Catholics, Orthodox and Adam's De Novo Creation?

Hello Ann. As a Catholic, I would like to know how the Church can allow the human evolution of Adam, when Genesis 2:7 states that Adam was created from inanimate matter. Got any clues?

Now you are cherry picking, @Edgar.

Cain is a great civilizer… founding a city for hunter/gatherers.


This is one of the longest threads I’ve come across. I’m with former Catholic @Patrick on this. It’s nice not having to try to fit “Adam” in somewhere. I remember those days. Drove me absolutely crazy.

Also, Ratzinger was on a council of German bishops that was fine with putting Genesis 1-11 within the genre of myth. Jimmy Akin points this out.

Anyways, @vjtorley,

Gregory of Nyssa offered the possibility that the soul is enfused into each new human being from its parent. How do you feel about this?

Also, it seems too difficult for me at this point to square the dogmatic teaching that Christ had a divinized soul with Christian non-reductive physicalism. Also, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor,as if speaking to William Hasker, speak specifically against the soul being produced by the body. I find this attractive, but my theology seems to rule it out.

Do you think the idea of the soul being enfused from the parents (after an inital ensouling from God in hominid evolution) is plausible? The direct creation model seems odd to me. I believe in miracles but this would require a miracle EVERY SINGLE TIME someone is born. This seems to go against our experience of miracles being rare. I’m Eastern Orthodox btw, that’s why I’m quoting Maximus and Gregory.



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I agree with you there, but some people do need Adam for their faith, I don’t know why, even most Orthodox Jews don’t find it necessary for Adam to be a real person, and one would think that Genesis would be more important to them than it is to us. But what @swamidass here is doing is great for those who absolutely need Adam and the Original Sin.

Although, “Original Sin” is possible even without Adam, just, in different context. And without the ‘original’ part.

And ‘sin’ part.

Cain is described as an agriculturalist because the writers of that time and place only knew what the saw around them. They were ignorant of the long human history of hunter/gatherers. From archaeology, we know that larger and larger settlements are the result of agriculture and animal domestication beginning 12,000 years ago. Humans were hunter/gathers for millions of years prior to the advent of agriculture.

It is an abomination to continuing to propagate the Adam and Eve and Original Sin myths to today’s children. It really is a form of psychological child abuse. All children today have a human right to a modern secular education that includes modern science and no mythology taught as fact. Keep science and religion separate especially for children.

@ Edgar
As a Catholic, I would like to know how the Church can allow the human evolution of Adam, when Genesis 2:7 states that Adam was created from inanimate matter. Got any clues?

Are you Catholic? The answer is that there is no public declaration on evolution. The freedom turns on how the church say Scripture should be read. And on the desire not to get into conflict with science. Some people say you read adam and eve allegorically. They say that the Bible is meant to teach certain lessons but not how men and women were made. This is an interesting point of view, but I don’t think it is substantiated. The story of genesis two and three is well-crafted, full of physical detail, And is essential to Jewish and Christian theology, which is not often mentioned. Who we are as persons is just about foundational. Genesis teaches that we are made in the image of God. That’s a very high calling. We are not simply evolved apes. Two obviously different worldviews.


@Agauger and @Edgar
Do you think God has nostrils? Does He have a body about the size of ours to walk around with us? Does God routinely go gardening? Do snakes usually talk? Are the names of human beings usually archetypal, like human and life? Do people usually become immortal by eating fruit from a tree? When a couple has a baby, do you think they would ever decide to name their baby Futility (Abel)?

Is there anything in the archeological record that supports extensive phenotypic change in snakes after the arrival the genus homo? If we searched hard enough in the right place, do you think we could eventually find a flaming sword with some cherubim? And maybe if an Indiana Jones-type character got past the cherubim, could he gain access to the tree of life and become the first immortal human (other than Christ)?

I think the answer to all these questions is clearly no. And yet all these descriptions are in Genesis 2-3. So why should the description of the making of Adam be taken literally if none of these descriptions should be taken literally?

I can certainly understand why people would insist on an historical Adam, but it’s very difficult for me to understand why Adam’s “special creation” is insisted upon. The text seems to be swimming in types and figures, allegory, etc. Given the compelling evidence we have for common descent (as your colleagues Michael Behe and Michael Denton argue), and the abundance of non-literal clues in the Genesis text itself, why not allow for common descent?

Follow your wonderful previous pope Benedict on this! :grin:

By the way, I am much more sympathetic to ID than most people on here. I really like Denton and Sternberg, and agree with Robin Collins that it could be a METAscientific hypothesis.


Mark, hello. When you are say you are an Orthodox seminarian, is that meant to be orthodox with a capital O or with a small o?

Your set of questions about events in Genesis 2 and 3 lead me to believe that you think I may support the idea that Genesis should be taken literally. The truth is not simple and there is no simple means to read Genesis. My concern for a literal first pair is because he nature of human beings, human life is central to the gospel message and the message of the old testament. Who we are, where we came from, how we came to be here, is what is essential. And whether the snake is real or figurative or had a form of a snake is not essential. The idea is that that is essential is that we sin and lost our state of original innocence before God. As for the names of the children being metaphorical, this was not an uncommon practice as recent as the Puritans. My ancestor elder Brewster named his last two children love and wrestling. The names obviously reflected what he was going throughRather than the children. Please don’t assume that you understand my position based on the one thing you know. I am not simple minded. I am not naïve. I do stress however our understanding of ourselves from how we interpret genesis is most important.


Hi @Agauger,

I don’t disagree with anything in your last post except an insistence in a literal first pair. But maybe that’s your entire point. I too believe in an original fall from innocence, though my current thinking is more in line with C.S. Lewis’s description of the fall in The Problem of Pain with some significant modifications. And your point about naming children is something I have not heard before! Is there any example of a name with such a negative connotation being given to a most-likely historical person in the rest of the OT? @jack.collins or @deuteroKJ, or any other OT scholar on here know?

Your answer leaves me confused. It seems like you were implying before that you believed that Adam was specially created not using any sort of previous form (like an ape/hominid). Are you agnostic about this or is this something you would deny?

Eastern Orthodox indeed. Say hello to John Mark Reynolds! :slight_smile: I emailed him over a year ago about teaching at the new high school he’s part of in Texas. I really wish there were more Orthodox scholars familiar with natural theology and analytic philosophy like him.

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There are a few: Ichabod is one: “The glory has departed.”

Isaiah had Shear-Jashub (“a remnant shall return”) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (“Swift to the booty, speedy to the prey”).


Theologically I favor special creation of Adam and Eve (but don’t ask me about the rib!).
Scientifically there is the sequence similarity. IDK.


I’m liking the catholic (small c) influence of the Discovery Institute. Jay Richards is now Catholic, etc.

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I’m sure a place like St Vladimir’s seminary would love a lecture from Sternberg on evolution by narural law and NeoPlatonism. He should friend up with Fr Chad Hatfield.

On a completely unrelated note, @swamidass I can’t remember where but I saw you say that Denton’s accomplishments were meager. This isn’t true. Listen to the intro to this podcast (1:30-2:30) on his CV. He’s made some far-reaching contributions in medical science and his articles have appeared in a well-respected peer-reviewed journals.

I’m not listening to a podcast. Show us his CV?

I don’t remember saying that about Denton either.

@swamidass I don’t know about the title of this thread. It seems to suggest that @Agauger’s stance on the creation of Adam is the one endorsed by the Catholic Church.

The only thing Catholic (in the sense that it is a view that is officially held by the Catholic Church) professed by @Agauger in this thread is

Everything else is @Agauger’s personal belief, which while might still be consistent to Catholic teaching, is not representative of Catholics.

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I added a question mark. Good clarification.

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“Dr. Denton’s research topic as a PhD student and post doctoral fellow at Kings College in the 1970s was the differentiation of the red blood cell, and his main research focus since the early 1980s has been on identifying genes responsible for inherited retinal disease in humans. Because certain categories of disease genes (e.g. recessive genes) can be more easily identified by studying large consanguineous pedigrees, he has spent several months each year for nearly two decades working and living in India and Pakistan where large inbred populations, ideal for gene mapping, are relatively common. His retinal research led to the identification of several new retinal disease genes including the gene used in the first successful gene therapy trial at Moorfields eye hospital in London in 2009.”


Denton has been published in “journals such as Nature, Biochemical Journal, Nature Genetics, BioSystems, Human Genetics, Clinical Genetics, the Journal of Theoretical Biology, and Biology and Philosophy.”


This is not a CV. Denton’s publication list appears here:

Only three articles in PubMed. One is a review. One is not an ID related publication. The one paper that is actually science, he is a middle author. Looking on Google Scholar, we see more publications pre-2000, including many middle authorship (not last or first) that confirm his narrative. So, is this a strong publication record?

Objectively speaking, this is an uncommonly poor record by the standards of my field. Most my graduate students (except those that just joined) have been more productive and more cited than him.

This is not picking on him because he is ID associated. Contrast him wiht James Tour, who has 605 papers published in just the last 10 years: That is an uncommonly good record.

Or contrast him with this professor at WUSTL who has not even been granted tenure yet (and it was in question):

This isn’t to be rude, but Denton is not in the same league, not even close.

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