When did humans begin to have a soul?

This reconstructed Homo erectus, if you look at photo of him, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Homo_erectus_new.JPG,
looks like a human, somewhat…, but did he have a soul? At what point in evolution were souls given?

Do you mean a “spirit”? All living things have a soul…that by which they are animated/grow. Humans are unique in that our soul is “spirit”, made in the image and likeness of God. Catholics believe that the soul of a man, which is spirit (a “spiritual soul”), is “created immeidately by God” (CCC 366) [which I understand to be at the moment of conception].

Your question presupposes that the scientific model and current understanding of “Homo erectus” is correct and that there is sufficient evidence to prove modern humans “evolved” from that. In fact, it presupposes that our current understanding of “evolution” is a correct one, and there is not much in the way of evidence to support that these days.

The short answer is: we don’t know.

We know that there were two ‘first humans’ (Adam and Eve), who were the first to have immortal souls and from whom we inherit our humanity (and the effects of the fall)…but we don’t know much more than that. We don’t have a date or a time.

Personally, I doubt that Adam and Eve would be biologically identifiable as being ‘different’ from the proto-humans that came immediately before them. Evolution is a slow, incremental process and there are rarely ‘bright lines’ that say ‘species X ends here, and species Y begins.’

My speculation – which is not a church teaching, but, I believe, compatible with it – is that pre-human animals developed down their evolutionary path until a pair of those animals were sufficiently developed and ‘ready,’ at which point God gave them immortal souls (Adam and Eve)…and their children would then have immortal souls as well. This allows for the possibility that there were many other members of the species around, biologically the same, but not yet infused with immortal souls. That would also possibly allow for interbreeding between ‘souled’ and ‘unsouled’ humans (and side-step the questions about Adam and Eve’s children committing incest with one another), with the children of at least one ‘souled’ parent also having immortal souls until they propagated throughout the species, giving birth to ‘modern man.’

My guess is that this all occurred around the time of the emergence of ‘homo sapiens,’ but it could have happened at any time in our evolutionary line, really. It may even have happened ~6,000 years ago, which is roughly when young-earth creationists say that creation occurred. I think it would be wonderfully ironic if they were partially right.

But, either way, there is no definitive teaching on this (that I’m aware of) except that there were two first humans.

How literally is the story of Adam and Eve to be taken? Is each of the elements to be taken literally:

  • 2 individuals, a man and a woman;
  • these are the first humans;
  • fruit trees;
  • these individuals understood the notion of “God” and communicated explicitly with Him
  • God “telling” them what to eat/not eat?
  • etc.

Wasn’t it about the time the Nike shoe company started business? :D. Then we not only had a soul, but a heel, some uppers, laces, etc.

When God created Adam and Eve, I think these two were created rather than born. For a rough time frame, think the Fertile Crescent around the time agriculture started. We’re looking at 10 or so millenia before Christ. A human has an immortal soul, a hominid did not. So whoever was around before Adam and Eve was not properly human. I think it hasn’t been ruled out whether there were hominids coexisting with the first human couple.

In spite of what your textbooks say there is absolutely no scientific proof that man " evolved " or that any thing else did either. As far as Catholic teaching is concerned, man was never the son of an animal, as one would normally understand this. And he became a man at the point God infused into him an intellectual soul. Check on what your Catechism says.


Actually Adam received his prior to being created. So did Eve. Actually so did you…Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" and Ephesians 2: “10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”. God knew us and had plans for us prior to us being formed!

Well the first hominid to have a soul? We don’t know. There is no evidence that
humanity began around Mesopotamia about 6,000 years ago, despite Creation-
ist propaganda.

My question would be: Does it really matter when? We know that humans have
souls, we know that humanity at some point began, we know that the very First
Humans did something to trigger the wrath of God against all humanity for quite
a while, BUT we don’t need every exact little itty bitty detail of every single thing.

There is too much evidence confirming Evolution, but it does not contradict the
Bible, because the Bible does not address the literal creation and development
of all things, and it should not be taken as such.

Do we know this [the bolded text]? I interpret that idea as being timeless and continuing in everyone’s life, rather than an historical event.

And I agree with you 2nd para quoted above.

No, I believe that SOMEHOW, the story of the Creation of Man and of the Fall are true
and historical, SOMEHOW, even though it isn’t as literal as Creationists twist it to be.

The Fall is why we are born dead spiritually from the beginning, with Original Sin, right
from the gecko we are born as sinful creatures, objects of God’s wrath, yet apparently
there was a time when this wasn’t true. This Fallen state began at some point, with-IN
Time & Space, doesn’t matter when, doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter who was in-
volved, doesn’t even matter HOW it happened, the point is: IT JUST HAPPENED.

I would drop the interpretation you’ve got there and just accept the Truth of Genesis.
It’s not all literal, but I don’t think that it is all so figurative that we can say that stor–
ies like the Fall never ever really happened a while back.

Hmmm…so that suggests God’s creation took 7 days - a measure of time which is not meaningful in this context. The rationale for, and the merits of, that belief are not clear to me.

God taking action against one set of people for the misdeeds of another also does not sit well.

Whenever Adam and Eve were created; whether by special creation, or as offspring to a proto-human animal. Humanity has a finite, if unknowable, origin.

First, science has nothing to say about souls. They can’t be studied in a lab, so they do not exist. Connecting this idea to human origins has no basis in science.


There is no support for this “proto-human” idea.

"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).”


The real question is do humans even have a soul.

Recommended video to help see where I’m coming from:

According to scientific estimations, the universe is around 13-14 billion years old, the Earth is 4.5 billion years, Adam and Eve may have very well been around 10, 15, 20 thousand years ago. I think everything there is originates from God, that includes the Big Bang. That makes me a creationist, not necessarily a young Earth creationist (which I am not). Commit yourself, give me a time frame where you think it’s probable that Adam and Eve were created. Do you absolutely rule out that they were around say, 18 000 years BC, and if so, on what ground?

Do you absolutely rule out that they were around say, 18 000 years BC, and if so, on what ground?

Modern Humans have existed since 170,000 years BC or so. I suppose Adam and Eve could have existed. But if they were the first humans on earth, that would mean their children mated, and we are all inbred.
It’s possible that’s how it was. The family tree just branched out over time. Rather unpleasant though.

Actually, it is begrudgingly accepted among moral theologians that marriage between siblings is technically possible, and therefore morally permissible under extreme circumstances.

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