Adam and Eve Literalism

It seems like there are mainly two routes to take on evolution for most people today: 1) believe in it and forget Adam and Eve, or 2) reject it because it contradicts the Bible. [BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]

Now, I know that these are both incorrect ways to view evolution. However, it is true that we cannot accept a literal version of the Creation story if we choose to believe in evolution. Now, I know that God is outside of time and space, so the issue of time doesn’t really matter. However, should Catholics believe the Garden of Eden was on Earth or in some other realm? And, were they “human” in the sense of having human bodies as we have them today (If so, how could it be that they did not suffer pain, since the very nature of sensation involves pain for human beings) or were they some other type of rational being that existed only in this realm?

I guess these are a lot of questions jumbled together. If anyone could point me to a (Catholic) metaphysical viewpoint on this matter, I would greatly appreciate it.

I am just starting diocease scripture school. Your position Is the way sola scritura people read the bible. My course actually starts with Exodus. Nothing tosay on genisus. I suggest however you start by reading chaper 3 in th us cetechism for adults, which will help you find your answers.

First of all evolution is not an established fact. And even if it were that would not effect the Church’s teaching on Adam and Eve. What we must believe is that the first man was not the son of an animal by a process of conception as normally conceived and that the first woman was some how derived from the first man. In addition Catholics must believe that all human beings descended from this first pair. Personally I like the Genesis version of the origin of Adam and Eve, I think it displays the special love God has for man and it is very poetic :).

But take a look at the Catechism.
Part 2, Section 2, chapter 1, paragraph 6.


I struggle with the same questions about Adam and Eve, but what really confuses me, is the other people living on the earth during this time, I believe they were black people, but everytime I ask about it, Im told this topic is banned by the church…I do not understand this, nor why it is banned.

Im not referring to the story of Lillith either. I only say this because I know many people connect these 2.

Evolution in no way contradicts the story of Adam and Eve. In fact, there is some evidence for it; humans show extremely little genetic variation compared to other animal species because there was a massive human population bottleneck in Africa around 70,000 years ago, and mitochondrial DNA shows that all of us descended from less than 50 women (and quite possibly 1). All of this fits quite nicely into Pope Pius XII’s teachings about the special creation of the human soul in Humani Generis, because that bottleneck could have squeezed our population down to 2, and THAT would be where the special creation of the soul took place.

See? Human evolution and Adam & Eve really CAN get along :smiley:

Also, someone previously said that Adam and Eve couldn’t have come from other humans according to Church teachings, and I for the life of me can’t find where they got that from. To my knowledge, all that Catholics must believe is that we descended from two people and that the soul was specifically created. In fact, Humani Generis specifically says that the human body could have come about through natural processes such as evolution.

There are ways to explain Adam and Eve without making them supernatural beings.

  1. Genesis doesn’t say they couldn’t feel pain. In fact it says they could. Gen. 3:16 says Eve’s pains were increased in childbirth. There had to be pain already there to increase.

  2. Their immortality would have involved a special protection from ordinary death and this would have been granted by a divine miracle. A divine miracle protecting you from death doesn’t make you supernatural – it presupposes that you are natural, and prevents you from dying.

  3. I don’t think there’s any other reason besides those two why anybody would think they had to be supernatural. So the garden could certainly have been a real thing. But then again, the language about how great it was in the garden may simply be metaphorical: it might just have been a pretty nice place but not supernatural.

  4. I don’t know of a Catholic take on it that interprets it in a supernatural way, or that addresses these specific questions in more detail. Sorry. But I hope those first 3 points help.

All Catholics MUST believe that everyone on Earth descended from one and only one pair of parents–Adam and Eve.

There are a lot of people that don’t like hearing that but it is the truth.

As long as you believe that then you can believe in other aspects of evolution.

It is difficult to see how one could believe that all have descended from Adam and Eve and also believe that Adam and Eve “EVOLVED” from any other living species–if they did then they couldn’t be the SOLE parents of the human race which is required by Catholic belief.

I personally don’t have a problem with the big bang–dinosaurs–evolution of everything UP TO Adam and Eve–I just don’t believe that Adam and Eve evolved from anything else–I think they were SPECIALLY created by God.

I believe they could have been the first homo sapiens,

I also believe it could be possible that the Garden of Eden is present under the present day accidents of the country of Iraq–If Jesus can be present in the Eucharist without us seeing Him there–then the same could be true for the Garden of Eden.

The reason that Catholics must believe that all descend from Adam and Eve is because of original sin–there had to be a Fall for mankind–it really did happen and Adam and Eve were really ACTUAL people.

How we transition from a literal Adam and Eve maybe in a Garden of Eden that might not be in the same dimension as present day Iraq I don’t know–all I know is this–science and theology do not contradict one another–if the Catholic Church says we all descended from Adam and Eve then that is true and you can take it to the bank! It’s still OK to believe in anything that science says that doesn’t contradict the church’s teaching.

Remember Catholics believe in Both/and not either/or.

I don’t understand how God created everything out of nothing but I believe it.

I don’t understand how Jesus was able to resurrect Himself from the dead but I believe it!

I don’t know how the bread and wine become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ but I believe it.

I don’t SEE gravity but I believe it.

If your mind is big enough there will be no contradiction between theology and science.

If your mind is too small to grasp that there’s no contradiction between theology and science then hopefully you will be saved because of invincible ignorance.

You pretty much have to refer to Adam and Eve as literal persons if you believe the bible. Adam is mentioned by Jesus for instance. The whole concept of original sin hinges on Adam and Eve. St. Paul talked about the sin of Adam.

Also, I was taught one of the Pope’s decreed that Catholics must believe in a literal Adam and Eve. However, the church does not rule out the possibility of a kind of evolution that God is in control of. It does reject a purely atheistic evolution where evolution is undirected.

My understanding of the Catholic view is that if a directed evolution is true then the human anatomy may have evolved from more primitive species but at some point man was specifically created apart from the animals by God instilling an immortal soul created in God’s image and likeness. This would be Adam and Eve, our first human parents.

Here is a series on creation and evolution from a general Christian view that I think is useful to get a broader perspective on the issue.

Evolution is a banned topic.

"Adam and Eve: Real People

"It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

"In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

“The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).”


*]The Doctrine of Revelation Regarding Man or "Christian Anthropology"
*] The first man was created by God. (De fide.)
*] The whole human race stems from one single human pair. (Sent. certa.)
*] Man consists of two essential parts–a material body and a spiritual soul. (De fide.)
*] The rational soul is per se the essential form of the body. (De fide.)
*] Every human being possesses an individual soul. (De fide.)
*] Every individual soul was immediately created out of nothing by God. (Sent. Certa.)
*] A creature has the capacity to receive supernatural gifts. (Sent. communis.)
*] The Supernatural presupposes Nature. (Sent communis.)
*] God has conferred on man a supernatural Destiny. (De fide.)
*] Our first parents, before the Fall, were endowed with sanctifying grace. (De fide.)
*] The donum rectitudinis or integritatis in the narrower sense, i.e., the freedom from irregular desire. (Sent. fidei proxima.)
*] The donum immortalitatis, i.e.,bodily immortality. (De fide.)
*] The donum impassibilitatis, i.e., the freedom from suffering. (Sent. communis.)
*] The donum scientiae, i.e., a knowledge of natural and supernatural truths infused by God. (Sent. communis.)
*] Adam received sanctifying grace not merely for himself, but for all his posterity. (Sent. certa.)
*] Our first parents in paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment. (De fide.)
*] Through the sin our first parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God. (De fide.)
*] Our first parents became subject to death and to the dominion of the Devil. (De fide.) D788.
*] Adam’s sin is transmitted to his posterity, not by imitation, but by descent. (De fide.)
*] Original Sin consists in the deprivation of grace caused by the free act of sin committed by the head of the race. (Sent. communis.)
*] Original sin is transmitted by natural generation. (De fide.)
*] In the state of original sin man is deprived of sanctifying grace and all that this implies, as well as of the preternatural gifts of integrity. (De fide in regard to Sanctifying Grace and the Donum Immortalitatus. D788 et seq.)

Thank you for your input and for your reference, but the Catechism does not say this. There is no problem at all with believing Adam and Eve descended from animals, as I know from previous studies. My question is specifically that, if evolution is true, then how does Adam and Eve’s sin affect all of Creation? Was the event considered as something outside of time and space? Was the universe “the universe” as we know it? In other words, is it plausible that the universe was a different place when Adam and Eve were created, and then, after their sin, all of time and space was affected such that the entire universe changed? And does anyone know any specific theories dealing with this possibility?

Perhaps the other people were not “people” but some other species, like Neanderthals, who did not have an immortal soul. I would be interested to find out more about this as well, and I will see if I can find any resources. I don’t understand why evolution is a banned topic either, since it is so significant for our understanding. I don’t see why any valid question would be banned unless someone is being anti-Catholic or disrespectful.

Thank you for that. I guess my question is more metaphysical though…as far as whether they were outside of time and space, and whether the entire universe (and time frame, even previous time) was changed after the Fall. C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy got me wondering because he presents the possibility of “unfallen races” on other planets. So if there is intelligent life on other planets, would they also be affected by the Fall of Adam and Eve, and be in need of salvation? And did Christ also come to save these other fallen races (if they exist)? Or is original sin confined to the human race only?

Also, I’m not trying to challenge authority here, just wondering…why is evolution a banned topic? It seems to me that it would enrich the conversation between Darwinists and Catholics if we were able to discuss it.

Everything was specially created by God, whether it evolved or not. As far as I understand, Adam and Eve can still be the sole parents of humanity no matter where they came from. This just means that all of humanity came from them, and not from some other “people” that evolved somewhere else. There really isn’t much difference, as far as I can see, between God creating human beings out of mud and God creating living things out of mud that became human beings. I hope this addresses your concern.

I don’t understand why people have trouble connecting Church teaching with evolution. Not only does the Church teach that we all descended from two people, there is actually scientific evidence for it; compared to other species, humans show an EXTREMELY low amount of genetic diversity, and there is even more evidence that there was a point in time where the maximum human population was 1000, meaning that it is not unreasonable, according to science, to believe that it was once 2. Also, I don’t get why people say that the Church teaches that Adam and Eve couldn’t have evolved, Human Generis states “For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”

^That pretty clearly says that the Church teaches that Adam and Eve’s body very well could have come from “pre-existent and living matter”, and that the only special creation that Catholics must believe in is the creation of the soul.

Oh boy. Here we go again. If the Bible is not a science book, why do people keep posting as if it is? Honestly. Can God be God? Or is He God only if He conforms to our way of thinking?

Did Jesus need any science or technology to raise the dead or rise from the dead Himself? I’m not dismissing science here, but I think it’s only wishful thinking driving posts like this, which have appeared in the past.


Adam can not have descended from anyone because the Bible, God’s inerrant word, says plainly that he was made with dirt, and that Eve was made with one of Adam’s ribs. I have no reason to think God would want to fool me (or anyone else for that matter).

What is the penalty for not believing in a literal Adam and Eve if you are Catholic? Will God sentence you to eternal hell or make your Purgatory more intense?

,I wonder about this too, especially today, when we have a pretty good idea of how many planets out there COULD support intelligent life, The latest numbers I heard about this (according to experts) was over 10 millions planets!!! and this is ONLY planets that are in the goldilocks zone, and intelligent life could live there, and this is only OUR estimate, so the number is probably MUCH MUCH higher, since the universe is infinite, we are only guessing about fairly close systems! This is just amazing to me, the possibility there could be literally MILLIONS of different civilizations out there!

I can only think of one reference in the bible to these other worlds, the verse where Jesus mentions his ‘other flocks’ he must also tend to, unfortunately he didnt give us a number, but I would assume it is staggering!

However IMO, they were ALL created by God, but what his relationship is with these people is anyones guess. Did they have their own bible? Did Jesus also come there as a person, and take whatever form they are? are they also created in his image? These are all very possible.

I would imagine there is an equal amount of both types of worlds, those who have fallen, like us and those who have not. When you start thinking about this and all the possibilities, it suddenly makes our lives and things we do here, very insignificant to the big picture.

IMO God does not need to use any type of technology to do anything he does, but HOW he achieves many of the things has done, (including the supernatural things Jesus did while he was here on earth) COULD have been some type of science/technology, unknown to mankind.there are certain technologies we use today, that someone from biblical times would consider to be magic, but we know it is simply technology, so its all dependent on the perspective of the person seeing it.

I only say this because I have heard many people claim some of the UFOs people see in todays world MAY be a type of transport used by angels and demons, think of the things mentioned in the bible when they saw angels coming down to earth, they mention spinning fire and describe metal parts and mechanisms, they also used the word chariots, but were only trying to find something common to them to describe what they were seeing, these are similar to what people today consider to be UFOs, these could the same things.

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