Are we all descendants of Adam and Eve?

A friend asked me if everyone was a descendant of Adam and Eve. I had no clue how to give a good answer to this. Any help?

In the book of Tobit, which is Catholic scripture, the explicit statement is made that we are all descendants of that first couple Adam and Eve.

The catholic Church also refuses the idea of PolyGenism (many parents), so that the Catholic church holds there were a first pair of humans “with spirits” as opposed to primates without. (That’s not to say how God formed the slime of the Earth into Adam, but only that God could have done it in many ways.)

The answer is YES

What verses? I want to be able to give them to my friend. It seems like a simple question, but it is quite hard to give a detailed answer to it.

There are two options:

  1. We are all decended from one original couple, as posited by Judeo-Christianity. In that case we are all brothers and of equal rights.

  2. Various races evolved at various times and to varying degrees. One thus has the early evolvers - supermen- and more recent evolvers [or evolving] - untermenchen. Hitler gave this latter view a bad press. :rolleyes: ]

Tobit 8:6 - Thou madest Adam and gavest him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung. Thou didst say, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’

Pius XII, Humani Generus 37 - 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 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. 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.

Thanks Joe,
you beat me to it.

Also, if the OP’s friend isn’t catholic, he might not accept the book of Tobit – the reason in a nutshell is that Job was not used in the cannon of the mass / Holy mysteries early on universally.
So the book is not in some canons of the time, and protestants often take that to mean it isn’t scripture as well – but if you need how to prove that also, I can dig up a link to an essay which treats the subject pretty well.

–Andrew / Huiou Theou

Dagum edit button — Errata:that is Tobit wasn’t used liturgically, universally. But it was always considered scripture.

Job was. Sorry about the confusion.

There’s extrabiblical evidence of this too - through mitochondrial DNA (which each person receives from their mother, and which has changed very slowly and predictably over the milennia of human existence) it has been established that all humankind did indeed descend from only one woman at least.

More difficult to establish with the DNA sections we get from our fathers.

The Bible goes against the idea of a Lillith being a 2nd wife to Adam, by stating Eve was “the mother of all living”:

Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

The answer is NO

Could you please add links to scientific studies that support the statement in your post?

Here is one - you can do a search on ‘mitochondrial DNA’ or ‘mitochondrial Eve’ to find others.

Thank you!

But didn’t Cain or Able or something go to a town with people in it? Where did they come from? Did they have the original sin?

That’s a good question. Allow me to explain how I came to terms with this question. Conventional wisdom says that Adam was the first man and everyone is a descendant of him (and Eve).

The Hebrew word for man is adam. It can also mean mankind

Ge 1:27 -
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God created mankind.

What makes Adam different then the other men that existed is that God breathed the Holy Spirit into him:

Ge 2:7 -
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Thus, the descendent’s of Cain (referred to as daughters of men), have no Holy Spirit. While the descendent’s of Seth (referred to as sons of God) get the inheritance.

Cain tried to build a city which he was the “father of”, the standard interpretation is that he took some of his sisters with him – and attempted to build a name for himself by making a city. However, the project was never really completed – and Murder and other vices showed up in his children as well. Cain’s artistry in building, like unto his priestly action at the first sacrifice was insufficient.

I don’t know Hebrew, but everything I have seen indicates the Adam actually means a clay or reddish clay which God formed him out of. The same root word is used of the lentil soup (which can be reddish brown if you have seen the soup) which Jacob fed to Esau for his birthright (not the promise, but the physical goods). It was viewed as the substance the body is made out of.

The Hebrew root word for “man” as commonly used is something like "Is"
So, Is-Ra-el, for example has an etymology of man -who does “evil” - to deity.
(In the sense of got the better of, not of moral evil.)
The word itself comes from the wrestling of Jacob with the Angel.

If someone knows Hebrew they might be able to give better details about this, as I have to rely on secondary sources and don’t know for sure how to evaluate them as I do the Greek.

As to the Holy Spirit, I too once thought that way – but other places in scripture indicate that even animals have “the breath of life”, and some of the church fathers also comment on this difference. It is the rational sprirt which is the main point of the text – whereas the Holy Spirit comes in baptism.

I would be curious if you have noticed other things in the story which suggest that it might have been the Holy spirit rather than just a spirit. I always enjoy noticing new details about Genesis. :slight_smile:

Though I would agree that a difference exists no matter how the body of man was formed by God – that at some point a rational spirit was breathed into him – rather than just an animal soul. But I would also notice that if anyone were to hold that Adam and Eve were able to procreate with animal ancestors – (animal sex?) that it would present some sticky theological problems.

In other words, at the very least, one would have to argue as a Catholic that either when Adam and Eve fell so did all the animal ancestors – because the infallible teaching of the church is that the fall itself is somehow transmitted by generation (procreation) because the rational spirit of each man is held to be a direct creation of God (and therefore good). Or secondly that with whatever else man united – the fallen nature of the body comes from the human ancestor.

It is in no way clear, how a man uniting with a genetic ancestor could supply the one flesh union required for marriage – so that any such act would necessarily be an abomination (although the alternative, incest is also considered wrong today…)

As is often the case in speculative arguments, certain types of “evolution” are not compatible with their ancestors anyway – eg: hybridization, polyploidy, etc. usually render the offspring sterile with respect to breeding with their ancestors genetically. Iinevitably, such arguments require one to believe that “somehow” either two mutations occured “one male” and “one female” which were compatible – or that the resultant mutation was compatible with its ancestors. (Eg: the man bred an animal).

This is not the case of Cain for he has “wives” and a wife is not an animal.
In any event, the idea that a gradual evolutionary change allowed many human parents to co-exist would fly directly against church teaching (Humani Generis) so that slow parallel evolution is not permitted as an acceptable belief. Eg: That there were many Adams simultaneously, or many Eves, would be against the encyclical Humani Generis.

I am not sure that Adam having first taken a animal ancestor, and then making a wife of his child, is necessarily against church teaching (but that would sure seem like a sin) – since in that case Adam would still be the source of all who have a human body. I tend to reject the idea, but am not sure how to rule it out.
Adam’s sin?

As a curiosity, does anyone know if humans are compatible with other primates?
(icky question).

The other things mentioned about Seth, “the sons of God”, and the “sons of man”, I tend to think hold up well under study – although I wish I were more versed at Hebrew to be able to distinguish the exact meaning of the names…

God bless you.

All are descendents of Adam and Eve.


The Catholic Church has always taught monogenism.

“The Catholic Church has always taught monogenism”

Oooh! a delightful pun.
Yes! this is true and NOT a spelling error! :slight_smile:

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