I use to think like this when I was younger, because I was still influenced by liberal academia. I remember in theology class, I perceived some elderly woman to be foolish to believe in Adam and Eve as the first parents because “Jesus said they existed”.
Nine years later, I’ve been completely humbled.
Adam & Eve existed in the same way that Jesus & Mary existed; there were no groups of individuals in pre-historic times instead of Adam and Eve, in the same way we believe that Christianity didn’t arise from several groups of Jews instead of Jesus through Mary.
The problem with modern science is that, underneath it all, it is still stuck in 18th century anti-Church sentiment. So things such as the geological timeline are not challenged, nor the stories that arise from it.
There was a time when people stopped believing everything the Bible said about history: that there was a civilization in the Middle East that the Jews said existed, but scholars thought it was fantasy to fuel there eternal underdog story. Then in the 20th century, those clever modern scholars found the remnants of the ancient Sumerian civilization. The Jews weren’t crazy after all!
And remember that really famous story of destruction in the first chapters of Genesis? There was no proof of a cataclysmic event which wiped out the growing flora and fauna of the old earth. Except just over 30 years ago, in the 1980s, another clever group of scientists saw the evidence that there was a mass extinction event that almost instantaneously wiped out all life. It’s not called the Flood, however. It goes by a new name: the K-T extinction event.
In the Middle Ages, priests and bishops invented the modern university system to help prove the Christian God and the history we’re left with wasn’t some made up hogwash by a bunch of Jews. Ironically, despite the anti-Church sentiment in science, it’s going according to plan.
I’d rather contend that the Church isn’t releasing its grip on science. In fact, considering the rise of traditional Catholics who are beginning to see how damaged the faith became due to modernism, it’ll tighten its grip on things. After all, we don’t want scientists to spend all our taxpayer money making up stories about multiverses and time travel, do we?
P.S It’s not permissible in Catholicism to believe Adam & Eve did not exist. Whether you believe literally in the creation account, or whether you believe they evolved from single celled organisms and stumbled into the equally evolving Garden of Eden, believing in Adam & Eve as two real human beings is not optional. The reason for this actually stems from the reality of Jesus: if a real Adam did not exist and did not commit the first sin, then a real Jesus did not need to come down and vanquish it.