Need some Info on Adam and Eve, monogenism

I have already read a lot of information regarding this issue but had some questions. Is there any new developments on the issue of Monogenism and Polygenism? I was listening, recently, to two different sermons at Church where the priest said he believed the story of Adam and Eve was just a metaphor. I was concerned but I know that we do not have to take the story literally as it is told but I thought there were certain elements we had to believe. I thought we had to believe that Adam and Eve were real people and not a metaphor for the human race and that it was the personal decision of one man, Adam, and one woman, Eve, that brought about Original sin. I also thought we had to believe they were the only humans and all people come from them (their children propagating through incest). So I wanted to ask the Priest just to clarify what he meant by “metaphor”. Turns out he doesn’t believe that the children of Adam and Eve propagated through incest and I am assuming he takes a Polygenism stance. I only had a moment to ask him before Church so there wasn’t a serious discussion that happened but he sort of laughed at me and told me not to believe everything I read on the internet. Now, even if the Church allows for a belief in Polygenism (and I am not sure it does) the traditional and normal teaching seems to be in Monogenism so I am not quite sure why he would laugh and shrug it off as sort of nonsense.

Has something changed in our understanding of this? I know that Pius XII pretty much condemns Polygenism (although leaving a small window for it) but I don’t think there has been any further encyclicals or anything to counter this condemnation of Polygenism. Perhaps someone can explain to me.

I don’t understand why he would laugh and shrug it off either.

One of the “certain elements” we have to believe is monogenism.

It is in the Encyclical “Humani Generis”.

:extrahappy: :extrahappy: :extrahappy: :extrahappy: :extrahappy:

I don’t know why either. It was only a brief exchange so I don’t want to read too much into it but I plan to meet with him and discuss this and want to gather as much info as possible (I already printed out a bunch of catholic answers from apologists and some other sources) but much of the info I have seems to be from 2010 and older so I am not sure if something new has come into the scene.

Another thought…(I don’t know if it applies to your priest or not)…there are some priests who veer away from authentic Catholic teaching. They may have their minds made up and nothing you say or show them by apologists may change their mind.

Priests need our prayers!

From a Catholic Answers tract:

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).

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

Read Humani Generis. I’ve taken the liberty of isolating the parts pertaining to evolution from that great encyclical (which also has a lot to teach us about false ecumensim). You can find that online here:

The Pope Speaks on Evolution

As far as whether or not the Church allows polygenism:

“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” (37)

Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

Hi BRZ,

As noted by the previous poster, Pope Pius XII in the encylical Humani Generis states the following:

  1. 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.

The Pope’s statement reaffirms the de fide declaration of the Council of Trent that Adam’s sin is transmitted not by imitation, but by descent - by natural generation; and that all human beings inherit this condition as a result. Catholics are required to give the assent of faith to this revealed truth. That being said, does this necessarily mean that there must have been what we would call today “incestuous” relations between the offspring of our first parents?

I would agree with your priest that we are not compelled to believe this, although it may be true. This is where the discussion of monogensim and polygenism arises in connection with Pope Pius’ encyclical. It is imperative that we understand what the Pope means by “polygenism” here.

There are, in principle, two ways to view polygenism. First there is biological polygenism. That is where a common pool of hominids were interbreeding many thousands of years ago, resulting in varying degrees of genetic ancestry among modern homo sapiens. Second, there is metaphysical polygenism. It is not concerned about early the genetic ancestry of early hominids. It is concerned with human beings who have the metaphysical characteristic of the human soul.

It would certainly be heretical to claim that metaphysical polygenism is possible. That would mean that you could have two ultimate ancestors with human souls, say Adam and Eve, and I could have two completely different ultimate ancestors with human souls - say Bob and Claire. No, we must believe that we all have the same ultimate ancestor who was, metaphysically speaking, a human being with a soul.

Is Pope Pius here condemning biological polygenism or metaphysical polygenism, or both? It seems to me that he is not saying anything about biological polygenism. Whether or not there were early hominids (as opposed to human beings with a human soul) interbreeding for quite some time before Adam and Eve (the first two hominids with human souls) isn’t the issue. You will note that Pius refers to “true men” who took their origin from Adam ie. human beings with souls. He doesn’t say anything about earlier hominids without human souls. So it is metaphysical polygenism that is rejected by the Pope, not biological polygenism. A good article from Ed Feser summing up these distinctions can be found here: edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/09/modern-biology-and-original-sin-part-i.html

So what about the “incest” part? If all human beings today must have as a common ancestor Adam and Eve, it may seem like their children must have interbred… That conclusion isn’t entailed though. It is certainly possible that Adam and Eve’s children - say Cain - interbred with hominids who did not have human souls. Those children could have been instantiated with a soul at conception by God. They would have as a common ancestor our first parents, Adam and Eve, and would have inherited original sin as a result.

This is all speculative of course. It may be that Adam and Eve’s offspring only interbred with one another. But it is also possible that they didn’t. Some people would see this as bestiality and not any more preferable than incest. The point is though that your priest isn’t necessarily wrong in believing that there were no immediate interrelations between our first parent’s offspring.

I have read some similar stuff to what you are saying but I find it quite ludicrous. The idea of a human interbreeding with some kind of half human thing is very distasteful to me, much more so then incest. Also, I find it ridiculous that this could even be possible. Even if there are similarities, genetically, between some kind of half human and a human, I just can’t see how they could produce offspring. If they did, how would their offspring not also retain half human elements? I feel like this is just a means to fabricate something to get out of the idea of incest but I don’t see why this is necessary, especially since I think it is worse!

To add something else to this, this also infers the possibility that there are some kind of quasi humans that could have survived. I know some people throw around cave men but I find it far fetched.

Well, biologically it is assumed that the two would be identical species (homo sapien), yet only one would have a human soul. It wouldn’t be like a homo sapien interbreeding with some other biological species.

Also, I find it ridiculous that this could even be possible. Even if there are similarities, genetically, between some kind of half human and a human, I just can’t see how they could produce offspring.

No, both would biologically be homo sapiens, but only one would have a human soul.

If they did, how would their offspring not also retain half human elements?

They would still be biologically homo sapien, just as their immediate parents were. When it comes to the soul, God instantiates that. At your conception, you were given a soul by God. Your parents didn’t generate your soul.

I feel like this is just a means to fabricate something to get out of the idea of incest but I don’t see why this is necessary, especially since I think it is worse!

Well, my intent wasn’t to fabricate anything. You did ask for information. I’m not trying to convince you of the truth of this, as it is speculative and only a possibility. You are certainly entitled to believe that Adam and Eve’s offspring interbred solely between themselves.

I was just trying to explain why your priest may reject the notion that incest was involved.

I didn’t mean fabricate in a negative way, sorry. I do not think the idea of Homo Sapiens without souls is compatible with Catholic teaching. Surely Pope Pius thought of such when he wrote his encyclical. Also, it is clearly state that all humans come from Adam and Eve. Where did these other humans come from? If they didn’t come from Adam and Eve this contradicts that all humanity comes from them. Also, how could there be soulless humans, what if some existed today? This could certainly imply that. This seems very fringe.

No worries. :slight_smile: I’m not even sure that the first ensouled human beings were of the species Homo Sapien. I just used that as an example. Humani Generis doesn’t use the term. Metaphysically speaking, a “man” or a “human being” is a defined as a rational animal - one with a human soul. And one thing I can be absolutely certain of is that Pope Pius understood that definition, as it is the classical position of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Humanoid animals are not “men” or “human beings” without a human soul. It is logically possible that there were animals of the same biological species running around, some of which were human beings and some that were not. I don’t know of any Church teaching that forbids that view.

You do raise a good point about the possibility of such a situation existing today. Let me be clear though - there is no such thing as a soulless human being in the metaphysical sense that I’m using the term here. Human beings by definition have human souls. Today we find that all biological hominids of the species Homo Sapiens are indeed rational animals or are the progeny of rational animals. We have no reason to believe today (based upon empirical evidence) that there are hominids among us that do not have a human soul. Is it possible there could be some existing in a remote part of the world that is yet undiscovered? It is possible; however monumentally unlikely.

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