What is YOUR current belief on Adam and Eve...& evolution?


What is YOUR current belief on Adam and Eve…& evolution? Of course, as long as it remains within Church teaching.

I don’t want to put it this way, but what, really, are the limitations for believing in evolution+Adam & Eve? I guess here are some…

**Adam and Eve, due to the Church’s teaching, were real people. (Does that mean their names really were “Adam” and “Eve”?)

**Due to the sin of our first parents - which must be Adam and Eve (right?) - their descendants “inherit” the effects of this one sin.

Of course there are many more “limitations”. What are they when trying to reconcile evolution & Adam and Eve?

I think the hardest part is creating a harmony of belief between the “family trees” mentioned in the Bible and the dates of our first parents - 150-200 years ago?

**Does the Church have a good document I can read about this?:confused: I find it hard to put evolution and the Adam and Eve thing in accord with each other.

So how do you believe it? I know there have been many evolution/Adam & Eve threads…but this is not a debate.:thumbsup: I just want to see different views. And, hopefully, I will end up with more faith in this area…thanks for the help!**


seeks << What is YOUR current belief on Adam and Eve…& evolution? Of course, as long as it remains within Church teaching >>

What is hardest to reconcile is the notion of “biological monogenism” (i.e. Adam and Eve were the only two people on earth) with science. Some Catholics maintain that is what Pius XII meant (the polygenism vs. monogenism topic). However, it is easier to reconcile “biological polygenism” (there was a population of people on their way to becoming fully human), with spiritual or theological monogenism (there was one couple God chose to give souls), and science. I.E. God chose one couple among the population of hominids and “ensouled” them. That’s my position today.

There was always a population of whatever hominid (Australopithecines, Homo erectus, homo sapiens, neandertals, etc) you want to talk about; there was never “just two people” on earth (if there were, that species was going extinct).

Other Catholic theologians/scientists would not try to reconcile a literal, historical Adam/Eve but would suggest that the human soul, along with our brain, mind, consciousness, and intelligence, evolved along with the physical human body. This is the view that John Haught takes in Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution. I quote Haught:

“Perhaps, then, Darwinian science compels us now to reconsider what we mean by the ‘soul.’ … But even in a scientific age it is not too speculative to attribute an interior aspect to each living being. Maybe all living organisms have an aspect of ‘subjectivity’ hidden from scientific objectification. In each of us this interiority would be associated with a distinctively human soul. But other living beings may possess a hidden ‘subjectivity’ – widely varying in the degree of experiential awareness – where they are intimately touched by and participate in the divine Spirit whom we may refer to as Life-Itself. Once we allow for this broader understanding of soul, we may interpret evolution as the momentous story of soul-emergence. Evolution is the adventure of life gradually becoming more conscious, centered, free and capable of love – but also capable of great evil. This understanding allows us to move beyond the artifice of thinking that God abruptly ‘injects’ prefabricated ‘souls’ into our species or into our bodies at certain artificially defined points in evolution or embryogenesis. Instead we may understand the Spirit of God as present in all of life, animating each species in a manner proportionate to its characteristic mode of organic or informational complexity. The emergence of the human soul, then, would not be a glaring exception to this animating process, but instead a most intense exemplification of a general aspect of creation and evolution.” (Haught, Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution [Paulist Press, 2001], question 19, page 27-28)

I equated this with a kind of “pantheistic” belief (that God is all, or is “in everything”) in my “theistic evolution” vs. “six-day creation” article but I’m sure Haught doesn’t mean that. These professional theologians are kind of hard to understand (to me at least). I contrast Haught with the Catechism on Adam/Eve and original sin:

Haught: Original sin is not a specific act committed by a literal historical couple Adam/Eve, but refers to our general state of present human estrangement from God, from each other, and from the world. We have not inherited anything from a literal Adam/Eve, but rather have inherited environments, cultures, habits, and a whole history filled with evil and opposition to life.

Catechism: By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called “original sin.” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the domination of death; and inclined to sin (This inclination is called “concupiscence.”) “We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, ‘by propagation, not by imitation’ and that it is…‘proper to each’” [citing Pope Paul VI, CPG 16].

The Catechism itself is quite clear I think supporting the traditional dogma on Adam/Eve and the Fall (especially paragraphs 355ff or the summary 416-419). It does allow for “figurative” or “symbolical” language in Genesis 1-3, but refers to “our first parents” as “Adam and Eve” several times, and to the Fall as something historically that happened to us by the “original sin” of that couple, doing something in disobedience to God’s command. The details are not spelled out in the Catechism.

Were they named literally “Adam and Eve”? Probably not. Was there literally a “talking snake” or “serpent” ? Probably not. Was the original sin literally eating a fruit from a forbidden tree? Probably not. Was the “Garden of Eden” literally on earth? If so, where? Is there an “angel” (cherubim) and a “flaming sword” still guarding the entrance to the “Tree of Life” ? We don’t know. Probably figurative language. Did Adam literally “name” all the millions of species of animals and plants? Probably not, not enough time. :stuck_out_tongue: Was Eve taken literally from Adam’s “rib” or “side” ? Probably not. But that’s what Genesis 1-3 taken literally says. Genesis 4 literally places the story of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel within about 3000-4000 B.C. at the earliest. Why? Because of clear references to animal/plant domestication, farming, iron/metal tools, sophisticated musical instruments, and cities, stuff that didn’t exist before 10,000 B.C. when “cavemen” were still using stone tools/weapons.

Others suggest (Adam, Eve, and the Hominid Fossil Record) Adam/Eve should be placed around 40,000-50,000 BC, and the writer of Genesis was interpreting the events of his own time. Glenn Morton has a book (Adam, Apes, and Anthropology) that places a literal Adam/Eve as Australopithecines (about 1-2 million years ago) because that’s when we started cultural/anthropological evidence of our “soul” (first language, first spiritual awareness, etc). The recent book by Giberson (Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution) takes a more complete “myth” view of Genesis. Kenneth R. Miller (biologist, author of Finding Darwin’s God and recently Only A Theory) takes the same “myth” view. They don’t worry about trying to reconcile a literal Adam/Eve with science. Also Michael Dowd (Thank God for Evolution) also takes the “myth” view I believe (although I’ve only skimmed his book in the store). It is probably the dominant view of professional Catholic philosophers/theologians/scientists. They do seem to ignore the Catechism at this point.

EDIT: forgot to mention philosopher Bonnette’s book Origin of the Human Species. He covers traditional Catholic dogma on Adam/Eve and science, explains the theological difficulties, and defends a literal understanding with an old earth and evolution.

Much of the traditional dogma on Adam/Eve, I’ll admit, is hard to reconcile with science (and science itself would not have anything to say on the miracles or theological propositions). But if you read further from John Paul II or Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger in the 1980s and 1990s), you’ll see they generally have no problems with modern science or the “myth” interpretation and tend not to interpret the Adam/Eve story literally. See for example, JPII “Theology of the Body” on Genesis.

That about sums up the whole Adam/Eve debate. Sorry to be exhaustive but I think about this topic a lot. :thumbsup:

Phil P


Macroevolution: One of the most imaginative stories or greatest lies (in the last few hundred years) ever pulled on mankind.

(because so few can differentiate science from non-science)


To Catholic1seeks: Not sure what you meant by our 1st parents being just 150-200 yrs ago? Just one of the early believers lived to nearly 1000 yrs. Plus, we know Christ was born about 2005-2008 yrs ago. Maybe, you could explain this further.


seeks << I think the hardest part is creating a harmony of belief between the “family trees” mentioned in the Bible and the dates of our first parents - 150-200 years ago? >>

I interpreted this as meaning: the hardest part is trying to harmonize the Genesis geneologies (the family trees of Gen 10-11, also mentioned by the Gospels) with the dates of the first homo sapiens which date back 150K to 200K years ago. I think he left out a K for 1000. Am I right?

Phil P



So do you think we have a while to go before we can have a clearer understanding?


Personally, I lean towards the views of JPII/B16 insofar as I understand them: An evolutionary development of the body, culminating in the first ‘true’ humans. There was an understanding of God and their/our relationship to God, a drastically poor choice, and a resulting fallen state. Biological polygenism and theological monogenism, as PhilVaz says.

I can see a lot of different ways to view it, with some possibilities again outlined by PhilVaz. I entertain various thoughts, and will until the Church sees fit to rule some things in or out if they so choose. It’s less of a concern for me nowadays, as the relevant parts of Genesis were extraordinarily brief, and the Church teaching on the subjective has been anything but exhaustive. The ‘conflicts’ strike me as minimal, and usually proxy fights for other disputes (sola scriptora v tradition, evolution v darwinism, etc.)


<< Thanks!! So do you think we have a while to go before we can have a clearer understanding? >>

Oh I imagine there are some good explanations in books I am not aware of. People don’t understand that evolution wasn’t a problem for even leading evangelicals and fundamentalists shortly after the time of Darwin. It was only later fundamentalists of the 1920s or so (Seventh-day Adventists like George McCready Price, for example) who had theological problems. For example, the book by Livingstone Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter Between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought covers the late 19th century, and some early 20th century Protestant theologians. And more comprehensive that covers the period 1870-1900 The Post-Darwinian Controversies by James Moore (just ordered this for $25 used!, new it is $63).

Also Cardinal Newman wrote in 1868: “The theory of Darwin, true or not, is not necessarily atheistic; on the contrary, it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of divine providence and skill.” (from Fr. George V. Coyne’s talk on evolution, former Vatican astronomer)

There are also other theologians/scientists I need to read more closely, a couple of these I have: Keith Ward (God, Chance, and Necessity, AND The Big Questions in Science and Religion), also John Polkinghorne (Belief in God in an Age of Science, AND Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion, AND Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity), also Stanley Jaki (Genesis 1 Through the Ages, AND Bible and Science, AND Limits of a Limitless Science). They all have great books on science and religion, and some cover biology and evolution.

Now what did you mean by 100-150 years ago? You mean to add 100-150K years ago, right? 100,000 to 150,000 years ago for the first home sapiens? :confused: :thumbsup:

Phil P


Thanks again…
…and SORRY…OOPS! I MEANT 100,000 - 150,000!!:blush:


Just to share- a priest once told me that everything before Abraham in Genesis is myth. Yep, that includes Adam, Eve, Cain Abel and Noah. Don’t take my word for it though (opinion of ONE priest, after all)


The Toledoths of Genesis

             For those biblical scholars who have had the unfortunate experience                  of having the JEPD theory of the Documentary Hypothesis jammed                  down their throats the past forty years in Catholic biblical scholarship,                  and as long since the time of Julius Wellhausen in the late 1800s,                  this will be a real treat. This article will show what an absolute                  sham Catholic biblical scholarship has been since the 1960s; how                  innocent Catholics have been deceived by these pseudo-scholars;                  and why Catholic students all over the world have lost the faith.                  After you read this article, if you own Raymond Brown's "New Jerome                  Biblical Commentary," it may come in handy this winter when you                  need kindling for the fireplace. I hear that liberal biblical                  scholarship burns especially well. I can just hear those pages                  crackling now!

…For those who are not biblical scholars, “JEPD” refers to the theory of modern liberal scholars positing that the the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) were not written or complied by Moses (as the Bible claims) but by a series of unknown authors separated by many hundreds of years. For example, the Documentary Hypothesis claims that Genesis 2 was written long before Genesis 1, the latter being written between 587-517 BC just before the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon. In the scheme of the J-E-P-D hypothesis, Genesis 1 was a “P” (Priestly) document. Why? Because, we are told, the Jews needed a refresher course on their divine heritage and there was no better place to start than with a wonderful creation story in order to get everyone excited about their return trip to Jerusalem. In other words, the “priest” or his trusty scribe who wrote Genesis 1 was basically making up a fairy tale for the delight of those returning captives.




The purpose of this essay is to defend a doctrinal thesis which is quite simple, very clear, very classical, but now very unpopular — not to say outrightly scorned and derided. I will argue that the formation by God of the first woman, Eve, from the side of the sleeping, adult Adam had, by the year 1880, been proposed infallibly by the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church as literally and historically true; so that this must forever remain a doctrine to be held definitively (at least) by all the faithful. I would express the thesis in Latin as follows:
Definitive tenendum est mulierem primam vere et historice formatam esse a Deo e latere primi viri dormientis.



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