Anyone have good resources to show the logic behind Adam and Eve?

Specifically I need a resource which can explain to a non believer that genetic bottlenecks do not matter when it comes to adam and eve. While making sense of course :slight_smile:
I would greatly appreciate it.

These three I found really helpful for myself. They all address atheist objections to Adam and Eve, specifically the genetic bottleneck you mention.

This one’s written in layman’s language. I found it the easiest to follow:

This one by Ed Feser is a little more technical, but also goes a little deeper:

And finally, this one is the most in-depth Catholic responses to the issue I’ve seen. Don’t know that I recommend it for a non-believer though, as some of it gets a little deep and might confuse them, but for yourself it might be helpful:

These should help you get a good grasp of the issue.

Catholic Teaching on Adam and Eve

Humani Generis 36 - “[T]he Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid…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 - [but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”

Humani Generis 37 - “[However,] the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either 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.”

“Monogenism” - “[Every] true [man]…take[s] their origin through natural generation from [Adam] as from the first parent of all.” (Humani Generis 37)

Humani Generis 37 - “[O]riginal sin [must] proceed…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.”

Objections to the Catholic Teaching based on Evolution and Genetics

Objections to Adam’s existence are often based on evolution. Atheists say that, according to evolution, humans developed gradually, not suddenly. Objections to monogenism are often based on genetics. Atheists say that, according to genetics, humanity descended from many pre-human ancestors, not just one, because there is evidence that the gene pool has never had fewer than 10,000 contributors.

The Catholic teaching on Adam and Eve is helpful in defending the Bible from these objections. First, what Humani Generis says about the existence of Adam allows for the evolutionary theory that the human body was produced gradually – see Humani Generis 36. If the human body was produced in a primitive pre-human species, that just means one of them was the first actual man.

Second, what Humani Generis says about monogenism allows for the modern genetic evidence that humanity descends from pre-humans. If the pre-humans mated with Adam’s descendants, then Adam’s genes could have been gradually dispersed throughout early pre-humanity. But only people with Adam’s genes would have gotten human souls. Thus every true man in early humanity and afterward, everyone who had the human soul, would be a descendant of Adam. That scenario squares the Catholic teaching on monogenism with the evidence of modern genetics.

From this we can understand that the Catholic doctrine on Adam and Eve is not incompatible with modern science, but allows for the evidence from both evolutionary theory and modern genetics.

When it comes to Adam and Eve, Catholics can believe in evolution as an explanation for how the material part of man was formed. However they do not need to; a Catholic can be a creationist if they think they can support that in spite of modern scientific discoveries. But for those of us who accept the modern scientific account of man’s origin and development, it is important to point out that 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.

I don’t understand your question. The monotonicity of the gene strong evidence for authentication of mongenism.

Excellent reply.

On this one, #3, why are we required to belief this? Thanks.

My source for #3 is the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s document “Replies of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on questions of Sacred Scripture.” It is #7 on this Vatican document and an English translation is available here in the section “Concerning the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis.” In that section, the Pontifical Biblical Commission specifically answered this question: “may the literal historical sense be called in doubt in the case of…the special creation of man [and] the formation of the first woman from the first man”? The PBC answered, “In the negative.”

This is the same source I have heard this from. But it is not doctrine.

How do you mean the term “doctrine”? When I use that term, I mean a teaching, and it seems to me that this is a teaching that the pope has required us to give religious assent to. Am I missing something?

Resources pertaining to post 1.

catholic1seeks #6
On this one, #3, why are we required to belief this?

#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.]

it is not doctrine

The Catechism twice [28, 360] quotes Acts 17:26-28: “From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth…” That the Catechism refers to a single person is confirmed in footnote number 226 [360] which cites Tobit 8:6, “Thou madest Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung…” Thus, the “one ancestor” could only be Adam. This is confirmed in [359] which quotes St Peter Chrysologus, “St Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ…The first man, Adam,…was made by the last Adam.” The *Catechism *clearly teaches that polygenism is irreconcilable with Catholic Tradition.

So what is the Catholic doctrine?

The first teaching comes from Leo XIII – Adam & Eve were our first parents, by direct divine intervention and Eve was created from a portion of Adam’s body (*Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII, 1880). Polygenism is thus impossible – that mankind arose from many first parents – the fairy-tale which is perpetrated today by most evolutionists.

Then from the Pontifical Biblical Commission in its response of 30 June, 1909, On the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis, the declaration:
a) that those pseudoscientific exegetical systems elaborated for the purpose of “excluding the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis” are not based upon solid arguments (EB 324; DS 3512).

So as Fr Harrison rightly points out in Did The Human Body Evolve Naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration:
“We are not dealing here with a mere Allocution, a Motu Proprio, a Brief, an Apostolic Exhortation, or a Nuntius, but a fully-fledged piece of pontificating endowed with no less inherent or formal authority than *Humani Generis *or Providentissimus Deus: the Encyclical Letter *Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII on Christian Marriage, dated 10 February 1880.

Thanks everyone! I appreciate it :smiley:

You are most welcome.

As a side issue, I suggest reading, when you have a few free moments, paragraphs 355-421 and 1730-1732 in the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. Paragraphs 20-21 explain the small print.

There is no real necessity to read all of these at once. However, knowing how Adam Eve are described may help the logic perspective. Personally, I believe that the “logic” flows from Genesis 1: 26-28.

A book that lays out the ‘basic’ positions, and goes into detail trying to reconcile with the Bible, classic ‘Christian’ theology about Adam, and some of the science involved is…

Four Views on the Historical Adam

The four views are:

(1) No Historical Adam: presented by Denis Lamoureux, Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta (Ph.D’s in both evolutionary science and theology)
(2) A Historical Adam: The Archetypal Creation View - presented by John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College
(3) A Historical Adam: Old Earth Creation View - presented by C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary
(4) A Historical Adam: Young-Earth View - presented by William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament at The Master’s College.

I just got this book, reading through it now. All but the first view (no historical Adam) would be compatible with orthodox Catholic teaching I would think. I tend to go with view (2) where evolutionary theory is accepted in full and into which can be placed scientists such as Kenneth Miller (Finding Darwin’s God) and Francis Collins (The Language of God), also the BioLogos Group which I personally support, and where I would place the recent Popes, along with Cardinal Schonborn (Chance or Purpose?).

As for a specific answer to the ‘genetics’ question, I don’t want to discuss evolution in here (banned), but here is an article by Catholic philosopher Dennis Bonnette that deals with this question in some depth:

Does Science Allow for a Literal Adam and Eve?

Thanks also for the resources mentioned above. This has been an issue I’ve wrestled with the past decade or more…


The Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ to which refers to Eve being taken from Adam’s side says:
We call to mind facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: **after He formed man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man’s side as he slept. **In bringing this about, God, in His supreme Providence, willed that this spousal couple should be the natural origin of all men: in other words, that from this pair the human race should be propagated and preserved in every age by a succession of procreative acts which would never be interrupted. And so that this union of man and woman might correspond more aptly to the most wise counsels of God, it has manifested from that time onward, deeply impressed or engraved, as it were, within itself, two preeminent and most noble properties: unity and perpetuity.
This is where the pertinent information is in the document. The most important part is in blue. In the larger context, it the Pope is discussing the origin of Adam in Eve to make a bigger point about the origin of marriage. Context is key here. This encyclical largely concerns marriage. A brief summary can be read here. It seems that when he says above that the “[FONT=Verdana]facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one,” he is not so much concerned with asserting the historicity of those items, but rather is laying the ground for why whatever he has to say about marriage is true. He assumes his audience knows of the story of Adam and Eve as told by Genesis. Adam and Eve, as the original couple, is the real issue: They are the paradigm for the Pope’s explanation of marriage in society. [/FONT]

Now, if we are to say that this statement requires the belief that Eve came from Adam (or his side), then we must also say that it requires the belief that God formed man “from the slime of the Earth on the sixth day,” as the document says just before it refers to Eve’s creation from Adam. Yet we know from current Church doctrine that we are permitted to adhere to the evidence of science, which points to both (1) an old Universe and Earth [not “six days”] and (2) the evolution of the human body [not a special creation from the “slime of the Earth”]. So there has to be consistency here. And one cannot say that the only consistent answer is to believe in a six-day creationism, when the Church in fact teaches it is perfectly acceptable that the human body evolved over time. And the Church certainly does not require us to believe in a certain age of creation (the six days of Genesis, as the papal document refers to).

I think there are multiple ways we can reconcile this statement from the papal document with current Church teaching, since, after all, the Church today would seemingly reject that “the facts” the document refers to are “well-known” and “doubtful to no one” in the historical or scientific sense. For one, this document, or this part of the document, does not meet the requirement for an infallible papal statement. Then we would have to judge whether it is part of the universal ordinary magisterium, which would seem it is not, since the magisterium today… does not require belief in a literal six-days or special creation of Adam’s body. In fact, leading figures and popes have seen to be moving away from that idea for some time.

So I simply do not think this Papal document can be used as support for the belief, when the same reasoning given to belief in Eve’s creation from Adam would also require us to believe in items the Church has explicitly made clear we do not have to believe.

Well, you can always use science. That works pretty good.

Genetics has told us quite a lot in the past few decades. The human species, like every other species on earth, all share a common female and a common male ancestor, scientifically known as the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). Every species has a MRCA. There was a “Beaver Adam” and a “Beaver Eve” to whom every beaver on earth can trace it’s lineage. So humans are not unique in this regard - the existence of an MRCA for our species is not some special miracle from God just for us. It applies to everything that lives.

Science calls our common human female ancestor Mitochondrial Eve, and our common human male ancestor Y-chromosomal Adam. If you go back far enough, every human on earth will have these two individuals in their family tree. This is not religious opinion - it is settled science (proven beyond all possible doubt by the mathematics of genetics) and no returnable biologist in the world would dispute it.

But, are we talking about the same Adam and Eve in the Bible? There’s this funny thing about genetics - Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam didn’t have to actually mate with one another in order to be our MRCA. They didn’t even need to know each other, or live at the same time.

We know with certainty that our MRCAs existed (here we are), but science cannot tell us with any precision WHEN our MRCAs existed. Current thinking is that Mitochondrial Eve came first, by about 5000 years. Y-chromosomal Adam mated with one of her descendants.

So science and religion can completely agree that Y-chromosomal Adam is the same as the Biblical Adam, but we cannot agree that Mitochondrial Eve is the same as the Biblical Eve.

That’s not a problem for either science or religion. We know that Y-chromosomal Adam mated with SOMEBODY (here we are), and science and religion could agree THAT woman was the Biblical Eve. It was the union of Y-chromosomal Adam and SOME female (we can call her Eve if we like) that gave rise to all the human species. Had the scientific Y-chromosomal Adam and his mate (whatever we call her) not mated, humanity, as we know it, would not exist.

That’s plain, undisputed science.

It is always a good idea to actually understand the genetic base in current natural science research.

In brief, the real common ancestor for humans, as described by actual genetics, is not two people with specific genetic-type names. In fact, when one actually explores the real science, one learns that the most recent common ancestor or the last common ancestor in the cladogram (Google has plenty of information about cladistics/cladogram) is actually an ancestral population (Homo/Pan) consisting of thousands.

It is obvious that the Catholic Church opposes the first or last common genetic ancestor population because the Catholic Church definitively states that the human species descended from two sole true real fully-complete human parents – neither one was a member of the Homo/Pan population divergence.

For further information, please check out these recent links by Catholic philosopher Dr. Dennis Bonnette.…cies++Bonnette…e-really-exist…genesis-story/

The Catholic Church does not teach the specifics or the genetic characteristics of species and subspecies.

What the Catholic Church holds as undeniable truth, based on Divine Revelation, is that the entire fully-human species or subspecies descended from an originating population of *only two *fully-complete human persons. This should not be confused with a person having two ancestors sometime in the past.

This confusion started when some eager media writers and some hopeful Christian types envisioned a biblical Eve “in” the 1987 research paper [FONT=Arial]“Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution” Nature 325, 31 - 36 (01 January 1987). In the reality of the scientific, not the religious, world, this paper served as a foundation for the “Out of Africa” theory over the Multi-Regional theory. This is major in the Science of Human Evolution.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]What some people, unfamiliar or in denial of Catholic doctrines, fail to spot is that the “Out of Africa” theory, that is, the “Mitochondrial DNA” theory is primarily based on humans evolving as multi-members of various species and/or subspecies populations in the thousands. The Catholic Church directly opposes the concepts of large populations generating over extended time the human species or subspecies. The Catholic Church is very clear that humankind descended from a population of two, only two, human persons with a fully-complete human nature.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial](Information source. CCC 355-357; CCC 362-366; CCC 1730-1732; Genesis 1: 26-28; Genesis 2: 15-23)[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]Therefore, no matter how one reinvents the 1987 African woman nicknamed “Eve”, there absolutely exists, by scientific definition, populations of thousands of living organisms intra-breeding, or in some cases inter-breeding, in order to eventually produce a modern human-type decomposing anatomy. [/FONT]

I tend to agree with granny, and Dr. Bonnette has recently sent me those same links above from his recent writings on the subject, published in orthodox Catholic and peer-reviewed publications. My issue has always been the statements on ‘Adam and Eve’ and ‘our first parents’ in the Catechism itself, first published in the late 20th century. This is not a 2000-year-old document, but something published ‘as a sure norm’ for all Catholics worldwide in the 20th century and beyond.

Evangelical Protestants (e.g. Four Views on the Historical Adam above) have no ‘definitive’ source on which they all agree, except the Bible. And they it seems are free to ‘abandon’ traditional Christian/Catholic teaching if they can come up with (what they consider) ‘plausible’ interpretations of the Bible (specifically Genesis and Romans, etc) on the subject – even interpretations that do away with ‘Adam’ as being ‘historical’ in any sense, let alone rejecting ‘monogenism’ in favor of ‘polygenism’, etc.

The Catechism itself is quite clear about a historical Adam, while admitting figurative or symbolical aspects to other parts of the Genesis story:

Especially 402-406, and 416-419 on ‘Adam’ and ‘Original Sin’; and references to Adam/Eve as “our first parents” and existing as a literal, historical couple: 359 (two literal, historical men: Adam and Christ), 375-377 (“our first parents, Adam and Eve,” “the first couple,” “the first man”), 379 (“our first parents”), 388 (“we must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin”), 390-392 (“our first parents”), etc. See paragraphs 355ff on the creation of man and woman, and paragraphs 385ff on the Fall.

My issue has been what to do with such language from the Magisterium (in the late 20th century). We can’t treat those statements of the Catechism as ‘figurative’ or ‘symbolical’ or ‘myth’ unlike the Evangelicals or other generic ‘Christians’ who can and do treat the Bible and St. Paul in this way.


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