Saving Adam: Evolution & Original Sin


Roman Catholic writer John Farrell shares his thoughts on the challenge that evolution poses to traditional Catholic doctrine in Commonweal magazine.

Saving Adam: Evolution & Original Sin

(George Brooks) #2

“But there remains the nagging question of the soul’s special creation. In 1996, Pope John Paul II expanded upon Pius’s earlier assertions on the soul, and he added his own view that the emergence of the human being, endowed with a soul directly created by God, amounted to an “ontological leap” in the history of evolution, one that could not be uncovered or located by science. Can the special creation of the soul be integrated into an evolutionary understanding of our emergence as a species?”

“As it happens, perhaps the best answer to this question was provided by the man who would succeed John Paul II as pope. Back in 1973, Josef Ratzinger was pondering the question of the soul as it related to evolution, and his solution is as startling as it is simple. Ratzinger looked back to Teilhard’s observation that the history of matter is best understood as the prehistory of the spirit, a spirit that emerged when man spoke out for the first time to recognize the Thou beyond himself and beyond the world. “If creation means dependence of being, then special creation is nothing other than special dependence of being,” Ratzinger wrote in his book Dogma and Preaching…”

"From this vantage point, one can immediately see that an adam emerged in history at that moment when a human being was first capable of forming, however dimly, the thought “God.” As Ratzinger writes, “The first ‘thou’ that—however stammering—was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed.” If this is true, then the theory of evolution neither invalidates nor corroborates faith."

"But, as Ratzinger acknowledges, “it does challenge faith to understand itself more profoundly and thus to help man to understand himself and to become increasingly what he is: the being who is supposed to say ‘thou’ to God in eternity.”

(Albert Leo) #9

I was pleased when Pope John Paul II proclaimed that evolution was backed by solid scientific evidence, and catholics were OK in relying on it, IF allowance were made for the special creation of the human soul. As Cardinal Ratzinger was ‘being groomed’ as JP’s successor, I tried to bull my way through some of his (to me) obscure writings to see how he would deal with the ‘soul problem’ as Pope. I must have skimmed over some of the more pertinent paragraphs, because I concluded he, Ratzinger, was going to be much less progressive than JPII. later developments set me straight, and I am so glad you provided the link to John Farrell’s article, but George’s ‘condensation’ was also appreciated.

(Tom Larkin) #10

I replied on the website - it was a very good article …

Saving Adam by John Farell is well researched and well written.

I believe I can demonstrate how an historic Adam, from whom we are descended, original sin and the theory of Evolution are not inconsistent. My short book Genesis and Evolution expands on the detail.

Evolution is a well established scientific theory, if there are aspects for which we have disconfirming evidence, this evidence should be published in peer reviewed scientific journals, such as Science or Nature.

Genesis is the Book of Generations. The genealogy or genealogies that do not lead to the Messiah are always given first throughout the book of Genesis and even continue in this manner in the books of Chroncles. One of the purposes of Chapter 1 of Genesis is to establish the line not leading to the Messiah (men and women created in Gen 1:27) prior to the creation of Adam in Chapter 2. I explain in my short book how this approach is actually more consistent with the rest of scripture than the creation of Adam, Eve and the Garden as being a retelling of the intial creation narrative:
This eliminates the conflicts that exist with the sequences of creation being very different in the first and second creation narratives.
This maintains an historical Adam, (Romans 5:17) "For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ”, if Adam was not an actual man, that would mean to me that Jesus would not need to be an actual man.
We are all descended from Adam through Noah, as detailed in Gen 6:
Gen 6:2 - That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
The sons of God are the descendants of Adam, and the daughters of man are the descendants of men and women from Gen 1:27
Gen 6:9 - Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations
Why would Noah need to be perfect in his generations other than to maintain the line leading to the Messiah from Adam?

I am presenting my book at the upcoming ASA Conference at Gordon College (27-30Jul18).

Respectfully submitted,

Tom Larkin
Genesis and Evolution

(Tom Larkin) #11

Am I the only one who really does not like the paintings attached to the article? They seem very Euro centric. Skin color is an evolutionary balance between vitamin D production and folic acid degradation, and the skin color in the paintings does not seem appropriate for the region where the Garden was created.

I lean toward the theory that Adam and Eve, before the fall, had “glorified bodies” as described in the New Testament during the transfiguration, where (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2–3, Luke 9:28–36) Jesus “was transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.”

After the fall, they lost there glorified bodies and realized they were naked.

Off subject a bit, I feel the transfiguration and the confession of Peter (“thou art the Christ…”) are a good counter argument to Bart Ehrman’s (How Jesus became God) assertion that Jesus was only portrayed as God in the gospel of John, which was the last written gospel.

(George Brooks) #12

For something as dramatic as TRANSFIGURED bodies… why isn’t there any mention of this property?.. not even in God’s curse against the expelled couple?


But at the very beginning of Genesis 2, after God has done his creating for 6 days in Genesis 1,
It says:

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

So it seems that God was finished with creating, and didn’t have to come in over the weekend.

Says who? Not the text. If you are right, the union should have produced more humans, but it produced giants.

And besides I don’t like the idea of two unequal races of humans living side by side, which is getting to be far too common in Christianity or at least on this blog. Reminds me too much of the sordid story of the “Kallikaks” and the eugenicists.

But Noah wasn’t perfect–he got drunk, got naked, and passed out in a tent. That isn’t perfect. And neither was anybody else.

And Jesus came for the sake of sinful people, anyway.

(Tom Larkin) #20

This is simple speculation on my part, I still do not like the depictions

(Tom Larkin) #21

Thank you for your feedback, I really respect your opinion. Sorry to take so long to respond.

I would argue that God continuing creating al throughout the Bible and continues this work today, just how large does a miracle need to be to be termed creation.

If you look at the use of the terms “sons of God” through the Bible (with the one exception of the Book of Job) , it refers to those who love God and are doing God’s will. In Luke 3, the term directly refers to Adam. The term Nephilim is also used to describe the inhabitants of Canaan in the Book of Numbers, and I believe simply refers to large humans. There was no descriptions of giants during the Israeli occupation, I believe this was just in the eye of the beholder.

I did not say Noah was perfect, only that he was perfect in his generations which means he was a direct descendent of Adam and Eve.

This entire discussion is trivial in light of your statement, only that a perceived conflict of the Bible with science presents a stumbling block to many who take it as reason not to believe. With the creation narratives being sequential, this eliminates the perceived conflict with science hopefully opening the door to many to accept the Bible , and more importantly, Jesus’ sacrifice.


I find you interpretations strained at best.