Genetic Adam and Eve

Is it acceptable for a Catholic to believe in a genetic Adam and Eve, which were not our first parents, but common human ancestors to all mankind. Since we would have inherited Original Sin from our first common parents, it would be in compliance to the Catholic faith, correct? Even if they did not mate with one another?

nature.com/news/genetic-adam-and-eve-did-not-live-too-far-apart-in-time-1.13478
pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/evolution/our-genetic-adam-and-eve/

It would not be acceptable.

"Adam and Eve: Real People

"It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

"In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “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 either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents 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 that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

“The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).”

Peace,
Ed

These notions, of a ‘mitochondrial Eve’ and a ‘y-chromosome Adam’, aren’t really trying to assert a literal ‘Adam’ or an ‘Eve’. Instead, since everyone generally knows what ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ are, they are a kind of nickname that’s easier to remember than the “most recent common ancestor,” which is what these designations really represent in science.

So, even though they use these ‘nicknames’, they aren’t really talking about Adam or Eve at all. And so, we don’t want to look at these designations and get confused and think they are really referencing the ‘real’ Adam and ‘real’ Eve… :wink:

I am saying that given the fact that we are genetically related to them, is it possible that they caused original sin and passed it to all humans? I understand it is used to note two people who we have common ancestry to them.

No, since the theological teaching is that original sin was passed by generation – i.e., childbirth – not by any other way.

I understand it is used to note two people who we have common ancestry to them.

Yeah… but it doesn’t even designate a single, distinct person: the designation reflects only the most recent common ancestor of everyone currently living on earth. So, the ‘mitochondrial Eve’ we refer to today, might be a completely different person, in a different era or locale, then the ‘mitochondrial Eve’ of 100 years from now…

Yes, it is acceptable. Pope Francis has recently (Oct 2014) reiterated that evolution, including human evolution, is fully acceptable to us Catholics, as long as we accept that God has given us an immaterial soul at some point in time.

That is incorrect. And it’s not on topic.

Ed

Uh, when Adam at the forbidden fruit, sin and death came into the world, generating generations or not. Probably broke his X-X chromosome into an X-Y…:slight_smile:

Even if it’s with God in mind, there’s just something about this theory of evolution that bothers me. I don’t know what it is. I suppose I just prefer to think that things happened exactly the way written in Genesis. I much rather prefer the concept of God creating in six days, seeing all was “good,” and Adam and Eve as truly the first man and woman…not just the first that eventually evolved, but the very first.

One of the more elegant ways I’ve heard explaining the apparent conflict between what science has shown to be more likely (polygenism), and what what the Church teaches (that there were a literal Adam and Eve), goes something like this:

There is a distinction between someone who is genetically human, and one who is spiritually human. A “genetic human” would be one of the long-ago ancestors that Homo sapiens evolved from, but were without the same sort of soul that humans have - rather, they had animal souls. A “spiritual human” are Homo sapiens with human souls.

At some point in evolutionary history, God, in his infinite wisdom, deemed it appropriate to give human souls to two Homo sapiens, who were born from animal parents. They were thus capable of rational thought and therefore became capable of sin, and determining what is right from what is wrong. They sinned together - what this sin is is unclear] - and thus caused all of their descendants, who would naturally have human souls like their parents, to inherit original sin. They would still have bred with the other Homo sapiens (which would technically have been bestiality, and therefore may have been the first sin), so all they would still be the parents of all humanity.

So basically, all this argument does is make a distinction between “genetic polygenism” and “spiritual polygenism”, allowing for humans to have still come from a group of common genetic ancestors, but from only two spiritual ancestors, which we call Adam and Eve.

I haven’t seen a definitive Catholic response to this though, so it may have some form of error in it that I’m not aware of. But so far, it’s the best answer that I’ve heard before.

It is correct what I said. Here is what a Catholic publication had to say about Pope Francis’ comments in October last year: religionnews.com/2014/10/27/pope-francis-evolution-inconsistent-notion-creation/

Nothing new by the way.

The evolutionary/scientific A & E is not the Biblical A & E. The first has borrowed the terminology from the second, probably trying to discredit the Biblical A & E. I could hear “You see they were apelike from Africa and not from Eden after all…” echoing down the halls of some ivory tower.

Hans,

If you think it’s ok “to believe in a genetic Adam and Eve, which were not our first parents” and if you think the citation you provided demonstrates that it’s ok… then, with all due respect, you’ve either misunderstood KidCatholic’s question or the pope’s statement, or both. :shrug:

Let’s start with Pope Francis’ statement: he was asserting that it’s ok to accept evolution. He said, "Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.” However, the pope did not at all address the question of our first parents. That teaching is distinct from the question of evolution. We can believe in evolution, the pope stresses (although that’s a completely different question, and the way we believe in it still needs to fit within certain parameters).

But, can Pope Francis’ statement address KidCatholic’s question? Not at all. KidCatholic was looking at an article about ‘mitochondrial Eve’ and ‘y-chromosome Adam’. (All that these ‘names’ imply is that, in any period of time, there’s always going to be one woman who is the most recent common ancestor of all the living human beings, and likewise, one man. Since there are family trees that die out over time, the identity of that man and of that woman can change over time!) In the article that KidCatholic cited, it was mentioned that the timeframe in which these two lived was closer than previously thought. However – and it’s really important to recognize this – mitochondrial Eve and y-chromosome Adam never physically met one another (the article states that he “lived between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago”, while she “lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago”). In other words, this scientific notion about shared genetic material is pointing to two distinct people who never had a baby together.

Now we get to KidCatholic’s question: can we take this notion about ‘mitochondrial Eve’ and ‘y-chromosome Adam’ and presume that these two are the Adam and Eve from whom original sin originated and through whom it was passed down to us? You answered ‘yes’, and that answer is incorrect. As edwest2 pointed out, in Humani Generis we find that “original sin … proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all.”

The theological assertion hinges on original sin being committed by our first parents and then passed to all their children, and grandchildren, etc, etc, etc. It is not the teaching of the Church that, following Adam and Eve, some humans existed without original sin. If your assertion were to be examined closely, what it implies is that Adam mated with a non-human, and their children had original sin, and that at some later time, Eve somehow ‘got’ original sin, and she mated (with a non-human), and through those relations, her children ‘got’ original sin. Then, even more implausibly, their shared lineage mated, and these children ‘got’ original sin.

There’s only one other possible interpretation of what you’re suggesting: Adam lived – alone, without Eve – and mated with a non-human hominin. Millennia later, one of his great-great-great-great-granddaughters, Eve – already a human, and already subject to original sin – herself had babies. That’s implausible both theologically and scientifically. From a theological perspective, that means that Adam & Eve never met, never procreated, and that Eve is Adam’s daughter, not wife. That means that Genesis 2 – in which God creates a human with a soul to be Adam’s partner – is completely wrong. You can see how that presents a problem, right? :wink: (It fails from a scientific perspective, too: if Eve were a descendant of Adam, then Adam’s wife would be the mitochondrial Eve, and not the Eve we’re talking about. Your assertion would lead to an inherent contradiction.)

That’s not what the Church teaches at all. Rather, the teaching is that “by yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state” (CCC, 404). Theologically, Adam was created by God; Eve was created for him as a companion; they sinned (together), lost original grace (together), and had children (together).

So, the answer to KidCatholic’s question is “no, the notion of ‘mitochondrial Eve’ and ‘y-chromosome Adam’ cannot be taken to be referring to the Adam and Eve of Scripture.”

A very interesting and informative post. I think that an Adam and Eve with a human soul given to them by God (out of many hominids) is the best explanation for Adam and Eve, as mentioned in post 10.

There is no Biblical or scientific evidence for this. Science cannot study God or the soul. The Church teaches a literal, individual Adam and Eve. There is no mention of hominids.

"Adam and Eve: Real People

"It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

"In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “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 either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents 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 that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

“The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).”

Ed

How do we know these hominids were not animals like the apes we have today?

Ed

You people really have a problem trying to analyse religion and faith “scientifically”.

God created and is creating this wonderful universe and put the ability of self-development into his creation. Palaeontology shows us that there is a continuous line from primitive forms leading up to us humans. Modern genetics shows us the same thing. That’s how it works, unless God is fooling us.

We got a soul. That knowledge is built on faith alone. That’s what the Church teaches us. Leave the rest to scientific discovery. There is no conflict between what we see in nature and our faith.

Crown of Stars - There are many people feeling like you. You don’t need to “believe” in the Big Bang, evolution and all we have discovered about nature, from subatomic particles to galaxies. Keep your faith simple and pure. Keep in mind that whatever science discovers about this wonderful universe, we will always be infinitely far away from the Truth.

Of course there’s a conflict. That’s why threads like this appear on a regular basis. Science has nothing to say about faith. I trust science less and less about this particular topic.

Ed

Hey, man… you’re the one who wanted to affirm that one might take a scientific statement and shoehorn it into Church statements on theology… :rolleyes:

God created and is creating this wonderful universe and put the ability of self-development into his creation. Palaeontology shows us that there is a continuous line from primitive forms leading up to us humans. Modern genetics shows us the same thing. That’s how it works

Absolutely!

We got a soul. That knowledge is built on faith alone. That’s what the Church teaches us. Leave the rest to scientific discovery. There is no conflict between what we see in nature and our faith.

:thumbsup:

We seem to be in agreement: no conflict with science and faith. But, that means that we can’t take scientific statements and presume – a priori – that they are speaking the same truths that theology speaks… :shrug:

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