Having a problem with Adam and Eve

I’m basically considering leaving Catholicism, I’m on the fence. Consider this:

  1. It is rather firmly established that human population never dropped anywhere below a few thousand individuals, let alone two. Evolution doesn’t really has much to do with this thing. Someone’s simply done the maths.
  2. Real Adam and Eve as our progenitors are absolutely necessary for the doctrine of original sin to make sense.
  3. Therefore, a problem.

Now I know of this theory that postulates there was a group of a few thousand individuals without human souls among whom God chose Adam and Eve and gave them immortal souls. Adam and Eve’s descendants mated with some of the ‘not-really-human’ individuals. God gave immortal souls to all children born thusly.

Everything seems fine, Catholicism and science again not in conflict.

But there are still some difficulties, and I would welcome any answers helping me in understanding the issue.
The most important issue, which I would like to consider here, is this: it is always assumed when such theories are given, that the earlier population of ‘unensouled’ humans eventually died out, given that most children were ensouled.
However, this is only an assumption. If we accept such a scenario, can we be 100% sure that no such single hominid is alive today (or even in Jesus’ times)? If so, how can we be sure? Wouldn’t accepting this outline allow for theories which would assume mentally ill, or mentally disabled people are therefore not ensouled? If not, on what grounds?

How would you answer my doubts? Also, perhaps monogenism (biological) is not absolutely disproved? Although I would think it is. Is it so that the the maximum bottleneck of a few thousand individuals happened for the homo sapiens - but the ‘bottleneck’ for earlier hominids could have once been two (Adam and Eve)? I know next to nothing about all this, so just looking for answers.

Obviously, there was a very long time during which there was no human life upon the earth.

A sudden leap from zero to “several thousand” requires ISTM more faith than A&E.

FWIW, the several thousand do not IIUC derive from mathematics at all, but from current nuances of evolutionary and genetic theory.

Positing such gap-fillers as several thousand otherwise human but “soulless” bodies (which is unscientific because uninvestigable, as souls do not fossilize) only makes matters more confusing.


Well exactly, where does genetic diversity we have now come from? I trust scientists who say the absolute minimum is a few thousand individuals.
By doing the maths I meant estimating the smallest group to ever live on Earth from the genetic data.

Well ok.

I really don’t care enough about the topic to wade through all of that.

At least though, we agree that the issue is one of genes and evolution and not mathematics.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA

Not sure if this will help shed some light on the subject for you.

Did science prove we were all descended from a single woman?

Full Question

I heard that science has proven that we are all descended from a single woman. How did scientists prove this, and is this woman the biblical Eve?

Scientists showed this through tests on what is called mitochondrial DNA, which is DNA found, outside the nucleus of a cell, in tiny organelles called mitochondria. We inherit our nucleic DNA (DNA in the nucleus of the cell) from both parents, but we inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mothers alone.

It is possible to map the relationships between people through their mothers using mitochondrial DNA. When scientists examined DNA samples from people all over the world, they concluded that the whole human race descended from a single woman who became known as “the scientific Eve.”

The scientific Eve may or may not be the biblical Eve. That we may all be descended from her does not prove she is the biblical Eve because, as Christians acknowledge, there may be more than one woman from whom we are all descended (for example, if the Deluge was universal, not local, then everyone is descended from Noah’s wife).

Though science has not been able to confirm that its Eve is the biblical Eve, it has confirmed two important pieces of biblical revelation which many scientists used to deny. The first is that there was a woman from whom we are all descended, and the second is that there was a human pair from whom we are all descended.

This is implied by the former because we would all be descended from the scientific Eve and her husband, or, if she had more than one husband over the course of her life, we at least would all descend from the scientific Eve’s mother and father. Either way, there is a human couple from whom we all sprang. Not only was there a scientific Eve, but a scientific Adam as well.

Answered by: Catholic Answers Staff

Having **sapient ** soul means having free will. All the modern humans posses it.

Last common ancestor is a usual thing for most species. It is not unique for humans. Because only the strongest produces the strongest progeny and defeats its relations in a competition.

Yes, mt1926 is on the right track. The story of Adam & Eve is an allegory. An allegory is as described in biblical writing:

Figurative language is really a single, not a double, sign of the truth it conveys. When we speak of “the arm of God”, we do not imply that God really is endowed with such a bodily member, but we directly denote his power of action (St. Thomas, Summa, I, Q. i, a. 10, ad 3um). This principle applies not merely in the metaphor, the synecdoche, the metonymy, or the irony, but also in those cases in which the figure extends through a whole sentence or even** an entire chapter or book**. The very name allegory implies that the real sense of the expression differs from its usual verbal meaning.(catholic encyclopedia,Biblical Exegesis.)

There is no conflict with proven science and biblical truth. So then, what is the “real sense of the expression” of the story of Adam & Eve?

I think you might have misunderstood my point.
Whether or not Adam and Eve’s story is an allegory, metaphor, myth, or real events does not really make any difference for this argument.
The Church teaches that we all descend from 2 (in words: two) people: a man and a woman, who commited a real, personal sin, and from whom we ‘inherit’ original sin.

Now it is my understanding that never in history of the world were there only two humans. So the difficulty is to find a method of reconciling what the Church teaches with what scientists tell us. Bible is really not that important here (which is not to say it’s not important at all).

It is from the two humans, that were our qncestors, thqt we inherited original sin. All others are irrelevant for us. Of course, there were others, and they also were our ancestors. Cain’s wife had to come from somewhere. :wink:

There is still no conflict between the teaching and science. There probably never were only two people existing at one time. Science does not know where early humans ventured and when. Scientists also do not know when humans became human, so to speak. And the theory of not less than two thousand existing is just a theory based on how many people it would take to sustain a population. I completely disagree with that theory.

St Augustine said something like, if something is proven true, it must be God’s truth and therefore must fit with biblical truth. What I like about R. Catholicism is that it seeks to find the truth no matter what the truth ends up being.

The Church obviously does not have scientific, clear answers to your questions. It’s important to see the teaching for the point it tries to make; rather than the numbers ,which no one knows. But there is the logical point that we are all traced back to a common ancestor. The point is that when humans became conscious of God, we started to sin. It’s fairly logical if you think about that point. When did human’s get souls? I don’t know. Probably the same time we realized there was a God, our God; that’s the important part.

This is a great source of information. Two schools of thought on where our current species came from. actionbioscience.org/evolution/johanson.html

I also don’t think you know what the word theory means. Few more things. Let us put aside the story of the Garden of Eden, After the “flood” there was a family of 8 that repopulated the world. The plethora of genetic diversity renders that story moot.

How can we instantly get from NO humans to humans numbering in their thousands without violating a mathematical requirement…

1 human mother + 1 human father

Now, of course you could argue that there was a magical singularity whereby there suddenly, and simultaneously, appeared thousands of human mothers and fathers (perhaps all arriving from outer space) or all of them spontaneously mutating from one species to another in the blink of an eye.

A scenario like that would enable you to make the astonishing claim…'never fewer than’.

But that’s clearly not what evolutionary biology claims is it?

The Flood is an absolutely different story. I don’t remember any part of the Church’s magisterium that might teach that the Flood narrative was literally true. The Flood is the prefiguration of our baptism.

How so?

Why does the presence of genetic diversity in a huge modern population contend with the fact that it originally came from a smaller, narrower genetic population?

Nice info. However it’s nothing new to me. The info puts the emergence of the human species at between 100,000 to 400,000 years ago. No one knows what happened in that period of time, not even geneticists. They say a group of what MAY have been a few thousand left Africa around 100,000 years ago. The statements made in that info are so broad and general, they are hardly worth hanging details on.

The first 11chapters of Genesis are allegorical. Not sure why you brought Noah into this

We can’t really say others are irrelevant for us. Co-Adamism and Pre-Adamism are heretical inasmuch as these Co-Adamties and Pre-Adamites are to be understood as fully human. If they are to be considered not fully human, then my doubts from the opening post remain valid.

I’ve read the mathematical minimum given our current genetic diversity is 16 (or was it 8? 32?). It’s still more than two.

[quote=“Lion IRC”]How can we instantly get from NO humans to humans numbering in their thousands without violating a mathematical requirement…

I know very, very little about biology, but well. If I understand the thing correctly, the first group of homo sapiens evolved from a group of their predecessors at more or less the same time. We may say there must have been some two individuals that were fully homo sapiens who were the first two to be born - obviously - but this still does not nullify the fact that some interbreeding must have happened. Which brings us to questions in my first post.

We may narrow down the issue to this: is it absolutely impossible, given what we know from genetics, for current humanity to descend from two people only? Without any interbreeding? If no, I would welcome data. If yes, well, back to the first post.

Also, someone mentioned Noah. Given that the universality of the Flood even as regards all but 8 people dying is - as far as I know - not a mandatory belief, I didn’t write anything about it.

Or, perhaps, could Adam and Eve be homo erectus? Thus they would be ancestors of us, Neanderthals, and Denisovans? Is it possible that (HE emerging 2 million years ago) there could have been two of them? Is the timeline long enough for the current diversity to arise? Or does it not work like that? Again, I know absolutely next to nothing about the topic, so just asking some questions. Any biologists here?

I was actually talking to my mother (whose background is in biology), and she doesn’t see a contradiction of terms. I am a little offended that you’d question the existence of my namesake. (Now I know how my cousin Christopher feels) Modern scholarship is abhorrent on matters such as these. I remember a biology professor of mine showing us a video called “there was no first human”. This is, obviously illogical, even from a biological standpoint. No surprise, it was a video made to promote a book by Richard Dawkins. Whom, by the way, in spite of his biological theories being presented as fact, he has a lot of ideas that science has not made a clear statement on. :eek::eek: I used to read books on human evolution for fun. Biology is not my strong point,no disrespect, but I don’t think the problem is with Adam and Eve, it’s with you.

This is not as big a problem as you seem to think. People alive today can have zero descendants or have some descendants. Moving back in time, again some have zero descendants while others have some, perhaps very many. Go far enough back and some of those people with descendants have so many that they are an ancestor to the entire human population; M-Eve is one such, as is Y-Adam. Such people are common ancestors of all humans. The Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) of all humans was probably alive around the time that the Australian Aboriginals separated from the main human population about 70,000 years ago. There will have been earlier common ancestors, but they were not the most recent.

If the unique ensouled couple were a) before that separation and b) common ancestors then all living humans are descended from them (and from any other common ancestors). There is no need for the unsouled to go extinct, just for everyone to be descended from that common ancestor couple and hence to have been given a soul at birth. Unsouled individuals will die naturally of old age. Each generation will have more souled children as the descendants of the common ancestor couple spread.

I assume that an omniscient God will known in advance whether a couple will be common ancestors or not.


I don’t see why anyone else besides Adam and Eve might be relevant to us. In order to establish whether they were human or not, you need to define human first. I just don’t get your problem

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