Is Monogenism a Truth of the Faith or a Changeable Teaching?


Recent documents by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict seem to have less of a focus on the idea of monogenism when referring to human origins and evolution. Scientific papers about evolution promote the idea that the human race was never two people (however more research is being done).

Is the teaching about original sin subject to develop/change regarding the aspect of monogenism?


-I’m not sure, but I hope someone knows!-
In the CCC, it says “Adam and Eve” as our first parents, but it is sometimes used less specific.


Monogenism is an unchangeable part of the Deposit of Faith.



Hi, that has been my understanding also. However, I have not been sure what to make of recent developments.
Here we can see that Jimmy Akin considers it possible that a pope may indicate that polygenism is an acceptable understanding.


Genesis 1:26: Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. …”

God uses the word “our”. The trinity is a union of three persons, yet ***one ***God. Is it possible that the human family before original sin was as ***one ***man because they had a unity similar to the trinity since they were made in God’s image? Is not one of the consequences of sin that humans are more selfish and not working together as one?


Chapter Two 3.43
Refers to the original unity of the human race and that the human race was made in the image of the divine Trinity. Adam is referred to as a symbol.

Chapter Three 1.70
The above document clearly refers to the emergence of the first humans as individuals or in populations.

This document was permitted for publication by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now the pope).


Help me with the above statement, please.

  1. With respect to the immediate creation of the human soul, Catholic theology affirms that particular actions of God bring about effects that transcend the capacity of created causes acting according to their natures. The appeal to divine causality to account for genuinely causal as distinct from merely explanatory gaps does not insert divine agency to fill in the “gaps” in human scientific understanding (thus giving rise to the so-called "God of the gaps”). The structures of the world can be seen as open to non-disruptive divine action in directly causing events in the world. Catholic theology affirms that that the emergence of the first members of the human species (whether as individuals or in populations) represents an event that is not susceptible of a purely natural explanation and which can appropriately be attributed to divine intervention. Acting indirectly through causal chains operating from the beginning of cosmic history, God prepared the way for what Pope John Paul II has called “an ontological leap…the moment of transition to the spiritual.” While science can study these causal chains, it falls to theology to locate this account of the special creation of the human soul within the overarching plan of the triune God to share the communion of trinitarian life with human persons who are created out of nothing in the image and likeness of God, and who, in his name and according to his plan, exercise a creative stewardship and sovereignty over the physical universe.


[/font]I propose that it is obvious that the document author(s) accept polygenism as a possibility but I am open to see where I could be wrong.


I would like to add that the reference to Adam as a symbol seems to promote or at least allow a polygenetic understanding of Adam. At the same time it does not seem to clearly rule out a monogenetic understanding of Adam either.


OK, I read it again a little slower and I see the obvious.

I can’t see how this can be accepted. Catholic Theology (and I believe Jewish Theology) has accepted that we inherited Original Sin from Adam (“Just as sin entered the world through one man…”). This would through the whole doctrine out into Limbo, if you asked me.


It is not the teaching about Adam and Eve (as two alone) that has particularly attracted my attention. I am attracted to Jesus and His Church (our Church), love, truth, beauty, and offer of heaven to us.

Ceratinly the wisdom of the teaching about the fall (itself a reality) is profound. The concept of the realization of nakedness and the knowledge of good and evil are profound.

I seems that original sin is the important reality and the reference to Adam as one man may be subject to interpretation. Perhaps its just a matter that it has not been important to further interpret what is meant by *one *man. Now that it can be confused based on recent science, perhaps one can be interpreted to mean one in unity.

One might say that St. Paul’s contrast of the act of Adam to the act of Jesus, would on the surface seem to insist on the literal interpretation of Adam as one man. However, maybe we can be excited by a deep meaning that just as Adam represents the human race and the sin, Jesus stands in for entire human race. Perhaps we can see more fully that each represents the whole human race.


I don’t like things that we’ve always known as true to be “symbolism”. I can’t wrap my meager mind around it.


We know that in God’s creation, appearances are not our sole guide. Science alone would claim that the Eucharist is only bread and wine and yet we Catholics know otherwise. Maybe this relates to how we are to understand the scientific evidence of human origins. Maybe when we think of Adam and Eve we need to think more spiritually.

Hypothetical Possibility

Is it possible within Church teaching that when God formed Adam he formed one spiritual man in many of the adult males of the Homo Sapiens species? These males would think and act as one spiritual being each loving their neighbor as themsleves such that the actual physical individuality between them was of no consequence. The same would be true for the women at the time. In this way, Adam truly would be one man, just as Jesus in the Eucharist is truly one even though there are many hosts.

Then when Satan tempted Adam the entire spiritual being would be affected and sinned as one being. This would be the entrance of division into man. Then man knew he was naked. He became aware of his body and for the first time thought of himself as a separate being in his body.

End Hypothetical Possibility

It is a thought, I don’t claim to know the answer. It is similar to my earlier post about the fact that man was made in the image of God. I seek more knowledge and understanding. I do have faith that there is no discrepancy between Revelation and science. One might be tempted to think there is but I have faith that there is not because I have faith in Jesus and in His Holy Catholic Church. I think it is mainly a matter of a need for deeper (or perhaps fuller) understanding.


I am refining my above hypothetical possibility. Since our souls are created at conception then I propose that the hypothetical creation of the first spiritually unified humans would be at conception and not adulthood. Again, this is just an idea of how physical polygenism might possibly be reconciled with Church teaching. I do not claim to know. I definitely thirst for answers about these questions so to any theologians on board here, please help.
:slight_smile: :hmmm:


Wasn’t it thought at some point that Original sin passed down through the male line?

Adam and Eve Sin. They have children all males. All the children marry daughters of other human couples. Only the grandchildren and great grandchildren etc. of Adam and Eve survive. Children of other couples not related to Adam die out for some reason. All succeeding generations have Adam as progenitor.


Adam and Eve are in-souled at some point. God only in-souls their descendants. The others don’t make it as full humans. Their lines die out. Unless I am mistaken the number of humans in the world at one time was quite small. Wouldn’t that be consistent with one first pair?

Pure speculation of course.


I think not possibilities because both cases seem to include “joining” of true humans with non-humans of opposite gender. In fact, this is one of the current questions I have about acceptance of evolution.


This is one of those rare moments where I think Jimmy Akin is most likely wrong. I usually agree with what he has to offer. He is a great Catholic Apologist. But I think he has strayed a wee bit too far if indeed he is thinking that Monogenism will eventually be abandoned.

I will admit that I still don’t know how it will be reconciled. But polygenism will most likely not be the answer based on some of the strongest Catholic writings on this topic. We are really not even permitted to entertain these ideas if I recall correctly.


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