A Catholic Approach to the Genealogical Adam

Hi Ann and Joshua,

I’d like to respond to the questions you raised.

Regarding the number of mutations required: Ian Musgrave has argued that “no more than 238 fixed beneficial mutations is what separates us from the last common ancestor of chimps and humans,” although Professor Joe Felsenstein contends that this is a lower bound estimate. Let’s say up to 1,000, then. Of these, only a limited proportion will relate to the brain, and an even smaller proportion would have taken place at the time when our ancestors “crossed the Rubicon” and became rational. So we’re probably talking about a score of mutations at the outside that pushed our hominin ancestors’ bodies “over the edge” and into human territory. Joshua’s estimate of “perhaps just 10 or 20 coordinated mutations” therefore sounds about right. And yes, Ann, I believe, as you do, that these mutations would have been designed by God.

Ann, I fully agree with you that the human soul can only be infused at conception - whether in ancient human beings or modern ones. It’s interesting to note that Thomist philosopher Ed Feser shares this opinion. Consequently, I would reject any scenario (such as the one proposed by @AntoineSuarez) which involves God infusing a rational human soul into adult hominins. As I argued above, either their telos as children would have been to develop into a rational adult or to develop into a sub-rational creature. If we suppose the former, then no infusion of a rational soul would have been required, as they already had one. But if we suppose the latter, then such creatures possessed a form of life which was complete without rationality, just as the beasts do.

I’m still digesting your very interesting article. Re your proposal that adult members of Homo sapiens may have been endowed with a rational soul, I would like to draw your attention to Fr. Brian Harrison’s article, “Did the Human Body Evolve Naturally?”. Fr. Harrison convincingly argues that the kind of evolution envisioned by previous Popes (certainly by Pius XII) was special transformism, which granted that evolution from the first cell up to the level of hominids may have occurred in a purely naturalistic fashion, but which posited “a last-minute supernatural intervention at the moment of Adam’s conception” so as to give his embryonic body “the genetic constitution and physical features of a true human being,” making it “physically apt for - and hence requiring - a rational soul.” Fr. Harrison argues that this is the only kind of evolution that squares with Catholic doctrine. This is obviously at odds with your assumption that “the first human persons appeared within a large population of Homo sapiens,” so you’ll need to make a good case showing why you think Pius XII was mistaken on this point.

When you hypothesize that “a being’s intrinsic Telos is to give rise to rational beings,” are you talking about that being’s descendants? If you are (as you appear to be), then once again we have a case of extrinsic finality, as the goal does not relate to the perfection of that particular individual, but of some future individuals.

Of course, I can see why you wish to draw a distinction Homo erectus from a chimp, as the former has descendants which are rational beings, but as I noted above, the same would apply to the first living cell, so your argument would prove too much.

If, on the other hand, you are supposing that God might have taken a hominin (or hominins) living in the distant past, and then miraculously altered its genes before infusing a rational soul, then I’ll concede that this is theologically and philosophically more plausible. But on a philosophical level, it would still involve the death of an animal (once its original soul departs) and the beginning of a human person (once a rational soul is infused) occurring within a living body which remains the same biological individual throughout the process. To me, that sounds very fishy. But I suppose it’s just possible.

In any case, I am very glad that we agree on Option 1 being a viable scenario.

I must say this is very good news, Joshua. I hadn’t thought about it in terms of signal to noise ratios before. So it seems we are agreed on a possible scenario.

Having read C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet trilogy in my teenage years (incidentally, I think they’re much better than his Narnia chronicles), I’m comfortable with the idea of alien intelligences existing in the cosmos. The Incarnation, however, had to have been a unique event - otherwise Jesus Christ would not be one person in two natures (human and divine), but one person in multiple natures (human, Martian, Alpha Centaurian, … and divine), which is a heretical position for any Christian who accepts the Council of Chalcedon as ecumenical. By the way, I do not share Pope Francis’ view that we would be morally obliged to baptize Martians, if they requested it. In Matthew 28:19-20, Christ commands us to make disciples of all nations, not all intelligent beings. Baptism is for humans alone.

I’d now like to comment on your proposal for a Catholic Genealogical Adam. Before I go on, let me commend you for making a truly valiant effort, @swamidass.

So far, so good, except that I think it makes more sense to suppose that God only did this to all embryos conceived subsequent to 400 kya. As I stated above, however, I’m willing to allow that it’s just possible that God may have scrambled the genes of adult hominins living at that time, before infusing a soul into them.

@swamidass, you argue that unfallen people in the distant past are no more of a theological problem than intelligent life on other planets, Scripturally, one could make a very plausible defense for this view, I’m sure.

However, I have to agree with @Agauger here. Pius XII’s statement in Humani Generis that “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” entails that even in the distant past, it would still have been true that all human beings were descended from Adam. Now, I’m prepared to be a little flexible and modify Pius’s statement to “descended from Adam and his tribe,” if necessary. Adam may have been the leader of a tribe which acquiesced in his decision. At least, on that scenario, no-one who is unrelated to Adam is ever conceived in original sin, even at the dawn of humanity. But the notion of original sin spreading to groups which are unconnected to Adam, just because they happen to live after Adam’s Fall, sounds very problematic to me. What gives him the right to speak for all of them? As far as I can tell, the proposal is that Adam is the first one to personally know God. But on grounds of fairness, I think it would be more fitting if humans living back then made Adam their spokesman, by some vote or act of consent.

I’m also uneasy with the phrase, “a new type of rational soul.” On the Catholic view, human souls are immaterial: they don’t come in types of any sort - not even male and female. The kind of soul God infuses into a male embryo at conception is exactly the same as the soul He infuses into a female one. Your proposal would also mean that 15,000 years ago, Stone Age people had a different kind of soul from those who practiced agriculture.

To be fair, I should mention that Germain Grisez (1929-2018), a Catholic theologian of unimpeachable orthodoxy who played a leading role in the drafting of Humanae Vitae in 1968 has defended a scenario similar to that proposed by @AntoineSuarez. In Volume 3, Chapter 14 of his work, The Way of the Lord Jesus (1997), he writes:

…[W]hile the biological evidence indicates that humankind emerged from a very large, widely scattered, interbreeding population, theology must assume that the spiritual capacity for free choice was given initially by a special divine intervention, which completed hominization, to a group of individuals small and cohesive enough to function socially as a single body. In this way, solidarity in sin by the whole of humankind was possible at the beginning. As additional groups were hominized, they emerged into an already-given existential situation, and so shared prior to any personal act in the moral condition of humankind. In this sense, they shared “by propagation not by imitation” (DS 1513/790), even if not all humans were lineal descendants of a single couple.

Even on Grisez’s scenario, however, the Fall would have taken place at the dawn of humanity, rather than hundreds of thousands of years later. So if you’d like to modify the second part of your proposal for a Catholic genealogical Adam, Joshua, I’d push the Fall back in time. My two cents.

Well, that’s about enough for now. I’d better get some shut-eye. Cheers.

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A reply to @AGauger on the indignity of the Genealogical Adam view of things. One of the lines I have been pursuing at The Hump of the Camel is an exegetical case that the writer of Genesis was not only aware that other people existed at the time of Adam, but predicated his message on that assumption. A couple of sample posts to that effect:

To me, an evolutionary origin for mankind is very much secondary to the matter - if there is a compelling historical reason for adopting genealogical Adam, it is that the text places him in what, by all reasonable standards, is a recent period; at which time we know that human beings existed and were long-established.

So, for the sake of argument, let us suppose that the human race in Genesis 1 did not evolve at all, but was created either ex nihilo, or from other species by progressive creation still by divine fiat. Or even by some former “creation bottleneck” of a single pair as seems to have been under test on the Buggs-Venema BioLogos thread. In all those cases, Genealogical Adam would still deal with the theological issues posed by an old earth and an ancient mankind - and in my view would do so as a conclusion from the text, not an imposition upon it.

In other words, although Genealogical Adam functions to allow evolutionary human origins with a historically recent Adam as fountainhead of the mankind to which we belong, it is open to many versions of directed evolution, progressive creation and Old Earth special creation, provided that their proponents can square the necessary scientific arguments. In all scenarios, Joshua is right to remind us that “from dust” indicates the natural animality that has always been the orthodox position on our race, when balanced with the paradoxical spirtual nature with which we are also endowed. We are like the beasts and like the angels - Blaise Pascal reminded us how important it is that we remember both.

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Are we getting caught up in the weeds here?

If there were 100,000 Pre-Adam humans 6000 years ago, and then God created a special mating pair (Adam & Eve)… using very conservative migration assumptions, by 2000 BCE, all humanity would have had Adam/Eve as one of their Universal Ancestral Pairs.

For those who hold to a global flood, all the descendants of Noah’s families are already in play.

For those who hold to a regional Biblical flood, the clock starts again with Noah’s family, and by the time of the birth of Jesus, all the humans alive in the world at that time would be Noah’s descendants - - even if there were millions of humans who never experienced the regional flood, and/or were not related to Noah at the time of the flood.

The difference between the Pre-Adam humans and the Adam/Eve clan of humans would be simple: the Pre-Adam humans were not given any of God’s commandments and so were not in abrogation of God’s laws.
Adam & Eve were given at least one rule by God, and God’s morality became the dominant problem of this core clan of humans.

Through interbreeding/marriage, eventually all the humans on Earth were descended from Adam/Eve … and from a few other irrelevant mating pairs of humans from the Pre-Adam group.

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Before I respond to @vjtorley, I want to thank you, @Agauger and @Agauger for walking through this with me.

I want to affirm again that I support considering the full range of options. I understand that @Agauger and @vjtorley may still prefer a single couple sole-genetic progenitor origin. I also understand that @AntoineSuarez has a homo divinus approach that merits its own consideration too. All this diversity is a good thing.

At the same time, I am drawn to a more recent Adam (that avoids the objections you have to Kemp) for the same reasons as @jongarvey:

And he is right too, that this does not presume evolution, even though it is compatible with evolutionary science.

Of course, I’m saying there is a great deal of evidence for common descent. Others will dispute that, but at least we can take the theology of Adam out of jeopardy in that conversation. That seems like it has high value, and serves the common good for everyone.

So your objections appear to be resolved with some simple revisions. How do you feel about this model?

A Better Catholic Genealogical Adam

So, therefore, we could take all this conversation to propose a model that, it appears, satisfies all the doctrinal constraints of Catholic thought.

First (Genesis 1), God creates all humankind, male and female, in His Image, as rational beings, with rational souls, as a community. He does this by miraculously giving all our ancestors alive at a point in history (either 400 kya or 2 mya), instantly, the genetic capacity for rationality. This could take place by putting a set key mutations instantly into their genomes, or into all embryos in a generation. Consequently, in a single generation all our ancestors would become rational souls. To be clear, they are all in the Image of God, and they all have the same biological type of as Adam (e.g. Homo sapiens, or Homo genus).

Second (Genesis 2), at a later time or maybe the same time (perhaps 15 kya with the rise of agriculture, or 6 kya with the rise of written language), God creates de novo (or chooses) Adam and Eve and places them in a divine Garden. They live for a time here, but then they fall. As their offspring interbreed with others, they become ancestors of us all, transmitting original sin to all there natural (genealogical) descendants. In this way, by the time Paul writes Romans, all rational souls in the world are all just as described by Scripture: infected with original sin.

This happens quickly too, so when Scripture is given, there is no need to reference to rational souls that are not subject to original sin. Instead, Scripture only references the fallen descendants of Adam, all of us, the “true men” of Pious XII’s Humani Generis.

Adam’s descendants alone are the “true men” to which Pious XII’s statement in Humani Generis refers. For this reason, Adam is the first father of all true men. No true men of theology exist in the past that do not descend from Adam, because to be a “true man” one must be both a rational soul and subject to original sin, which comes exclusively by descent from Adam.


It seems like this does fit within Catholic theology. Do you agree?

Maybe @Agauger is becoming convinced this could work?

This statement is still staisfied. The rational souls before Adam are not “true men.”

I see what you are saying. Rather, it is original sin that is the final ingredient to be one of the men to which Pious XII is refering.

Perhaps, but that leaves us disconnecting Adam from the narrative of Genesis. Of course one could do that, but I’m trying to see if there is a way that does not need to be done. I’m pretty sure I’ve succeeded for most Protestant starting points. I’m wondering if this does the trick for Catholicism.

What do you think?

As @jongarvey eloquently puts it:

That has value to some, including me. As I’ve said though, let’s develop multiple models, and I’m curious your response to this “better catholic model”.

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I attended Jesuit High School in Sacramento, and remember clearly not finding any “one” model of Adam and Eve that passed muster with all Catholics. Same thing as I attended an evangelical Protestant church. I decided that paying close attention to how the Hebrew Bible presents itself was the only reasonable way to approach the matter. I’ve found that Genesis 1:26-27 is NOT being recounted later, in greater detail, by Genesis 2:5 and ff.'s account of Adam and Eve. They’re two very different stories, separated by tens of thousands of years. Walton and others have also elucidated versions of this “non-recapitulatory” literary interpretive model of the two chapters --which fits just fine with your proposal, @swamidass .

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I’ve been struck by the openness of (senior) Catholic discourse on these issues, within the doctrinal framework. Laudato Si’, for example, has a paragraph that allows for the biological evolution of mankind, but insists on divine direction and allows for non-evolutionary scenarios:

Human beings, even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems. Each of us has his or her own personal identity and is capable of entering into dialogue with others and with God himself. Our capacity to reason, to develop arguments, to be inventive, to interpret reality and to create art, along with other not yet discovered capacities, are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology. The sheer novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within a material universe presupposes a direct action of God and a particular call to life and to relationship on the part of a ‘Thou’ who addresses himself to another ‘thou’. The biblical accounts of creation invite us to see each human being as a subject who can never be reduced to the status of an object

That document was, of course, issued by the Pope himself, though not with the force of doctrine, of course. Whatever else this means, it represents a desire to engage with whatever evidence presents itself, and whatever theories best explain it in accordance with the faith. My instinct is that those concerned with such things in Catholicism would be keen to work on the Genealogical Adam concept with the attitude of “How far does this take us? How far can we accept it? What nuances do we need to add to current teachings?” and so on.

They have the advantage that they are already less wedded to “nature is quite sufficient, thankyou” views of creation than many Protestants.

The text from Pius XII in Humani generis you refer to has been quoted already by Ann Gauger and concludes as follows:

So, on the one hand Pope Pius XII summarizes here the teaching of the Church about original sin referring to the Council of Trent.

And on the other hand the Pope states that “it is by no means apparent” how this teaching of the Church can be reconciled with the opinion of “polygenism”, that is, the claim that:

This text does not close the door to the possibility that the teaching of the Church can be reconciled with “polygenism”. What is more, Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) noted as early as 1964: “With this text a door is in principle quite clearly opened”. As a matter of fact, after Humani generis neither a Pope nor the current Catechism of the Catholic Church has advocated that humanity is genetically or genealogically descended from a single individual.

In fact, what Humani generis, referring to the Council of Trent, declares to be the Teaching of the Church is this:

  • Before the first humans sinned, they did not need Redemption.

  • Once the first humans sinned, all humanity needs Redemption.

And this amounts to stating that:

Anyone’s sin S would have been Original sin, if S had been the first sin in human history, i.e.: if he/her had been the first sinner and S his/her first sin.

This is in my view the very thrust of the Decree Concerning Original Sin of the Council of Trent.


  1. Assuming that genealogical or genetic common descent from a single pair “Adam and Eve” is necessary for the teaching of original sin amounts to reduce the stage of original sin to sort of genetic disease, what is obviously misleading.

  2. The teaching of Jesus himself regarding the sanctity of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6, and Mark 10:6-9) entails that those “outside the garden” became Image Bearers before interbreeding with Image Bearers. Hence God made those “outside the garden” to “Sons of God” before they encountered Image Bearers, just like He made Adam to “Son of God” (Luke 3:38). I think this is what Genesis 6:1-4 tells us.

So the following conclusion seems rather inescapable:

As far as one keeps to both the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the available scientific data on Evolution the motivation of any model should not be to warrant that all Image Bearers of all times are genealogical descendants of a single couple of Image Bearers.

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Yes, it would seem wise for Joshua to admit that in order to pursue his line of thinking, he simply has to look outside of his evangelical protestant religious tradition to do so. There really is no escaping that conclusion. Something wrong with protestantism is being revealed in the YECism and anti-science views that Joshua is aiming to correct with his “Adam could possibly (though we don’t have any empirical evidence of it) have been genealogically real, if not genetically real”.

Definitely not my claim.


But isn’t the Vatican already on-board with Evolution? Why should @swamidass chain himself to Catholic concepts … which are inherently repulsive to Evangelical Protestants… in order to win the favor of Evangelical Protestants who reject Evolution?

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Which Roman Catholic concepts or, better, teachings are those?

This is the kind of stuff you are here for @gbrooks9. I doubt that most people here have much time otherwise for quasi-Christian unitarianist ideology.

The ‘inherent repulsiveness’ to Roman Catholic teachings does seem the way with many evangelical protestants. Yet Joshua couldn’t be speaking as he now is if Catholics hadn’t paved the way for him. So, how is he going to tell that to his fellow anti-Catholic (& in their YECism, anti-science) evangelical protestants so that they may develop (or as some would say ‘evolve’) as Christians and human beings?

The only protestant denominations that are consistently friendly with their local Catholic church appear to be the ones invested in the “pro-life” movement.

The only piece of specifically Catholic theology that most Protestants accept is Original Sin. Most appreciate some of the council decisions prior the Middle Ages.

When I am communicating with Catholics, I am certainly drawing on Catholic thought, and am very glad to highlight that. Because many Catholics are already fine with evolution, nonetheless, this is not nearly as important to the effort to seek peace.

There are YECs and anti-evolution advocates in Catholicism too.

Though that is not precisely characterize “what is wrong.” There is something wrong with some parts of Protestantism, just as there is something wrong with some parts of Catholicism. I’m more looking to find common ground with whom ever I am engaging to move us all forward.

So sure, I’m glad to use Catholic thought to engage with Catholics.

For better or for worse, using Pius XII statement at Bob Jones (Fundamentalist), Concordia (LCMS), Northeastern (Baptist), or TEDS (Evangelical) has very little value. When engaging them, I use their theological starting point. Starting from Catholicism there undermines the effort to find peace.

That is correct. I’m going to be a Greek to the Greeks, a Roman to the Romans, a Scientist to the Scientists, a Catholic to the Catholics, a Fundamentalist to the Fundamentalist to the Fundamentalist. To be clear, the goal here is to serve the common good by building bridges, not necessarily to bring everyone to the same point of view.

Many evangelicals (not universalists like @gbrooks9) would consider several Roman Catholic teachings as inherently repulsive. I’m not here to pick on Catholics, or anyone, so I am not going to enumerate them all. I’d suggest we leave that debate for other forums, far from here.

Of course, that is true, sort of. This is a complement though, and shows I am doing my job well when talking to you.

Communicating with Catholics is predicated on referring to Catholic thought. So yes, Catholics have paved the way for me to communicate with Catholics. However, this thought is usually unhelpful in engaging with Lutherans, Fundamentalists, and Evangelicals. Very little, it seems, transfers over in our current moment.

Seems like you wish that would be different. There would need to be better bridges between Catholicism and Protestantism for Catholic thought to matter to Protestants.

The exception to this is a “common history”. Everyone is referring to Origen, Augustine and Aquinas, with varying levels of authority attached to their ideas.

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Hi everyone,

I’d like to respond to a few comments on my last post.

The difference between the Pre-Adam humans and the Adam/Eve clan of humans would be simple: the Pre-Adam humans were not given any of God’s commandments and so were not in abrogation of God’s laws.
Adam & Eve were given at least one rule by God, and God’s morality became the dominant problem of this core clan of humans.

I’m afraid this does not tee up with Romans 5:12-15:

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

The way St. Paul sees it: human history before Christ is divided into two phases: the period before the Mosaic Law was given and the period after it was given. During the first phase, there were few commands given by God; however, one was given to Adam, and because he broke that command, sin spread through the whole human race.

But if the scenario which @gbrooks9, @jongarvey and @swamidass are defending is correct, then we have to divide human history into three phases: (i) a pre-Adamic phase (beginning anywhere from 100,000 to 2 million years ago) when human beings had rational souls, sinned but did not break any of God’s commands, as God had not revealed Himself to them; (ii) a post-Adamic phase (beginning around 6,000 to 15,000 years ago) during which humans suffered the fatal consequences of Adam’s having sinned against God’s express command, and (iii) a post-Mosaic phase (beginning around 1250 B.C.) during which the Israelites, to whom the Mosaic law was given, were punished for violating that law. I respectfully submit that this overly complicates St. Paul’s picture. And to make matters even more complicated, @AntoineSuarez hypothesizes that it may not have been the first human beings who fell, but a community of human beings living several generations later: “Adam” would then be the name of the first sinner. That makes four phases.

There’s more. St. Paul expressly states that death came into the world through Adam’s sin. If that’s the case, then prior to Adam’s sin, no human beings with rational souls should have died. And yet they did. They died in their millions. Why?

That’s not all. In Romans 1, St. Paul appears to take the view that humans are “without excuse,” even when it comes to breaking the natural law, which is written upon the human heart:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse… 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity… 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

So there we have it. On St. Paul’s view, ever since the creation of the world, people have known, simply from looking at creation. that there is a God, and they have known that there are certain things which He does not want us to do. Nevertheless, they went ahead and did these things anyway, and for that, they are without excuse: they deserve death. Nothing in the passage above suggests that St. Paul is only thinking of people to whom God has revealed Himself; on the contrary, the whole tenor of his thought is that no such revelation is necessary. God’s natural law can be known, simply through looking at His creation.

Thus the idea that only the violation of a command expressly given by God to human beings to whom God had revealed Himself would have been deserving of death is quite foreign to the thinking of St. Paul. Any sin against the natural law would have merited death.

Now consider the period from 100,000 B.C. to the dawn of civilization, which is when you situate Adam. During that time, humans were certainly murdering each other, committing adultery, engaging in unnatural acts, lying, stealing and backbiting. On St. Paul’s view, these human beings were definitely guilty of sins which deserved death, and the consequences of their sin would have affected their descendants as well, on the logic of Romans 5.

I conclude that the three-phase theory of human history before Christ does not do justice to St. Paul’s words.

I’d like to leave you with an even more difficult passage to explain away: Mark 10, where Jesus discusses divorce:

2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

In this passage, the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, on account of which the marriage of a man and a woman is said to make them “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24) is declared to have taken place “at the beginning of creation,” when God “made them male and female” (Genesis 1:26-27). Now, however liberally you interpret the phrase, “at the beginning of creation,” it surely cannot extend beyond the end of day six, when all God’s works were completed. What’s more, Jesus’ citation of Genesis 1 and 2 together shows that He envisages them as referring to the same event: the creation of man and woman.

I’ll say more on the subject in my next post. Stay tuned.


And such is the Evangelical lack of imagination in this regard:

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
'[[Death by definition must enter through one man, because it is through one man that we are all genetically human.]]

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.
[[And this is the perfect explanation for the Pre-Adam, “adams”. They were not given the law, so they are without sin.]]

14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
[[And of course, this is true as well. The presumed answer is that even without Adam’s sin, human nature will inevitably transgress, because of the limits of the human mind for self-control.]]

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
[[If Adam had not transgressed, humanity (or some part of it anyway) would still have a home in Eden with access to the tree of life.]]

You must understand that there are millions of Christians, within the Eastern Orthodox traditions, who have rejected Original Sin for centuries… and have lived bountiful and complete Christian lives.

I remember from Catholic grammar school in the 1960’s the nuns saying the the Adam and Eve story was an allegory - sort of made up story by the Hebrews to explain how we got here before there was science and historical knowledge. We were fine with that.

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Just be clear, you are raising a new set of objections. Is that because you think the first batch are settled?

This is fairly straight forward to resolve. However, I want to be sure I’m understanding that we’ve resolve all the prior objections. Is that correct?

Hi everyone,

Back again. I’d now like to address Dr. Jon Garvey’s comment:

One of the lines I have been pursuing at The Hump of the Camel is an exegetical case that the writer of Genesis was not only aware that other people existed at the time of Adam, but predicated his message on that assumption. A couple of sample posts to that effect:
Adam and Israel | The Hump of the Camel 1
Humanity beyond Adam’s line in Genesis | The Hump of the Camel

I’ve had a look at your article, Jon, and I would agree that on the assumption that Genesis 1-11 was the work of a single author, there are a number of strange anomalies in the text which make it natural to suppose that there were other human beings around at the time of Adam. However, I know of no modern Biblical scholar who believes Genesis 1-11 to be the work of a single author. It is likely that the anomalies you cite are the result of an editor weaving various creation stories together, as best he could. One does not have to believe in a JEDP-style Documentary hypothesis in order to accept that scenario.

For instance, the stories about Cain may have originally been quite independent of the Adam and Eve stories, but the editor of Genesis 1-11 decided to weave them together by inventing an artificial etymology for the name Cain, where Eve gives him that name because "“With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” (The verb used here sounds a little like “Cain.”) If that were the case, then it is hardly surprising that he left a few loose ends, in the process of integrating Genesis 4 with Genesis 1-3, like the story of Cain having founded a city. (Incidentally, there’s an alternate translation of Genesis 4:17, endorsed by a minority of modern commentators, according to which Cain’s son Enoch builds a city and names it after his son, Irad. It has been suggested that such a city could correspond with Eridu, one of the most ancient cities known, dating back to 5400 B.C.)

I might add that according to Genesis 5, Adam and Eve had “other sons and daughters.” The same goes for their descendants.

Re the Nephilim: the “sons of heaven” are described as angels in Jewish literary sources from the third century B.C. onwards, The other interpretation, that they were descendants of Seth, while the “daughters of men” were descendants of Cain, is somewhat later and dates from the second century A.D. Just saying. (Interestingly. some Jewish commentators maintained that Cain himself was one of the Nephilim.)


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I’m not an Evangelical, so I’m not sure what your point is.

People have been genetically human for hundreds of thousands of years. Are you now saying you believe Adam to have lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, as I do? If so, welcome to the club.

So murder (which has been going on since the year dot) is not a sin unless there’s a law against it?

Surely something I do which is beyond my control cannot be fairly described as a transgression?

Here’s what the Orthodox Church teaches: “Concerning the original—or ‘first’—sin, that committed by Adam and Eve, Orthodoxy believes that, while everyone bears the consequences of the first sin, the foremost of which is death, only Adam and Eve are guilty of that sin.” That’s really pretty much the Catholic position. (The Orthodox seem to think we also believe in something called inherited guilt, but that’s because they’re mistranslating what Trent decreed in Latin.) And for the record, I reject St. Augustine’s bleak pessimism about human nature and his twisted view that most of the human race (including unbaptized infants) is predestined for Hell, and that Christ did not die for all sinners.


Hi Joshua,

Just be clear, you are raising a new set of objections. Is that because you think the first batch are settled?

I’m not saying that. I’ll respond to your post very shortly.