Time to Abandon the Genesis Story? | Dr. Dennis Bonnette | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Legitimate science can never assert that Adam and Eve are impossible. It might claim that they are improbable, but never impossible. God’s omnipotence can always make short work of long odds.
Is the Genesis story of a literal Adam and Eve a tale that is no longer rationally defensible in the first half of our 21st century? 1
Do the findings of contemporary science exclude Catholic belief in a literal Adam and Eve?
What is the actual teaching of the Catholic Magisterium on this subject today?
While the texts of Genesis begin by referring to “man” in Genesis 1:26, by Genesis 5:3, we are told that Adam begot his son, Seth. Since generic “man” cannot generate an individual son, this latter text clearly refers to an actual individual man named Adam. 2
Informed Catholics know that Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical, Humani generis, insisted upon an actual Adam and Eve, and warned the faithful against embracing the conjectural opinion of polygenism, “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.” 3 That same encyclical clearly stated that if scientific opinions “are directly or indirectly opposed to the doctrine revealed by God, then the demand that they be recognized can, in no way, be admitted.” 4
Still, Humani generis was promulgated more than half a century ago. In light of scientific views emerging since that time, particularly claims made on behalf of paleoanthropology and genetics, many academics—including priests who deal with evolutionary thought—now consider that belief in a literal Adam and Eve to be a form of archaic mythology.