought it to my attention I disregarded it, as it made no sense. I figured it wouldn’t get much traction (for reasons that will be discussed in great detail shortly). Apparently I was wrong and Douglas was right. It has the shimmer of technical phraseology, co-opted from the science it bastardizes, and that must be enough for these dolts to believe it has some kind of relevance. They will latch onto anything that can be made to appear as though it lends their delusions an air of credibility. It’s a sign of desperation when one attempts to twist a refutation into a vindication—and it is invariably revealed to be an exercise in rhetorical subterfuge. As we shall see, this is another case of believers holding up a fact as supportive of their claim, which in reality says nothing whatsoever about the claim in question. Our readers should recognize this tactic by its common identifier “bullshit”.

Enter John Lloyd Smith, Jr. of Sarasota, Florida: anti-Armstrong Armstrongist, British-Israelist, King-Priest of Neverland, bullshitter ordinaire and, most recently, would-be challenger of our anti-BI articles. You can peruse his website here, where you will discover that he also dabbles in postmodernism (evidently theology alone wasn’t obscurantist enough for him). Now, without further poisoning of the well (though his argument couldn’t possibly be helped if I had refrained)…

John wrote us a letter, wherein he muses,

 So, by your reasoning, if a person does not have the ‘J’ haploid group on the Y-chromosome, then the person is not of Jewish descent. This presents a problem. This would mean by your reasoning, and to put this in your terminology, then Jesus Christ was not Jewish because ‘His Father’ wasn’t Jewish.

Okay, first of all, we have to assume that John must be talking about Joseph when he refers to “His Father” (in spite of the caps), as we can only presume that God Hisself doesn’t contribute genetic material when He knocks up virgins (or does He? I guess John could tell us, since he spends so much quality time with the Big Guy, on his knees—and I can’t imagine how he swallows all that stuff…about the power of prayer I mean). Secondly, the onus is not on me to argue for the non-Jewishness of anybody (much less Jesus, who, if he existed at all, almost certainly was an honored member of Y-DNA haplogroup J). I’m not the one defending a claim. If there was genetic continuity from the ancient Jews (i.e., Israelites) to the modern Europeans and Americans, the DNA evidence should readily show this. And yet it shows the opposite, at least with regard to Y-chromosomal testing (but more on this later—not that the distinction matters in the least). Third, and maybe most disturbingly, John is exhibiting here a woefully inadequate (dare I say nonexistent) grasp of the concepts involved (haplogroups are not things one “has” and they are not located on chromosomes, for example).

Witness him digging himself deeper into trouble, as he continues, “What makes a person of any nationality comes in from the mother’s genetics [sic]—not the fathers [sic, again]. After all, Mary was of Jewish decent [you know the drill].”

Whoa! Hold on there, cowboy! Are we talking about nationality or a genetic relationship? Surely John knows that nationality is a human construct and has nothing whatsoever to do with genetics. And where does he get the idea, anyway, that nationality is matrilineal? For that matter, who says ethnic identity itself “comes in from the mothers genetics”? If he is talking about the rabbinical practice of defining Jewishness by maternal descent, it wasn’t always that way: this didn’t become standard until at least 500 BCE (and maybe as late as 200 CE). These are all abstract, non-biological ideas (which John seems to be pulling directly out of that thing he uses for a head). But if John is attempting to argue that modern Europe and the U.S. are the spiritual descendants of the so-called “Lost Tribes”, then he needs to re-read the articles in question. In that series I explicitly stated that I would not be wasting time on such arguments, as I could by the same form of reasoning (but with more plausibility) support the claim that post-Enlightenment Europe and the U.S. are the modern spiritual descendants of ancient Greece and decidedly not Israel.

No, at issue is whether ancient Israelites bodily migrated to western Europe, such that their modern descendants are the people now inhabiting the nations so identified by BI proponents— if so, the genetic evidence should show as much, and John needs to stick to the subject at hand. Again, nationality has nothing to do with genetics, and is only relevant to the question of descent in a way that John does not appear to be using the term. He seems to be conflating nationality and genetic descent. We’ll assume that is the case and just define our terms proactively. When I say “nationality” I mean the nation in which a person was born and/or is a citizen of (although it could also refer to an ethnic tradition). For example, the nationality of most people who descended genetically from ancient Israelites is not American or British and, more to the point, the great majority of British and American nationals—indeed of all European nationals—are not descended from ancient Israelites. But to reiterate, nationality is an abstract, political/ethnic identifier—after all, some people enjoy multiple (but necessarily discreet) nationalities. Genes, on the other hand, respect no such boundaries (at least not by nature): they are stupidly yearning to mix it up, to express themselves on both sides of every border and in the cells of the speakers of every language. Genetic lineage and nationality are mutually orthogonal concepts.

John continues, “So, if Jesus, according to your standard—based on the Y chromosome—then what nationality was he? Please clarify.” Yes, that’s what he wrote, and based on that sentence fragment I should be the one asking for clarification. But with my magic reading glasses I have intuited his intent. He is asking me if I think that the DNA studies referred to in our series prove that Jesus was not a Jew. No, I don’t think that—because I’m not a raving lunatic and because I actually understand what I wrote, unlike John here. He is trying so hard to make an argument of something so completely irrelevant that, in his apparent anxiety, he forgets to type entire clauses. Well, let me just get down to explaining the whole thing to John.

Dear John:

First, learn how to read for comprehension. Second, put down the crack pipe for a second and pay close attention. I’m going to teach you something about DNA, chromosomes, mitochondria and genetic testing. And how to make sense when you are crafting an argument—or, more accurately, how to say something marginally meaningful instead of just shitting a wall of nonsense at me.

Your argument goes something like this (translated from your garble into the comparatively flowing prose of someone who can manage basic communication): “You haven’t discounted a matrilineal (i.e., mitochondrial DNA, for all you fellow geeks) genetic relationship between Europeans and ancient Israelites, therefore it exists!”

There are at least two problems here. First and foremost is that it is an invalid syllogism, a non-sequitur by the name of “false dichotomy”. That matrilineal descent is true simply doesn’t follow from the (supposedly factual) premise that matrilineal descent has not been disproved. The perfectly promising alternative hypothesis you ignore is that matrilineal descent has not been disproved and it is also untrue. After all, the proposition of a matrilineal descent from ancient Israelites to Europeans is exactly the kind of wacky idea geneticists won’t be bothering to falsify (it’s right up there with alien hybridization and meddling Annunaki). It really (and I mean really) isn’t the null hypothesis, you know?

The burden of proof, in any case, is on the claimant. You believe in British-Israelism—you get to put up the evidence for it. Do you claim there is matrilineal descent? Great! Now, where’s your proof? By all means, present your case, John!

Too much work? Don’t worry, I’ll present the case for matrilineal descent right here…

Done. That’s it. Nothing.

Otherwise, the researchers compiling and analyzing the data would be talking about it. Why aren’t they, do you think? Satan holding them back? They just aren’t spiritually-minded enough? God isn’t revealing it to them? What? If there is mitochondrial DNA evidence for the theory that Europe and America are, in their masses, descended from the “Lost Tribes” of Israel, then it should be as clear to the scientists carrying out the research as it is to the biased fanatics who believe in such an extraordinarily wild claim. But, strangely, no one is talking about it but the believers (and, you know, us). This tells us something we already know: the believers start with a conclusion and then look for “evidence” to support it, whereas the researchers are operating under no such bias. For them, the data are not tokens of faith to be cashed in for certainty in a foregone conclusion. In a world where British Israelism didn’t already exist (like, say, the world in which scientific genetic research is done), it sure as fuck wouldn’t arise spontaneously from an investigation of mitochondrial DNA lineages. In fact it didn’t.

So, we’ve established that here is no case for reasoning from the data to British Israelism, whether from Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Instead, what does the evidence from mtDNA tell us? And what can this evidence, combined with that of Y-DNA, reveal with regard to the question of British Israelism? As it turns out, plenty! In fact, the historical and genetic records indicate a completely different story for both ancient Israel and ancient Europe. We’ve already covered history, though, so now it’s a matter of incorporating herstory. But, as we shall see, the implications for British Israelism of Israel’s mtDNA heritage are identical to that of its Y-DNA heritage. That is to say, far from lending credence to British Israelism, mtDNA disproves BI (and apologies to Douglas for approximating the name of his fine website). Color me fucking surprised.

First, let’s briefly review how this works.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother, whereas y-chromosome DNA is inherited from the father. You already covered that, clever as you are. But now we come to the part that requires a modicum of brain power to grasp. Genetic lineage can be traced back through time via the presence of specifying mutations on single nucleotides within the mtDNA or Y-DNA, since these particular arrangements are preserved in their transmission to offspring. Conducting genetic surveys of a population yields a certain frequency of a given mutation. The higher the frequency in the population under study, the longer the mutation’s lineage is likely to have been in the region. Furthermore, the frequencies of different mutations can be compared across individuals within the same cohort to ascertain the order in which those mutations originated in the lineage. For example, if 30 individuals carry mutation A, and 10 of them carry mutation A and another mutation B, it follows that carriers of A gave rise at some point to the original carriers of B.

Armed with such data, genetic researchers are then able to organize these lineages into temporally nested haplogroups, designated by alphanumeric codes. For example, the mtDNA haplogroup N descended from the mtDNA haplogroup L3, which in turn originated among those bearing the mutation of haplogroup L2, which itself came from L1, which derived ultimately from the “mother of us all”, the so-called “mitochondrial Eve”, in Africa somewhere between 152,000 and 234,000 years before present.

All non-African people, though, are related through the maternal line of haplogroup N, a genetic matriarchy that started over 75,000 years ago in North-East Africa. This lineage branched out into the Near East and, later, Europe, spawning various younger haplogroups, such as H, U, X, T and V, etc. All of this dispersion took place long before the ancient Israelites coalesced into a nation, though. The latest time frame for an infusion of Near Eastern, matrilineal stock into Europesits at around 12,000 years ago. Since then, nothing has happened in terms of mtDNA that would support a motherly incursion of ancient Israelites intoEurope on the scale required by British-Israelism.

This is why I thought the argument made no sense. Your brethren are saying, “Look, fine, you’ve got us with this Y-DNA evidence…but did you know that Y-DNA is solely paternal? [Yes. I can read.] Europeans could be descended from the Israelites through the maternal line.” Okay. But they aren’t. And we know this by looking at the same things for mtDNA as we did for Y-DNA! Either way, there is no large-scale genetic connection except one that branched off thousands of years before Jacob was a twinkle in Isaac’s eye—or Rebekah’s.

The pro-BI response to DNA studies is to point to the data that indeed show a genetic relationship between people originating in the Near East and Europe—but this relationship is based on a lineage that began in prehistoric times! We’re talking Out of Africa here, John. This was before cities and before agriculture! This lineage wasn’t even civilized, much less Israelite! They were Stone Age hunter-gatherers. So, they point to this prehistoric ancestry from our deep past and pretend as though it establishes the British-Israel doctrine, which posits a migration of Israelite stock (get that—not Levantine hill people of the Stone Age—Israelites!) into Europe in ancient times. For the data to confirm this migration, they would have to include a haplogroup, common among both Israelite and European descendants, which arose in ancient times. There is no such haplogroup. Repeating: There is no such haplogroup.

But the British Israelists just don’t care. They completely ignore the time frames in which these haplogroups arose—to them, all genetic connections (even modern ones!—as will be made clear) are good enough to use as proof-fodder for their delusion. It’s like saying that because all humans evolved from a common ape-like ancestor, the United States and Britain are modern-day Israel. It. Makes. No. Sense. It’s a grasping at straws, except these straws are missing the plastic part.

The other side of the woolen blindfold they pull over their subscribers’ eyes (that’s you, John) has to do with references to minor incidences of genetic similarity between Near Eastern Jews and certain populations of Europeans (Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, for example) appearing in classical or modern times. These haplogroup identifications suffer from the same problem of arising in the wrong timeframe, with the additional monkey wrench of being of too low a frequency in the European populations to support the theory of British-Israelism, which claims all of Western Europe and the U.S. as the descendants of the “Lost Tribes”. These nations are supposed to be those tribes! I mean, for fuck’s sake! British Israelism does not predict that a trifling percentage of the populations of a few European states would be descended from four Jewish ladies whose  progeny immigrated to Germany in the first Century CE. It claims that the U.S. is Manasseh, Britain is Ephraim, France is Reuben, etc. (otherwise, what’s the fucking point?)—by virtue of an apocryphal diaspora that supposedly occurred long before Jesus was born and long after we stopped swinging from tree to tree.

But the haplogroups British Israelists champion do not fall within the necessary temporal window, nor do they satisfy in their European frequencies the massive scale appropriate to the claim. It’s like saying that because my Jewish grandmother immigrated from Eilat to Kentucky in 1985, the United States and Britain are modern-day Israel. It. Makes. No. Sense. More grasping at straw-holes—anything will be tried by these fools in an attempt to rescue their delusion from the falsification it has so diligently earned.

So what, you ask? Why do we say that DNA “disproves” British Israelism? Well, John, I have to ask you a question: What would it take for you to be satisfied that British Israelism has been disproved? Nothing would convince you that it isn’t true, am I right? By way of comparison, all it would take for me to be convinced that it is true is for the evidence to bear out its predictions. But for a theory that makes necessary predictions on such a grand scale as that of British Israelism, absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. We just aren’t seeing what we damn well ought to see if British Israelism were true. Instead, we see the exact opposite—for example, an overwhelming majority of Europeans and Americans who are not descended from ancient Israelites. Where the hell did they all come from, John? And why is “modern-day Israel” comprised almost entirely of non-Israelites? Clarify that!

So this is how the Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroup evidence disproves British Israelism (but you know as well as I do that all the other lines of evidence disprove it, too, beyond any hope of rehabilitation). The BI hypothesis necessarily predicts an unambiguously high frequency of specific haplogroups in specific populations, across the whole swath of Europe and the U.S., but THE PREDICTION FAILS UTTERLY ON ALL COUNTS! AND YOU COWARDS DON’T HAVE THE BACKBONE TO STAND UP STRAIGHT AND ADMIT IT! IT’S LONG-DEAD IN THE WATER AND YOU KEEP FLOGGING ITS ROTTING CORPSE UPSTREAM AND DECLARING IT VIABLE! AND THAT IS SO STUPID!

**WARNING!: “RAMPAGE MODE” IMMINENT!**

I am already sick to death of you fucking morons with your fucking little “associations” and cringe-inducing websites pumping out poorly-composed incoherencies in fifteen different fonts and obtuse, multi-colored, bullshit propaganda that anybody with a mote of sense and a pair of Googles (not to mention a high tolerance for brain-melting Web design) can see right the fuck through. And then you, John the precious fool, come around like a goddamn, annoying flea and write your mealy-mouthed little piss-stain of a letter: “’please clarify’ this and ‘by your reasoning’ that”. Shut the fuck up already, you idiotic shit-for-brains!

Oh, and once again, QE-fucking-D. This case is closed and locked tight, with all the preponderance of evidence from all the relevant fields stacked up behind it. I honestly can’t think of a delusion that is more demonstrably false (flood geology, maybe, or flat earth, or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?). The British Israelist clown brigade, with their irrelevant and self-defeating nitpicking, are just impotently stubbing their toes on the doorstep—without even touching the refutations—and imagining this is what it feels like to have a foot in the door! It’s a comical display of obstinacy. With their idol ground to dust, these pathetic droolers cast about for fragments they can hold up as proof that it still stands. And failing that, they start pointing triumphantly in random directions. What outrageous stupidity!

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16 thoughts on “We Get Mail–A Matrilineal Argument for British-Israelism?

  1. Great! Excellent! Well Done! Well said!

    It would be difficult to express my full appreciation! I truly believe that you have done a much better job of this than I could have ever approached.

    There are a couple of things.

    Refutes is a shorter than disproves. In this day and age too, refutes gives the illusion that there may be some lattitude to disagree (important to the likes of Dixon Cartwrite), whereas disproves is more absolute sounding without as much apparent wiggle room. No offense taken in any event! At all!

    And as for forgiveness, which under these circumstances, YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT NEED and I would feel bad because it would be sort of like insulting you, rest assured that if you did need it — and you don’t — it is freely given.

    [… walks off humbled …]

  2. BOOM! That’s a Hitch-slap if I’ve ever heard one! I’m not quite sure Hitch would fuck it up so much (as in use fuck quite so frequently), but that is assuredly a mere stylistic, rather than a qualitative, difference.

    And there you have it: “theories”, in the scientific sense, make predictions; if those predictions are then validated by the facts, then they are confirmed. If, however, the predictions fall in the face of later facts, then the theory is reworked or demoted back to the rank of “hypothesis”. For BI to be true, certain facts have to confirm it. As they do not, BI falls. Game. Set. Match.

    • I didn’t mean to go there. I guess I still haven’t matured to the Master’s Zen-like apex of situational control, but maybe I’m just missing the Scotch. When I met him, he invoked, unbidden, the apparently Celtic proverb (already known to me, incidentally), “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” Good advice for a frustrated polemicist!

  3. But Eric, for the Armstrongists, it’s Finagle’s Law: Plot the curve and pick the points to match.

    Always start with a premise that just really, really, really must be true because you made it up, so it must be true. Next, warp, misquote, misinterpret and outright ignore anything which does not agree with your opinions created out of thin air.

    Next, confuse the issue when people bring up the facts by using logical fallacies. The best of them are irrelevant diversionary tactics, but sometimes you can resort to the “paper tiger” approach.

    See, and if that doesn’t work, you can use the mental disorder chaos approach by claiming that you have the higher ground and are so advanced that your critics are too stupid to understand what you are saying. This often works, not because there is one shred of merit to it, but because everyone else has achieved a state where their eyes have glazed over and can’t wait to link to the next site of interest without giving one shred of credibility to the facts or scientific method.

    To be a real winner, there is always a final approach which works very well with an advanced established delusion like Armstrongism: The New And Improved Product… Again! Yes friends, this is the New Blue Cheer, waiting in a redesigned box which has done away with all the disadvantages of that old stuff you’ve been using for years. In fact, the packaging might have changed so much, you might not find the product even if you were looking for it! Beware though, give the new Armstrongist group just a year or two and they will revert to the same old Church Corporate they always were. It’s just the same old crap in a new box.

    So Eric, you make good points. You make sense. You might even have truth there.

    But with a little effort and the use of image over substance, we can make your objections irrelevant!

  4. Great article Casey.

    You know, BI out of all the bullshit was the hardest for me to accept it being false.

    Just to show my nature (probably a hint as to why I fell for all this to begin with), I PURPOSELY ignored articles that disproved BI.

    Oh the mind!

    Im not ashamed to write that, as it may help others who like me, were willingly deceived to a great degree – I already believed BI (cause God put it there, lmao) thanks to Armstrong, so of course I didnt want to read anything that may disprove that, thereby ruining my faith.

    Funny that of all things, that is still the hardest to accept.

    Thanks again for an eye and mind opening article, greatly appreciated.

    • You’re welcome. Sometimes the hardest thing is to be skeptical, but that is what is required: such spectacular claims must be presumed false until supported by evidence and valid reasoning, and even then they must be able to stand up to scrutiny. I was 30 years old before I learned this basic fact, having accepted all my life that certain “truths” could be taken for granted and never realizing those “truths” were demonstrably false.

  5. No, Kirrily, don’t be ashamed. I’m sure we’re all guilty of similar, to one degree or another. The great dichotomy was between “IF it were possible, he (satan) would even deceive the Very Elect” and “don’t read dissident literature”. Wouldn’t you want ONLY the Very Elect in your church? Wouldn’t it mean that anyone who “fell away” wasn’t “very elect” and thus it was part of god’s plan that they fall away? So, why be so hung up on how many members you have? Why be upset at mass leavings?

    I, myself, saw a lot (well, some) of this back in 2000, ’01 (in high school), but refused to believe it b/c “oh, it is satanic influence!” Don’t be ashamed for falling to peer/parental/authority figure pressure–be proud that you have broken free and recognize the lies for what they are!

  6. One Sunday morning, about 5 years ago, I thought to myself that since British Israelism is ‘true’ the genetic record would reflect this ‘fact’. By the end of that same day my universe had started crumbling as I faced the inevitable and tortuous process of realizing that reality looked a lot different to how it is painted in the WCG-offshoots. Genetic research very clearly shows that Western Europeans are not lineal descendants of Israelites, and shows instead that Jews / Isrealites are closely related to other middle-eastern populations while being distinct from Europeans. Needless to say, I am no longer a member of UCG.

    What was interesting at the time was that UCG’s responses to my queries stated that they were sticking to their teachings and that the genetic findings on haplotypes is ‘relatively new’, ‘tentative’, and the scientific conclusions of which are still being ‘interpreted’.

    I’m sure that few need telling that splinter-groups are very selective in how they interpret science, and can be rather creative at twisting facts to fit with their teachings. I suspect some of the reasons that the splinter-groups are very wary of genetics and british-israelism (and the subsequent creative reinterpretation) is that 1) acknowledging genetic findings inevitably leads down the slippery slope towards having to accept evolution, and 2) British Israelism was the ‘central plank’ of Armstrong’s theology, and was the pet-theory that originally got Armstrong booted out of the Church of God 7th Day. Refute British Isrealism, and you’ve refuted a major portion of Armstrongism.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Nomad. I had the same “Eureka!” moment, probably a bit later than yours, when I was listening to an NPR story on one of the very research projects that gave us the relevant haplogroup data. This was post-apostasy, so I just laughed triumphantly and stuffed the concept into my growing collection of refutation angles, justifiably assuming that the data would vindicate my anti-Armstrongist stance. It wasn’t until writing this series of articles, though, that I actually went to the trouble of properly investigating the evidence. So many delusions, so little time, you know.

  7. I just clicked on this website looking for info about Armstrongism and barely started reading until I saw a familiar use of the suffix, “tard” used as a way to insult and denigrate someone. I don’t even know what you were responding to but I highly resent it. I have a 42 y/o son who is mentally retarded or “intellectually disabled” (the politically correct term). I am regularly around adults who are”retarded” and they are some of the sweetest, most innocent people you could meet. How dare you insult them by comparing them to anyone STUPID enough to have ever been in one of the Armstrong abusive cults. I suggest you do some volunteer work with people who are intellectually disabled. Arrogant bastard!

    • Did you just use “bastard” as a pejorative? That’s pretty denigrating to so-called “illegitimate children”, who are often very decent people. How dare you? Please, we understand and even appreciate the point you are making here, but we’re all human and the suffix “tard” is not something we just made up to offend you. It happens to be a very popular colloquial convention, as you very well know. I, for one, have a couple “intellectually disabled” people in my family and I treat them with love and respect, regardless of my occasional politically incorrect verbiage. The answer to a dehumanizing and bigoted language is not to further dehumanize those who utilize it in ways you resent. It usually is not intended in a bigoted way, and that certainly is the case here. I hope my pointing out your own failure in this regard can go some way toward helping you to chill the fuck out.

    • ” I suggest you do some volunteer work with people who are intellectually disabled. Arrogant bastard!”

      Is physically disabled okay? I spent probably the most rewarding seven months of my life as a volunteer working with physically disabled children in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. I may be an arrogant bastard, but I loved those kids and I still miss them very much.

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