Adam & Eve, Original Sin and Cosmology

Recently I’ve been thinking about the Catholic teaching of Original Sin and how it relates to historical and scientific inquiry.

What’s been on my mind though, is what theories in cosmology are reconcilable with the Catholic doctrine that rational humanity is descended from one pair of parents that commited the first sin of disobedience.

One intruiging theory in cosmology is that, because the curvature of space is zero, it is possible that the universe is in fact infinite in size. That, combined with the thesis that the inflation and matter distribution of the universe is homogenous, easily implies that there are in fact several versions of Earth in the far cosmos that resemble our own, which means there could easily be other humans on distant Earths in the universe that evolved seperately from ourselves.

Now, this idea that the universe is infinite in size and that matter distribution is homogenous is in fact a legitimate scientific theory that is held by some cosmologists, and as such it seems to me we should treat this idea not as something far off into speculation territory, but a possibility worthy of discussion.

Another, even more popular idea among many contemporary physicists is the idea of a multiverse, where our universe is just a bubble floating alongside many other bubbles in a large multiverse. It is then quite possible that these other bubbles, amongst a myriad of other ones, could also be parallel universes to ours and contain versions of humanity but with different histories.

How do these ideas relate to Original Sin and an original pair of rational humans? Well, remember when Pope Zachary condemned Virgilius’ idea that humans exist on planets beneath the earth, with another moon and son? The condemnation was done because it went against the idea that Adam and Eve were our first parents.

Now, if, say, there were other humans living in other corners of an infinite universe, or in other universes in a vast multiverse, would this discovery negatively impact Catholic doctrine?

Is the doctrine of Original Sin commited by a first pair of rational humans reconcilable with these above scientific theories? Or is it not?

And if it is not, do you think that we could, say, speculate that the Fall occured, say, in another dimension or another timeline, and the multiverse and all other versions of humanity are, in some way, descendants of that first human pair?

This idea might seem far reaching, but it does make sense if we admit that all of creation was affected by the Fall, and thus space and time as well, which would make appeals to evolution or multiverses or even an infintely big universe futile. The Fall of our original parents would thus have occured in a different dimension or timeline that existed before our own and was prior and more fundamental.

So what do you think?

We might say that Adam and Eve are the first humans and all that followed from their original sin was confined to the universe where human life is present.
Other universes and other forms of non-human life would be cared for by God in different ways.

But what is under contention here is other human beings existing in other universes, as well as other human beings existing in the far reaches of an infinte and homogenous universe.

While your response is a good one when it comes to the question of extraterrestrial non-human life, it does not answer the question of what we should do about human life in other universes/far reaches of the cosmos that are distinct from the human life on our own planet and have different histories.

First of all, how did the other human beings get there?
The two competing hypotheses on the origin of human life are evolution or creation.
If evolution, I’d say that’s even more absurd than the idea that humans evolved on earth from non-humans. All of the random conditions, mutations and environments (competitors, co-evolutionary events) would have to be exactly the same elsewhere for human life to appear.

If by creation (my choice) – then God created humans elsewhere without telling us about it, necessarily. However, there could be some sort of amazing story about how Adam and Eve actually were created on another planet and then their off-spring exiled here by God’s hand.
I’m a believer that God does (and has done) amazing things that transcend our understanding. So, for me - there’s no limit to what creation could have been,

I’m pretty sure I’m not answering your question very well though, so thanks for your patience! I think others will offer better ideas, and I’m an outlier on the evolution-denial thing so we don’t have to get bogged down with that.

I have trouble thinking about what I should be thinking about cosmology thinking.:o

Adam and Eve, like us, are spiritual beings. Still we are also material because our anatomy decomposes.

An universe infinite in size would not be in the material world because the material world is characterized by a specific time and a specific space. This seeks an answer as to the kind of a world did Adam and Eve live in. There are speculations about this because the word “paradise” is occasionally used.

The Fall of our original parents, as described in the fist three amazing chapters of Genesis, can involve both speculations and actual Catholic teachings.

Considering your introduction and ordinary questions about Adam and Eve, we are in the middle of a significant amount of “if this is true, then…” Fortunately, I do not have to deal with that because I may be gone for a bit. There are a couple of threads, before yours, that I am committed to.

I wish you lots of responses to your interesting thread. That way I can learn.

Well, if there are other human beings in other universes, or corners of our possibly infinite universe, they most likely would have arrived there via evolution. God would have breathed a rational soul into them just like he did to our ancestors when they were evolved enough.

The problem, though, is that Catholic teaching explicitly states that God breathed a rational soul into two creatures (whether via evolution or direct creation doesn’t matter here), and that these two were the first humans, and condemned the teachings of Virgilius that there could be other human beings unrelated to Adam and Eve that are not their descendents. And you propose that God could have done something similar to creating the first two humans on another planet and then teleported their descendants across the other universes as well.

And while this idea does have merit, it seems a bit far fetched that God would have teleported a vast multitude of their descendents to a vast multitude of universes where human life evolved.

However, I am still open to similar proposals in the vein of God creating Adam and Eve in a different timeline in a different, more fundamental dimension, and after the Fall, this somehow ended up with Adam and Eve spreading their descendents across the vast multiverse, which then ends up with multiple universes with humans on them.

Even though it seems improbable that such a thing could have happened.

When you talk about the probability of something within what God did in creation you have to have access to the mind of God and His Will. You have to know quite a lot about God, in other words.

Echoing my previous comment, why do you think this scenario is “most likely”?

Well, if a parallel universe contains humans that resemble us, it’s gonna be most likely through evolution, since evolution is how we got here, and a parallel universe that is sufficiently similar to ours would have the same processes as ours had. But it doesn’t really matter if it’s direct creation or evolution, because the problem remains the same: How do we accout for the existence of those humans through Catholic theology?

They can’t be seperate rational humans without Adam and Eve as their common ancestor, so…

If God can make human here why not anywhere in as many places as may be fitting?

I think he’s saying that since all humans must be descendents of Adam and Eve, then God cannot create any other humans directly.

Far fetched.:rotfl:

Catholic doctrine is that each and every real human being has an individual soul created directly by God. General (Thomist) understandings of the evolution of man that I’ve seen indicate that there’s an ontological gap between what could evolve through natural processes and man’s position as a rational animal. That is, the rational intellect and soul of man could not be caused by evolutionary processes. The effect cannot be greater than the cause, and if the rational intellect is indeed an immaterial operation of the human soul, it would not be contained physically, virtually, or eminently in the natural processes of evolution, but would be something that would require God’s direct intervention. Therefore, while theoretically highly advanced social animals with a human’s exact physiological form and brain size could develop through evolutionary processes, the intellectual and rational mind of a human being – allows understanding universals, abstracting from them, etc… – could not be.

So in such an infinite universe in which case there might be infinite earths with infinite physiological humans on them scattered across vast cosmic distances, none of those populations would be true humans – in the sense of having a rational soul – apart from God’s direct intervention.

Yes, true. This is a major conflict with the consensus scientific view of evolution and Catholic belief. All current, mainstream evolutionary scientific claims on the origin of human beings include the supposed evolution of the human rational intellect via material causes.
As you point out, that is a false notion.
And yes, as Pope John Paul II taught, there is an ontological gap between human and animal that cannot be answered by evolutionary theory.
None of the most prominent and mainstream evolutionary scientists today would agree with that. Thus there is a conflict and Catholics must choose either to accept evolutionary theory as it is (and thus reject Catholic belief) or reject evolutionary theory either in favor of some other theory, or just by accepting that there is no known scientific theory that can explain the origin of human beings.

For my part - I reject mainstream evolutionary theory for reasons given. I do not see an alternative scientific theory either, and I cannot create my own, not being a biologist. So, I conclude that there is no scientific explanation for the origin of human beings.

This discussion reminded me of a space science trilogy that C. S. Lewis wrote, that I read the first two books of a very long time ago.

  1. Out of the Silent Planet

  2. Perelandra

  3. That Hideous Strength

Perelandra was the name of the planet the man from the first book went to, and it was an “unfallen planet”.

It was so long ago that I read it… I don’t remember details.

Has anyone read it?

God would punish humanity with an evil result without there being an original sin, and without the evil being ancestral to humans?

I see no reason to reject the evidence for the evolution of man. I just reject the materialist narrative than many assign to it.

Church doctrine requires that we believe in a first man and a first woman having committed a real original sin which is transmitted to all their descendants.

It doesn’t necessarily require us to accept that the original sin was eating a literal fruit. Nor do I think it necessary to accept that all of our genetic diversity was received from Adam and Eve, even if only they and all those descended from them are the only true humans.

Evolutionary theory is, by its nature, a materialist narrative - as all scientific theories are (in the sense that they’re limited to a material explanation, or at least could be limited if scientists want to accept that limit for science, and they don’t have to - there are no policemen telling them they can’t)…
Evolution claims to have an explanation for the origin of human beings.
So, the evolution of man must necessarily require the evolution of that which makes humans different from animals - namely, the rational intellect which is an observable feature in human life.
If you’re saying that evolutionary theory only explains the origin of “some part of man” then I’d disagree because I can list and show you quite a lot in the evolutionary literature that claims otherwise. Evolution makes a claim about the origin of human beings - not just “human bodies” or not just “part of human beings” - but the whole being. That would be necessary because what would be the difference in the supposed transitional between the body of a non-human ancestor to a human? In the gradualist idea, there would be little or no discernable difference.
As explained, the difference between human and animal is an ontological gap - and this cannot be explained by evolution, although evolutionary theory denies that such a gap exists.

I’m glad Genesis is not as confusing as what you just wrote! :hypno:

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