Polygenism acceptable?

Hi,
I was reading Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis:
**
Pope Pius XII states: “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).

It seems to me that Pius XII is leaving polygenism open even though he doesn’t see how it can be reconciled with original sin. My question is why couldn’t this original bottleneck be a large group of people representing a “single Adam” and their sin lead to a “fall” and through propagation (original sin being defined at Trent) original sin being handed down from this large group of people to all generations.
Is this in union with the magisterium?

How do you go from “the faithful cannot embrace that opinion polygenism]” to “Pius XII is leaving polygenism open”?

[quote=Brown10985]For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains …that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.
[/quote]

How is does this leave anything open?

Check out the portion that Brown bolded. I think he’s saying that since Pope Pius said it isn’t apparent how an opinion can be reconciled, then maybe there is a way for it to be reconciled and the Pope just can’t see it.

Brown, I think you are reading into it waaay too deeply.

ok, maybe I shouldn’t be using the term “polygenism”. Instead I’ll use the term “monogenus group”. To my knowledge there was no document making a literal descent from a single pair binding on the faithful with the exception of *Humani Generis *from which I am very skepticle of if, the part regarding monogenism, it really was binding. Am I correct?

[quote=RichSpidizzy]Check out the portion that Brown bolded. I think he’s saying that since Pope Pius said it isn’t apparent how an opinion can be reconciled, then maybe there is a way for it to be reconciled and the Pope just can’t see it.

Brown, I think you are reading into it waaay too deeply.
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Ok, I see how one could interpret that part of it that way. What must be remembered, though, is that papal documents (in fact, any Church document) must be read and understood as a whole. If a sentence or idea is vague, we have to look at the entire context. When Pope Pius XII claimed that it was “in no way apparent” that such an idea could be reconciled, it is obvious from the surrounding paragraph that he meant that reason did not allow for the possibility, not simply that he himself couldn’t see it.

[quote=Brown10985]It seems to me that Pius XII is leaving polygenism open even though he doesn’t see how it can be reconciled with original sin. My question is why couldn’t this original bottleneck be a large group of people representing a “single Adam” and their sin lead to a “fall” and through propagation (original sin being defined at Trent) original sin being handed down from this large group of people to all generations.
Is this in union with the magisterium?
[/quote]

No, I don’t see how it can be considered open to accept a group rather than descent from a literal single pair in Adam and Eve. Even in the current Catechism it is specifically taught that humanity is one in Adam, that Adam and Eve are our first parents and that it is through propgation from them specifically that we inherit original sin.

**360 Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for “from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth”:226 …

226 Acts 17:26; cf Tobit 8:6.

**[size=3]The Scripture quoted iN CCC 360 NAB version:
Act 17: 26 He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth …

then the cross reference to Tobit:

Tobit 8:6 You made Adam and gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and** from these two the human race descended**.

[/size]**[size=3]404[/size] **How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”.293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. 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.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” - a state and not an act.

We are one in Adam, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, original sin is transmitted by propagation from them. All that seems to preclude a group of ancestors. If a single group of people being the solution was not ruled out by him, then Pope Pius XII would have easily seen the potential solution in a single group of ancestors (whether a few or thousands). The problem is that the Pope was teaching strict monogenism, one man and one woman, as the Church seems to have taught from the beginning which does conflict with the view of science that we come from a group of ancestors not a single pair.

. The Baltimore Catechism (I have the No. 2 version) says this:

Lesson 5
A. Creation
51. Who were the first man and woman?

The first man and woman were Adam and Eve, the first parents of the whole human race.

The current CCC seems to uphold this. The term first parents is used to describe Adam and Eve. It affirms that they are the parents of the whole human race. We are one in Adam, not a representative group of Adams.

Marcia

I got this from The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church (1996 edition), on Humani Generis the authors / editors Fr. Neuner and Dupuis, S.J. state:

“In the context of other errors, Pius XII treats two questions regarding the origin of the human person. Firstly, the human being’s origin through evolution from other living beings: while formerly evolution was rejected as irreconcilable with the biblical account of creation (which was interpreted in too literal a sense), and as implying a materialistic conception of the human being, the question is now left open to scholarly investigation, provided that the creation of the soul by God is maintained. Secondly, monogenism or polygenism, i.e. the question whether the human race must be conceived as descending from a single couple or can be considered to originate from several couples: polygenism is rejected because ‘it does not appear’ [or ‘it is not at all apparent’] to be reconcilable with the doctrine of original sin inherited by all from Adam. Recent theology, however, is seeking explanations of original sin under the supposition of polygenism, and so tries to remove the reason for its rejection.” (J. Neuner, J. Dupuis, The Christian Faith [1996], page 169, emphasis added)

Maybe they are way out of line… :confused:

What does Carl Olson have to say about this volume:

“Adding to its already significant value are the excellent introductions to both the topics and the specific texts. These supply insights into the historical, ecclesial, and theological background of each text.”

Phil P

If original sin is a “sin actually committed by an individual Adam… which through generation is passed onto all, and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37) then it really is hard to reconcile with polygenism. For we view original sin as being the result of a real sin committed by a pair of real original ancestors–Adam and Eve. If Adam and Eve are more than one pair of human beings, the theology of original sin would need considerable reworking.

There could have been tons of Homo sapiens running around the earth, but Adam was the first human imbued with a soul. Cain went off to those other non-ensouled humans and bred. Hence we have polygenism physically, but a single spiritual root we sprang from.

[quote=MichaelTDoyle]There could have been tons of Homo sapiens running around the earth, but Adam was the first human imbued with a soul. Cain went off to those other non-ensouled humans and bred. Hence we have polygenism physically, but a single spiritual root we sprang from.
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It’s possible. By theological definition, if Adam (and Eve) were the first homo sapiens with a soul, they were by definition the first (and only) human beings at the time. For original sin to be transmitted through generation, all subsequent human beings must have been descended from them.

[quote=PhilVaz]I got this from The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church (1996 edition), on Humani Generis the authors / editors Fr. Neuner and Dupuis, S.J. state:

“…
Recent theology, however, is seeking explanations of original sin under the supposition of polygenism, and so tries to remove the reason for its rejection.” (J. Neuner, J. Dupuis, The Christian Faith [1996], page 169, emphasis added)

Maybe they are way out of line… :confused:

[/quote]

Hi Phil,

To me it seems absolutely clear that strict monogenism was taught and taught authoritatively, and even now is still taught in the Catechism. It is attached to original sin, the unity of mankind in one man Adam being a necessity for that, and also attached to the sacrament of marriage.

Pages listing dogma according to Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma list it this way:
The whole human race stems from one single human pair. (Sent. certa.)

Sent certa being on level with that 1) individual souls are created by God out of nothing, 2) Adam received sanctifying grace not just for himself but all of humanity, 3) that everyone has a guardian angel, 4) that the hypostatic union was never interrupted, 5) Christ is the supreme prophet promised in the old covenant and our absolute teacher. 6) Christ merited all supernatural graces received by fallen mankind 7) Mary as channel of all graces, 8) Mary is entitled to hyperdulia and so on …

If the Church changes perspective on that in favor of polygenism, then I can’t see any reason to trust that they can teach with unwaivering authority on anything else. (Esp. things like the prohibition on contraception.) It would seem when push comes to shove anything can be changed and then just say that they really didn’t mean it in the past and it wasn’t dogma afterall … when it clearly, clearly had been taught as if it were truth, doctrinal and binding on the faithful.

On the other hand, if I believe the Church does teach monogenism and that they have the authority to teach correctly and without error then I have to think science is wrong on the subject somehow. So I just can’t win. :banghead:

I’ll either be an ultra trad or an ultra lib by the time I get this sorted out.

Thanks for jumping in though. The quote just seems like the start of glossing over the problem. Makes me think this is a similiar process to what has probably been done with issues like usary, slavery and geocentrism…

[quote=MichaelTDoyle]There could have been tons of Homo sapiens running around the earth, but Adam was the first human imbued with a soul. Cain went off to those other non-ensouled humans and bred. Hence we have polygenism physically, but a single spiritual root we sprang from.
[/quote]

Yes, though this brings up many ethical problems. Homo sapiens have the ability to reason. Those with the ability to reason have the gift of an immaterial soul. Would those with souls be living with those without souls? Would those without souls not have the ability to reason? Would those with souls be essentially sexually raping those without souls? How long did it take for the population without souls to die off? Up until the flood?

[quote=Brown10985]Yes, though this brings up many ethical problems. Homo sapiens have the ability to reason. Those with the ability to reason have the gift of an immaterial soul. Would those with souls be living with those without souls? Would those without souls not have the ability to reason? Would those with souls be essentially sexually raping those without souls? How long did it take for the population without souls to die off? Up until the flood?
[/quote]

Valid questions to an interesting theory. The theory is plausible though. Take for example, the Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthals. These were two distinct humanoid species. Strictly speaking, the Neanderthals were not human. It’s quite possible that Adam may have been the first biological human to reason, due to the infusion of his soul, while the other biological humans were possessed only by material souls. Hmmmm…point to ponder.

In any case, since the Church has pronounced it, we believe that we descended only from one pair of human beings, and of that there is no question. Someday, we may find a way to reconcile monogenism with the obvious existence of pre-historic humanoids. But like it or not, monogenism is a fact.

The truth is out there…

THE CREDO OF PAUL VI

Here is an interesting essay from EWTN (I think) regarding monogenism not being binding. Comments please.

Anthropologically, *homo sapiens * goes back to what?–around 60,000 BC. But the neolithic periiod of civilizations only began around 7,000 BC, and recorded history only goes back to about 3,000 BC. I’m no anthropologist, so correct me if I’m wrong.

Although we call all these populations homo sapiens, we cannot of course determine which of them may have had an immortal soul. That would have required a direct intervention of God in any case.

I’m thinking that not all homo sapiens may fit the description of what theology (and philosophy) calls human beings. Although I would consider evidence of recorded history as evidence of humanity.

[quote=Brown10985]THE CREDO OF PAUL VI

Here is an interesting essay from EWTN (I think) regarding monogenism not being binding. Comments please.
[/quote]

They have seen the conflict and are caving. That is my comment.

There is a conflict with teaching on Adam and Eve as first parents and original sin and science. They are looking at how to change the teaching to fit the science. The only question left is if this is the official people who count or not and if these ideas will become integrated as acceptable alternatives to traditional beliefs.

If Adam and Eve as first and only parents of humanity wasn’t explicitly taught and wasn’t binding, then I don’t believe anything less than dogma - perhaps not even dogma, can be unchanging and binding on my conscience.

If the Church skips over its own doctrines why should I kill myself trying to integrate them as my belief uprooting things I had always believed? I can believe what I want and eventually the Church will change and catch up with the real world. Maybe not in my lifetime but I can feel sure they will change the unchanging tenants of faith to meet modern man’s needs and expectations while saying that doctrine can’t change.

And yet here is a paper arguing that monogenism has been infallibly defined: rtforum.org/lt/lt73.html
But Rahner, in the second volume of his Theological Investigations concludes that monogenism is currently the official teaching of the Church; though he leaves a little ‘wiggle room’ for the possibility of polygenism some day being an acceptable orthodox position.

Adam

Well, since the flood killed off everyone but Noah and his family anyway, then why don’t we just start the argument there?

God’s counting problems continued:

Genesis 6:
19 Of all other living creatures you shall bring two into the ark, one male and one female, that you may keep them alive with you. 20 Of all kinds of birds, of all kinds of beasts, and of all kinds of creeping things, two of each shall come into the ark with you, to stay alive.
And Genesis 7:
2 Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate;
3 likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs, a male and a female, and of all the unclean birds, one pair, a male and a female. Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth.

Another literal account?

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