So, I’ve been a bit obsessed with this question the last few days, namely, how to reconcile Catholic doctrine on monogenism with the genetic evidence. In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Commission declared that it is not permissible to deny the historical nature of the Genesis 1-3, which I fully agree with and accept. Pope Pius XII declared the same thing in his encyclical Humani Generis. I do not see how one can seriously deny the historicity of Adam and Eve without straining the texts of Scripture beyond their limits (Even if Gen. 1-3 can be dealt with, how about Gen. 4 which says Adam knew his wife, and she conceived?, or how about the beginning of the books of the Chronicles?, never mind the doctrine of the New Testament).
On the other hand, genetic evidence seems to indicate that the human race cannot possibly come from just two human beings who mated; the mutation rate would simply be too high, and if that mutation rate continued, the human race would have mutated itself out existence. It should be noted here that Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve do not satisfy the problem, since there is no necessity that they lived at the same time (although they may have, according to scientific evidence).
Now, of course, this presents us with a difficulty. To defend the view that humans descend from 10000 primal ancestors does not seem to be able to be reconciled with Sacred Scripture, or Catholic dogma regarding original sin. However, the theories that I’ve been thinking of to reconcile it may not do justice to the science, of which, I admit I am grossly ignorant of (biology is the one subject I’ve never really found interesting).
My attempt at solution to the dilemma is this: It is of the faith that physical death is a result of the Original Sin committed by the first man, and it is also certain that all physical and emotional and moral sufferings result from this as well (afterall, Eden means, or sounds like the word that means, “pleasure” in Hebrew), so, having fallen from this state, a fast mutation rate would be expected for some time, which then slowed down by God’s Providence. This could explain what is meant by the long ages given in Sacred Scripture. I realize that the arch-skeptic is not going to be convinced by such a theory, given that it invokes supernatural intervention, but of course, this objection is of no merit to the Catholic.
My question for all of you is this (thank you to those of you who have read all of this! :)): Is this explanation possible? Would it sufficiently account for the scientific evidence? Are there any other theories that are proposed to reconcile the two?
I’d prefer it if those who had a background in genetics could answer this question, however,I am not interested in this question being answered by skeptics, rationalists, and the like who simply deny monogenism flat out.
Also, if you could say a prayer for me to regain a little more peace of mind about this, I’d appreciate it.