Classical Theism: Thinking about Adam & Eve w/ Dr. Swamidass - Classical Theism

The conversation with Catholics is going to be interesting.



Haven’t had time to listen to the whole episode itself, but reading his Aftershow Thoughts, he oddly endorses the Kemp proposal but not necessarily GAE. As far as I know, the main difference between Kemp and GAE as presented in the book is regarding the status of people outside the Garden right? I always thought Kemp was an example of a model within the GAE framework.

1 Like

Kemp is an example of the GAE, but the GAE is a broader range than what Kemp’s model puts forward.

The issue for Catholics is whether or not rational souls outside the Garden are compatible with doctrine. Some extended dialogue behind the scenes leaves my certain this isn’t a settled question in Catholicism. It’s an open question.

The host is a Catholic and wants to explore the question, so Kemp is a safe haven. Kemp makes a distinction between philosophical humans and theological humans, but then goes in to consider them co-extensive, thereby side stepping the question.

He meant, however, to leave the door open for someone like me to take forward the idea of rational souls outside the garden. That’s the question I’m hoping we can take forward with Catholics in the coming months.

We are looking for the right venue. Perhaps First Things? @dga471 with your Thomistic connections, perhaps you or your network has an idea on how to encourage dialogue here?

1 Like

I would claim that for (most) Catholics, this question has been settled with the affirmative. This is because Catholics are open to the idea of extraterrestrials, who are non-human rational souls (as evidenced by statements by Pope Francis, and many other clergies of the Church). These non-human rational souls will not be biologically connected to Adam+Eve, and so I don’t see why they cannot exist before the fall.


That seems to be a logical conclusion, yet it doesn’t yet seem to have been worked out yet. That makes this interesting too, as we might see it worked out now, and our contributions might matter.

I think there’s a difference with people outside the Garden, since ETs would be in a completely different “world”, cut off from any contact with humans on Earth and never interbreeding with them. People would also expect a different Incarnation to happen there so as to give them access to salvation.

1 Like

I agree, there is a question of whether there are “people” (humans) that are rational outside of the garden. But for those who believes in rational extra-terrestrials, the question of whether there are rational souls outside of the garden (not necessarily human), has been answered in the affirmative. At least this is what I would think.

To this there is no consensus. For example, Aquinas thought that there is only one incarnation.


Hi dga471,

Dr. Swamidass correctly notes that I endorse Kemp as a safe haven. If one wants to consider Kemp’s proposal part of a broader GAE, that’s fine with me.

The issue is that Humani Generis seems to note that all “true men” descend from Adam. Also the Catholic encyclopedia from 1911 cites theologians of the time who think men coexisting with Adam is a “heretical” position. However, I cannot find those original sources so I don’t know the reasons they say that. Also, I don’t think it can be derived from Trent. So I’m curious what the theological reasons are for thinking that other humans not descended from Adam have never been spoken about in a positive way.

So, I hold Kemp’s position as a safe haven until more informed Catholics weigh in (or the magisterium itself) to let us know if other forms of GAE are permitted for faithful Catholics.


Would be helpful for me to summarize my analysis of this question and why I’d agree with @PdotdQ on this?