Adam and Eve

This thread started to avoid hijacking another.

Comment from fnr in another thread:

On another thread, I am perfectly willing to continue to discuss the historicity of two individuals, Adam and Eve, as the first humans who literally (or figuratively) lived approximately when chronology of Genesis says they were. I will say that nothing you’ve said has told me that I cannot believe in the theory of evolution, which is well-supported by fact and commentary from our Holy Fathers (JPII and BXVI). We must be honest with ourselves and with God in looking at scientific information, and I’ll suggest that there’s a lack of honesty in rejecting evolutionary theory at this point.

From fnr’s comment above he seems to be saying (but please fnr jump in and correct me if I am misinterpreting you) that because I said Adam and Eve were real and that Catholics must believe that then that would mean Catholics cannot believe in evolution.
If that is what you are saying you are wrong and have misunderstood me.

I am saying that Adam and Eve were real, that Catholics are obliged to believe that, and also that does not contradict evolution which Catholics are free to believe in.

We are obliged to believe Adam and Eve were real:

(Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine)
Pope Pius XII
Encyclical Promulgated on 12 August 1950

Extract from the Encyclical:

  1. 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 parent 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 with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

We are allowed to believe in evolution (both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have stated that).

I see nothing contradictory between the two.

I know that Catholics are free to believe evolution if they choose to. However, I have a scientific and mathematics background and it is obvious to me that the Theory of Evolution is scientifically impossible. There are hundreds of scientific reasons why the Theory of Evolution is impossible but I will just mention one reason. One of the hallmarks of the theory is that there was no “intelligent design”(as from God). Therefore every genetic change must have happened by accident!.

The Mathematical probability that something came from nothing, that the first living creature came into being by accident and that all of the billions of different life forms came about by accident is zero! Evolution is scientifically impossible! The main problem I have with the public schools teaching the Theory of Evolution as fact is that it acculturates a materialistic world view in children. Once a child’s world view is set, because of “cognitive dissonance” it is next to impossible for the child to accept anything as true that is counter to that world view.

There is no place for God in the Theory of Evolution as it holds that there is nothing but matter and mindless energy in existence and that everything came into being by accident, Therefore for the child (or adult) to maintain the world view that the Theory of Evolution presents; God must either be nonexistent or impotent! Neither of which is true.

I used to work as a Registered Nurse on psychiatric units in hospitals for 20 years.

Humani Generis, Pius Xii, 1950 (on one of my many birthdays)

[LEFT]"35. It remains for Us now to speak about those questions which, although they pertain to the positive sciences, are nevertheless more or less connected with the truths of the Christian faith. In fact, not a few insistently demand that the Catholic religion take these sciences into account as much as possible. This certainly would be praiseworthy in the case of clearly proved facts; but caution must be used when there is rather question of hypotheses, having some sort of scientific foundation, in which the doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture or in Tradition is involved. If such conjectural opinions are directly or indirectly opposed to the doctrine revealed by God, then the demand that they be recognized can in no way be admitted"[/LEFT]

Emphasis in bold is mine.[/LEFT]

[LEFT]Regarding Truth – Truth can only occur when science is conducted properly and Catholic doctrines are properly understood.:smiley:

The book Science & Human Origins ISBN-13: 978-1-936599-04-2 (paperback) has two interesting chapters by molecular biologist Ann Gauger. Concerned Catholics would benefit from her work.[/LEFT]


[LEFT]Divine Revelation trumps![/LEFT]

There are different theories of evolution. Some say God is not necessary but not all. However I personally do not believe in evolution of living things from preexisting matter or from species to species. Theologians, etc. can believe whatever they want. I see no evidence for evolution at all. :thumbsup:

So although I’ve accepted Christ as my personal savior, I’d be turned away from your Church purely because I can’t believe A & E are anything more than allegory? Nothing about me would matter except that I wouldn’t be let in unless I say I believe A & E were real? Yikes.

We are obliged to believe Adam and Eve were real

Faith isn’t like changing our shoes, we can’t force ourselves to believe something. We can pretend to go along for the sake of not standing out of the crowd, but another word for that is hypocrisy. Imho that’s all you’d end up with by “obliging” people to believe in things, do you really want a church full of hypocrites?

Without Adam and Eve, how do you explain the fall of man? If there is no fall of man, then either we sin and God made us sinful, which would be contrary to His nature, or there is no need for Jesus because there is no sin.

I understand your position and the positions of other Christians and of non-theists.:smiley:

Therefore, I will do my best to post only from the Catholic point of view — without debating the faith or non-faith of other good people.

From the Catholic doctrinal position, the historical presence of two, sole, real, human parents of humankind is founded on the existence of God as Creator.(Source: Genesis 1: 1) The belief that God is Creator continues today in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed professed in Sunday’s Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”

I can only guess why some, not all, Catholics start with an unquestionable belief in natural science as their primary guide to the existence of the human species.

Isaiah chapter 55 is a good place to start when we consider the power of our Creator. Personally, I like verses 8 and 9. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts.” (Those verses were originally my penance as part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.)

We need to believe with every cell in our body, that God created a peerless species with Adam and Eve. Adam’s nature, like our own, is an unique unification of both the material world of elephants and ants as well as the spiritual world of God Who calls us to share eternally in His divine life through the faculties or functions of our spiritual soul.

We humans live in the material world which is why our anatomies are similar to various animals. We share some of our bony structure (we are vertebrates) and internal structure (we have to eat) with animals. Catholics, because we believe our goal is eternal happiness in the presence of the Beatific Vision, also believe in our rational, non-material, spiritual soul. It is at the point of our spiritual soul and goal, that we are separate from all other living organisms. It is here that Catholics need to decide if natural science is the creator.

Yes, Catholics can believe that natural science can produce truth about the material/physical world-----But can natural science produce the whole truth about human nature as described by Catholic doctrines?

You are being lied to by anti-evolution websites. Evolution is not a random process because it includes natural selection, which is not random. Abiogenesis is not a random process because it includes chemistry, and chemistry is not random.

Any calculation which is based on pure randomness is not a model of either abiogenesis or evolution. If the model does not reflect the process it is meant to be modelling then the results of the model are useless and can be ignored.

I could go further, but I won’t given that there is currently a moratorium on the discussion of evolution.

One last thought; if two Popes, three if you include Pius XII, do not have a problem with Catholics accepting theistic evolution then why do you reject it?


Completely off topic, but I thought you might like this: Tallulah & Marlene.



We all sin but aren’t there simpler explanations? To me the purpose of the story is not to provide answers but to give us a framework to ask questions about what it is to be human. We all suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, represented by the capriciously unjust god (totally unlike the Christian God) and the deceitful serpent, but we can also imagine a perfect life, represented by the garden. We are all Adam and Eve, the naive couple swept along by our own imperfections and all the disasters and diseases and other stuff that life throws at us. The story is about a beginning, but it’s the beginning of trying to understand. That’s my take anyway.

Leaving aside scientific arguments, I’m just asking a religious question. I know you have a soft spot for Adam and Eve but they seem tangential to the gospel. Personally I can’t remember any sermons, hymns or prayers about them, they rarely get a mention except by the occasional creationist. The story is so fantastical that they actually put me off being a Christian until friends said don’t worry, and then the Spirit zapped me anyway, so I guess He’s not bothered either :).

My impression is it’s much the same in Catholic circles, and your post kind of gives that away: in the story Adam and Eve don’t really have any spiritual qualities, they don’t even need any faith as god is physically right there walking in the garden.

So my question remains: would I be turned away from your Church purely because I can’t believe they’re anything more than allegory?

How would you, seeing as you are interpreting the bible in your own way (which is dangerous), describe how man fell? Did God make man sin?

Catholics are allowed to believe Genesis literally or figuratively. However, we do believe that there must have been two first humans (male and female) who were given a human soul that was rational and had free will, who then were also the first to sin against God, bringing a sinful nature upon mankind.

What simpler explanation could there be for why man is sinful?

I’m not interpreting the bible my own way, just reading Genesis figuratively like you say Catholics are allowed to.

Unless you’re saying there’s literally only one figurative interpretation. :smiley:

Is the two first parents theory simple? How do you get round the problem that with no one else around then for a number of generations the offspring must necessarily have committed incest? They wouldn’t have done that if they had free will because all normal people are completely grossed out by the idea. So why did God put them in that situation, were they forced, did God change human nature afterwards, did an unchanging God change His moral law … ???

I reconcile this with either incest was necessary initially (God’s law against incest was not yet in place), or the necessity to mate with closely related human-like creatures, whose children were given human souls.

I’m still interested to hear your take on the fall of man.

If the law was not in place and God added it later then you’ve destroyed the doctrine of absolute Natural Law, while if other creatures were involved then there were a whole lot more than two first parents and you’ve destroyed your theory.

Sounds like it needs more work. :slight_smile:

I’m still interested to hear your take on the fall of man.

The Fall is just the name given to Adam and Eve’s expulsion, so if they are figurative then that event never happened. That actually makes original sin easier to explain, because without the fall sin doesn’t have to be transmitted, it’s just a fact of life that complex creatures in a complex world can’t avoid sinning.

All humans being descended from a single couple is confirmed by science. Think of Mitochondrial Eve’s parents as just one of many possible ancestral couples. That couple were not the only two biological humans alive at the time. It is not possible for science to tell a biological human (a human body but without a human soul) from a theological human (a human body with a human soul).

Obviously the theo-humans would be physically fertile with the bio-humans which allows the avoidance of incest, as is required by the lack of the observable effects expected from any genetic bottleneck.


We now know that NS is a conservative process not a creative one.

*] 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.)
*] Souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific Vision of God. (De fide.)

Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 233. Who were the first man and woman?
A. The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.
**Q. 234. Are there any persons in the world who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve? **
A. There are no persons in the world now, and there never have been any, who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve, because the whole human race had but one origin.
Q. 235. Do not the differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races indicate a difference in first parents?
A. The differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races do not indicate a difference in first parents, for these differences have been brought about in the lapse of time by other causes, such as climate, habits, etc.
Q. 236. Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God?
A. Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God.
Q. 237. What do we mean by saying Adam and Eve “were innocent” when they came from the hand of God?
A. When we say Adam and Eve “were innocent” when they came from the hand of God we mean they were in the state of original justice; that is, they were gifted with every virtue and free from every sin.
Q. 238. How was Adam’s body formed?
A. God formed Adam’s body out of the clay of the earth and then breathed into it a living soul.
Q. 239. How was Eve’s body formed?
A. Eve’s body was formed from a rib taken from Adam’s side during a deep sleep which God caused to come upon him.
Q. 240. Why did God make Eve from one of Adam’s ribs?
A. God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs to show the close relationship existing between husband and wife in their marriage union which God then instituted.
Q. 241. Could man’s body be developed from the body of an inferior animal?
A. Man’s body could be developed from the body of an inferior animal if God so willed; but science does not prove that man’s body was thus formed, while revelation teaches that it was formed directly by God from the clay of the earth.
Q. 242. Could man’s soul and intelligence be formed by the development of animal life and instinct?
A. Man’s soul could not be formed by the development of animal instinct; for, being entirely spiritual, it must be created by God, and it is united to the body as soon as the body is prepared to receive it.

** What Does The Catholic Church ****Teach about Origins?


*] God created everything “in its whole substance” from nothing (ex nihilo) in the beginning.
(Lateran IV; Vatican Council I)
*] Genesis does not contain purified myths. (Pontifical Biblical Commission 1909[1])
*] Genesis contains real history—it gives an account of things that really happened. (Pius XII)
*] Adam and Eve were real human beings—the first parents of all mankind. (Pius XII)
*] Polygenism (many “first parents”) contradicts Scripture and Tradition and is condemned. (Pius XII; 1994 Catechism, 360, footnote 226: Tobit 8:6—the “one ancestor” referred to in this Catechism could only be Adam.)
*] The “beginning” of the world included the creation of all things, the creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall (Jesus Christ Mark 10:6]; Pope Innocent III; Blessed Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus).
*] The body of Eve was specially created from a portion of Adam’s body (Leo XIII). She could not have originated via evolution.
*] Various senses are employed in the Bible, but the literal obvious sense must be believed unless reason dictates or necessity requires (Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus).
*] Adam and Eve were created upon an earthly paradise and would not have known death if they had remained obedient (Pius XII).
*] After their disobedience of God, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. But the Second Person of the Trinity would subsequently pay the ransom for fallen man (Nicene Creed).
*] Original Sin is a flawed condition inherited from Adam and Eve (Council of Trent).
*] The Universe suffers in travail ever since the sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve. (Romans 8, Vatican Council I).

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