Adam and Eve/Evolution-Original Sin's Relationship to the Two


I read a short book recently that stated that Catholics can maintain that Adam and Eve were but representatives of the human race as a whole, a rebellious and sinful people who’ve broken God’s commands, etc., rather than as two historic people.

He also said they are equally free to maintain that as primates evolved into humanoid creatures, it is also possible that only two of them were endowed with a spirit, etc.

However, this first option surprised (not offended) me, because I thought the Church had in former times forbidded people from taking this view because it tampered with Original Sin.

It seemed to posses the Imprimatur.



That is not compatible with Catholic teaching. See the Catechism as well as Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis. Catholics must hold that there existed a real set of two original human parents from which all descend-- and from whom all inherit Original Sin.

Yes, that is true. The Church has not taught definitively that God specially-created the bodies of Adam and Eve. The Church teaches that each person’s soul is specially-created.

You are correct.

Don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps write to the bishop that gave it the imprimatur, or write to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and send them a complimentary copy of the book for their review. :slight_smile:



"Q. How can you regard Adam and Eve as only symbolic people and still accept the doctrine of original sin?

The Church’s teachings on original sin (which Fundamentalists by and large accept) were defined before we understood much about our origins; it was inevitable that the early Fathers assert a monogenic (two-parent only) context for their teaching. Evolution suggests a polygenic (multiple-parent) origin and a gradual development of human characteristics. Modern theologians have therefore been faced with two alternatives regarding original sin: (1) condemn the theory of evolution while clinging to a scientifically erroneous view of nature, or (2) try to explain how polygenism can be squared with original sin.

The Church’s initial response was to reject evolution, partly because some of the early evolutionists espoused an atheistic interpretation of the theory. As scientists continued to amass a wide variety of data strongly confirming the evolutionary hypothesis, theologians began working more freely on the polygenic alternative. Although no polygenic explanations have been given full affirmation, theologians have pointed out that God may well have chosen only one male and one female out of a humanoid population to bear the consciousness of his image and likeness. In that view, the Adam and Eve story is reaffirmed; their sin spreads to affect others with whom they and their offspring eventually interbreed. Other explanations posit a gradual development of spiritual consciousness with a corresponding awareness of moral freedom. In this view, freedom was misused by one or perhaps many human beings, with the result that eventually we have all been affected and left short of the marks of innocence, justice, and immortality for which we were destined."

The last interpretation to me seems the best, but once again, this seems to contradict Original Sin as the Church views it. He in the previous paragraph DOES admit belief in Adam and Eve as prototypical figures for the rest of humanity (as symbols), however. I am confused … to say the least.


What are you confused about? This book? While it may be off in all sorts of nonsense, you can find out very easiliy what the Church actually says on the matter-- as I have already indicated, see the Catechism and Humani Generis.


An Imprimatur is no longer the guarantee it used to be. The first “option” is not an option for Catholics, and never has been. It was an early heresy called Polygenism.

Adam was Created by God and infused with a human soul. Eve was created by God from Adam and infused with a separate human soul. Exactly how God created Adam or Eve we don’t know. He could have used an evolutionary process


I don’t understand what would’ve happened to the other humanoid beings not infused with souls, in this case, though.

Wouldn’t they evolve like us …? Wouldn’t they appear human? I suppose this is what hinders me.


Clearly they became extinct. This poses no problem.


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