There is an old story (whether apocryphal or not, I can't be certain), which tells of a prominent atheist riding on a train. In the seats just across the aisle from him is an Orthodox rabbi and the rabbi's granddaughter who was about 17 years old. The atheist and the rabbi knew each other and had publicly debated over the existence of God. The atheist always gave the cold shoulder to the rabbi, as he detested anyone who believed in God. Both men were in their early 70s, and they did not acknowledge each other. During the long train ride, the rabbi's granddaughter made quite the fuss over her grandfather, helping him to and from the bathroom, adjusting his pillow behind his head, asking him if there's anything he needed, and asking how he was feeling. The girl left her grandfather to use the bathroom, and much to the rabbi's surprise, the atheist turned and spoke to him.
"I must admit, rabbi, that your granddaughter is a well-mannered and respectful young lady who really loves you. I'm jealous. My granddaughter is the same age as yours, and she doesn't have the time of day for me. I don't think she even cares if I'm still alive or not." The rabbi replied, "That's the real difference between someone who believes in God and someone who does not!" The atheist, looking perplexed, asked, "What do you mean by that?" The rabbi responded, "When my granddaughter looks at me, she sees someone two generations closer to the wonderful creation of the world by God. When your granddaughter looks at you, she sees someone two generations closer to the monkey." The story, true or not, has at its core a vital lesson: ideas have serious consequences, and our beliefs really do matter.
The world (in general) and Modernists (in particular) try to reduce the truth of the descent of humanity from a single pair of First Parents into a reason to mock religion, especially Christianity. I was a middle school science teacher here in New York City before going to law school. One time, one of my students asked me, point blank, if I believed in Adam and Eve. I simply said, "I do," without further elaboration. The next day, I was called into my principal's office and warned never again to mention "my personal beliefs" in class. I asked if it was OK to respond to that question in the negative. "That's not a belief, that's science." To him, denial of Adam and Eve's existence was "scientific." That's actually scientism (the belief that only science can obtain true knowledge) and not science. As I was not yet tenured, I simply said "OK" and left his office.
Upon completing my Master's Degree in science education and receiving tenure, I submitted a paper to an organization of science teachers in New York and in which I was a dues paying member. My thesis was that there is evidence in nature of a guiding force in Creation (this was before the real advent of the Intelligent Design Movement), and it contained no reference to any religious authorities, just scientific fact and philosophic argumentation. The editor of the journal refused to publish it. When I asked the reason, he would not respond in writing, but called me on the phone. He gave three reasons; (1) it would "confuse our membership" [people with Master's degrees and doctorates? Really?], (2) it's a "national issue" and we only want what's relevant in New York [the origin of life on earth isn't relevant in NY?], and (3) it's "not what we espouse" [that was the only real reason]. I offered to debate him in front of the membership; after all, he had a doctorate in biology and was in his 50s, and I only had just obtained my Master's, being in my 20s. He ended the call, and refused further communication with me. I became the first NYC science teacher to resign his membership from that organization in protest over academic censorship.
When we defend the truth of monogenism from our First Parents, we must steer a careful course between exaggerations and things not taught by the Church, and denying or minimizing essential truths of Faith. This post will set forth Church teaching on this subject, and demonstrate how scientific evidence---even when interpreted by Darwinian scientists-- does nothing to disprove our common descent from Adam and Eve.
What the Church Does and Does NOT Teach regarding Human Origin
Why do the Modernists attack Adam and Eve with such vehemence? Two words: Original Sin. All Catholic dogma must be believed, and if any one is denied, others will begin to tumble down, much like the game dominoes. If there is no Adam and Eve, there is no Original Sin. People are born good, and there is no need for a Redeemer. Christ is called "The Second Adam" precisely because he came to rescue us from the Fall caused by the First Adam. If there is no need of Redemption, Christ and His One True Church are rendered needless at best. The Sacrifice of the Cross was not redemptive, and the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not an unbloody presentation through space and time of the Bloody Sacrifice of Our Suffering Savior. It is now a "celebration of the assembly" and a mere commemoration of the Last Supper (think: Vatican II sect Novus Bogus "mass"). All of this supports the idea that one religion is as good as another, and everyone gets saved ("universalism").
Modernists hate the supernatural, and attacking the historic Adam and Eve is easy game because people ignorantly claim that science has "disproved" such an idea. The truth is also not helped by those who continue to claim that Adam ate "an apple," and other particulars for which there is no support. (Neither the Bible nor Tradition talks about Adam eating an apple). Let's examine what the Church does and does not teach on this subject.
In his encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII teaches:
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. (See para. #36 & 37; Emphasis mine).
The pope did not rule out the creation of the body through evolution and he upheld the necessity of the belief in the immediate creation of the soul by God, as well as the necessary rejection of polygenism. Most Traditionalists will be "scandalized" by the idea that the human body could have been developed over time through a process of evolution. However, Pope Pius XII and the approved theologians saw no problem.
According to theologian Tanquerey:
It is de fide that our first parents in regard to body and in regard to soul were created by God: it is certain that their souls were created immediately by God; the opinion, once common, which asserts that even man’s body was formed immediately by God has now fallen into controversy…As long as the spiritual origin of the human soul is correctly preserved, the differences of body between man and ape do not oppose the origin of the human body from animality…
The opinion which asserts that the human body has arisen from animality through the forces of evolution is not heretical, in fact in can be admitted theologically…
Thesis: The universal human race has arisen from the one first parent Adam. According to many theologians this statement is proximate to a matter of faith. (See A Manual of Dogmatic Theology, , 1:394-398; Emphasis mine).
Theologian Ott says similarly:
The soul of the first man was created immediately by God out of nothing. As regards the body, its immediate formation from inorganic stuff by God cannot be maintained with certainty. Fundamentally, the possibility exists that God breathed the spiritual soul into an organic stuff, that is, into an originally animal body…
The Encyclical Humani Generis of Pius XII (1950) lays down that the question of the origin of the human body is open to free research by natural scientists and theologians…
Against… the view of certain modern scientists, according to which the various races are derived from several separated stems (polygenism), the Church teaches that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, are the progenitors of the whole human race (monogenism). The teaching of the unity of the human race is not, indeed, a dogma, but it is a necessary pre-supposition of the dogma of Original Sin and Redemption (See Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, , pgs. 94-96; Emphasis mine).
The Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909, affirmed that Genesis teaches the following facts about creation which are to be accepted by all Catholics. The decree was promulgated by Pope St. Pius X.
"...the creation of all things which was accomplished by God at the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in a state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the divine command laid upon man to prove his obedience; the transgression of that divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent; the fall of our first parents from their primitive state of innocence; and the promise of a future Redeemer." (See Acta Apostolis Sedis, 1 [1909 Pontifical Biblical Commission], pages 567-69).
Finally, the basic gist of Church teaching in this area is set forth by the eminent theologian Van Noort:
Furthermore, even in those truths which the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium unmistakably inculcates, there is sometimes room for questioning whether all the elements of that teaching are meant to be inculcated with equal force. For example, the following doctrines have always been unmistakably proposed by the Ordinary Magisterium: that God created our first parents by forming their bodies from the slime of the Earth and from the rib of the man; that Adam sinned in tasting the forbidden fruit at the urging of the serpent; that God in punishment for mankind's sins caused a deluge over the entire Earth; that Christ will come one day as the Judge upon the clouds of Heaven, etc.
Do you think that the definitive intention of the Magisterium bears with equal force upon the mode of the bodily formation and on the very fact of creation? With equal force upon upon the external description of the sin of our first parents and upon the sin itself? With equal force upon the universality of the flood and upon the manifestation of Divine Justice? With equal force upon the circumstances of the heavenly spectacle and upon the actual return of the Judge? Even upon a priori grounds an affirmative answer would have little probability to it, seeing that the circumstances described contribute either nothing at all or very little to religion. Actually, if one checks history, he will find at least a number of the circumstances enumerated have been called into doubt by one or another of the Fathers of the Church, or by excellent theologians, without their teaching ever being considered in the slightest heretical. (See Dogmatic Theology, 3:223-224; Emphasis in original).
From the above we can know the Church teaches us as truth:
- the Creation of the world ex nihil (out of nothing) by God at the beginning of space-time
- the special creation of the First Man
- the special creation of the First Woman from the First Man
- the souls of human beings are created immediately ex nihil by God
- the entire human race descends from a single man and a single woman; our First Parents
- our First Parents were in a state of Original Justice and by disobedience brought us Original Sin
- Original Sin is passed down by being a descendant of the First Man (Adam)
- Original Sin came about at the instigation of Satan
- God promised to send a Redeemer Who is the Lord Jesus Christ
We are not required to believe that the body of the first human was prepared by a kind of evolution, but neither is the idea heretical, censured, or opposed to the One True Church and Her authoritative teachings. In the words of theologian Ott, "While the fact of the creation of man by God in the literal sense must be closely adhered to, in the question as to the mode and manner of the formation of the human body, an interpretation which diverges from the strict literal sense, is, on weighty grounds, permissible." (Ibid, pg. 95).
How Would Catholic Teaching Harmonize With Evolution of the Body?
We must first distinguish and reject Darwinian evolution ("DE"). DE assumes as its dogma that change must be unguided and without purpose. It rules out a priori the existence of God. It also excludes in principle the idea of a sudden origin of a new kind of living thing through non-living material (slime of the Earth), or through multiple simultaneous mutation, or through large-scale reorganizations of cells, or any other event that could take place only through the presence of a Designer/Creator God. God can choose to work gradually or instantaneously, it is up to Him. Romans 11:34 reminds us: "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counselor?"
Much scientific data is skewed by those who are driven by Darwinian evolution and must preserve it at all costs. Frequently, we will hear statistics such as "humans and chimpanzees share DNA that is 99% similar." This is not accurate. The 99% figure arises from using a number of restrictions on the data:
1. it ignores repetitive portions of the DNA sequence
2. it compares only sequences which can be aligned naturally with one another
3. it considers only what is called "base-pair substitutions" and ignores "indels"--(insertions/deletions)
As my posts are not about technical science, I will not go into detail explaining those three points, as it would take another whole post. However, it shows how the evidence can be slanted by those who interpret it. According to Dr. Ingo Ebersberger, et. al, in their study "Mapping Human Genetic Ancestry,"Molecular Biology and Evolution 24, 10 (2007), "For about 23% of our genome, we share no immediate genetic ancestry with our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. This encompasses genes and exons to the same extent as inter-genetic regions." This study analyzed similarities with orangutans, gorillas, and rhesus monkeys, and found cases in which human DNA aligns better with one of those primates. Depending upon how the data is interpreted, only 77% of our DNA is held in common with chimps, as opposed to 99%. Since 99% comports with the Darwinian view of evolution that we are "practically the same as apes," that's all the media will report, thus pushing the agenda of the enemies of God.
For the Protestants and members of the Vatican II sect who think the idea of a real Adam and Eve is "ridiculous," a slight majority of Protestants, and many V2 sect members, at least pay lip service to the dogmas of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. They thereby acknowledge that Christ was like us in all things but sin, which implies He was a true human male with XY chromosomes even though He had no human father. Furthermore, He rose from the dead by His own power after being dead for three days. Clearly, these are Divine interventions in the natural world by God. So why couldn't God, impose upon a hominid lacking a rational soul, by giving him one?
It is possible for Adam and Eve to have lived about 40,000 years ago, in the time of the Upper Paleolithic cultural explosion when culture "took off" and when Homo sapiens began to fashion much more sophisticated stone tools and began to practice ritual burial of the dead. Moses, who wrote Genesis, is describing an actual historical event -- the creation of the first creatures who were fully human. The fall occurred through the sin of Adam and Eve; they were the first to have fully human brains and to be animated with a rational soul.
There are those who object that this scenario is impossible because animals died prior to Adam and Eve, and it was sin that brought death into the world. Going back as far as 1847, a Protestant geologist, Edward Hitchcock, wisely saw nothing wrong with positing non-human death before Adam and Eve. He wrote:
Not only geology,but zoology and comparative anatomy, teach us that death among the inferior animals did not result from the Fall of Man, but from the original constitution given them by their Creator. One large class of animals, the carnivores, have organs expressly intended for destroying other classes for food. [Even herbivores] must have destroyed a multitude of insects, of which several species inhabit almost every species of plant, [not to mention the destruction of] millions of animalcula [microscopic organisms], which abound in many of the fluids which animals drink, and even in the air which they breathe.
In short, death could not be excluded from the world, without an entire change in the constitution and course of nature; and such a change we have no reason to suppose, from the Mosaic [Genesis] account, took place when man fell. (See Hitchcock, Elementary Geology, 8th edition , p. 299ff).
Anthropological data is so general that it cannot oppose particular facts about an Adam and Eve. Speculation based upon present data can, at best, indicate the nature and activities of early humans, pointing to largely undefined populations and imprecise time periods. It cannot address with precision the conditions of existence of a single pair of humans at a particular, distant-past time. Neither anthropology, nor genetics, nor DE can exclude, a priori, the possibility of miraculous divine intervention whose reality falls entirely outside the fossil record. God could have produced a one time miracle to change the molecular structure of a prepared body into a human nature with a rational soul.
Were Adam and Eve real? Absolutely. It can even be made to harmonize with evolution. We are all descended from our First Parents, and Christ was the Second Adam who rescued us from sin and death caused by the first Adam. I'm not claiming that Adam and Eve had to have occurred in the way I described in my post. I'm merely positing a scenario that comports with Church teaching and the view of science which many wrongly claim excludes humanity having First Parents. It will hopefully cause those who call it "unscientific" or "mythology" to rethink their position. I submit all I have written to the judgement of Holy Mother Church, if and when the papacy is restored, and will conform to Her judgments, as always.