Adam and Eve

One thing that has attracted me to the Catholic Church is its intellectual strength. In contrast to the fundamentalist protestants I grew up around, Catholics seemed to not be driven by blind faith and superstition. Despite this, I can’t reconcile the Church teaching on Adam and Eve. To start things off, I’m not interested in a flat-earth debate on evolution. In the light of modern science there can be no doubt that evolution exists, and your only being willfully ignorant to think otherwise. Fortunately the church allows for belief in evolution, but not in a belief that humans are not descended from just two people. This is ludicrous. Its common knowledge that two people don’t have enough genetic diversity to spawn a whole species, as you’d have all kinds of birth defects from that much incest. Just look at medieval royal families for proof of that. The whole teaching on Adam and Eve flies in the face of science and reason, and is as ridiculous and absurd as protestants who pretend the Earth is six thousand years old.

I suggest you browse forum rules and sticky notes.

Evolution is a banned topic on CAF.

There is nothing in the doctrine of Adam and Eve as the first two real humans which contradicts the modern theory of our origin. Here are a few ways we can know this:

  1. Catholics only need to maintain a few principles about Adam and Eve that are drawn from Genesis 1-2 and there is room for these few points to be surrounded by much that is symbolic. The things we need to maintain mostly concern the historical actions of the first man and woman, and thus they cannot be disproved by a scientific understanding of what humanity was generally capable of at the time.

  2. We need to believe that there was a first man, and that at the beginning of his existence he was endowed with a special human soul. It is possible that mankind emerged from a primitive pre-human species. But one of them must have been the first actual man. That was Adam. His biological make-up may have been identical to his peers, or nearly-so; in fact you might not be able to tell him apart physically from other proto-humans if you set them side-by-side. But his soul was different and was special. He was endowed for a time with special holiness, an understanding of justice and a relationship with God, and he was immortal. Science cannot disprove that these qualities were in him, especially if the hand of God was involved. In fact Adam soon lost this special status, so even if science could tell us about the very person of Adam, it probably couldn’t discover his special qualities.

  3. We need to believe that the first human woman was formed from the first human man. That is a claim about the historical facts and it is not incompatible with science. Science obviously knows that women do not ordinarily develop out of men, so this must have been something like a miracle.

  4. We need to believe that Adam and Eve lived very special lives for a time. This does not mean they were not primitive in various ways. But they were protected from death and sickness and were naturally inclined toward goodness. They had a relationship with God and a marital relationship with each other, even if their understanding of marriage was simple. A divine command was laid upon them to prove their obedience to God, and Satan influenced them to sin. It may have been a simple matter or it may have involved some special observance – the tree and the fruit may be symbolic, but there was something they were not supposed to do, and they did it. The state of holiness, justice, and immortality was then lost. This is all Catholic dogma, and it is not incompatible with science because it mostly concerns a temporary historical situation regarding the first man and woman which scientific theories do not propose any obstacle to. Science can show in a general way what the state of the early primitive humans would have been like; but that does not disprove that certain ones among them were granted special status for a temporary period, and we do not need to deny that in many ways they were still primitive and returned to their primitive neighbors. Our species has developed considerably since their time, but they had something special for a period, though they lost it. For all these reasons, there can be no objection to these dogmas on scientific grounds.

  5. We need to believe that every real human is a descendant of Adam and Eve. This does not mean that there were no others who were biologically identical to them, or as identical as different members of a species can be. They may have been identical to their peers as far as biology goes, but their souls were different. When members of primitive humanity mated, only those born of Adam and Eve and their descendants were the true humans as far as the soul is concerned. Science is aware that primitive species intermated with closely-related species. The fact that Adam and Eve and their descendants were just as primitive as their neighbors makes this a pretty common-sense reality. However that may be, all modern humans derive our DNA from the original Adam and Eve. If there were anything in this that scientists could disprove, it would be here: but science shows us that we do all share a common ancestor, in the sense that one person’s genes have made it into all our bodies. Thus it is not impossible for the two original ensouled humans and their descendants to have gradually dispersed their genes throughout early proto-humanity so that not very much time passed before all the members of their species owed their existence to Adam and Eve.

I hope this explanation helps show that the Catholic doctrine of Adam and Eve can be maintained within the framework of evolution. The primary doctrines concerning them are simply not incompatible with modern scientific discoveries: namely, the special creation of Adam’s soul, his immortality and original innocence, the creation of woman from man, the transgression of a divine command, the fall from grace, and the fact that, after Adam and Eve, there existed no real human (with the human soul) who was not a descendant of them.

The Church doesn’t require you to believe that humanity descended from two people. It requires you to believe that Adam and Eve were the first people and that mankind fell through them.

Adam and Eve were most likely members of a larger collective of persons (we know this because the Genesis stories themselves presuppose that there were other humans in the time of Cain and Abel, etc.), and that they were the “first” humans only in the sense that they were the first to be given the gift of reason and free will.

I agree with the lengthy post from dmar198 above.

I would also add that there seems to have been something about the earliest humans that enabled them to live much longer than we live today. If years then meant the same as years today, of course.

However, the fall of man which brought death into the world seems to have slowly increased in potency. Thus, the genetic problems you describe may be more of an issue now than they were when the genes of Adam and Eve were young and fresh.

@dmar198 thanks. That helped a lot.

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