The Incarnation and The Theory of Evolution


If we have physically evolved, does that mean that we are still evolving? If in 1/2 million years, the second coming has not yet occured and the human race is still evolving is it possible that our physical form could be much different than that of today? E.g. our bodies could be much smaller in relation to our brains or if we colonize Mars, those who stay there may form physical differences over much time.

Would this mean that the particular form of humans at the time of the incarnation is not important. Rather, what is important is that God became one of us to teach us at some point in evolution?

I don’t necessarily believe that life exists on other planets. (If the Church has an official teaching on the matter I embrace the teaching however I am not aware of an official teaching about this.) If belief in such life is acceptable, is the possibility that they could have a relationship with God as we do also acceptable? This concept is related to evolution in that it seems evolution may lend credence to this concept.

Please note that this thread is not a debate about evolution. I fully accept and am grateful for our creation by God and His gift of His Spirit to us. From what I understand, the theory of evolution is acceptable for Catholics (if understood properly) and I am interested in what this means in relation to the Incarnation.


You ask if man’s physical body will be changed due to evolution or life on another planet.
I don’t know if that will happen, however we have to admit that our catechism of our faith says that man was created in the image and likeness of God.

So I take this in this way, only if God changes his image, which is very unlikely since he is perfect…why would we change much? Granted we see that the first man was more hirsute( hairy) than we currently are because he needed to be warm and we have adapted by the invention of clothing and modern heating and cooling…we are still alike in most ways. We have developed our intellect perhaps more too…But modern man has become a little fatter because we don’t physically exercise as ancient man…either. We can get in a car etc to get from one place to another.
To me physical appearance is insignificant…it’s how we develop into more spiritual beings in union with God, to know, love and serve him so that one day we will be happy with him in heaven that is important. If we move away from that…because of humanism or relativism, or secularism, then we will be changed…into slaves of sin and death. Let’s pray that more people will turn towards God, rather than away.


From what I understand, our being made in the image of God is not based on physical appearance but rather God’s gift to us that we can partake in His spiritual life. As creatures we reflect this. It may also be related to our gift of intellect.


Yes, we are still evolving. Evolution follows the environment and as our environment changes so will our DNA. For example we are currently evolving a response to the fatty Western diet: Apolipoprotein A-I Milano

Would this mean that the particular form of humans at the time of the incarnation is not important.

I would say that any resemblance between ourselves and God is not physical. Does God have two arms, each with one hand containing four fingers and a thumb? Since God is immaterial, any resemblance between ourselves and God cannot be dependent on our material shape.



Is it true that Jesus genetic composition came strictly from Mary? If Mary lived in a time of noticeably different human physical composition, would Jesus not have inherited those physical traits? I think humans will always be humans and resemble humanity.

I don’t see a need for an increase in cranial capacity to a severe degree, I more see a greater use of the brain we do have.

The common concept of alien appearance is most likely a path of speculation of human evolution based on past evolution. In the history of human evolution the structure of the eye has not changed tremendously. I don’t see the “window of the soul” appearing too differently in the far flung future. Many people look into the eyes of a chimp and are reminded of humanity.

I really hope there are aliens out there. If there are and they are part of Gods plan, then they too are created in His image no matter how different from us they look.

I want to stop talking now.


Would you like to elaborate in relation to the 2nd paragraph of my OP?


I think the timing of the incarnation was relevant to a point in salvation history rather than evolutionary development of man. On the evolutionary scale I don’t believe we are any further ahead than people several thousand years before us. Nor do I believe that people will be ahead of us(barring artificial intervention)

Aside:Intervention, which would be against God’s plan and therefore a deviation from His image. Although I agree that we are less in his physical image than a spiritual one, according to how I see theistic evolution he intended/designed a physical pattern that we should not attempt to alter in obedience to Him.

(continued from P1) several thousand years from matter the phisical form we take in our lives it will be a glorified body that we take in heaven which will be one that we not only identify with, but also find similar to that of Christ’s witnessed at the transfiguration and desccribed in revelation.

Does that help to relate my views to your question?


We evolve, albiet not very much. Most organisms evolve in large bursts, falling into an equalibrium with their environment.


What if over much time (or due to some humans inhabiting another planet [e.g. Mars] for much time) humans evolve to a significantly different form? Would this mean that the particular form of humans at the time of the Incarnation (aside from God’s chosen timing) is not very important?

Note also (3rd and 4th paragraphs):


Wouldn’t you agree that the human form could change significantly over 1/2 million years? Consider 5 million years or a billion years.


No. Jesus was male and so would have had an X and a Y chromosome. Mary was female and hence would have had two X chromosomes. Jesus got his X chromosome from his mother, his Y chromosome would have come from his father.



I have already talked about the first sentence of that paragraph. I agree with you that the physical form of humans is not of any great importance. The second sentence reads:

Rather, what is important is that God became one of us to teach us at some point in evolution?

That is a theological question which I am not qualified to answer.



Evolution within a species (micro evolution) is no problem. Generally tho when evolution is spoken of today it is referring to the evolving of one species into a new and different species (macro evolution). Humans are a species, so theoretically, if evolution is true and ongoing, humans would evolve into an entirely new species! - what members of that new species would be called, who knows.

Your post is very thought provoking Coder.
It was “man” that committed the original sin. Jesus became man (human) to save man. What about those future evolvees who are no longer “man” but something else? Since I don’t believe in macro evolution I have no response, but I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of those who do believe in macro evolution.



I am aware of the Church’s warning regarding the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but his book “The Phenomenon of Man” and the sequel to it, “The Divine Milieu” deal very specifically with evolution and God’s plan for our future.


Hi neuro_nurse. Welcome to the CA forum.



Maybe not. There are plenty of organisms whose form has not changed significantly over long stretches of time.


Regardless of whether there is significant change in human form and whether we call it micro or macro evolution, I think since the people will still have evolved from us they would be in need of redemption.

I question whether the particular form of humans at the time of the incarnation is less important than God becoming one of us. Contemplating this may deepen our understanding of the true meaning of the incarnation. Also this may have implications regarding other life forms (e.g. on other planets) that could possibly have a relationship with God as we do (although I would readily embrace that God created the universe for us creatures only should such be revealed.)


I agree with this.

However, on a physical level, I also think that Adam being created in the “Image of God” is christological toward the incarnation of Christ-- who is true God and true man and would come and dwell among us.

I think the first chapters of the Genesis account concerning the appearance of Adam and Eve are “proto-evangelic”, speaking on both a spiritual and physical level as they prophesy toward the New Adam-- Christ Jesus.


Coder;3035623]Regardless of whether there is significant change in human form and whether we call it micro or macro evolution, I think since the people will still have evolved from us they would be in need of redemption.

That is the whole problem with evolution from one species into another. If we evolve to a different species, the form would no longer be “human” (our current species); they would no longer be called “people” - a term applicable to humans.

For example, Darwinian evolution says we have probably evolved from chimps. Once the crossover of species from chimp to human came about the new species (humans) could not be said to have chimpanzee form - the new species has its own form. Likewise when you speak of humans evolving into another species you can no longer refer to the new species as having “human form”. I hope this clarifies the point I was trying to make.

Also, do Christians who accept macroevolution have a position as to when (in the evolution time line) original sin occurred? Do they hold that it definitely waited until the human form/species evolved? Or do they consider that the possibility of its occuring prior to that must be held open?

Maybe those questions will sidetrack this thread and I don’t want to do that. Think I should start a new thread.



Hi Nita,

It is scientists who determine what defines a species but we are speaking of the truth of God’s creation which is not limited by scientific classifications. God has formed us humans in His image (regardless of how science classifies “our species”) and there seems to be a consensus that the “image” referred to is not (at least primarily) our physical form. I also think that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to us and the everlasting covenant of the Eucharistic are a promise to us that the relationship of the human race with God who offers His love as Father will not change.

If the human race could change physical form significantly in thousands/millions of years (regardless of what scientists “classify” us as) then this would seem to indicate that our particular form now is only important by God’s choosing as we are the clay. Maybe we can get a sense of what the excitement of the apostles was. Maybe when they saw the transfiguration and the resurrection, the subordination of physical form to God’s glory was seen and understood in a new way.

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